Thursday, April 24, 2014

‘MILF’ forces seize illegal drug traders

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 25): ‘MILF’ forces seize illegal drug traders

Alleged members of a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday seized suspected illegal drug traders from policemen who were bringing them to the police headquarters in Marawi City.

Chief Superintendent Noel delos Reyes, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police chief, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone Thursday that on April 22, policemen from Picong town were flagged down by more than a hundred MILF members along the national highway in Balindong town.

“Our men were heading to the police headquarters in Marawi City to turn over the eight men they arrested,” Reyes said, adding those accused, all members of MILF, were reportedly involved in illegal drugs trade in Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte.

Senior Superintendent Nickson Muksan, police chief for Lanao del Sur, said the MILF forces confiscated seven high-powered firearms and four pistols from the police.

Those behind the incident were alleged MILF members under Commander Bravo, whose real name is Abdulrahman Macapaar.

Bravo, along with Ameril Umbra Kato, then leader of MILF’s 105th Base Command and now founder of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, simultaneously launched attacks in August 2008 in Mindanao after the failed signing of peace agreement.

The Inquirer tried but failed to get the reaction of anyone from the MILF senior leaders.

OPEN LETTER | Longest held political prisoner appeals to Obama

Posted to InterAksyon (Apr 24): OPEN LETTER | Longest held political prisoner appeals to Obama

NOTE: On April 21, 1989, US Army Colonel James Rowe, who was with the Joint US Military Advisory Group or JUSMAG, was killed by New People’s Army assassins. Soon after, in that same year, Juanito Itaas was arrested and charged with Rowe’s murder, a crime he insists he is innocent of. He has been in jail since then, a total of 25 years now, and is the longest serving political prisoner in the country. Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, he has written a letter to the American leader.

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

I write this letter to appeal for your urgent and personal intervention in the spirit of respect for human dignity as it is understood all over the world.
This is in connection with my petition for release from prison addressed to the Philippine government regarding the killing of US Army Col. James Rowe happened in April 1989, Quezon City, Philippines.

I am Juanito T. Itaas, arrested, charged, prosecuted and convicted in relation to the death of Col. James Rowe. I am now serving sentence at the national penitentiary here in the Philippines for more than two decades already.

Indeed, I sympathize to the family and loved ones of Col. James Rowe, to the American people and others who were offended, violated and deeply hurt by the transgressions and inappropriate actions. Like them I suffer the same agony of being separated from my loved ones. I have suffered more than enough.

As an advocate of peace and reconciliation among nations, Mr. President, I implore your Christian sense of mercy and compassion as you certainly believe in second chances. Your considerate action to my plea is a key factor for the realization of my renewed life as a law-abiding citizen and as a God-fearing person.

Right now, the most cherished and persistent wish I have is to be a full-time father to my son and two daughters who were conceived during conjugal visits at the New Bilibid Prison. My children never experienced what a normal and happy family life is all about. Additionally, I firmly believe in one of your guiding principles as a leader and as a family man.

A strong nation is made up of strong families. Every family deserves the chance to make a better future for themselves and their children. I know that strong families will always be front and center of your agenda, Mr. President.

Being a good and responsible father to your two lovely daughters, here I am, a father also who desires to provide, inspire and support my children with the help of my wife; and by doing so I can be an instrument to have a strong family despite a life-threatening illness that affects my health. This is now my only goal and motivation in life. By God's grace, your valuable help and crucial intervention will help me succeed in this humble aspiration.
Given the present situation, I appeal once more and with great sense of benevolence, Mr. President, to consider a favorable humanitarian action regarding my condition.

God bless you mightily!


Juanito T. Itaas

Political Prisoner

Army handbook released online

Posted to Solar News (Apr 23): Army handbook released online

The Philippine Army wants the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts regulated among its troops.
It recently released a handbook that sets relevant protocols for Army soldiers going online.
Dubbed as one of the world's social networking havens, there is no stopping the rise of social media in the Philippines.
Statistics as early as two years ago showed that the number of Facebook and Twitter users in the country was considered incredibly high compared to other countries.
In Facebook alone, one in every four Filipinos has an account.
Its growth rate is seen to increase steadily, with an estimated five Filipinos opening a Facebook account every minute.
For the Armed Forces of the Philippines, social media or cyberspace in general, is both a tool and a battleground.
Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Philippine Army Spokesman, said that, when even "terrorist groups are already on social media, we also have to be on social media."
But just like in any battle, the military wants its men to be ready.
And the 85,000-strong Philippine Army is taking the lead in educating their men on how to act responsibly online.
Just this week, the Army rolled out its social media handbook, the first of its kind in the AFP, which aims to educate the troops on the proper protocol when using social media, whether with private accounts or accounts for a particular unit or command. 
The handbook covers an extensive array of online platforms, from blogs to social networking sites to instant messaging services.
Every soldier will be educated on both the advantages and disadvantages of social media, and how that can affect how they carry out their daily mission.
The Facebook account of an Army Battalion can interact with netizens on how to improve the security of a community.
But a group of soldiers, for example, on a drinking spree with their uniforms on, could also spell disaster for the Army.
Location notifications in certain mobile applications could also compromise operations unless the soldiers will be prudent in using social network accounts.
The Army will prioritize the distribution of the handbook to its field units, and make it the subject of weekly troop information and education or TINE activities.
Regulating the use of social media, the Army says, should instill in its troops the discipline expected of it.

MILF: Editorial -- Thank you commissioners

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Apr 23): Thank you commissioners

April 23-30, 2014:: After long, harsh, and hard months of deliberating the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) has finally settled the final text and adopted it last April 20.  
Fourteen commissioners signed it (13 during the ceremony and one later when it was about to be presented to the Office of the President (OP) on April 22). Two commissioners (Fatmawati Salapuddin and Johaira Wahab) were absent during the signing ceremony and did not sign it. However, Commissioner Fatmawati Salapuddin managed to affix her signature before the BBL reached the Palace, leaving only Commissioner Johaira Wahab as non-signatory to the BBL. 
Thank you commissioners! Collectively, you all have done a splendid job. ou made history and we are proud of you. For those who signed the BBL without qualifications, you have demonstrated your great faith in the purpose, content, and the process of the commission. For those, who signed with qualifications, the future will bare your real thought, which we believe is noble. For the one who did not sign it, despite all efforts to let her sign, she has a lot of explanations to do. People will either appreciate her or curse her.

In fairness, all the commissioners participated in the deliberations but at least five deserved special mentions: Commissioners Akmad Saccam, Asani Tammang, Raissa Jajurie, Hussein Munoz, and Roberto “Maulana” Alonto.

They have provided strong and steady support to the overall effort to craft the BBL. The other commissioners also played their pieces well but oftentimes in contrasting styles. None, even the wildest view, is to be considered as an effort in vain. They all contributed in the excitement in the undertaking and in enriching the proposed BBL.

Commissioners, the task of the BTC is not yet over. More and more tasks are in the offing. There will be a constructive engagement with the Office of the President (OP) which will start immediately. Thereafter, the BTC will serve as the little partner of the OP in the forthcoming engagement with Congress. This is the reason that this engagement with the OP  must result in full agreement, so that our forthcoming rendezvous with Congress will anchor on solid ground and thrust.

Commissioners, we appeal to you to stay together and face the future with hope and determination. Rest assured that as long as we stand for the collective interests of the Bangsamoro (without saying also of the other inhabitants therein), there is nothing to fear. The future belongs to the consistent, steadfast, and dedicated. The Bible says, “blessed are the peacemakers.”

Balikatan starts in Albay today

From the Bicol Mail (Apr 24): Balikatan starts in Albay today

FRIENDSHIP. Navy Captain Ramon Renales, commander of joint CMO task force Balikatan 2014 shakes hand with his American counterpart Col. Curtis Lee, commander of joint civil military operation task force for humanitarian mission in Albay province. RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

LEGAZPI CITY — The United States government through the joint United States Armed Forces has infused $250,000 for the month-long Balikatan humanitarian mission in Albay starting today, April 24, fortheir engineering and medical missions here.

Col. Curtis Lee, commander of the joint civil military operation task force for Balikatan 2014 humanitarian mission, told Bicol Mail that at least 200 US soldiers from the Navy, Marines, Air Force, and the Army are participating in the month-long civic action.

The US forces, along with their Filipino counterpart, will construct and repair classrooms, health centers, and comfort rooms,  and conduct medical symposia and training and practical applications.

Sergeant Major Lewis Martin, who is based in Okinawa, Japan and currently head of the engineering team said that their men will conduct engineering civic assistance programs (Encap) in five areas of Albay such as Malobago Elementary School in Daraga, Albay,  Doña Mercedes Elementary School in Guinobatan, Albay, repair works at Tamaoyan Elementary School, and construction of health center and comfort rooms in Barangay Malobago, also in Guinobatan town.

