Monday, May 12, 2014

BIFF ambush in Maguindanao leaves 1 soldier dead, 4 wounded

From GMA News (May 12): BIFF ambush in Maguindanao leaves 1 soldier dead, 4 wounded

An ambush staged by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao left a soldier dead and four others wounded on Monday morning.

According to Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army 6th Infantry Division, 20 BIFF men detonated improvised bombs as a convoy carrying Col. Jener Del Rosario – commander of the 1st Mechanized Brigade – crossed a bridge in Barangay Meta at 10:30 a.m. The detonations "heavy exchanges of fire", Hermoso said.
Del Rosario was not hurt in the fighting that followed.

The 45th Infantry Battalion sent reinforcements and are pursuing the BIFF fighters, Hermoso said.

The BIFF, a breakaway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has been blamed a string of attacks in Central Mindanao over the past several days, including the harassment of two Army detachments in Datu Unsay town last Tuesday.

DND exec: Any part of PHL can become ‘agreed location’ under EDCA

From GMA News (May 13): DND exec: Any part of PHL can become ‘agreed location’ under EDCA

Any part of the Philippines can become an "agreed location" that US troops can access under the new defense agreement between the two countries, a Department of National Defense (DND) official told a Senate hearing Tuesday.

DND Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, chairman of the Philippine panel which negotiated the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), said the pact "provides flexibility" to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in determining the locations to be shared with US troops.
"We expect that this will not be automatic. This will undergo a long series of talks before it is agreed that an installation will be established," Batino told the Senate committees on national defense and foreign relations.
He added that the Philippine panel wants "as few agreed locations as possible," and that these locations should promote maritime security.
For his part, Ambassador Eduardo Malaya, another member of the EDCA panel, said that agreed locations which will be made available for rotational presence of US troops will be "only those that will promote national interest."
"What we are envisioning in agreed locations is not permanent presence but temporary, rotational presence... There is no exclusivity in use for the US," Malaya told senators during the hearing.
No limitations
Before US President Barack Obama's arrival in Manila two weeks ago, Philippine and American officials signed the EDCA, which will allow an enlarged rotational presence of American troops in the country. The new defense pact is effective for 10 years. 
Under the EDCA, the Philippines authorizes US forces to train, refuel aircraft and preposition their supplies within Philippine territory, in locations that have yet to be specified by both parties. 
But Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. raised questions regarding the lack of parameters in EDCA on what can be turned into an agreed location for US troops.
"As it stands, there are no guidelines on what will be agreed locations... Lugi tayo sa usapan," Marcos told members of the EDCA negotiating panel.
He added that the provision in the pact that limits agreed locations to those that promote maritime security seems all-encompassing, since the Philippines is an archipelago.
Marcos further said that the Senate will "anxiously wait" while members of the Philippine panel negotiate with their American counterparts on the access of US troops to certain locations.
Batino earlier said that up to five Philippine military bases may be made available to US forces after they complete the negotiations on agreed locations under the EDCA.

Marawi City raid nets high-powered firearms, IED parts

From GMA News (May 12): Marawi City raid nets high-powered firearms, IED parts

A joint team of the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation seized high-powered firearms and detonating devices in a raid on a three-storey buiding in Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur, Monday.

Arrested during the raid was Hadji Cader Sarongsong, the alleged operator of the illegal manufacture of firearms and ammunitions in the building, which is in a residential area.

The raid was conducted past 12 p.m., and followed two months of surveillance operations in the area.

Authorities found 10 high-powered firearms, including an M-16 assault rifle, a .50-caliber sniper rifle, an M-60 rifle grenade and a M-79 grenade launcher. Authorities also seized a detonating device and other equipment used to manufacture firearms.

In an interview with GMA News' “24 Oras”, Sarongsong admitted he was manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for some members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Ito ay trabaho lang talaga. Ito ang hanapbuhay ko talaga,” Sarongsong said.

Sarongsong, as well as the recovered firearms, are now in the custody of the Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade.

“Kapag hindi natin ma-check itong mga ganitong klase ng pagpa-fabricate ng mga firearms ay dadami nang dadami ang illegal firearms dito,” said NBI-Iligan chief Alex Caburnay.

“Ito talaga ang dapat i-pursue natin, na mawala yung mga loose firearms sa area ng Bangsamoro,” Col. Glenn Macasero, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, said.

[Video: News report on the raid]

A separate report of GMA News TV's “Balita Pilipinas” said the NBI and the military are now investigating Sarongsong's statement that the firearms were for MILF members.

On March 27, the MILF and the Philippine government signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which aims to end the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

Included in the agreement is a provision on the decomissioning firearms, which means that members of the MILF will no longer use their firearms and instead turned them over to a third party.

Sarongsong will face charges of illegal possession and illegal manufacture of firearms, the report said.

Treason raps readied vs EDCA proponents

From the Daily Tribune (May 12): Treason raps readied vs EDCA proponents

Treason charges are being prepared by various groups led by Bayan Muna in connection with the recent forging of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the United States and the Philippines.

Former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiño disclosed this during a recent forum at the Balitaan sa Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City.

He said lawyers of Bayan Muna and various organizations opposed to EDCA are already comparing notes and are in fact seriously looking to file before the Supreme Court charges of treason against those responsible for the agreement.

Casiño said they will seek the audience of SC because the Senate has yet to do something to investigate the matter when in fact there are glaring provisions in EDCA, 11 in all, that violated the Constitution of the land.

“Eleven provisions of EDCA are unconstitutional, but the Senate seemed not interested in looking into it,” Casiño said.

Not only the Constitution has been violated by the said agreement, which was not even a treaty, but also the Local Government Code and the National Telecommunications Laws, he added.

The militant leader said the EDCA provisions not only favored the US government and its forces in terms of using the bases in the country, but they have total control of the facilities they will build and the Philippine government has limited access to it.

Casiño said even private facilities if the US forces see the need for it can be utilized unhampered.

The basing of the foreign government is way beyond the control of the Philippine government because they have all the operational and use of the said facilities.

The proponents of the EDCA, particularly Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, are not interested in bringing the agreement to the Senate for scrutiny because they know the unconstitutionality of the provision can be seen.

“Basically many provisions are violative of Philippine laws and the people are not aware that the US has all the control and supervision of all the facilities they will build,” Casiño said.

To make matters worse, Casiño said the EDCA, which was supposed to be the basis by the Philippine government to be the framework of support in the event foreign incursions occur, is silent on some issues, particularly the Chinese incursion in West Philippine Sea.

Because of this, Casiño said his group will definitely petition the SC to protect the sovereignty of the country.