He said that the US forces temporarily deployed in Albay for the missions came from Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Guam, and California, USA.

Other construction projects include water catchment system with a pump that can generate 5,000 gallon storage capacity, concreting of additional 15-meter sidewalk connecting the school buildings to the water catchment system and comfort rooms, repair of electrical wirings of existing classrooms, and installation of fluorescent bulbs, outlets, and fans.

The provincial government of Albay led by Gov. Joey Salceda, for its part, has alloted P300,000 as its counterpart fund for Edcap and Medcapvici missions.

The Balikatan Exercise 2014 is a bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Armed Forces (USAF)  that focuses on Humanitarian Civic Assistance Programs and cooperative health engagement that will be primarily conducted in the City of Legazpi and the town of Guinobatan starting today.

Navy Captain Ramon Renales, commander of joint CMO Task Force Balikatan humanitarian mission 2014, said the joint exercise is expected to enhance working relations and foster existing friendship between the people of the Philippines and the US personnel.

Martin disclosed that the civic action here is the sixth to have been conducted in Bicol, specifically in Albay province.

In 2009, the RP-US Balikatan exercises constructed the road network in Pioduran, Albay that led to the opening of Pioduran port that has since expedited travel time from Albay to Masbate connecting to the Visayan and Mindanao regions under the management of the Philippine Ports Authority.

Several other   engineering projects were completed in the provinces of Sorsogon and Masbate during the past joint exercises.

Internal security operation to

From the Visayan Daily Star (Apr 24): Internal security operation to
be turned over to LGUs

A joint letter of directive to start the normalization process will be signed after the declaration of Negros Oriental as a “conflict manageable and development-ready province” on May 7.

The signatories will be signed by Gov. Roel Degamo, Brig. General Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302 nd  Infantry Brigade, and Senior Supt. Mariano Natu-el Jr., acting director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office.

Present will be Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP director-general Alan Purisima, and Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the Department of National Defense.

Patrimonio said the normalization process includes the turnover of some of the tasks of the internal security operation to the police and local authorities of the province.

He said the Army will not completely abandon Negros Oriental, especially the areas where remnants of the New People's Army are holed up.

For areas already cleared of insurgents, security and law enforcement will be turned over to the PNP, he said.

Patrimonio also said the Army will concentrate its activities on the interior parts of Sta. Catalina, Guihulngan and La Libertad, where it is slowly regaining the hearts and minds of the people.

Recent assessments showed that the rebels in Guihulngan and La Libertad have transferred to Moises Padilla and Isabela in Negros Occidental. If the rebels insist in staying in La Libertad, they will suffer similar fates as those who migrated from Sta. Catalina to Pamplona and Tanjay, whose presence was being reported by residents.

The joint letter of directive will stress the need to conduct cross trainings with the police, strengthening of the barangay defense system, bantay bayan and tanods, to prevent the reentry of rebels in areas already cleared of the insurgency problem.

This will be supervised by the military and the PNP, with the support of the provincial government. “The army will still be here in securing and winning the peace and as able partner of development,” Patrimonio said.

Degamo attributed the success of the counter-insurgency operation to the cooperation and joint efforts of the military, PNP and various sectors.

A sky-diving exhibition by the Army Parachute Team, and a drill exhibition by the 3rd  Infantry Division band will precede the joint declaration and signing ceremonies.

Also signatories are 3rd  ID commander Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladar, and Police Regional Office-7 director, Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, with Gazmin, Purisima, Maj. Gen. John Bonafos, commander of the AFP Central Command; Supt. Catalino Rodriguez of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations Visayas, and Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, chairman of the Regional Peace and Order Council, as witnesses.

Peace panels in KL to discuss normalization

From the Manila Bulletin (Apr 24): Peace panels in KL to discuss normalization

The peace panels of the Philippine government (GPH) and Muslim rebels are back in Malaysia for a meeting to constitute four bodies of the Annex on Normalization.

The meeting started yesterday at the Bellamy House, an old colonial house in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, the final draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was officially transmitted to the Office of the President (OP) last Tuesday, the 15-member body that drafted it announced yesterday.

Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, GPH panel chairperson, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) counterpart Mohagher Iqbal head respective delegations at the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, sources said.

The two parties returned to Kuala Lumpur nearly a month after the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in Manila on March 27.

Coronel-Ferrer’s and Iqbal’s panels were not dissolved or deactivated even after the CAB’s signing because they have to meet to resolve any unfinished or emerging issues or problems.

Earlier, the Manila Bulletin learned that the two panels will work to activate the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC); the International Decommissioning Body (IDB); the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST); and the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC).

In a text message, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said “the panels are having a meeting in KL (Kuala Lumpur).”

“The purpose is to decide on the composition of the IDB, JNC, and TJRC, which are important to begin the normalization process. These bodies can be found in the Annex on Normalization,” said Coronel-Ferrer.

The CAB contains the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes — Transitional Mechanism and Modalities; Wealth-sharing; Power-sharing; and Normalization — as well as past agreements.

As the third party facilitator of the peace talks, Malaysia chose the venue for this week’s meeting, which is the Bellamy House.

After its adoption in plenary by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in Cotabato City on April 18, the 97-page BBL draft was personally submitted by Commissioner Raissa Jajurie to OP Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi, the BTC said.

Jajurie was accompanied by BTC Executive Director Esmael Pasigan and selected staff members, the BTC said in a press statement.

It said that last April 14, an initial draft of the BBL was handed over by BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal also to Musngi.

The President and his legal minds are expected to review the BBL for eventual certification as an urgent bill and transmittal to Congress which resumes sessions on May 5, it said.

87IB hands over a Philippine hawk eagle to DENR

Just posted to the Samar News (Apr 15): 87IB hands over a Philippine hawk eagle to DENR

April 15, 2014

87IB headquarters

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, Samar – The 87th Infantry (Hinirang) Battalion, Philippine Army handed over to DENR Samar a captured Philippine Hawk Eagle in a ceremony held at 87IB Headquarters, Brgy Polangi, Calbiga, Samar.

The captured Philippine Hawk Eagle was formally handed over by Maj Gen Jet B Velarmino, Commander of the 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division and Lt Col Antonio B. Dulnuan, Commanding Officer of 87IB to Mr. Danilo A Javier, DENR Regional Technical Director, Protected Area, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Service based at Tacloban City.

The Philippine Hawk Eagle estimated to be five months old when found by the troops conducting assessment at the hinterlands of Pinabacdao-Sta Rita, Samar area on the effects of the super typhoon Yolanda after it struck the country on November 8, 2013.

The troops named the bird “MURAYAW”, a Waray-Waray word which means “Peace” and nursed its leg wounds for four (4) months. After the bird regained its strength, Lt Col. Dulnuan directed his troops to contact DENR and arranged for the bird’s turn over for its eventual return to the wild where it belongs.

Maj Gen Jet B. Velarmino AFP, the Commander of the 8th Infantry Division said: “While our primary mandate is to protect the people from threat groups, we are fully aware of the national government on its environmental conservation programs and as such, we always provide necessary assistance to DENR. The handing over of the Philippine Hawk Eagle to DENR that was nursed by the 87IB for four (4) months is a manifestation of our support to the environment conservation program of the government.”

“The people in Eastern Visayas can rest assured that your Army in this part of the country is not only looking after the welfare and protection of the people from the NPA rebels, but is also looking after the welfare and protection of our environment, he added.”

NPAs harass a CAFGU detachment in Catarman, Northern Samar

Just posted to the Samar News (Apr 14): NPAs harass a CAFGU detachment in Catarman, Northern Samar

April 15, 2014

CAMP LUKBAN, Catbalogan City, SamarNew People’s Army operating in Northern Samar harassed a CAFGU detachment at Brgy, San Pascual, Catarman, Northern Samar at around 10:35 a.m. on April 14, 2014.

Based on the report from the 803rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army more or less 10 NPAs positioned themselves 200 to 300 meters from the detachment and started shooting. The CAFGU and military personnel assigned in the detachment did not return fire as the rebels immediately ran away after firing few rounds. No one was reported hurt on both sides.

Troops under the 803rd Infantry Brigade were immediately dispatched and are currently conducting pursuit operation against the NPA rebels that fired at the CAFGU detachment.

When reached for comment, Col. Herminigildo C. Aquino, the Commander of the 803rd Infantry Brigade said: “The action of the NPAs in Northern Samar is an act of desperation since they were not able to launch any significant tactical offensives in Northern Samar before, during or after their 45th anniversary on March 29, 2014.”