Human-rights groups to probe militarization in Davao, Cotabato

From the Business Mirror (May 11): Human-rights groups to probe militarization in Davao, Cotabato

REPRESENTATIVES of various national people’s organizations, progressive party-list organizations and human-rights groups on Sunday flew to Davao City to join other human-rights workers and peace advocates in Mindanao to investigate alleged rights abuses committed by the military against peasants and indigenous peoples in Davao and Cotabato provinces.
The Manila contingent was composed of representatives from the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan); party-lists Gabriela, Act Teachers, and Bayan Muna; Karapatan, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas; Children’s Rehabilitation Center; Kalikasan, Koalisyon ng Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan;  Kilusang Mayo Uno; Task Force for Indigenous People’s Rights; National Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Health Alliance for Democracy.
The National Solidarity Mission was formed because of the adverse impact of the massive military operation and inaction of local and regional government, said a joint statement of the Mindanao-based Exodus for Justice and Peace, Defend Talaingod Save Pantaron Range Alliance, Defend Compostela Valley Alliance, Save our Schools, Sowing Seeds of Peace in Mindanao, Pasaka, Bayan-SMR, and Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region.
The group is blaming “Oplan Bayanihan,” the direct effect in Mindanao of which is the deployment of five divisions,  about 60 percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the statement said.
“The towns and villages where the AFP conducts its operations are the same towns and villages with the most reported cases of human-rights violations,” the statement said.
Of the 192 cases of extrajudicial killings under the current Aquino administration, 25 occurred in Southern Mindanao where the Davao provinces belong to, organizers of the National Solidarity Mission said.
They said that on April 3,  some 1,353 Talaingod-Manobo, mostly children under 12 years old, arrived in Davao City after a six-day trek from their ancestral lands in the Pantaron mountains in Davao del Norte, fleeing from conflict areas.
The children complained of abuses, threats and harassments, bombings and indiscriminate firing by the soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion (IB), 68th IB of 1003rd Brigade, and 4th Special Forces, the statement said.
After a dialogue with Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario, Talaingod Mayor Basilio Libayao, and AFP Gen. Ariel Bernardo, the Talaingod-Manobo agreed to go back to their lands once the military pulls out from their communities.
The AFP agreed to suspend its operation in Talaingod for the return of the evacuees, but only for two days.
“Oplan Bayanihan’s military operation in the Davao region has resulted in the displacement of peasants and indigenous peoples, and gross human-rights violations committed against them,” said the Mindanao human rights and peace advocates’ organizations.
Aside from going to Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the NSM also visited the communities in Magpet, Arakan, North Cotabato; Maco, Compostella Valley; and Paquibato, Davao City.

Cop killed, another wounded in NPA ambush in Palawan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 12): Cop killed, another wounded in NPA ambush in Palawan
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—A policeman was killed and another was wounded in an ambush perpetrated by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members in the village of Tagusao, Quezon, Palawan on Monday.

The fatality was identified by authorities as PO3 Roniel Paduga. The wounded policeman, identified only in the initial police report as PO3
Atrero, was airlifted to a hospital here to undergo medication.

The Palawan police chief, Superintendent David Martinez, said the victim was with two other policemen on Monday morning to serve an arrest warrant in Barangay Tagusao when fired upon by an estimated group of about 10-15 armed men.

ASEAN fires warning shot across China’s bows

From the Manila Times (May 12): ASEAN fires warning shot across China’s bows

Asian leaders have expressed “serious concern” over worsening territorial disputes in the South China Sea, presenting a rare united front against an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Vietnam and the Philippines led a successful push for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to deliver a thinly-veiled rebuke to China over the standoff in waters home to key shipping lanes and thought to contain huge energy reserves.

The 10-nation bloc, in a statement released on Monday, called for a peaceful resolution to the maritime rows, which flared up this month after China moved an oil drilling rig into waters also claimed by Hanoi.

“We expressed serious concerns over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea,” said the joint statement from Sunday’s summit in Myanmar, without explicitly pointing the finger at Beijing.

ASEAN called on all parties involved to “exercise self-restraint, not to resort to threat(s) or use of force, and to resolve disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law”.

Observers said the statement marked a change of tone by the regional bloc, many of whose members—including Myanmar—have close economic and political ties with China and have traditionally avoided confrontation with the Asian heavyweight.

In 2012 China’s ally Cambodia caused consternation when it was ASEAN head by refusing to take Beijing to task over its assertive maritime stance.

“This is a far cry from when Cambodia was ASEAN chair,” said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer.

The statement “represents a slight tightening of ASEAN’s position,” he said, adding it suggests a rare level of “consensus” on the vexed sea rights issue.

“The statement is so nuanced that it will not offend China but ASEAN leaders are making it clear that they all share a common concern,” said Thayer, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
There was no immediate response from Beijing.

Under Brunei’s chairmanship last year, China avoided a public rebuke from ASEAN at a major summit in the oil-flush sultanate after Beijing offered an olive branch by calling for peace in the flashpoint region.

Prominent Vietnamese political commentator Nguyen Quang A described the ASEAN declaration as a “big positive” for his country.

Vietnam lobbied energetically at the latest meeting in Myanmar for a strong statement on the maritime issue from its neighbours.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung slammed Beijing’s oil rig move as “extremely dangerous” and accused Chinese vessels of ramming Vietnamese ships in the disputed waters.

“This is the first time China brazenly brings and installs its drilling rig deep into the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone of an ASEAN country, which gravely violates the international law,” he said, according to an official transcript of his speech.

The spat triggered large anti-China protests in Vietnam at the weekend that appeared to have the tacit blessing of the authoritarian communist regime in Hanoi, which usually limits expression of public discontent.

The demonstrations received unprecedented coverage in Vietnam’s tightly-controlled state media on Monday.

Analyst Quang A said more rallies were likely unless Beijing removes the drilling rig.

“Our fate is that we are situated here, with a big neighbour who always wants expansion,” he said.

China and Vietnam fought a brief border war in 1979 and the pair frequently trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration, fishing rights and the contested Spratly and Paracel Islands.

China asserts ownership over almost all of the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia as well as Taiwan.

Manila, which has asked a UN tribunal to rule on China’s claims over most of the sea, also said last Wednesday it had detained a Chinese fishing boat in disputed territory.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino told reporters after Sunday’s summit said that “many leaders” at the summit had voiced concern about the South China Sea spats, which he said were a “cause for worry and concern by all parties.”

The other ASEAN members are Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

MILF: Piksalabukam Bansa Subanen spearheads consultation on BBL

From the MILF Website (May 12): Piksalabukam Bansa Subanen spearheads consultation on BBL

On May 6, 2014, the Piksalabukam Bansa Subanen (PBS) spearheaded   advocacy program on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) held at at Malubai, RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay in support to the public engagement activities of  the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
The public consultation was undertaken in collaboration with Mindanao Civil Society Organizations Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) attended by 150 participants from Zamboanga peninsula belonging to the Subanen and Kalibugan ethnic tribes.

The consultation seeks to enlighten and educate the indigenous peoples (IPs) on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels on March 27, 2014 and seek the support of the IP’s in urging the Philippine Congress to fast track the deliberation and enactment of the BBL.

Timuay Fernando “Nanding” Mudai, a tribal leader described the event as good and timely because the doubts and confusions of the IPs on the issue of BBL and the CAB were satisfactorily answered by Datu Antonio Kinoc of B’laan and Timuay Melanio Ulama of Teduray tribe who were invited as resource speakers.

“We (IPs) are enlightened about the contents of the BBL and the CAB. And there’s nothing to worry about.” he said.

He also expressed his support to the future Bangsamoro government. He said that the Bangsamoro government is not separate from the Philippine Republic and it’s eventual establishment is a great challenge for those who will be in the helm of leadership to look into the needs and demands of their constituents.

He stressed that, “It’s better to join the Bangsamoro Government rather than with the present set-up because IP’s concerns and problems are not fully addressed. The politicians only need them during election time.”

He also called on the present politicians to be righteous and fair to their constituents regardless of their economic and social status.

“Usually poor people experienced injustice and have less access to government services.  We better accept the Bangsamoro government than to stay in the current set-up. ” he said

Datu Antonio Kinoc, an alternate member of the MILF peace panel appreciated the leadership of Timuay Fernando “Nanding” Mudai.

“The leadership of Timuay Fernando “Nanding” Mudai is very receptive of the idea of the Bangsamoro and they wish to be part of the territory.” Kinoc said

“We would like to conduct more of the same information drive to feel the pulse of people residing inside and outside of the Bangsamoro core territory.” he added.

“It’s imperative that we shall continue to engage the IPs in the ground in every way possible to diffuse the wrong information put forward by our detractors.” Datu Kinoc explained.

A replication of similar activities will be done in other parts of the IP territory both inside and outside of the core territory of the Bangsamoro soonest possible time.

CPP/KM: Ibasura ang EDCA at labanan ang umiigting na panghihimasok ng imperyalismong US at pagkapapet ni Aquino

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 11): Ibasura ang EDCA at labanan ang umiigting na panghihimasok ng imperyalismong US at pagkapapet ni Aquino
Ma. Laya Guerrero
Kabataang Makabayan
Maituturing na pambansang pagtataksil ng rehimeng Aquino ang pakikipagkasundo sa imperyalistang amo nito sa muling pagbabalik ng base militar ng Amerika sa bansa at pagbubukas sa Pilipinas sa walang sagkang panghihimasok ng tropang militar ng US.

Ang paglagda ng rehimeng Aquino sa Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) noong Abril 28 ay paunang regalo sa pagdating ng puno ng imperyalistang US na si Barack Obama. Naglalaman ito ng mga probisyong nagsusuko sa pambansang soberanya ng Pilipinas sa US at tahasang pagyurak ng teritoryal na integridad, demokrasya at karapatan ng mga Pilipino.

Tinangka pang pabanguhin ang EDCA at isinama ang “humanitarian assistance and disaster relief” o HADR diumano sa sakop ng EDCA. Ang mga HADR na ito ay mga nakakubling operasyong psywar at nakakomoplaheng operasyong militar ng US at AFP tulad ng patuloy na pananatili ng tropa ng US sa Silangang Visayas matapos ang bagyong Yolanda.

Sa pamamagitan ng EDCA, pinupormalisa ng rehimeng US-Aquino ang papalaking presensyang militar ng US sa ating bansa at pagbabase tulad ng 700-tropa ng US na nakabase sa Camp Navarro sa Zamboanga mula 2002. Sakop ng EDCA ang kondukta ng mga tropang militar na walang-sagkang nakakapanatili sa ating teritoryo, pagdaan, paglalagi at pagtago ng mga kagamitang pandigma at armamentong-nukleyar ng US sa bansa, pagtatayo ng mga pasilidad pang-espiya at base militar, at pagyurak sa karapatan ng ating mga kababaihan, mga bata at mamamayan.

Ang EDCA ay malinaw na mas masaklaw sa Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) ng 1999 at mas masahol sa US-RP Military Bases Agreement (MBA) na nilagdaan noong Marso 1947. Ang MBA ay nagbigay ng 99 taong karapatan sa US para sa paggamit ng mga base militar at ibang gamit sa loob ng mga enklabong sakop ng base. Halos magtatagal hanggang sa 2046 ang pagiral ng mga base ayon sa MBA, at naamyendahan lamang ito matapos ang mga protesta ng mamamayan at itinakdang ang 1991 bilang pagtatapos nito.

Sa EDCA walang taning ang pag-iral ng mga baseng militar, instalasyon at tropang-militar ng US sa bansa kahit pa lagpas sa 100 taon! Nililinlang ng rehimeng Aquino at US ang mamamayang Pilipino ng kunwa-kunwaring paglalagay ng 10-taong termino sa EDCA samantalang ang eksaktong isinasaad ng EDCA na “This Agreement shall have an initial terms of ten years, and thereafter, it shall continue in force, unless terminated by either Party by giving one year’s written notice through diplomatic channels of its intention to terminate this Agreement” (Article XXII, Section 4) ay hindi eksaktong limitasyon at cumpolsory term limit kundi matapos ang 10-taon ay normalisasyon ng EDCA at patuloy na operasyon ng base at tropa ng US sa bansa.

“Neither confirm o deny” ang polisiya ng US patungkol sa mga kagamitang nukleyar kaya hindi matitiyak ng Pilipinas na walang dalang nukleyar na armas ang US at anumang inspeksyon ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa base ay hindi pahihintulutan ayon sa EDCA kung hindi ito naayon sa “seguridad at kaligtasan” na itinakda ng US. Kahit na matapos mapatalsik ang mga base militar ng 1991, nagpatuloy ang pagdaong ng mga submarine na nuclear-capable at nuclear-carrier ships tulad ng USS Washington super-carrier, USS North Carolina, submarinong nuclear-capable USS Hawaii, missile-destroyer USS Milius at iba pa sa teritoryo ng Pilipinas.

Tahasang pagsuko ng pambansang dangal ang pagpayag ng rehimeng Aquino sa EDCA na nagsasaad na walang hurisdiksyon ang Pilipinas ang mga korte sa bansa sa mga kaso o paglabag sa kurso ng paglagi ng mga tropang militar at kanilang kagamitan sa Pilipinas. Pumayag din ang papet na gobyerno na hindi idudulog ang anumang kaso sa anumang internasyunal na tribunal o korte. Ang mga mabibigat na kasong tulad ng panggagahasa kay Nicole noong 2005, pagbaril kay Buyong-Buyong Isnijal at mga paglabag tulad ng pagtatapon ng toxic waste at iligal na paglayag sa protektadong mga lugar tulad ng ginawa ng USS Guardian na humantong sa pagkasira ng Tubbataha Reefs, ay hindi kailanman pinanagutan ng US at mga tropa nito alinsunod sa batas ng Pilipinas.