“While we are inviting the rebels to return to the mainstream of the society and spend their productive years nurturing their families thereby contributing to peace and progress of Northern Samar Province, we remain committed to ensure the security and well-being of our people,” he added.

34 years after his death, Macliing Dulag's call to defend the land still resonates among Cordilerans

From InterAksyon (Apr 24): 34 years after his death, Macliing Dulag's call to defend the land still resonates among Cordilerans

Had it not been for the struggle for which Macliing Dulag (inset) sacrificed his life, these rice terraces fed by the Chico River would have been submerged forever by dams the Marcos dictatorship planned to build. (photo of rice terraces by Arthur L. Allad-iw, Northern Dispatch)

“What is the most precious thing to man? Life! If life is threatened, what ought a man do? Fight! This he must do, otherwise he is dishonored. That will be worse than death. If we do not fight and the dams push through, we die anyway. If we fight, we die honorably. Thus I exhort you all then, ‘Kayaw’ (all-out people’s struggles)!” - Macliing Dulag (1930-April 24, 1980)

BONTOC, Mountain province -- Thirty-four years after he was cut down in a hail of bullets from an Army unit led by Lieutenant Leodegario Adalem in the village of Bugnay in Tinglayan, Kalinga on April 24, 1980, these words of pangat (leader) Macliing Dulag still resonate among Cordillerans who continue to struggle against the encroachment of large mining and energy projects they see as a threat to their land and way of life.

In the late 1970s, Macliing led his people in thwarting plans by then President Ferdinand Marcos to build four World Bank-funded hydroelectric power dams along the Chico River, thus earning the ire of the dictatorship. The project would have inundated at least 1,400 square kilometers, wiping out villages, rice terraces, orchards and tribal graveyards, and displaced the lives of as many as 100,000 people along the river.

Thursday, people from all over the region, led by the Cordillera People’s Alliance, gathered in Barangay Guinaang in Pasil town to honor Macliing on his death anniversary, celebrated as Cordillera Day, and to seek inspiration from the lessons he left as they pursue their continued struggle against what they call the “imperialist plunder” of their lands and resources.

The CPA says most of the region’s 1,829,369 hectares are covered by applications for resource extractive projects -- mining, geothermal, hydro and other energy projects -- and plagued by militarization.

There are 287 various and overlapping mining applications, aside from the 177 patented mining claims and at least 88 hydropower projects, eight geothermal projects, and one wind energy project in the region, according to the CPA.

And data from the Cordillera office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau show at least sixty-seven percent of the region’s land area is targeted for mining.

Aside from plans by foreign mining corporations to set up operations in Kalinga, the US Chevron Corporation is also eyeing a geothermal project in the province.

Data from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples show Chevron applying to explore in at least 26,000 hectares in the municipalities of Tinglayan, Lubuagan and Pasil, all in Kalinga.

“This US-based giant corporation is eyeing to set up a geothermal power facility in Mt. Binulauan, which is located in the tri-boundary of the three municipalities. It stands (at) 7,641 feet and is classified by Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) as an active volcano with fumarole fields and hot springs on its slopes and in the different areas of the three towns,” said Alma Sinumlag, a resident of one of the affected towns.

She said Chevron’s initial exploration shows Binulauan’s geothermal capacity to be between 120-200 megawatts. The firm plans to set up its facility by 2017, she added.

However, the CPA said the project is being pursued without the consent of people in the affected communities. The organization accuses the National Commission on Indigenous People for this.

“The manipulation of government processes by the NCIP for obtaining free, prior and informed consent (from affected communities) has caused human rights violations and divisions in indigenous communities targeted by the project,” the CPA said in a statement released to media.

CPA cited the case in Guinanaang, Pasil, where, aside from Chevron, the Makilala Mining Company and the Cordillera Exploration Inc. also have plans to undertake large-scale mining.

People’s opposition  

Ama Longan of Kalinga’s Taloctoc sub-tribe and a veteran of the anti-Chico dam struggle, said the situation today remains unchanged since the days they resisted the dictator’s plans.

He said the battle for the land and their way of life often extends into their culture and social systems, noting how foreign corporations have exploited their “bodong” (peace pact) system to work around opposition to their incursions.

Longan says it was also the bodong that helped unify the Kalinga and Bontoks in opposing the Chico dams project.

“A higher level of unity was achieved as a result,” Longan said and, because of this, they were able to adopt a provision to exclude from coverage by the bodong villagers who joined state forces and worked for the construction of the dams.

“We cannot do less, and we continue to be inspired by the legacy of Kayaw”, the CPA statement said.

"You ask if we own the land. You mock us. Where is your title? Where are the documents to prove that you own the land? Title. Documents. Proof. Such arrogance of owning land when you are owned by it. How can you own that which outlives you? Only the people own the land because only the people live forever. To claim a place is the birthright of everyone. The lowly animals claim their place, how much more of human beings. They are born to live," spoke Macliing, when asked about land titles and documents.” - Macliing Dulag

DND-DILG order proves JASIG operative, Wilma Austria immune from arrest - Karapatan

From InterAksyon (Apr 24): DND-DILG order proves JASIG operative, Wilma Austria immune from arrest - Karapatan

A joint order issued by the Departments of Defense and of Interior and Local Government on bounties for communist rebel leaders acknowledges that an agreement that protects peace negotiators and their consultants from arrest and prosecution is still operative, a human rights group said Thursday.

Aside from this, “DND-DILG Order on Reward Number 14 (A)-2012” issued December 12, 2012, a copy of which was made available by Karapatan, orders the removal of five personalities covered by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees from a list of 235 rebels targeted for arrest or neutralization and for whom bounties have been raised.

These include Wilma Austria, whose husband Benito is said to chair the Communist Party of the Philippines.

DND-DILG Order on Reward Number 14 (A)-2012 (courtesy of Karapatan)

The Tiamzons were captured late last month in Cebu City and have been in detention since while awaiting trial on several charges.

Following their capture, the National Democratic Front, which represents communist rebels in peace negotiations with government, as well as human rights advocates have demanded the release of the couple because, as consultants of the NDF peace panel, they are covered by the JASIG.

However, the government has so far refused, insisting they are not immune from arrest. Some officials have also claimed that the stalling of the peace talks since 2011 has effectively suspended the JASIG.

However, the DND-DILG order, which amended the earlier DND-DILG Joint Order Number 14-2012, and both of which were issued months after the talks stalled the year before, says: “Pursuant to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) dated 24 February 1995 and the current GPH (Government of the Philippines) list of JASIG-covered personalities, the following names are to be deleted from DND-DILG JOR Number 14-2012 in recognition of the pending peace negotiations and conditions upon the existence of said peace negotiations.”

Aside from Austria, who the order shows with a bounty of P10 million on her head, the others ordered delisted are:
  1. Rafael Baylosis (P7.8 million)
  2. Vicente Ladlad (P7.8 million)
  3. Reynaldo Bocala (P4.8 million)
  4. CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison (P10 million)
The joint order is signed by Secretaries Voltaire Gazmin of Defense and Manuel Roxas II of Interior and Local Government, and Nicanor Bartolome, former Philippine National chief, and Jesse Dellosa, former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, in a statement, said the government “cannot escape the fact that the … JASIG is operative and JASIG-protected persons are immune from arrest …”

She said the amended joint order and the government’s refusal to honor its commitments under the JASIG made it responsible for the continued failure of efforts to resume the peace negotiations.

Palabay also said the list of persons stricken from the government’s target list is “incomplete,” saying there are 14 NDF consultant currently in detention and facing “trumped up criminal charges,” including Eduardo Sarmiento of Samar, who was sentenced to 40 years in jail last December for illegal possession of explosives, the first to be convicted under President Benigno Aquino III.

“There are also 13 NDF consultants and staff who are victims of enforced disappearance,” Palabay added.

Karapatan and other human rights advocates have branded the government list and bounty system as an “organized racket” by state security agencies to cash in not only on the capture of wanted rebels but also of alleged “fall guys,” among these security guard Rolly Panesa, who was seized by intelligence agents in Quezon City in October 2012 and then identified to media as Southern Tagalog rebel leader Benjamin Mendoza.

Panesa, who was severely tortured after his capture, was eventually ordered released by the courts who ruled him the victim of mistaken identity.

Nevertheless, the military handed out a P5.6-million reward to a supposed informant for the capture of the rebel “Mendoza” and also sought to have Panesa arrested again on the same charges already dismissed by the courts.

The military has refused to explain what happened to the bounty for Mendoza after the courts cleared Panesa.