Maamong tupang nakayukod si Aquino at mga alipores sa paglagda ng EDCA at sa paggamit ng US sa Pilipinas bilang launching pad para sa planong militarisasyon ng Asya Pasipiko. Nais ilipat ng US sa Asya Pasipiko ang 60% ng kanyang tropa at lakas-militar hanggang 2020 maliban pa sa kasalukuyang nakaistasyong US 7th Fleet sa ilalim ng US Pacific Command sa rehiyon.

Ang US na ngayo’y nakakaranas ng matinding depresyong pang-ekonomya, ay ititutulak ang estratehiyang “Pivot to Asia and Pacific”. Nais tiyakin ng US na masasakatuparan ang mga pangekonomyang interes nito sa rehiyon para sa kapitalistang super-tubo, at kinukurdonan din nito ang pagpapalakas ng Tsina, bilang pangunahing karibal na kapangyarihang pang-ekonomya ng US sa Asia Pasipiko at mundo.

Ginagatungan ng US ang hidwaan ng Pilipinas at iba pang bansa sa Silangang Asya laban sa Tsina. Imbes na tumulong upang higit na maresolba sa diplomatikong paraan ang usapin ng Scarborough, pinapayagan pa ng papet na rehimeng Aquino na magronda at maglunsad ng fly-bys ang mga fighter jets ng US malapit sa pinagtatalunang bahagi ng South China Sea. Nagkukunwaring tutulungan ng US ang Pilipinas sa usapin nito sa Tsina hinggil sa Scarborough Shoal at Spratlys at ginagamit ng rehimeng Aquino ang katwirang ito upang ipatanggap sa mamamayan ang EDCA at umiigting na panghihimasok ng US.

Sa ilalim ng dominasyon ng US sa lahat ng rehimeng nagdaan, ang estado ay hindi man lamang makapagbuo ng nagsasariling patakang panlabas ng hindi naayon sa interes ng US. Sa kasalukuyan pumupostura ang rehimeng Aquinong idadaan sa negosasyon ang hiwaan sa Tsina para sa pag-gigiit ng Pilipinas ng Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ) sa ilang bahagi ng South China Sea sa isang diplomatikong aksyon sa UN. Ngunit ginawa ito ng rehimeng Aquino kaalinsabay ng pang-uupat ng tensyon sa Tsina sa pamamagitan ng katambal nitong lubos na pangangayupapa sa US. Hindi makatotohanan ang pagtindig ni Aquino para sa prinsipyo ng pambansang soberanya at teritoryal na integridad habang buong-buong binubuyangyang nito ang teritoryo ng bansa sa paggamit at panghihimasok ng US.
Sa kasaysayan, ilang beses ng ginamit ng US ang Pilipinas bilang lunsaran ng mga digmang agresyon nito sa mundo. Kabilang dito ang pagsugpo ng Boxer Rebellion sa Tsina (1900), Pagpadala ng tropang militar sa Siberia upang tumulong sa Tsar (1918-1920), Pagpadala ng hukbong pandagat sa Quemoy-Matsu sa Tsina para suportahan si ChiangKaiShek na nagbase sa Taiwan (1958), paggamit ng mga base para sa lohistikal na pangangailangan ng US sa giyera sa Korea (1950-53), pagpapadala ng diktadurang Marcos ng tropa sa Vietnam at paggamit ng US ng Clark bilang himpilan ng mga eroplanong pang-atake sa Vietnam (1965-1975), pagamit sa Clark bilang lunsaran ng US Special Operations Forces na ipinadala sa Iran (1980), pagpapadala ng tropang militar ng Pilipinas sa giyera at okupasyon ng US sa Afghanistan at Iraq (2003).

Dapat alalahanin ng bawat kabataang Pilipino at mamamayan ang madugong giyerang agresyon ng US sa Pilipinas mula 1898 at saklutin ang bagong kalayaang natamasa ng mga PIlipino matapos ang Rebolusyong Pilipino 1986-1898 laban sa paghahari ng Espanya sa bansa. Itinuturing sa pandaigdigang kasaysayan bilang Unang Byetnam, ang pananakop ng US sa bansa ay nagdulot sa henosidyo ng US na nagmasaker sa halos 700, 000 hanggang 1 milyong Pilipino na lumaban sa imperyalistang pananakop ng US.

Sa pagtatapos ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig, ginawang pabitin at tiniyak ng US na lubos na aasa sa ayuda mula sa US ang papet na gobyerno ng Pilipinas para sa rekonstruksyon dulot ng giyera. Kapalit ng ayuda, itinulak nito ang ibat ibang kasunduan at tratado na pawang nagtitiyak sa imperyalistang kontrol ng US sa Pilipinas kahit hindi na ito direktang kolonya.

Ang US-RP MBA ng 1947 ay pagpipino sa Treaty of General Relations of 1946, na nagbigay ng ligal na batayan sa pananatili ng base militar ng US at isa sa mga kundisyon ng US sa huwad na pagbibigay ng 1946 independensya sa Pilipinas matapos ang direktang pagkolonya sa atin. Ang Mutual Defense Treaty na nilagdaang noong Agosto 1951 ay ginagamit ng US at lahat ng papet na rehimeng nagdaan upang bigyang batayang ligal ang VFA, Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) at EDCA.
Nagpatibay ito sa neokolanyal na relasyon ng Pilipinas sa US at nagkaladkad sa Pilipinas suportahan ang lahat ng digmaang kinasasangkutan ng US. Ginamit din ng diktaturyang Marcos ang base militar upang kunin ang buong suporta ng US sa pasistang estado at maningil sa US ng bayad-renta at bilyong dolyar na pautang kapalit ng pagpapanatili ni Marcos sa base militar ng US sa bansa.

Isinunod ng US ang pagtitiyak na makadomina pa rin sa ekonomya at pulitika ng bansa lagpas ng 1946 sa pamamagitan ng pagdikta sa mga sumunod na papet na gobyerno at lagdaan ang Bell Trade Act of 1946, Parity Rights Amendment sa 1935 na Konstitusyon. Nagbigay ang mga tratadong ito ng pantay na karapatan sa US na lubos na gamitin ang likas na yaman ng bansa, liberalisasyon sa kalakalan, murang pasahod at lakas paggawa para sa mga korporasyong itatayo ng US.

Ang sumunod na mga papet na gobyerno ay nagmantina at nagpatibay ng relasyong tuta-amo ng Pilipinas-Amerika sa ilalim ng malakolonyal at malapyudal na katangian ng lipunang Pilipino.

Sinasagkaan ng imperyalistang US ang pagtatamo ng sambayanan ng tunay na kasarinlan at kalayaan, pag-unlad at katarungang panlipunan. Ang kasalukuyang rehimeng US-Aquino sa utos ng amo nitong imperyalistang US ay patuloy na nagpapatupad ng mga patakarang neoliberal na pabor lamang sa monopolyo-kapitalista ng US, dayuhan at malalaking lokal na kapitalista at panginoong-maylupa tulad ni Aquino.

Kaya ang mga kasunduang tulad ng EDCA at pakanang Chacha ngayon sa Kongreso ni Aquino ay pakikipagsabwatan sa imperyalistang amo nito upang patuloy na makapaghari ang US sa pulitika, ekonomiya, militar at kultura ng ating bansa. Mas ibayong ibinubukas ng Chacha ang bansa sa ibayong pagsasamantala ng US sa ekonomya at lalong maghahadlang sa layunin ng tunay reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon. Sa Chacha ipinipilit ang pagbubukas tungo sa 100% ng pagmamayari ng dayuhan ng mga lupain, korporasyon, serbisyo tulad ng edukasyon, hospital at media sa bansa na ipinagbabawal sa kasalukuyan.

Hindi maibabagon ng lubos na pangangayupapa ng rehimeng Aquino sa imperyalismong US ang nakalugmok na ekonmiya at kahirapan ng mayoryang mamamayan, kawalang lupa, mababang pasahod at pagsasamntala sa mga manggagawa, kawalang trabaho at serbisyong panlipunan. Ang pagsasamantalang ito ay patuloy na sinasagot ng paglaban ng mamamayan at rebolusyonaryong kilusan.

Nararapat balikan ng mga kabataan ang kasaysayan at ang paghahari ng imperyalismong US sa ating bayan. Kailangang pagkaisahain ang mga kabataan at mamamayan at paigtingin ang kampanya para sa pagbabasura ng EDCA at tropang militar, at kaugnay na neoliberal na mga patakaran at pakana tulad ng Chacha.

Kailangang ilunsad ang malawakang pagmumulat, propaganda at edukasyong masa hinggil sa EDCA, CHACHA at ang ugat nito sa batayang mga suliranin ng lipunang PiLipino_ang imperyalismo, burukrata-kapitalismo at pyudalismo. Ilunsad natin ang maramihang mga study circles at discussion groups sa mga paaralan at opisina, mga pulong masa sa pagawaan at komunidad at ibat ibang uri ng talakayan at porma ng pagapapataas ng pagkakaisa ng kabataan at mamamayan.

Higit kailanman, ngayon ang kabatang Pilipino ay nararapat na tumindig laban sa nakamumuhing pagkapapet, pahirap, pasismo at pagsasamantala ng korup na rehimeng Aquino at mga alipores nito, at sa patuloy na paghari-harian ng imperyalistang US sa lahat ng larangan ng lipunang Pilipino.
Ang malakas na protesta ng kabataan Pilipino kasama ang iba’t ibang sektor mamamayan laban sa EDCA, pagbabalik ng base-militar at tumitinding panghihimasok ng US ay mag-aambag sa patuloy na pambayang pakikibaka para sa tunay na pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya.

Ibasura ang EDCA, MDT-MLSA-VFA!

Laban at biguin ang panghihimasok ng imperyalistang US!

Ibagsak ang papet, pahirap, pasista at korup na rehimeng US-Aquino!

Ibagsak ang imperyalismo, pyudalismo at burukrata-kapitalismo!

Kabataan, magtungo sa kanayunan, sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!

DOJ files criminal raps vs. 9 Chinese poachers

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): DOJ files criminal raps vs. 9 Chinese poachers

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday filed a case for violation of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 before the Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) against nine of the 11 Chinese poachers arrested off Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) in disputed waters of the West Philippine Sea.

Palawan Provincial Prosecutor Allen Roz Rodriguez said that the case against the two Chinese poachers were dismissed because they are minors.

"We turned them (two minors) over to the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) for their repatriation," Rodriguez said.

The nine Chinese poachers are facing a case for violation of Section 87, or "poaching in Philippine waters", and Section 97, or "fishing or taking of rare, threatened or endangered species", of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Rodriguez said that they gave the nine poachers a public lawyer to represent them but the accused refused insisting that they did nothing wrong because they are fishing in Chinese waters.

He said that he tried to convince a Chinese consul who assisted the nine poachers to be represented by the public lawyer but the official also refused.

"Still, the public lawyer stayed while we are conducting the inquest proceedings," Rodriguez said.

The DOJ recommended a bail of Php 30,000 each of the nine accused for violation of Section 87 and Php 40,000 each for Section 97 of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

US premier ground, tank attack aircraft present 'Balikatan 2014'

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): US premier ground, tank attack aircraft present 'Balikatan 2014'

Not many people are aware of its but the Fairchild Republic A-10 "Thunderbolt II", the United States Air Force's premier ground and tank attack aircraft, is participating in the aerial phase of this year's "Balikatan" exercises.

The A-10 joins the American air contingent consisting of the venerable Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo aircraft, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 "Hornet" jet fighter, Sikorsky CH-53 "Sea Stallion" combat utility helicopter, Bell Ah-1 "Cobra" attack helicopter, Bell UH-1H "Huey", Lockheed P-3 "Orion" maritime and anti-submarine plane and Sikorsky H-60.

On the Philippine side, the Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" aircraft, C-130 cargo plane, "Huey" helicopter, McDonnell Douglas MG-520 "Defender" attack helicopter, Marchetti SF-260 ground attack plane and the SIAI-Marchetti AS-211 jet trainer will be flying during the aerial phase of the military maneuvers.

These planes will be based at Clark Field, Pampanga for the duration of "Balikatan 2014" which began May 5 and will this coming May 16.

The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons-delivery platform.

The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions.

The wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines.

Using night vision goggles, A-10 pilots can conduct their missions during darkness.

Thunderbolt IIs have night vision imaging systems (NVIS), goggle compatible single-seat cockpits forward of their wings and a large bubble canopy which provides pilots all-around vision.

The pilots are protected by titanium armor that also protects parts of the flight-control system.

The redundant primary structural sections allow the aircraft to enjoy better survivability during close air support than did previous aircraft.

The A-10 can survive direct hits from armor-piercing and high explosive projectiles up to 23mm.

Their self-sealing fuel cells are protected by internal and external foam.