Obama to spend Day 2 of PH visit with Filipino soldiers

From Rappler (Apr 24): Obama to spend Day 2 of PH visit with Filipino soldiers

Malacañang says defense is the top agenda of Obama's visit next week, April 28-29
United States President Barack Obama will spend the second day of his trip to the Philippines with Filipino troops at the military headquarters in Taguig City, according to an advisory from the US Embassy on Thursday, April 24.
“President Obama will deliver remarks recognizing the longstanding partnership and cooperation between the US military and Armed Forces of the Philippines,” the embassy said.
[Video Report: Obama to spend Day 2 of PH visit with Filipino soldiers

Malacañang said defense is the top agenda of Obama's visit next week, April 28-29. Against the backdrop of growing maritime disputes in the region, the Philippines has sought military assistance from the US, a treaty ally. (READ: Obama visit to give 'clearer understanding' of PH-US alliance)
The Philippine and the US are treaty allies with a long history of cooperation. The US used to have bases in the Philippines that allowed the presence of tens of thousands of US troops here.
But the Senate voted in 1991 not to renew the treaty. American troops were able to return in 1999, however, following the approval of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows the temporary presence of US troops in the country.
The new agreement titled Enhanced Defense Cooperation (EDC), which is expected to be signed during Obama's visit, will lead to increased presence of American troops here and allow them to build facilities inside military bases. Critics have slammed what they called a de facto basing. (READ: PH, US draft military deal for Aquino review and details of the EDC draft here.)

Muslims hail enthronement of young Sultan in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Apr 24): Muslims hail enthronement of young Sultan in Southern Philippines

Muslims in the southern Philippines have celebrated the enthronement of the 28-year old Mohammad Daud Nabil ‘Ayran’ Dimaporo-Lantud as the youngest Sultan on the 28 Royal Sultanate of Lanao del Norte province.

Sultan Ayran, who is the son of Pantao Ragat Mayor Eleanor Lantud and Vice Mayor Lacon Lantud, is also the chairman of the Sanguniang Kabataan in the town. Sultan Ayran is now the new Sultan of the Royal House of Cabasagan.

His enthronement also coincided with the month-long celebration of the 48th Founding Anniversary of Pantao Ragat. Thousands of Muslims witnessed the colourful Maranao ceremony and hailed the historical enthronement of the young royalty, who belongs to one of the most respected and influential clan in Mindanao.

A throng of visitors also greeted the Sultan, who also went around the town in a parade for a king where well-wishers lined up the streets and chanting his name, many showering him with greetings and welcoming the assumption of the young royal leader to the throne.

His parents thanked all those who greeted the new Sultan and vowed to continue the good legacy of the clan. The Sultan also vowed to carry on the good tradition of the throne and his family and clan.

His Royal Highness Mohammad Daud Nabil ‘Ayran’ Dimaporo-Lantud is enthroned as the youngest Sultan on the 28 Royal Sultanate of Lanao del Norte province. Sultan Ayran is now the new Sultan of the Royal House of Cabasagan. Also in the photo is the Sultan's brother and mother, her Majesty and Mayor of Pantao Ragat town in Lanao del Norte, Eleanor Lantud. (Mindanao Examiner Photo - Mark Navales)

Obama: US will defend Japan vs China

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 25): Obama: US will defend Japan vs China

The tiny islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, are part of the territorial dispute between Japan and China. President Barack Obama (inset) affirmed Thursday that the United States would be obligated to defend Japan against China though he asked all sides to resolve the issue peacefully. AP file photo PHOTO

Showing solidarity with Japan, US President Barack Obama on Thursday affirmed that the United States would be obligated to defend Tokyo in a confrontation with Beijing over disputed islands but urged all sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully.

Wading cautiously into a diplomatic minefield, Obama insisted the United States takes no position on whether the islands in the East China Sea are ultimately in the dominion of China or Japan.

But he noted that historically Japan has administered the islands, triggering America’s treaty obligations to defend its ally should tensions escalate militarily.

“We do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally,” Obama said at a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“What is a consistent part of the alliance is that the treaty covers all territories administered by Japan.”

Territorial dispute

The dispute over the islands, called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China, has badly strained relations between the two Asian powers. Some observers warn they might come to blows over the islands, where ships from both sides lurk to press claims for ownership.

Abe’s position on historical issues also annoys the Chinese, who accuse him of playing down Japanese atrocities. They are particularly upset by visits he and his cabinet ministers have paid to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among other fallen warriors.

In another sign of history influencing the present, China on Thursday said it had released a Japanese ship seized after its owner paid $28-million compensation in a business dispute dating to Japan’s occupation of swaths of the country in the 1930s.

Tokyo warned earlier this week that the seizure could have a chilling effect on the huge trade relationship between China and Japan.

Ministers fear a flood of Chinese compensation claims over wartime wrongs, which they say were all dealt with under the 1972 normalization of ties.

Japan and other Western-leaning countries say China is also throwing its newfound economic and military weight around in pursuit of territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

US assurance

Although Obama has sought to avoid getting dragged into territorial disputes an ocean away, Japan and other US allies see the disputes through the broader lens of China’s growing influence in Asia, where Obama arrived on Wednesday at the start of a four-nation, eight-day tour.

China is not on Obama’s itinerary but concerns about the Asian powerhouse are trailing him nonetheless.

Beijing is watching closely for signs that the United States is seeking to limit China’s rise while smaller nations are looking to Obama for affirmations that his vaunted push to increase US influence in Asia hasn’t petered out.

Obama’s advisers insist that the trip—and the White House’s broader Asia policy—is not designed to counter China’s growing power, and they say the president is not asking Asian nations to choose between allegiance to Washington or Beijing.

Trans-Pacific trade

“We want to continue to encourage the peaceful rise of China,” Obama said.
Seeking to inject fresh urgency into trade talks, Obama said the time is now to resolve issues hindering the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The United States has been leading the 12-nation negotiations but an end-of-2013 deadline was missed and there are few signs of progress toward resolving conflicts with Japan over tariffs and access to Japan’s auto market.

At the same time, as Obama pressed his case in Tokyo, he was unable to convey the full backing of Congress, which would have to ratify any such pact. Lawmakers, including many of Obama’s Democratic allies, have thus far refused to give Obama the fast-track authority needed to ensure an up-or-down vote on the final agreement.

“Abe’s got to deal with his politics, I’ve got to deal with mine,” Obama said.

On the island dispute, Obama encouraged the parties to work through the issue “through dialogue” and urged both sides to “keep the rhetoric low.”
He played down the US commitment to defend Japan as a matter of historical fact rather than a rebuke to China.

“The treaty between the US and Japan preceded my birth, so obviously this isn’t the red line that I’m drawing,” Obama said.

Firmly opposed

China has said it firmly opposes the application of the US-Japan treaty to the dispute over the islands, which sit in strategically important waters to China’s east.

China’s government said this week that “the so-called Japan-US alliance” should not harm China’s territorial rights, urging the United States to play a constructive role in promoting regional stability.

Abe said he and Obama agreed to cooperate on engagement with China and other issues, including Okinawa, where the US military presence remains a source of tensions.

“The Japan-US alliance is more robust than ever before,” Abe said through a translator.

North Korea

Tackling another source of tension in the region, Obama said he was not optimistic that North Korea would change its behavior in the near future.

But he said he was confident that by working with Japan, South Korea and others—especially China—the United States could apply more pressure so that “at some juncture they end up taking a different course.”

Underscoring his concerns about Pyongyang’s behavior, Obama met on Thursday with relatives of Japanese citizens that the White House said were abducted by North Korea.

Obama recommitted to working with Japan to deal with the North’s “deplorable treatment of its own people,” the White House said.

Later on Thursday, Obama planned to return to the Imperial Palace for a state dinner. He also planned to visit the Meiji Shrine, which honors the emperor whose reign saw Japan emerge from over two centuries of isolation to become a world power.

Obama’s Asia swing is aimed at reaffirming his commitment to the region even as the crisis in Ukraine demands US attention and resources elsewhere.
The ominous standoff between Ukraine and Russia threatens to overshadow the trip, as Obama  weighs whether to levy new economic sanctions on Moscow.

Asian do-over

Obama’s stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines serve as something of a do-over after he canceled a visit to Asia last fall because of the US government shutdown.

The cancellation provided fresh fodder for those in the region who worry that the White House’s much-hyped pivot to Asia is continually taking a backseat to other foreign and domestic priorities.

Obama began his day with a call on Japanese Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace, a lush, park-like complex surrounded by modern skyscrapers where he was greeted by a military honor guard and children holding US and Japanese flags.

After taking in the scene, the president, emperor and empress walked along a maze of red carpet into the palace for a private meeting, with US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and other aides trailing behind.

When Obama pointed out that the last time he met the emperor, he didn’t yet have any gray hairs, the emperor offered the president a gracious excuse: “You have a very hard job.”

PNoy ex-aide new PAF top gun

From the Manila Standard Today (Apr 25): PNoy ex-aide new PAF top gun

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed  his  former senior military assistant as commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, said Lt. Colonel Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces spokesman.

Major General Jeffrey Delgado, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandigan” Class of 1982, will be installed on Friday during a turnover ceremony at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas.

Delgado had served for years a member of the Presidential Security Group under the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino. He is currently Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs based in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

His appointment to PAF is expected to be announced by Malacanang within the day.

He will replace  Lieutenant General Lauro Catalino dela Cruz (PMA “Mapitagan” Class 1980), who bows out of military service.

 Earlier, PAF spokesman Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol said the turnover of command would be held in Lipa for the first time in history, saying it was the request of the outgoing PAF chief.

Mr. Aquino will be attending the turnover, the  source said.

There is talk that Delgado is also being groomed for the Chief of Staff position when AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista retires on July 20, a source said.

Delgado  is an experienced pilot who flew MD520s and T-28 Trojans in close air support operations, Zagala said.

Since Aquino assumed power, the AFP chief of staff position has been a  contest between the Army and Air Force.

Aquino’s line of military chiefs are the following: Army Gen. Ricardo David Jr., Air Force Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr., and Army Gen. Jessie Dellosa.
The current military chief, Bautista, is also from the Army.

Militants’ protests disrupt traffic near US Embassy

From GMA News (Apr 23): Militants’ protests disrupt traffic near US Embassy

Morning traffic near the US Embassy in Manila was disrupted at least twice Wednesday as militant groups tried to march to the embassy to protest the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama.

An initial group of 30 to 50 militants faced off with riot police before 8 a.m., while a bigger group engaged police in a shoving match at 10 a.m., radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported.

Before noon Wednesday, the Bureau of Fire Protection sent a fire truck to help anti-riot police disperse further protest actions, the report said.

The first protest march disrupted early morning traffic when militant youths wearing red headbands marched from the National Library at T.M. Kalaw Street to the embassy.

Manila Police District anti-riot personnel blocked them before they could get near the embassy. The confrontation took up about two lanes of Roxas Boulevard's southbound portion.

But at about 10 a.m., a bigger group protesting Obama's visit tried a similar march to the embassy, and exchanged shoves with anti-riot police.

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority said that as of 10:48 a.m., only one lane of Roxas Boulevard's southbound part near the US Embassy was passable.

It estimated the number of protesters in the second march at 80, from Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela and Anakpawis.

Militants in the second group brought placards that read "US troops out now" and "No to US-military bases."

Wednesday's protest marches came less than a week before the visit of US President Barack Obama to the Philippines. Obama's visit is scheduled April 28 and 29.

Leftists urge govt to talk peace with NDF

From GMA News (Apr 24): Leftists urge govt to talk peace with NDF

Activists stage a lightning rally along Avenida Rizal in Manila on Thursday, April 24, to pressure the government into facing the communist-led National Democratic Front at the negotiating table.

Mass protest to welcome Obama visit

From the opposition Daily Tribune (Apr 25): Mass protest to welcome Obama visit

The government said enough security preparations are being made for the visit of US President Barack Obama on Monday as militant organizations threaten more protest action.

“We are preparing, as we will prepare (for) any visiting head of state. They are here as our guests, and as host, we will provide them the necessary security,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing in Malacañang yesterday.

Asked by reporters if the Palace worries about possible problems from these militant groups, Lacierda said the government expects mass actions from groups opposing President Obama’s visit to the country and is thus carrying out necessary security measures.

President Obama and President Aquino will be talking about defense, trade and security matters, the Palace official said.

“These are the three things that matter regarding our relations with the United States, so those things will be discussed,” he said.

The US leader, who arrived in Japan on Wednesday, is on a four-nation Asian tour to reassure allies of US commitment to the Asia Pacific.

The visit highlights the US’ “pivot to Asia,” as announced by the Obama administration a few years ago. It aims to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

President Obama’s other stops will be South Korea and Malaysia.

CPP/NDF-NE Mindanao: Paspas nga palapdon ug palig-onon ang hiniusang kusog sa demokratikong pwersa sa katawhan ug iasdang ang rebolusyon ngadto sa mas taas nga ang-ang!

NDF-NE Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 24): Paspas nga palapdon ug palig-onon ang hiniusang kusog sa demokratikong pwersa sa katawhan ug iasdang ang rebolusyon ngadto sa mas taas nga ang-ang!

Maria Malaya
NDFP Northeast Mindanao Chapter
Karong adlaw Abril 24, sa pagsaulog sa ika-41 nga anibersaryo sa National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), puno sa kadasig nga gipahalipayan sa NDFP-NEMR ang tanan alyadong organisasyon ubos sa NDFP. Magsaulog kita taliwala sa nagkadunot nga reaksyunaryong sistema nga kasamtangang gipangulohan sa rehimeng US-Aquino ug nagkakusog nga demokratikong rebolusyon sa katawhan.

Nahukasan na ang inutil, kontra-katawhan ug maki-langyaw nga kinaiya sa reaksyunaryong gobyernong pinangulohan ni Benigno S. Aquino. Subay sa mando sa iyang imperyalistang amo, giabli niini ang rekurso sa nasud sa pagpangawkaw sa mga langyaw’ng kompanya. Liboan nga panginabuhian ug mga komunidad ang biktima sa dislokasyon dala sa dinagkung magun-obong mga minahan ug mga plantasyon. Nilutaw ang despotikong asyendero nga kinaiya ni Aquno sa pagbalewala sa gidangatan sa mga mag-uuma nga nawad-an sa yuta, sa mga mangingisdang nawad-an og panginabuhian ug sa katawhang lumad nga napapahawa sa ilang yutang kabilin. Baratong gibaligya niini ang kusog ug kahanas sa mga mamumuong Pilipino nga nag-antus sa ubos nga suhulan ug kuyaw nga kahimtang sa panarbahoan sulod ug gawas sa nasud. Wala kini pagbati sa hatungang hut-ong, sa mga propesyunal ug mga estudyante, sa kabatan-onan ug sa mga kabus sa dakbayan sa iyang pagpataas sa buluhisan, sa kawalay o kakulang sa panarbahoan, sa nagkataas nga mga balayronon ug kawalay katilingbanong serbisyo. Gibuhian niini ang mersenaryong Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ug gilunsad ang Oplan Bayanihan aron pahilumon ang pagbabag ug kasuko sa katawhan sa rehimeng US-Aquino nga nagresulta sa nagkadaghan nga pagpanglapas sa tawhanong katungod.

Sa kasamtangan, 9 ka battalion sa armi ang nakadeploy sa Caraga dugang sa liboang kapulisan, CAFGU ug uban pang grupong para-militar aron panalipdan ang mga minahan ug plantasyon. Padayong nagpaka-itoy ang gobyernong Aquino sa amo nga Estados Unidos sa pagtugot niini sa nagkadakung presensyang militar sa US sa Pilipinas. Buot segurohon sa US ang iyang kontrol sa militar, rekurso ug gobyerno sa Pilipinas atubang sa nagkahuyang na niining kusog militar ug ekonomiya sa kalibutan ilabina atubang sa China.

Taliwala niining tanan, nagkakusog ang rebolusyonaryong diwa sa katawhang Pilipino. Karon nga tuig nahimo na nga 19 ang mga alyadong rebolusyonaryong organisasyon ubos sa National Democratic Front of the Philippines, gikan sa 18 sa miagi. Natukod ug nagpamembro sa NDFP ang COMPATRIOTS, ang rebolusyonaryong organisasyon sa mga Pilipino nga tua nanarbaho ug nanimuyo sa ubang nasud. Nagpakita kini sa pag-asdang ug pag-abante sa diwang masukolon sa katawhang Pilipino sa sulod ug gawas sa nasud.