Manual systems back up their redundant hydraulic flight-control systems. This permits pilots to fly and land when hydraulic power is lost.

The A-10 has received many upgrades over the years. In 1978, the aircraft received the "Pave Penny" laser receiver pod, which sensed reflected laser radiation from a laser designator.

"Pave Penney" has now been discontinued in favor more capable advanced targeting pods.

The A-10 began receiving an inertial navigation system in 1980.

Later, the low-altitude safety and targeting enhancement (LASTE) upgrade provided computerized weapon-aiming equipment, an autopilot, and a ground-collision warning system. In 1999, aircraft began to receive global positioning system navigation systems and a new multi-function display.

In 2005, the entire A-10 fleet began receiving the precision engagement upgrades that include an improved fire control system, electronic countermeasures, upgraded cockpit displays, the ability to deliver smart bombs, moving map display, hands on throttle and stick, digital stores management, "LITENING" and "Sniper" advanced targeting pod integration, situational awareness data link (SADL), variable message format (VMF) and global positioning system (GPS) guided weapons, and upgraded power systems.

The entire A-10 fleet has been precision engagement modified and now carries the A-10C designation.

The Thunderbolt II can be serviced and operated from austere bases with limited facilities near battle areas.

Many of the aircraft's parts are interchangeable left and right, including the engines, main landing gear and vertical stabilizers.

Avionics equipment includes multi-band communications; GPS and inertial navigations systems; infrared and electronic countermeasures against air-to-air and air-to-surface threats.

And, it has a heads-up display to flight and weapons delivery information.

The A-10 can employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bomb units, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions or JDAM, wind corrected munitions dispenser or WCMD, AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, rockets, illumination flares, and the GAU-8/A 30mm cannon, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.

US, Filipino troops conduct gunnery exercises for 'Balikatan 2014'

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): US, Filipino troops conduct gunnery exercises for 'Balikatan 2014'

American and Filipino troopers participating in this year's "Balikatan" maneuvers, conducted gunnery and firing exercises at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija last May 10.

Belated reports from Capt. Mark Anthony Ruelos, 7th Infantry Division spokesperson, said that the activity is a major training operation for "Balikatan 2014".

Troops participating in these maneuvers were equipped with V-150 "Commando" and "Simba" AFV.

These vehicles were fitted with .50 caliber weapons which soldiers from both nations fired to increase their weapons proficiency.

He added that Filipino troopers were from the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Battalion while the Americans are from the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.

The Filipino unit was headed 1st Lt. Dominador Tagorda while the Americans were commanded by Capt. Capt. John Healy.

Ruelos said that the first days of "Balikatan 2014" was allocated for training of basic tasks and exercises such as action drills, mounted battle drills, and a small exercise called mounted sticks – in which troops conduct a movement after they received an order.

Domingo now acting AFP vice chief-of-staff

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Domingo now acting AFP vice chief-of-staff

With the retirement of Lt. Gen. Alan Luga Monday, Lt. Gen. Virgilio Domingo will act as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice-chief-of-staff.

This was revealed by AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

Luga formally retired from the military service after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

He served the country for 33 years.

"We have no information yet on who will replace Gen. Luga for the moment, Gen. Domingo will serve as the acting AFP vice-chief-staff," he added.

Zagala said that Domingo will assume this function until he is confirmed for the position or someone more senior is appointed for the post.

ASEAN leaders agree to strengthen cooperation for implementation of declaration on the conduct of parties in South China sea

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): ASEAN leaders agree to strengthen cooperation for implementation of declaration on the conduct of parties in South China sea

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged on Sunday to enhance cooperation for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) at the end of the two-day summit.

The ASEAN leaders, including President Benigno S. Aquino III, concluded the 24th ASEAN Summit by adopting the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015 on Sunday afternoon.

The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation for the full and effective implementation of the DOC in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

They also called on all parties to “exercise self-restraint and non-use of force, as well as refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension and to work towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as reflected in the ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the South China Sea.”

On Saturday, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued a statement expressing serious concern over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea, which have increased tensions in the area.

They urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes by peaceful means and without resorting to threats or use of force. They also called on all parties to undertake full and effective implementation of the DOC.

"Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community" was the theme of this year’s summit. Myanmar hosted the ASEAN Summit for the first time since it joined the bloc in 1997.

President Aquino informs ASEAN member states of 'memorial' filed against China

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): President Aquino informs ASEAN member states of 'memorial' filed against China

President Benigno S. Aquino III has informed leaders of member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that the Philippines has filed a "Memorial" at the United Nations arbitral tribunal against China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines on March 30 submitted its Memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal that is hearing the case it brought against the People’s Republic of China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in January 2013.

During the coffee meeting with members of the Philippine media covering the 24th ASEAN Summit here Sunday, President Aquino said many of the ASEAN leaders have expressed concern over the ongoing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The President said the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, recounted their problems with China, which has stationed an oil rig in disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam.

President Aquino said he mentioned to his fellow ASEAN leaders the Philippines’ own incidents with China during the 24th ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat Session.

“I put in, during the Retreat, our own incidents with regards to Ayungin, Scarborough, the Kalayaan Island group, the construction on Mabini Reef and the Galoc oil contract—service contract area,” the President said.

“Then we did mention that consistent with everybody’s desire to resolve it in a peaceful manner, we did inform them officially of the March filing of the memorial before the arbitration tribunal under International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,” he added.

On Saturday, the ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement expressing “serious concern over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea,” and urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes by peaceful means.

They also called on all parties to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to undertake full and effective implementation of the DOC to create an environment of mutual trust and confidence.

AFP to recognize education partners and scholars

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): AFP to recognize education partners and scholars

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday will hold a recognition ceremony for its partner institutions, benefactors and its grantees under the AFP Educational Benefit System (AFPEBS).

This will take place at the AFP Commissioned Officers Club around 3:00 p.m. with Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP chief-of-staff, invited as keynote speaker.

Dubbed as “Bayanihan for Education 2014,” this annual event is held to recognize the role of the individuals and institutions that have been supporting the education of our soldiers’ dependents and to further develop their partnership with the AFP Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO).

Moreover the Student Achievement Recognition System (StARS) honors grantees that excelled in their academics, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Zagala said this stakeholders’ recognition event highlights the key contributions of individuals and partners to the academic success of its beneficiaries, which is in line with the AFPEBSO's commitment of “Leaving No Soldiers' Orphan Behind”.

The AFPEBSO has been providing education assistance to dependents of military personnel, mostly battle casualties for more than a decade and is presently under the leadership of Lt. Col. Danilo E. Estrañero.

Educational programs in the AFPEBSO include law-mandated programs, and those by virtue of partnerships with educational, government, socio-civic and financial institutions.

Among the 4,428 grantees supported through 279 programs of the organization, 29 grantees under the StARS will be recognized in the event, including two magna cum laude graduates, and seven cum laude graduates.

Furthermore this event is expected to raise the morale and welfare of AFP personnel by providing their dependents with educational assistance.

This also proves that the AFPEBSO continues to be an effective instrument in helping the families of AFP personnel to secure a better future for their children.​

Army redeploying one of its Maguindanao-based battalions to Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Army redeploying one of its Maguindanao-based battalions to Compostela Valley

Due to improving peace and order situation in Maguindanao, the Philippine Army will be redeploying one of the battalions stationed in the area to Compostela Valley, according to 6th Infantry Division spokesperson Col. Dickson Hermoso.

He said that the redeployment is made possible as the government's peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) seems to be holding.

“That’s one of the reasons. There’s already a relative peace here except for the intermittent incidents,” Hermoso added in Filipino.

The 6th Infantry Division spokesperson is referring to sporadic harassment attacks perpetuated by members of the "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" (BIFF), the group that broke away from the MILF.

“There’s also the exigency and the need… there are other areas around the country wherein the additional presence of Army troops is needed,” Hermoso said.

Ranking military leaders have ordered the transfer of the 46th Infantry Battalion to Compostela Valley, detaching it from the operational control of the 6th Infantry Division and putting it under the control of the 10th Infantry Division, which is based in Compostela Valley.

The 46th Infantry battalion is currently based at Camp Waray, Barangay Kamasi, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

President Aquino confident EDCA will stand legal scrutiny

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): President Aquino confident EDCA will stand legal scrutiny

President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed confidence that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will withstand legal scrutiny in the Supreme Court.

In an interview with the Philippine media after attending the 24th Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Summit here Sunday, President Aquino said the government panel had made sure that the provisions of the EDCA are in accordance with the Constitution.

"Consistently, when they were reporting to me, we kept on working on fine-tuning it to make sure that it adheres completely with the Constitution," the President said during the interview at the Horizon Lake View Resort before returning to Manila.

The President said that while there are people who will try to derail the implementation of the agreement, he is still optimistic that it will pass the court's scrutiny.

"So will it stand scrutiny? Yes. Will there be people who will try to derail it? Yes, also. But we are reasonably confident that anybody looking at it objectively will be able to say that we have met all the stipulations in the Constitution," he said.

The EDCA was signed by Philippine and US government officials hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines last May 28 for a two-day state visit.

The agreement allows US troops greater access to designated Philippine military facilities, as well as construct facilities and pre-position aircraft, vessels and equipment.

In a recent press briefing in Malacanang, Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino said the EDCA is an implementing agreement of treaties already established between the US and the Philippines, such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Pama formally assumes post of NDRRMC chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Pama formally assumes post of NDRRMC chief

Former Philippine Navy flag officer-in-command (FOIC) Alexander Pama formally assumed his new post on Monday as executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) during a simple turnover ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

President Benigno S. Aquino III designated Pama to the NDRRMC post, replacing retired Army Gen. Eduardo Del Rosario who filed his irrevocable resignation on April 24, citing health reasons.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said Pama was chosen among a short list of contenders for the NDRRMC post "based on his experience with the defense department and with the armed forces."

Pama, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1979, served as Navy chief until his retirement on Dec. 21, 2012.

It was under Pama’s watch when the Navy acquired from the United States its first Hamilton-class cutter, the former USCGC Hamilton, which has been renamed BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and commissioned into the Philippine Navy amid tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Army, PNP on alert after blast rocks NorCot town

From the Philippine News Agency (May 12): Army, PNP on alert after blast rocks NorCot town

Police and soldiers here have been placed on heightened alert following an explosion of an improvised explosive device Monday morning, police and military authorities said.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the blast occurred at 6:10 a.m. along a roadside in Barangay Batulawan, Pikit, North Cotabato.

No one was injured and nobody claimed responsibility for the bomb attack.

Senior Inspector Jojie Nicolas, provincial police spokesperson, said the explosion occurred some five meters away from the busy highway linking Barangay Batulawan and Poblacion Pikit.

He said the highway was temporarily shut down between Barangay Batulawan and Poblacion Pikit while Army and police bomb experts were conducting post blast investigation.

Nicolas theorized the suspects may have planned to set off the IED somewhere else but due to the presence of policemen they changed plan and left the explosive at a roadside.

Hermoso said the bombing attempt could be the handiwork of extortion gangs operating in North Cotabato.

Following the incident, soldiers and policemen were deployed to provide road security and safety of commuters plying portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway.

Army discovers human skeleton in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 11): Army discovers human skeleton in Bukidnon

SOUTH POBLACION, MARAMAG, Bukidnon — The army’s combat troops discovered a human skeleton in an abandoned camp of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon on Tuesday, May 6, morning.

Lt. Col. Jose Leonard Gille, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division said the patrolling military led by Cpt. Jojo L. Mascarinas of the 23rd Infantry “Masigasig” Battalion (23IB) discovered the human skeleton in an abandoned NPA campground at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad in the farming sub-village of Lirongan, Talakag, Bukidnon.

After a thorough search in the area, the troops found a human skeleton wearing rain boots (botas) with civilian headgear, basketball jersey and empty shells of caliber 5.56mm M16 rifle next to the skeleton, Gille said.

“The unidentified human skeleton was believed to be a member of Guerilla Front Committee 68 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee who was part of the group encountered by the 8IB troops in Basak, Lantapan, Bukidnon last March 2014,” he said.

Lt. Col. Lynart D. Castisimo, Commanding Officer of the 23IB said the communist rebels must have killed their wounded comrade who was a burden as they fled at the height of the military pursuit operations.

He said this is a clear manifestation that the New People’s Army has no concern or respect with their fallen comrades.

“The troops brought the human skeleton and his other belongings to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Miarayon, Talakag, Bukidnon and will be turned-over to PNP's Scence-of-the-crime operatives (SOCO) for examination and proper disposition,” Castisimo said.

Meanwhile, Gille said a decent burial will be afforded to the discovered skeletal remains after possible identification and all other protocols done.

PH-US war games: boat raid, live fire

From Rappler (May 12): PH-US war games: boat raid, live fire

Aside from interoperability between the Philippines and US troops, the Balikatan war games also improve the capability of Filipino troops

STEALTH ATTACK: Philippine Marines implement naval exercises with US troops. Rappler photo

Two days since the Philippines and US Marines conducted a mock boat raid near the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough), the Filipinos tried it on their own while the US Marines watched.

The activty for the Balikatan 2014 war games was held just a little farther from the shoal ­– in a Marine base in Ternate, Cavite – but this time with deafening live fire. The exercises are meant to improve the interoperability between the 2 militaries bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) to defend each other should the need arise.