Dinhi sa Caraga nagkalapad ang pagpamembro ug pagtunhay sa mga rebolusyonaryong organisasyong masa sa kabanikanhan ug sa kasyudaran. Mayorya sa 19 ka membrong mga organisasyon ubos sa NDFP ang nagtunhay na sa NEMR. Lig-ong nakagamut ang rebolusyonaryong kalihokan ug pwersa niini diha sa kapin 100 ka barangay sa NEMR, sulod sa kapin 500 ka barangay nga nalihokan. Mokabat na sa 30 ang gerilya yunit sa BHB sa rehiyon nga nag-unang nilihok alang sa pagpalapad sa baseng gerilya ug nagsumpay sa 11 ka panggubatan nga paborableng gilihukan niini. Kapin 1,500 na usab ang gidaghanon sa Milisyang Bayan sa rehiyon ang nagatimbang sa mga gimbuhaton sa mga pultaym nga mga gerilyang yunit sa BHB. Tungod niini nagkadaghan ang nalunsad nga agraryong rebolusyon sa lainlaing dapit diin nakabenepisyo ang kapin 4,220 ka pamilya sa libreng pagtikad og yuta. Hinayhinay nga nagkaylap ug nagtunhay sa mga komunidad sa kabukiran ang ekonomiyang sarang-sa-komunidad ug panggubat (ESKP) nga nagpundar sa ekonomiya sa mga komunidad, nakapahugot sa panaghiusa sa masa, tinubdan sa pagkaon sa mga pamilya ug nakatampo og pagkaon sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan.

Nagkakusog usab ang kalihukang protesta sa kasyudaran diin dinaghan ug sunodsunod ang mga mobilisasyon nga nagbutyag ug nagkondena sa korapsyon sa gobyerno ug kahiwian sa gobyernong Aquino, nagdemanda sa katilingbanong serbisyo ug sektoral nga mga katungod.

Atubang niini, kinahanglan nga paspas nga palapdon ug palig-onon pa ang demokratikong rebolusyon sa katawhan aron makab-ot ang mas taas nga ang-ang sa rebolusyon. Mahimo nato kini pinaagi sa pagpakusog sa panaghiusa sa demokratikong pwersa sa katawhan. Kinahanglan labaw pa natong palapdon ang mga rebolusyonaryong organisasyong masa, maglunsad og mga edukasyon ug molihok aron ibutyag ug pakgangon ang mga kontra-katawhan nga mga programa sa reaksyunaryong gobyerno, palagpoton ang gobyerno sa despotikong si PNoy ug panalipdan ang patrimonya ug soberanya sa Pilipinas. Atong padaghanon ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan aron dugang pa kitang makatampo sa pagkusog sa rebolusyonaryong kalihukan sa NEMR ug uban pang mga rehiyon sa Pilipinas!

Mabuhi ang National Democratric Front Phillippines!!
Mabuhi ang rebolusyong Pilipino!
Sampa sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan, ang tinuod nga kasundaluhan sa katawhan!

CPP/NDF-Bicol: Strengthen and Advance the Formidable Strength of a People United Against an Oppressive Regime

NDF-Bicol propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Apr 24): Strengthen and Advance the Formidable Strength of a People United Against an Oppressive Regime

Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
The National Democratic Front-Bicol extends its warmest greetings to the people’s revolutionary organizations on the occasion of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ 41st foundation anniversary this April 24, 2014. The NDF-Bicol likewise sends its warm welcome to COMPATRIOTS, the revolutionary organization of overseas Filipinos and their families.

It is a victory for the Filipino people that the NDFP has persevered in sharply confronting and decisively fighting the ever decaying semifeudal and semicolonial society. The NDFP’s expansion and consolidation attest to the Filipino people’s utmost value toward their organized action in order to advance their national and democratic aspirations through armed revolution. A truly independent, democratic, and progressive society shall arise from the people’s revolutionary fortitude.

The united front of various classes and sectors is highly important today in forging a formidable weapon against the loathsome US-Aquino regime. Grave corruption, brutality, and puppetry to US imperialism are sound foundations to oust Noynoy Aquino.

1. Servility to US imperialism and relinquishment of the country’s sovereignty

The US imperialists seize Noynoy Aquino by the neck. He has no tinge of patriotism in his veins as he is inept at upholding the nation’s sovereignty, bringing about the US’ heightened intervention in all aspects of Philippine society. Aquino is hypocritical in censuring China’s interventionist posture on Philippine territory, while leaving the door wide open for the US military to roam the country increasingly and unabatedly.

Once again, Aquino will violate his government’s constitution as he allows foreign troops to conduct the intel and psywar exercise that is RP-US Balikatan in the town of Guinobatan and Legazpi City in Albay province on April 21 to May 16.

In tune with Albay Governor Joey Salceda’s arrogant “Zero Insurgency” prospect in Albay, heightened militarization and the Balikatan exercises in the province aim to launch an all-out suppression of the people and hand out the province to the unrestricted dispensation of Aquino and Salceda’s imperialist masters. Nothing else is on the US’ agenda than to dominate the Philippine economy in the name of Globalization, as to be represented by the forthcoming APEC gathering in 2015. Control of the Asia-Pacific market is US imperialism’s overriding objective in order to resuscitate its gasping economy.

Likewise in the near future, Aquino the traitor aims to contravene the 1987 Constitution so as to allow his imperialist masters to fully own Philippine lands and businesses, and bring the Philippines back to the plaguing of US military bases. These are the matters that Obama the imperialist boss intends to guarantee from Aquino the lackey on the US president’s visit on April 27.

2. Exploitation of policies and programs to serve the economic interest of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, business partners, and friends

Aquino likewise holds the people hostage to serve as his clan’s and business partners’ milking cow under the Public-Private Partnership projects.
Electric cooperatives in the region are now being served on Danding Cojuangco’s plate for him to own and feast upon. And as in the case of the Bicol Medical Center, other public service institutions are also headed for the control of capitalists. Moreover, the region’s mineral resources are being auctioned to destructive foreign companies rather than building on the mining industry to benefit the country. In many provinces, most of Bicol’s governors are emboldened by Noynoy to partake in the plunder of the region’s mineral resources.

3. Disregard of land reform program and denial of the farmers’ rightful funds

Peasants are victims of the denial of social justice as regards ownership of the land that they have nurtured for decades, and the absence of agricultural support from Noynoy’s government. Thus, cancellations of Emancipation Patents, Certificates of Land Transfer, and Certificates of Land Ownership Awards are widespread, resulting in the displacement of peasant families from their lands. Such predicament of the peasantry stems from the unjust framework of the anti-people government’s bogus land reform program and the theft of funds intended for land reform.

Under the rule of Noynoy’s mother, P62.7 million was squandered in the Garchitorena Land Scam. Most of the region’s funds were anomalously paid off to an Aquino ally for land covered by the worthless CARP. This time, the Pork Barrel King covets the P72 billion of the coco levy funds and interests rightfully owned by coconut farmers. Noynoy salivates to swell his trillion-peso worth of pork barrel with the farmers’ coco levy funds. The coco levy funds are highly essential to Bicolanos, in view of the fact that Bicol is third among the coco-producing regions that have contributed to the said funds.

Aside from these crimes, Noynoy likewise crams into the troubles of the peasantry the harmful GMO seeds, fertilizers, and chemicals. Instead of upholding and developing natural methods of farming, Noynoy once again serves the interests of multinational companies in bleeding the people dry of their money over and over again.

4. Stagnant wages and high prices of commodities, more than half of which are taxes to a corrupt government

Meanwhile, workers and employees are denied of just wages. Whatever meager income they manage to earn are funneled towards high taxes and soaring prices of goods and services, and to the extremely detestable pork barrel. Parents torment themselves on how to produce means in order to sustain their children’s schooling. This, in addition to burgeoning expenses in the household. Furthermore, the small bulk of the youth which has managed to graduate from college fall in the ever-lengthening unemployment line, piling up to the more than 12 million jobless Filipinos.

5. Denial of education and neglect of the youth’s welfare

Quality education is inaccessible for the youth. An increasing number of young people are compelled to give up their schooling owing to their families’ lack of means to get across each day in poverty. Even those from the society’s middle strata are now mired in debts all throughout. They have either pawned or sold their properties if only to sustain their otherwise sunken budgets for their children’s future.

The government’s 4P’s dole out is nothing but a grave deception in cunningly flaunting Noynoy’s imaginary concern for the poor. This conditional cash transfer does not solve hunger and illiteracy among the youth. In truth, the people are doubly scourged as aside from being victims of Noynoy’s psywar, they will be made to pay off the imperialist grant utilized for the 4P’s.

Noynoy is furthermore liable to Bicol’s youth inasmuch as they are being preyed on by decadent habits and vices, and are coerced into joining the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be exploited for the military’s crimes. The denial of education and driving the youth towards depravity are consistent with the reactionary government’s design to round up the youth against the revolutionary movement.

Whatever form of the people’s dissent against Noynoy’s wicked policies are met with Oplan Bayanihan’s repression. Although a failure at defeating the revolutionary movement, this counterinsurgency program carries out widespread human rights violations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and is unrelenting at poisoning the minds of the people, most especially the youth. The people are being lured into various types of distractions, decadent habits in particular, with the intention of dissuading them to take the path of revolution.