The scenario involved the supposed presence of about 30 enemies camped in one of the coves there. One enemy group camped by the shore and another by the hills above them.

Their mission: launch a stealth attack that will prevent the two enemy groups from reinforcing each other.

Two Small Unit Riverrine Craft (SURC) donated by the US rushed to the shore of a nearby cove allowing the Filipino marines to make a stealthy landing. While the Marines climbed the hill separating the two coves, a 3rd SURC stormed the enemy encampment.

As the SURC’s M50 caliber machine guns fired at enemies camped in the hills about 800 meters away, snipers started shooting from the hills, and the Marines reached the shoreline and started shooting at the enemies at close range.

As they presumably finished them off, two SURCs returned to extract them from the combat zone.

Successful exercises

“Based on our evaluation, the operation was successful,” said Captain Charlie Domingo of the Marine Corps Training Center.

Domingo explained: “The integration of the Fleet (SURC) and the Marine forces was successful. Both executed the plan and the maneuvers based on the plan of the Fleet and Marine planners.”

 Sergeant Matthew Luckey of the US Marines
Sergeant Matthew Luckey of the US Marines

US Marines Sergeant Matthew Luckey echoed Domingo's assessment of the war games.

“The exercises are very successful. Fire Suppression was good. They had good security. They were able to take the objective and extract successfully,” he told the media.

For the US Marines, Luckey said the exercises allowed them to see how their boats and the Filipino boats can work together. “It’s good for interoperability of forces and building camaraderie between Philippines and American forces,” he said.

“It’s good to work with the Filipino marines, just to see the similarities we have operating with them and how our training is very similar,” he added.

Balikatan, literally shoulder-to-shoulder, is a regular training exercises between the Filipino and American troops. The newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) further expands the military ties to include new activities such as prepositioning of defense equipment and construction of facilities inside bases.

 Philippine Marine Corps Training Center Superintendent Colonel Alvin Parreño
Philippine Marine Corps Training Center Superintendent Colonel Alvin Parreño

Colonel Alvin Parreño, superintendent of the Marine Corps Training Center, highlighted the importance of the regular training exercises.

“While the Constitution prohibits them from joining us into a war, the importance of this is the combined operation which might come later on during invasion, war, or rebellion,” said Parreño.

Under the Mutual Defense Treaty, the US and the Philippines are obligated to help each other in case of, among others, external attacks.

Anti-terror drive, too

Aside from interoperability, Domingo said the exercises also improve the capability of the Filipino troops. (Read about the land exercises in Fort Magsaysay here)

“It is not all the time that we operate jointly. In this mission, it was mostly our own forces that executed the plan. The Fleet-Marine team was validated in this exercise,” Domingo said.

It was good practice involving the newly acquired riverine crafts that the US donated last year. These assets are also meant for the country’s anti-terror drive.

“We are an archipelagic country. Most of the enemies of government as far as Internal Security Operations is concerned are in southern Philippines. The terrain is similar. The exercises are very applicable in projecting power from the sea. We need to develop and rehearse our amphibious operations,” Domingo said.

Aquino: I didn't ask ASEAN for arbitration support

From Rappler (May 12): Aquino: I didn't ask ASEAN for arbitration support

But the Philippine president says he is satisfied with the statement made by ASEAN supporting the resolution of disputes through peaceful means

President Benigno Aquino III informed his fellow leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) about the Philippines' move to file a memorial against China before the tribunal for the law of the sea, but said he did not specifically ask for support for arbitration.

Despite this, Aquino said he is content with the consensus reached by ASEAN leaders and their joint statement to categorically state their concerns about freedom of navigation.

"We did mention that, consistent with everybody’s desire to resolve it in a peaceful manner, we did inform them officially of the March filing of the memorial before the arbitration tribunal under ITLOS (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea)," he told reporters in Myanmar on Sunday, May 11.

"I don't think there's any disagreement that there really is – in this current incident, or series of incidents – a cause for worry and concern by all parties," he said.

The Philippines and China are embroiled in a maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Other ASEAN countries – like Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei – are also claimants of territories in the South China Sea.

Aquino said he also discussed the Philippines' experience with China with regards to incidents at Ayungin Shoal, Scarborough Shoal, the Kalayaan Island Group, and the construction on Mabini Reef and the Galoc service contract area.

He said the "point was very well taken" as seen in the statement agreed upon by every single member in ASEAN, which he said "is not the easiest thing to do."

The President also said the reiteration for a full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is proof it has not yet been fully implemented, and will lead to accelerating the process of finalizing the Code of Conduct which he pushed for during the trip.

"So I don’t see anything lacking within this particular statement," he said.
Observers say the statement marks a change of tone by the regional bloc, many of whose members have close economic and political ties with China.
Surging maritime tensions dominated the meeting of Southeast Asian leaders, just days after both Vietnam and the Philippines locked horns with China in contested waters, stoking international alarm.

Vietnam has accused Chinese ships of ramming Vietnamese vessels in disputed waters, the latest escalation in territorial disputes involving the Asian giant.
Marked change

Aquino refused to say what message he thinks China is sending with its recent aggression, but conceded there have been marked changes in the way the superpower has been dealing with its neighbors.

He said Vietnam shared its failed efforts in trying to reach out to China through various channels, despite an agreement on party-to-party relations that guaranteed there would always be channels by which they could communicate with each other.

"So that in itself the inability to be able to talk directly with their counterparts is another point that I think should be of concern. It seems to mark a change," Aquino said.

"Well, of course, this whole incident is a change and then the other ancillary acts seems to indicate further changes and one has to wonder exactly to what extent will the changes amount to – how far will they go."

Aquino admitted he is concerned about similar behavior from China toward the Philippines in disputed areas.

EDCA as consideration

Amid tensions in the South China Sea, the Philippines recently signed a defense pact with longtime ally United States to help the country's military reach minimum defense capability. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) gives US troops wider access to Philippine bases and allows joint activities between the two countries' militaries.

Aquino said it may not deter China from making a similar move in Philippine waters, but "at the very least, it will be a factor that they will have to consider."

But he admitted unpredictable moves on the part of China makes it "presumptuous" for him to express his thoughts on what he believes China would or would not do, saying he is "hard-pressed to answer on their behalf."

The President also took the opportunity to defend the EDCA, which critics and lawmakers have questioned for its legality.

Aquino expressed confidence it will stand scrutiny, saying the government worked on fine-tuning it throughout the process to ensure "it adheres completely with the Constitution."

"So will it stand scrutiny? Yes. Will there be people who will try to derail it? Yes, also. But we are reasonably confident that anybody looking at it objectively will be able to say that we have met all the stipulations in the Constitution," he said.