The grounds for ousting Noynoy are sufficient and sound. The process of causing his ouster may push for the intensification of the people’s war, and the march towards the strategic stalemate. Every single one of those who are exploited and oppressed must come together and direct the force of the united front against the people’s solitary enemy that is the US-Aquino regime.

Prospects for realizing great leaps in the people’s revolution are optimal, because the Bicolano people throb with a deep sense of revolutionary fervour. Our history attests to more than the people’s heroic fight against the open colonization of the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Japanese. Bicolanos have also persevered in fighting the indirect occupation of the devastating US imperialism that masquerade as democratic governments.

The mid-80’s united front of the basic masses together with those from the middle forces, in realizing their national and democratic demands, has achieved highest esteem. The workers and the peasantry joined forces with lawyers, church people, educators, businessmen, and all other sectors in culminating their collective action towards massive caravans in the regional centers.

Such revolutionary fervour must be instilled and constantly kept aflame in the consciousness of each Bicolano yearning to break away from the oppression and exploitation of the current system. It is this same fervour that must be rekindled by those in good standing and are willing to return to the folds of the revolution and perform revolutionary tasks yet again. We who have once grasped the correctness of armed revolution must keep the initiative and impel the wave of the people’s action in resolving their oppressed conditions.

It remains a permanent necessity that we spearhead the forming of organizations that advance the national and democratic interests of our class and sectors. The conditions are favourable to promptly arouse active members for them to comprehend and embrace the righteousness and necessity of armed revolution. These advanced members should be organized and forthwith affiliated with any of the appropriate allied organizations of the National Democratic Front. Our organizations will likewise advance in strength for as long as these are integrated with the struggles of other classes and sectors, and are in tight linkage with our people’s army in waging the armed struggle.

The people’s amassed force in intensifying the armed struggle, combined with far-reaching mobilizations in both the countryside and the cities, shall be our forefront in fighting the US-Aquino regime’s pro-imperialist and anti-people policies. The resurgence and advance of the people’s united front shall cause the overthrow of Noynoy’s despicable regime, and the gradual defeat of the exploitative and oppressive ruling class.

A bright future lies beyond the revolution’s arduous and winding route. This is why despite immense challenges, the people are determined to carry on the struggle towards the next stage and break away from poverty and slavery, and establish a government that is truly at their service. The steadfast united front of oppressed classes and sectors in waging armed revolution holds the key in the foundation of a society that is genuinely independent, democratic, and progressive.

Long live the Revolution!
Long live the Filipino people!

CPP/Ang Bayan: Confront Obama’s visit and US military basing with protests

Ang Bayan special anti-US propaganda issue posted to the CPP Website (Apr 23): Confront Obama’s visit and US military basing with protests

CPP Ang Bayan
On April 28, Barack Obama, current US imperialist chief will be visiting the country to inaugurate the newest military agreement between the US and the Philippines. After a series of meetings since March, US and Philippine government and military officials finalized the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on April 11.
The US and the Philippines first began negotiations for the new agreement in January 2011, right after the US announced plans to “pivot” towards Asia and declared the New Pacific Century. With the declaration, the US considers as key to the US’ recovery from crisis the strengthening of trade and investments in Asia through a stronger military presence in the region.
The US’ planned “pivot” involves deploying to Asia up to 60% of its naval forces and 50% of its land forces abroad. This is equivalent to maintaining hundreds of thousands of troops in various parts of Asia. In this manner, it could project its military strength at any time and in any place in the region.
Also part of the US “pivot” to Asia is the forging of regional and bilateral agreements with countries in the Asia-Pacific to facilitate coordination. The US estimates that the “pivot” would be completed in the next decade.
In the past three years, US warships, jetfighters and armed troops have been arriving in the Philippines with greater frequency and in greater numbers. In 2012, warships docked at Philippine ports at least 80 times, growing to 150 in 2013 and even more often in succeeding years.
Aside from rotational US military troops, there are 700 American soldiers comprising the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) permanently stationed in an exclusive area within the AFP Western Command’s Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City since 2002.
To justify the growing US military presence in the Philippines and the launching of military exercises in various parts of Asia, the US has been stoking diplomatic tensions regarding multi-country claims to islands and land formations in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. Benigno Aquino III’s government has played a distinct role in this fracas by taking the lead in hurling verbal challenges at China.
Aquino and the US government have invoked “tensions with China” to justify the growing US presence in the Philippines. The Aquino regime portrays the US as a “friend” of the Philippines regarding the conflict with China. Aquino’s officials have also been claiming that under the 1956 Mutual Defense Treaty, the US has an “obligation” to support the Philippines once conflict erupts in the South China Sea.
While the US continues to strengthen its military relations with China (which includes its participation in the Rim of Pacific Exercise or RIMPAC in June), it also repeatedly states that it would “come to the aid of its friend,” to the delight of its gullible puppets in the Philippines. In fact, the ruling monopoly bureaucrat capitalist class in China is a close ally of US imperialism, even if the US keeps a watchful eye on and blocks China’s growth and domination over Asia.
The US and Philippine governments began to frame the EDCA to lay down the legal basis for the continued and growing US military presence in the Philippines. Described as an aid to strenghening the country’s maritime security, it is anchored on, and is an elaboration of, the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Military Logistics Support Agreement.
To justify the EDCA, the US military presence in the Philippines is likewise presented as an adjunct of “other security-related issues” such as “humanitarian aid/disaster response” or HA/DR. The US strengthened the HA/DR aspect of the agreement after it was able to invoke it to justify the mass deployment of its troops and military hardware. In one example, the US’ biggest warship docked in Leyte Gulf in November 2013 in the name of providing assistance to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
The US will be invoking this same provision to justify plans to bring in its troops to Eastern Visayas under the cloak of Pacific Partnership 2014, a naval exercise to be held in Tacloban City and nearby areas in June.
After months of negotiations, EDCA’s details remain secret. With the limited information being shared by Aquino officials, its contents will likely contain the following:
1) the US military will be allowed to maintain bases or enclaves within military camps of the Armed Forces of the Philippines;
2) US military forces will enjoy more extensive rights and authority to use any facility, especially seaports and airports, to achieve a “minimum credible defense” against “Chinese aggression” regarding Philippine territories in the South China Sea; and
3) the US military will be able to conduct military exercises and operations anywhere in the Philippines in the name of “humanitarian aid/disaster response.”
Thus, the EDCA is no other than an agreement that formally restores the US military bases. Under it, the US military will be enjoying exclusive access to military facilities for docking, landing and stationing its vehicles, equipment and military troops within the country. It revives the hated Military Bases Agreement of 1946 that enabled the US to maintain its huge military bases in the country until 1991.
The EDCA violates Philippine national sovereignty anew and paves the way for further US military domination and control over the country’s political, military, diplomatic and economic affairs.
1) What is “troop rotation” and “increased rotational presence?”
ONE of the key issues in the new treaty involves the Philippines’ grant of permission to the US to maintain permanent troop presence in the country in the guise of “troop rotation.” Combat troops, warships and warplanes take turns maintaining their presence in areas covered by US military operations.
Within the frame of the US’ “Asia pivot,” US troops, warships and warplanes will be maintaining “increased rotational presence” in the Asia-Pacific region. A major aspect involves the deployment of 60% of its entire naval fleet to the region, from the current 50-50 division between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
The more frequent and numerous dockings of US warships in the Philippines has been going on since 2010. A US Navy report states that up to 51 of its warships docked in various ports in the country in 2010; fifty-four in 2011; eighty-eight in 2012; and seventy-two in the first half of 2013 alone (January-July).
Simultaneously, military troops will be massively deployed in various bases and base-like facilities in the Asia-Pacific, mainly in Australia (Darwin), Singapore (Changi Bay) and South Korea (Jeju Island) through a series of “port visits,” military exercises and other activities.
In the Philippines, the US plans to maintain 4,000-5,000 troops in various local seaports, airports and “joint operational bases.” These will comprise rotational forces and units, including US Marines and Navy elements previously based in Okinawa, Japan and now based temporarily in Guam.
2) Why will permanent military bases and facilities be built by American troops in the Philippines if all they will be maintaining is their rotational presence?
A REQUISITE for the US’ “increased rotational presence” is the existence of permanent facilities for the US military’s exclusive use as docking and landing areas for its growing number of warships and warplanes, and areas with which to station its combat troops for rest and recreation and store its fuel, weapons and equipment.
In actuality, the American troops will be staying in various seaports and exclusive enclaves being prepared for them within AFP military camps. US documents call these “access locations” or “cooperative security locations” in older papers.
Such an arrangement is highly similar to the current arrangement between the US and the Philippines regarding the 700 rotational troops of the US Special Forces based at the headquarters of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (formerly the Joint Task Force-510 of the Special Operations Command, Pacific) in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City.
Although the American troops are here on a rotational basis, they maintain permanent facilities within the camp that could not be easily accessed by Filipino officers.
The US Special Forces have also been maintaining facilities in Camp Malagutay in Malagutay and Camp Andrew Air Base in Sta. Maria, both in Zamboanga City; Camp General Bautista in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu; and at the Philippine Naval Station in Batu-Bato, Panglima, Sugala, Tawi Tawi. Local residents call these facilities “American camps” and US public documents identify them as “small bases.”
With the help of its puppet states in Asia, the US plans to build or repair bases/airports/seaports that could be used by its troops on short notice as staging areas, depots for equipment and troops or for resting. A report prepared for the US Army Pacific Command states that in Southeast Asia alone, there are 50 such locations that can be used for these purposes.
Among these are old and small airports and seaports and military camps and bases that the US was able to use under the Military Bases Agreement.
3) Which camps and facilities are being prepared by the US-Aquino regime for US troops?
EVEN before the new agreement could be finalized, the Aquino regime had already begun construction on new airports and seaports and repairing camps and other military facilities in the name of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Plan.
Officials of the US-Aquino rehime claim that the modernization of Subic and Clark is being done in preparation for the transfer of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force headquarters. Nonetheless, the regime’s military officers openly admit that changes being made in the two former bases are focused on servicing US troops, ships and planes and those of its allies (like Japan and India; and lately, South Korea through a parallel military agreement). An estimated `10 billion is needed to modernize Subic alone.
The US has been pushing for access to other airports and seaports for the “refuelling and repair” of its ships and planes. Among these are Poro Point in La Union, Sangley Point in Cavite and commercial ports in the cities of Laoag, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga. The US also wants similar facilities in Batanes; Sta. Ana, Cagayan; General Santos City; and Cebu City to be open for use. These seaports and airports form part of a network of facilities that could be reached by their warships from Guam in five days or less.
At the same time, the US itself has been modernizing camps that its troops have been using often. In 2011, then US Ambassador Harry Thomas boasted that the US has provided `200 million in military assistance to the Aquino regime to modernize various AFP camps, including `42 million for the construction of barracks, toilet facilities and mess halls at Basa Air Base in Pampanga and `25 million to repair roads inside Fort Magsaysay (headquarters of the 7th ID) in Nueva Ecija. These two camps are regularly used as venues for US military exercises.
The US plans to permanently base several battalions of US Marines, Navy and Air Force (1,500+ troops) in Subic Bay and Clark Air Base (200) to support the growing number of rotational troops in the region for joint exercises and military operations, among others.
The US likewise plans to build an “advance command post” in Palawan and maintain an undersize company from the Marine Special Operations Battalion (60-70 troops) in the area. The plan includes the formation of a “joint command” with the Philippine Marine Corps Reservation in Samariniana, Brooke’s Point in Palawan and extending an airstrip inside from 1 kilometer to 2.4 kilometers to accommodate US warplanes. It will also repair an airstrip in Balabac, southern Palawan formerly used by the US in World War II.
The plan likewise includes the construction (already made public) of a naval base in Oyster Bay, which is just a few kilometers away from the protected Underground River, for the use of US warships. Alongside Filipino soldiers, the US had already begun construction on a naval base in the guise of launching the 13th Philippines-US Amphibious Landing Exercise or PHIBLEX 13 in October 2012. The `500 million used for the construction of the so-called Little Subic was sourced from the AFP modernization fund.
The US also plans to build “joint operational bases” in Ulugan Bay in Macarascas town and in Tarumpitao Point in Rizal town, both in Palawan. Within the frame of the “joint command” and of building a “joint operational base” (also known as “base-sharing”), hundreds of American soldiers will be able to undertake long-term basing in the guise of “troop rotation” without directly admitting to permanently basing foreign troops in the country.
In the guise of conducting relief and rehabilitation in areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda last year, the US has now been using Guian Military Airbase in Eastern Samar anew, which it built during the Second World War.
4) Why is it important for the US to “pivot” towards Asia?
The Asian region is important to the US. The world’s two biggest economies can be found here (India and China). So can the two biggest importers of US goods—Japan and the ASEAN bloc composed of ten small countries. The two sea routes (the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea) used for 70% of maritime commerce in the Pacific are in Southeast Asia.
The biggest markets for US weapons and other military equipment are also in the Asia-Pacific (Australia and South Korea). The US sold up to $10 billion worth of firearms to India in the past decade. The US plans to further expand its share of the market.
In addition, the US needs in a major way to confront China, one of the biggest threats to its economic and military domination of Asia. Its “pivot” towards Asia and its calculated military priorities play a particular role in asserting more neoliberal changes in the Chinese economy in the US’ desire to gain more advantages for big American capitalist investors in China.
In strengthening its presence in Asia, the US actively thwarts China’s attempts to rule trade and investments as a sole power o set itself up as a regional leader both economically and militarily among countries in the Asia-Pacific.
5) What has the “pivot” so far achieved?
THE US is still in the process of laying the requisites for continually shifting its forces to Asia, which it estimates will be completed in 2020.
Last year, it began rotating a number of Marine battalions in its base in Darwin, Australia. The US is still in the process of negotiating with Australia on the opening of its other military camps to the presence of American forces, repairing a seaport for the docking of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and using some its islands as launching pad for warplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
In Singapore, four LCS allegedly being used by the US for HA/DR have already begun rotation, with the ships staying for as long as six months in Changi Bay. At the same time, Singapore has opened to the US the use of the nearby airport for aircraft repairs and refuelling.
In 2011, the US signed a related agreement on “maritime security” with Indonesia that led to the launching of 140 “military exercises” within the country.
In 2012, the US and Vietnam forged a military treaty that allegedly covered maritime security, “search and rescue operations,” “peacekeeping operations” and HA/DR.
Meanwhile, the US continues to deploy troops in various parts of the region in the name of joint military exercises, special operations and HA/DR.
Cobra Gold, one of the biggest and longest military exercises in the region, continues to be conducted in Thailand.
In 2013, the US launched one of the biggest “military exercises” along the South Korea-North Korea border. These provocations led to North Korea’s revocation of the ceasefire agreement it signed and its declaration of a state of war between the two countries.
In Japan, a newly built US radar facility was inaugurated on April 20. The military facility is part of the US Missile Defense in Asia.

Nature of American rotational troops in the Philippines

THE majority of the military forces to be deployed in Southeast Asia “on rotation” have already been assigned to the region in the past. Foremost among them is the Seventh Fleet, the biggest “forward deployed” US force. Formerly stationed at the Subic Naval Base in Olongapo City, it currently maintains a permanent base in Okinawa, Japan.
The Seventh Fleet comprises 60-70 ships, 300 combat planes and helicopters and 40,000 Marines and Navy forces. Its flagship is the USS George Washington, a nuclear-capable aircraft carrier that has docked several times in the Philippines in the past two years.
These troops are US assault forces. The Seventh Fleet has a long record of intervention and combat in Asia, including Korea, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam; and lately, in the US wars of aggression in the Middle East. The US began reducing its troops in Okinawa and transferring them since 2007 due to the Japanese people’s widespread hatred for the heinous crimes committed by American soldiers against children and women.
In December 2013, the US and Japan’s reactionary state agreed to close down the Futenma Base in Okinawa housing tens of thousands of US Marines and transfer them elsewhere on the island. Eight thousand US Marines will also be transferred to Guam, Hawaii and other areas.

The “pivot to Asia” in military terms

In military terms, increasing the US naval force means adding one aircraft carrier, seven destroyers and its attached amphibious sea vessels, ten Littoral Combat Ships (LCS or ships that sail along the shores) and two submarines in the waters of the Asia-Pacific. About 60% of US Air Force elements stationed overseas will also be positioned in the region, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) currently being used for combat and surveillance in Afghanistan and new warplanes. It will also mean deploying 60% of the US’ space and internet capability to the region.
In addition, some 60,000 troops previously stationed in Afghanistan will be transferred to Asia while maintaining the previous number of American troops in the region. The bulk of these forces will be stationed in Guam and Hawaii.
At present, there are 325,000 US military and civilian forces based in Asia under the US Pacific Command (PACOM). US PACOM covers the entire India-Asia-Pacific region from the coast of California to the India-Pakistani border.
PACOM comprises 1) two big fleets with 180 ships, 2,000 airplanes and 140,000 troops; 2) a 74,000-strong Marine Corps troop; 3) an Air Force troop with 40,000 pilots in nine bases, with 300 airplanes; 5) an Army troop with 60,000 personnel and groups of special forces conducting operations in 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific.