Monday, May 19, 2014

CPP: Protest the P71 million World Economic Forum junket for foreign big capitalists

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 19): Protest the P71 million World Economic Forum junket for foreign big capitalists

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in denouncing the Aquino regime for spending P71 million to host foreign corporate executives and government officials who are set to participate in the junket that is the World Economic Forum in East Asia at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati on May 21-23.

The amount being spent by the Aquino regime to provide lavish accomodations to executives and officials is outrightly scandalous when one considers how hundreds of thousands of supertyphoon Yolanda victims continue to suffer from government neglect, how the youth and their parents are set to bear the impact of another round of tuition increases, how workers are daily burdened by low wages, high prices and lack of jobs, how the poor are denied access to quality public health services and how peasants are being robbed of their land.

The WEF is a conglomeration of big monopoly capitalists from the imperialist countries and their big comprador partners in the client states. Over the past years, it has served as a venue for foreign big capitalists to advocate neoliberalism and press governments to implement its policy recommendations.

The World Economic Forum in East Asia is being held in Manila to help promote the lie of the “Philippine Miracle”. This so-called “miracle” is nothing more than an illusion conjured by the large inflow of foreign portfolio capital into the local financial market and speculation in the construction of condominiums and office space. Surplus monies are overflowing into the Philippines as the US and Chinese governments carry out quantitative easing policies to prop up big banks.

The East Asia WEF will be touting the “Philippine Miracle” at a time that it is about to be exposed as a hoax. The Philippine bubble economy is bound to burst as unregulated construction activities have resulted in a growing inventory of unsold residential units and empty office spaces as financing programs become more restrictive and less available. As US and China policy makers make monetary adjustments, such as the move to reduce US quantitative easing in mid-2013, foreign portfolio investments are bound to race out of the Philippine financial system in a redux of the 1997 crisis.

Aquino’s claims of a rapid economic growth is a big illusion, as far as ordinary Filipinos are concerned. His mantra of “inclusive growth” means nothing for workers and peasants who continue to suffer from widespread unemployment, low wages and spiralling prices of food, medicine and other basic commodities and services. The industrial foundation of the Philippine economy remains non-existent. Promises of land reform remain unfulfilled as millions of peasants continue to suffer from widespread landlessness, low income and poverty.

With the backing of foreign big capitalists, the Aquino regime will also be using the WEF as a further endorsement of his economic policies to push wages down, subject workers to more oppressive flexible employment schemes, further remove environmental restrictions and allow foreign capitalists to take control of vast hectares of land.

The World Economic Forum will boost the clamor of foreign big business for super-liberalization charter change. It will endorse the ASEAN economic integration which sets the removal of all trade restrictions in inter-ASEAN trade and investment by the end of 2015. Foreign big capitalists are excited with the prospect of ASEAN integration as it will remove remaining impediments to the entry and movement of foreign capital into ASEAN.

The CPP joins the Filipino people in rejecting the World Economic Forum in East Asia and repudiating its recommendations to further liberalize trade and investment policies and further bring down workers’ wages. Such policies will serve only to perpetuate the backward and oppressive semicolonial and semifeudal system.

The Filipino people demand an end to the chronic crisis through national industrialization and land reform. Only by carrying out such measures with a clear plan for socialist progress will the Filipino people enjoy social justice and rapid economic modernization.

DOS: Philippines Travel Warning (May 19)

From the U.S. Department of State-Bureau of Consular Affairs (May 19): Philippines Travel Warning

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago, the island of Mindanao, and in the southern Sulu Sea area.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 10, 2014, and reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.

Over the past nine months, there have been kidnappings and attempted kidnappings of foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area by terrorist or insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines.  U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region between Balabac Island and Palawan, in the Philippines; Sabah, Malaysia; and east to Zamboanga City, Mindanao, in the Philippines.

U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.  In 2013, separatist and terrorist groups increased the tempo and scale of their activities and confrontations with Philippine security forces, with increased bombings, attacks on civilians and political leaders, and battles with security forces.  In September 2013, elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) occupied portions of the city of Zamboanga and engaged in a lengthy battle with security forces which reduced large parts of the city to rubble.  The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remain active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence.

The Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on all but the most essential travel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including urban centers.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines should review the Department of State's Country Specific Information for the Philippines, which contains additional information about conditions throughout the country.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  The Department's current message recommending Worldwide Caution reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.

We encourage all U.S. citizens in the Philippines to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.  By enrolling, you can receive the Embassy's most recent security and safety updates during your trip.  Enrolling also ensures that we can reach you, or your designated emergency points of contact, during an emergency.  The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000.  The American Citizens Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-301-2017, and you may reach the ACS Section by email at  The ACS Section's website includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in the Philippines.

U.S. citizens traveling in the region are encouraged to stay up to date on conditions across the globe by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  If you don't have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Security Forces Seized Clothing Bearing Words Associated With Sulu Militants, Court Told

From Bernama (May 19): Security Forces Seized Clothing Bearing Words Associated With Sulu Militants, Court Told

The High Court here today heard that security forces seized clothing after a skirmish in Kampung Tanjung Batu, Lahad Datu last year, with words associated with the Sulu militants imprinted on the garments.

On his fifth day of identifying items seized on March 7, last year, ASP Mursalim Mohd Salleh identified 18 t-shirts, of which six were in camouflage print, 10 (white), one (black) and another yellow.

He said the camouflage t-shirts bore the words, 'Royal Security Force' imprinted on the front of the garments, while the initial 'RSF' were imprinted on the back.

The prosecution's 27th witness, who is a General Operations Force (GOF) platoon commander, said the white t-shirts also had the words, 'Royal Security Force' imprinted along with the words, 'North Borneo Sultanate Republic'.

He identified one black t-shirt and another in yellow, with the words, 'Royal Sulu Force'.

Mursalim also identified six camouflage uniform shirts, seven camouflage uniform pants and three camouflage lace-up boots as the items he seized from the village.

Thirty accused, comprising 27 Filipinos and three local residents, are being tried in the case, in which some are facing multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group or waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, recruiting members for a terrorist group or wilfully harbouring individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group.

They allegedly committed the offences between Feb 12 and April 10 last year.

The hearing before Justice Stephen Chung at the Sabah Prisons Department continues tomorrow.

MILF: Pagalungan School building donated by Japanese Government completed

From the MILF Website (May 19): Pagalungan School building donated by Japanese Government completed

A six-room school building in Bago-inged, Pagalungan, Maguindanao donated by the Government of Japan through her Embassy in Manila was finally completed.
The project was implemented by the Bangsamoro Development and Resource Center, Incorporated (BDRCi). The contract for the construction of the 6-room school building at the compound of Upper Bago-inged Elementary School between the Embassy of Japan and BDRCi was signed on March 19, 2013 at Astoria Plaza Hotel, Pasig City.

For the residents of Bago-inged, the new school building is first of its kind as the locality was devastated by both natural and man-made calamities. Even during the American-Japanese War in early 40’s, the village was severely damaged in the fighting. Past skirmishes between members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) from 1997 to 2003 also affected the village and its residents as they were forced to evacuate to neighbouring villages.

During those periods, the school was closed as some teachers and students were in evacuation centers.  Government soldiers torched to the ground school buildings, residents’ houses, mosques and madaris buildings and nothing were spared. The school as well as madaris in the community ceased to operate for about ten years. Fortunately when the peace negotiations between GPH and MILF Peace Panels proceeded despite disagreements and deadlocks, the school and madaris re-opened. 

Mr. Samid Pidtukasan, the School Principal, barangay officials, other community leaders, parents and teachers expressed their happiness and gratitude to the Japanese Government for the project which they see as a springboard for their children to achieve a brighter future.

On May 13, 2014, Mr. Takayuki Nakagawa, the 1st Secretary and Senior Adviser for Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao from the Embassy of Japan and working for IMT on Socio-Economic Assistance component together with Mr. Tomoyuki Tada, also Senior Adviser for Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao and serving in the IMT visited the project.

The visit was closely supervised and secured by members of the Pagalungan Police Force headed by their Commander, S/Insp. Solaiman Bakal. BDRCi, the partner non-government organization, headed by its Executive Director Mr. Abdulkadir M. Abubakar sincerely expressed his profound gratitude to the Japanese Government for donating the school building. He said, “I am very grateful to the Government and the people of Japan through their Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Toshinao Urabe for donating this school building at Upper Bagoinged Elementary School, Pagalungan, Maguindanao.

“You planted the seeds of knowledge that will ensure the future of our children”, Mr. Abubakar further said. He also extended his thanks to Engr. Mansory H. Latif, the Head and Manager of the Angkat Construction for his sincere and good management during the construction of the school building.

MILF: Editorial -- No effort is enough...

Editoral posted to the MILF Website (May 16): No effort is enough...

Despite the all-out efforts of peace advocates especially by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to educate the people about the GPH-MILF peace process, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the efforts are not enough. People would still clamor for more explanations and engagements.
Rather than see this negatively, it calls for an affirmative action, because this is a signal that the people are responsive and interested. And more importantly, it is the obligation of the government, MILF, and those who make peace as vocation to let the people understand the whole peace process and where this will bring them. It is their lives and future that are at stake.

Many of the most asked questions were asked again and again. In a session with a Christian audience in Cotabato City on May 13, two of these questions were asked again to showcase the inadequacy of the works of peace advocates: “Will the Christians still be allowed to eat pork?” and “Will their lands be not confiscated by the Bangsamoro Government?”

Of course, the BTC commissioners warmly answered the questions based on signed documents especially the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). They explained that the FAB, Article 1, b and k, state: “Right to freedom and expression of religion and beliefs; and Right to freedom from religious, ethnic and sectarian harassment,” respectively. On the second question, the FAB, number 2, provides that vested property rights shall be recognized and respected.

Advocacy work has at least three important phases: 1) all-out engagement with the people to make them understand and rally behind the whole peace process, 2) engaging the congressmen and senators to urge them to pass a good legislation, and 3) engaging again the people especially the electorates, urging them to vote for the ratification of the BBL. Each of these phases is indispensable.

However, engaging legislators is mainly the task of the GPH peace panel and the Office of the President, because the main line of communication is about legal matters and delivery of the BBL. The BTC’s role, as pointed out earlier, is that of a “little partner”. Even if it wants to, but very little it can do. But rest assured that despite this little and limited role, it would not leave any stone unturned to the best effort possible.

On the other hand, the MILF will not engage directly, but stay focused on how development in relation to the passage of a good legislation is unfolding. It can only hope for the best to happen.

MILF: Mindanao Humanitarian Development Initiatives holds Peace advocacy in Bagumbayan

From the MILF Website (May 19): Mindanao Humanitarian Development Initiatives holds Peace advocacy in Bagumbayan

A week after it was postponed due to the simultaneous rallies by several stakeholders that urged the Philippine Congress to deliberate and enact the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) without delay, the Mindanao Humanitarian Development Initiative, Inc. (MinHudi),Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Social Welfare Committee (SWC) of Bagumbayan, the MILF Political Committee of Bagumbayan and other agencies finally conducted a peace advocacy on Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB)  in Sitio Nakan, Kapaya, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat on May 11,2014 attended by 230 participants.

In the opening program, National Qur’anic Reading contestant Abdulkahir Sandalan recited some verses of the Holy Qur’an followed by words of wisdom by Ustadz Zainudin Mamasalagat. He explained 3 important matters mentioned in Hadith or Practices of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as praying on proper time, respect to parents, and jihad. He also mentioned eight types of Jihad or Holy War.

Police Inspector Ruel Zafra, Deputy Chief of Police of Bagumbayan town inspired the participants with his message. “Let us support the FAB. It is for all of us Muslims, Christians, Lumads. For as long as you reside here, you are a Bangsamoro”, Zapra said.

Kalilintad Development Foundation Inc. (KDFI) Executive Director Moidjoddin Talusob lectured on Islamic Leadership and MILF policies. While, Professor Esmael Abdula, Campaign and Mass Mobilization Chairman, comprehensively presented and discussed the features of FAB, CAB and the four annexes. On his part, Arman Armada, Committee on Information Secretary also tackled briefly of the essential features of the FAB.

IP representative Jessie Tiwan, Ivenosohod Abutasil, Datu Ido Camsa, Sultan Norhamin Bansil, Ustadz  Daud Madaliday, Sultan Datukaka Camsa, and Ustadz Isqaq Kamidon imparted inspiring messages to the participants. All of them have words in common; “Support BBL, Support FAB, and support the peace process”.

China demands ASEAN stay out of Vietnam dispute

Posted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 19): China demands ASEAN stay out of Vietnam dispute

China has criticized the top official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for saying Beijing intruded in Vietnamese territory, and a Chinese official has demanded the group stay out of the dispute.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said the ASEAN secretary-general was sending “wrong signals” about the dispute over China’s deployment of an oil rig to disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The secretary-general, Le Luong Minh, who is Vietnamese, told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that “we have to get China out of the territorial waters of” Vietnam.

“China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this,” said Hong. “We urge ASEAN to remain neutral (and) not intervene in the dispute.”

Taiwan simulates war vs China with computers

Posted to the Manila Times (May 19): Taiwan simulates war vs China with computers

Taiwan on Monday launched computerized war games featuring its newly acquired AH-64 Apache helicopters helping counter a simulated attack by a Chinese aircraft carrier group, officials and media said.

The five-day drill, part of the island’s biggest annual military maneuvers to be held in September, is aimed at testing the island’s defense capability against the fast expanding military might of the giant neighbor, defense ministry officials said, declining to go into details.

A scenario of the drill was attacks on the east by a Chinese aircraft carrier group, Taiwan’s Apple Daily said.

With military deployments focused on the west coast facing mainland China, the east is relatively vulnerable to any Chinese invasion, analysts say.

The drill for the first time features weaponry acquired last year, including the latest variant of US-made Apaches which military gurus say is the world’s most lethal attack helicopter, P-3C submarine hunting aircraft, and an upgraded version of Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Fighter, the paper said.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since President Ma Ying-jeou’s China-friendly administration came to power in 2008 on a platform of beefing up trade and tourism links. He was re-elected in January 2012.

But Beijing has still not ruled out the use of force against the island should it declare independence, even though Taiwan has ruled itself for more than six decades since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

The People’s Liberation Army launched ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan during a series of live-fire drills in 1995 and 1996, aiming to deter the Taiwanese from voting for Lee Teng-hui, the independence-minded president then seeking another four-year term.

China halted its sabre-rattling only after the United States sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to waters near the island.

Japan to establish island military posts

Posted to the Manila Times (May 19): Japan to establish island military posts

Japan is to establish new military outposts on remote islands, a report said Monday, as Tokyo looks to bolster its defence amid a territorial dispute with China.

Up to 350 troops each could be stationed on three islands in the far southwest, close to the Senkakus, which Beijing claims as its own under the name Diaoyus, the mass-selling Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

With the exception of the main Okinawa island, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces — its army — have no bases on the chain of islands that runs from the bottom of Kyushu to Taiwan. There are limited air force facilities in the area.

The lack of substantial military presence is a source of worry for some in Japan, who caution that it leaves Japan vulnerable to China’s increasingly assertive stance.

Chinese ships have repeatedly moved into the Senkakus’ territorial waters, since Tokyo nationalized some of them in September 2012, to confront Japanese vessels.

The islands lie around 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) southwest of Tokyo and around 200 kilometers from the north of Taiwan.

While most of the bickering has been between coastguards from both sides, observers say military ships are loitering over the horizon, with some warning of the risk of a confrontation.

Beijing has spent heavily on its military in recent years in a bid to develop a “blue water” navy that can project force far out into the Pacific.

This means getting through what it calls the “first island chain” including Japan’s southwestern islands and the northern Philippines.

Tokyo is now planning to set up new outposts on three islands, including Amamioshima, some 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the Senkakus, the Yomiuri said, citing unnamed senior defense ministry officials.

Deputy defense minister Ryota Takeda will visit Amamioshima this week to look at establishing a joint research project with the island, it said.

Two other candidate sites for the new posts include Miyako island and Ishigaki island, some 210 kilometers southwest and 170 kilometers south, respectively, of the disputed islets.

These units are to be in addition to a radar surveillance unit on Yonaguni, where a ground–breaking ceremony was held last month.

Bolstering the defense of Japan’s southwestern islands “has an aspect of strengthening the Japan-US security alliance,” a senior defense official told the Yomiuri.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said under a new defense program, Japan had already decided to enhance the military presense in the southwest and had been conducting research.

“At the moment, however, we have not decided on specific, concrete locations such as those reported,” he told a regular press conference.

The report came just two days after the Japanese and Chinese trade ministers held talks in the first high-level meeting since Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in December.

China is also locked in separate territorial disputes with Southeast Asian neighbors, including Vietnam where the row has recently flared into deadly riots, and the Philippines.

Army builds houses at Negros 1st ranch

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 19): Army builds houses at Negros 1st ranch

The construction of houses for 11 families from Hacienda Arloc to the relocated site of the Negros First Ranch in Brgy. Santa Rosa, Murcia, Negros Occidental is now going on as a Bayanihan team effort.

Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the building of houses is a joint effort of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, Philippine Army and the Kasanag Inc., a non-government organization.

Not only will the 11 affected families have new houses, they will also receive livelihood assistance from the provincial government, through its Negros First-Army Wellness Extension Farm, in the peripheral area of the ranch, that covers four to six hectares, Aying said.

He said the expansion of the Negros First-Army Wellness Farm at the 303rd Infantry Brigade in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, has become a necessity, because of the increasing demand of the local market for organic vegetable and poultry products.

Aying added that the provincial government, through its Technological Livelihood Development Center, will assist the 11 families in the marketing of their products.

Sabah forces profile Mindanao armed group

From GMA News (May 19): Sabah forces profile Mindanao armed group

Malaysian security forces have started building a profile of an armed group from "southern Philippines" that had been linked to recent abductions in Sabah since April.

Eastern Sabah Security Command director general Datuk Mohamad Mantek said they want to see how the gunmen move before striking, Malaysia's The Star Online reported Monday evening.

He said their findings so far indicate the need for cooperation from local residents in alerting authorities as regards suspicious persons.

"That is why we in Esscom need feedback from local communities about any suspicious activities in their areas," he said at a dialogue with the local community.

Mohamad said their findings so far indicate the gunmen wouldn't abduct their targets immediately but would "hide" among villagers at various islands and wait until “spotters” gave them the green light to proceed.

Such profiling would help greatly in preventing such crimes in the future, Mohamad added.

Last April 2, gunmen abducted a Filipina resort worker and a Chinese tourist from a floating resort. On May 6, gunmen abducted a Chinese from a fish farm in Lahad Datu.

NPA frees Army man 'nabbed' for alleged illegal logging ops — report

From GMA News (May 19): NPA frees Army man 'nabbed' for alleged illegal logging ops — report

An Army corporal taken hostage by the communist New People's Army in Davao del Norte province regained his freedom Monday, a radio report has said.
Cpl. Rogelio Rosales was released in Sitio Tagpopout in Barangay Suwa-on in Kapalong town, Bombo Radyo reported.  
According to the report, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte secured Rosales' release.
The corporal was the driver of the Bravo Company of the Army's 60th Infantry Battalion.
Duterte brought the corporal to the headquarters of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Camp Panacan. Rosales was then brought to the Panacan Military Hospital 
The report quoted Duterte as saying no ransom was paid for Rosales' release.
The NPA claimed to have taken Rosalesas a so-called prisoner of war (POW) in Kapalong, Davao del Norte last May 3.
NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-region Sub-regional Command spokesperson Aris Francisco said the supposed arrest of Rosales was part of the NPA's total log ban campaign.
Francisco accused Rosales of "coddling and protecting massive logging in Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces."
"[Rosales] was on the process of arranging for the transit of logs when apprehended by the NPA. A sachet of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) was also found in his possession, proof that soldiers who are coddling big loggers in the province were also into the illegal drug trade," Francisco added.

MILF, OIC discuss peace efforts

From Business World (May 18): MILF, OIC discuss peace efforts

Leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met with Iyad bin Amin Madani, the new secretary-general of the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss harmonization of the two southern peace pacts and unite the various factions among Moro fronts.

In an article posted on, the official publication of the MILF, it said the meeting focused on the issue on how the recent peace agreement would work with the previous peace agreement that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has signed with the Philippine government in 1996.

“The main concern of the OIC leader is how to connect the MNLF Final Peace Agreement with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which was signed between the MILF and the government in Manila on March 27,” the statement said.

MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim presented seven points, most of which are the key points of the agreement it signed with the Philippine government.

“(Mr. Murad) explained that the 42 consensus points agreed in MNLF peace negotiation were already subsumed in the CAB, while the three remaining issues, which the MNLF claimed to have been not implemented (provisional government, wealth-sharing arrangement, and plebiscite for the entire 13 provinces and five cities) are also part of the CAB,” the statement said.

The 42 consensus points are among the several conclusions in the tripartite review process between the Philippine government, OIC and the MNLF.

The supposed consensus points were to amend Republic Act 9054, which created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The revision did not push through as this was opposed by former MNLF chairman Nur Misuari at the last minute for unknown reason.

Mr. Misuari is now a fugitive after he led his men to attack coastal villages in this city that triggered an intense three-week armed hostilities in September last year.


Mr. Murad urged the OIC during the meeting to accredit the “Bangsamoro as the official observer to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation instead of the MNLF since the MNLF at this point in time does not represent the interest of the entire Muslims in southern Philippines.”

“(Mr. Murad) explained that the Bangsamoro is already recognized as the national identity of the native inhabitants of Mindanao and the islands,” the statement said.

“Representation to the OIC meetings or conferences can be agreed upon in the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum or may be chosen by the Office of the Secretary General from nominees of the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum,” the statement further explained.

At present, the OIC recognizes the MNLF as the sole representative of the Muslim Filipinos in the conference.,-OIC-discuss-peace-efforts&id=87585

Green group scores biodiversity loss in Pantaron Range due to militarization

From the Business Mirror (May 19): Green group scores biodiversity loss in Pantaron Range due to militarization

THE environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) on Monday warned that the undocumented biodiversity in Pantaron Range might be lost because of the militarization in Davao and Cotabato provinces.
Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator Celemente Bautista said military activities in Pantaron Range are driving away the Talaingod Manobos, one of several groups that have protected the mountain range and its forests from destructive human activities for decades.
Bautista took part in the National Solidarity Mission organized by national and local people’s organizations, peace advocates and human-rights groups across various indigenous communities in the provinces of Davao and Cotabato.
In particular, he was part of the team that assessed the area of Talaingod municipality in Davao del Norte, which is within the Pantaron Range.
 “The Talaingod Manobos in Pantaron Range continue their decades-long active defense of their ancestral lands from military-backed development aggression, conserving their environment and knowledge of the land in the process. The intensified militarization by the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] have caused massive displacement and rights abuses, which threaten the Manobo’s way of life and the land they have fought so hard to preserve,” Bautista said.
 The 12,600-square-kilometer Pantaron Mountain Range, or Pantadon Biogeographic Subregion, cuts across the provinces of Bukidnon, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, covering 12.4 percent of Mindanao.
 One of the largest remaining old-growth forests in the Philippines is in the Pantaron Mountain Range. It covers 1.8 million hectares and supplies the water of major rivers in Mindanao mainly the Mindanao River, Pulangi River, Davao River, Tagoloan River and major tributaries of Agusan River.
 The Kalikasan PNE said the natural forests of the region support immense biodiversity and links important breeding sites of the Philippine eagle at Mount Kitanglad and Mount Apo.
 Bautista said during interviews that the Talaingod Manobos speak of a variety of birds including three kinds of hornbills; and lizards and amphibians such as forest frogs and monitor lizards that form part of the biological diversity in the range.
 “They also shared that there are wild pigs including dwarf ones, civets and monkeys including tarsiers,” he said.
 During the mission, the delegates confirmed the alleged human-rights abuses committed against the Manobos that began on March 3 this year as part of the Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency operation of the AFP.
 Because of the human-rights abuses, which include looting, torture, sexual harassment, intimidation, destruction of farms and the desecration of the Manobos’ abodes, Talaingod Manobos decided to evacuate their communities to avoid more human-rights abuses by the military, Bautista said.
The Talaingod Manobos reportedly sought refuge in Davao City where various organizations and individuals, including Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, supported their cause, Bautista said.
 Bautista recalled that in the 1990s, the Talaingod Manobos experienced displacement due to militarization from the security forces and military backing of the logging firm Alcantara and Sons (Alsons).
Today, Bautista said they are threatened by the encroaching of Alsons through their Integrated Forest Management Agreement, or IFMA, that covers the entire 45,000 hectares of Talaingod.
He said a host of large-scale mining corporations also have approved applications that may lead to massive biodiversity loss in Pantaron Range.
 “The Talaingod Manobos under their organization Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon believe that it is these economic interests that are the real motive in the systemic displacement of their communities,” Bautista said.

US charges Chinese soldiers for hacking

Posted to ABS-CBN (May 19): US charges Chinese soldiers for hacking

US Attorney General Eric Holder announces the indictments of 5 Chinese nationals on cyber espionage charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies, during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Monday. Photo by Keith Lane, Reuters

The United States on Monday charged five members of a shadowy Chinese military unit for allegedly stealing trade secrets as it vowed to ramp up the fight against hacking.

In the first-ever prosecution of state actors over cyber-espionage, a federal grand jury indicted the five on charges they broke into US computers to benefit Chinese state-owned companies, leading to job losses in the United States in steel, solar and other industries.

Attorney General Eric Holder called on China to hand over the five men for trial in the steel city of Pittsburgh and said the United States would use "all the means that are available to us" if, as expected, Beijing refuses.

President Barack Obama's administration "will not tolerate actions by any nation that seek to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition," Holder told reporters.

"This case should serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the ongoing cyber threat," Holder told reporters.

The grand jury indicted each of the five --Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui -- on 31 counts, which each carry penalties of up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said that the five officers belonged to Unit 61398 of the People's Liberation Army. A report last year by security firm Mandiant said that the unit had thousands of workers operating out of a non-descript, 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai where they pilfer intellectual property and government secrets.

China's foreign ministry on Monday rejected the US indictment, warning the move threatened relations between the two countries.

The indictment, "based on fabricated facts, grossly violates the basic norms governing international relations and jeopardises China-US cooperation and mutual trust," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Loss of US jobs

US officials said they investigated the unit for several years and believed that the hacking had contributed to "substantial" job and profit losses in the United States.

Hackers stole secret designs from Westinghouse, the US nuclear plant giant owned by Japan's Toshiba, just as it was negotiating with a Chinese state-owned company, said John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security.

He said that hackers also stole pricing information from the computers of company SolarWorld to help Chinese competitors in the solar energy sector, in which China has invested heavily.

"It is not conduct that most responsible nations within the global economic community would tolerate," Carlin said.

David Hickton, the US attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania, called cyber-espionage "21st-century burglary."

The indictment said that victims also included industry titans Alcoa and US Steel as well as the United Steelworkers labor union.

Officials declined to put a financial cost on the hacking. A report led by former US officials estimated last year that cyber espionage -- overwhelmingly by China -- was costing the US economy more than $300 billion each year, equivalent to what the United States sells each year to Asia.

Stepping up the fight

President Barack Obama has directly raised hacking concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, on a visit to Beijing last month, urged China to be more open about cyber capabilities to reduce the chances of inadvertent conflict.

Beijing has hit back that Washington is hypocritical as it conducts sweeping surveillance around the world, as revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

Snowden's leaks have indicated that the United States has hacked into Chinese telecom giant Huawei -- whose own attempts to penetrate the US market have been blocked by lawmakers' concerns on national security.

The United States has invested heavily in cyber-warfare, with the Pentagon setting up a dedicated command, and is widely suspected to have worked with Israel to infect Iran's nuclear program.

Holder insisted that the US activities were different, saying: "All nations are engaged in intelligence gathering."

"What I think distinguishes this case is that we have a state-sponsored entity -- state-sponsored individuals -- using intelligence tools to gain commercial advantage," he said.

AFP calls rights' groups accusation 'absurd, unfair'

From the Philippine Star (May 19): AFP calls rights' groups accusation 'absurd, unfair'

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday branded as "absurd" the accusation of various rights groups that the military was responsible  for the death of the newborn baby of the daughter of the late Communist Party of the Philippines Roger Rosal.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan Jr. said Rosal's daughter, Andrea, was never in their custody when she was arrested by authorities in Caloocan City weeks ago.

"Bakit kami i-be-blame eh wala sa amin ang custody nya? It (arrest) was so ordered by the court. Absurd and kanilang kine-claim. She was arrested when she was already seven months pregnant. And bakit sya inaresto kasi may kaso syang murder," Tutaan said.

Tutaan also noted that when she was arrested, she was afforded medical attention because of her condition.

"Yung inaresto siya, seven months pregnant siya," he said.

Col. Demy Zagala,  public information office chief, said the military sympathizes with Andrea and her family "for their loss.

"To blame anyone for the death of this infant is both callous and unfair. This child is innocent and her death should not be exploited by anyone," Zagala said.

In a statement, women's rights group Gabriela blamed the AFP for the death of Andrea's new born baby Diona Andrea while confined at the Philippine General Hospital.

"Since her birth last May 17, baby Andrea has been confined at the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit of the Phil Gen Hospital due to hypoxemia or blood oxygen deficiency.

"The AFP and the Aquino government virtually murdered baby Andrea when they refused to grant earlier requests for hospital detention for Andrea," Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said.

Salvador added that since Rosal was detained two months ago for trumped up charges, she has been living in poor conditions that are unsuitable for an expectant mother.

AFP sees power struggle inside CPP-NPA

From ABS-CBN (May 19): AFP sees power struggle inside CPP-NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) believes there is a power struggle inside the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) following the arrest of its leaders, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

Major General Oscar Lactao, AFP's deputy chief of staff for operations, said the recent attacks by the NPA could be related to the leadership vacuum created by the couple's arrest.

''There is a jockeying for leadership so there is power struggle for organization. Some people are also taking advantage of the vacuum created by the arrest within the organization,'' Lactao told ANC's Headstart.

The military said Benito, 63, is the chairman of the CPP and head of its central executive committee.

On the other hand, Wilma, 61, served as the CPP secretary-general and member of the central executive committee. She was also CPP's finance officer.

''The strength of the organization is in the leadership… The wife is the finance officer, she handles the money,'' Lactao said.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan Jr. said support for the CPP-NPA has also started to wane, with the supposed surrender of some 72 NPA rebels that followed the Tiamzon couple's arrest.

''The ideological mooring is gone,'' Tutaan said.

The military expects more cases will be filed against the alleged communist leaders now that they are under arrest. Lactao said more people have found the courage to file cases against the Tiamzons after they were arrested.

The Tiamzons were arrested in Cebu last March 22 for charges of violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and Republic Act 9516 or Illegal Possession of Explosives Law.

They are charged with murder, multiple murder and frustrated murder before the regional trial court in Northern Samar. The charges are in relation to the alleged involvement of the Tiamzons in the killing of about 52 civilians in Inopacan, Leyte, whose bodies were supposedly discovered in a mass grave in 2006.

The Tiamzons are also tagged in the abduction of two soldiers.

''During their leadership, they orchestrated the violence. The number of child victims of recruitment - 412 since they assumed leadership… Out of that 15 were killed during battle, 261 surrendered. The number of civilians deliberately killed - 444,'' Lactao said.

''They're recruiting minors as combatants. They're killing civilians, they're burning properties. What is our takeaway from this? They are now becoming a criminal organization rather than a revolutionary organization."

The couple earlier said the government should release them because they are immune against arrest under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however, said JASIG is not in effect because there are no ongoing peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.

De Lima added the couple's criminal cases have nothing to do with the peace process.

The AFP said from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, the number of NPA's members is now down to just about 4,000.

Mayor Furigay convenes peace council over Abu Sayyaf threats

From the Zamboanga Today (May 19): Mayor Furigay convenes peace council over Abu Sayyaf threats

Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay and Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay last week convened the Peace and Order Council to tackle threats posed by terrorist groups particularly the dreaded Abu Sayyaf and the Urban Terrorist Group (UTG).

The emergency meeting presided by the mayor and vice mayor was conducted at the Lamitan Plaza and attended by the military, police and 45 barangay chairmen of the various communities.

The group tackled the menace posed by the Abu Sayyaf who were responsible in the planting of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) last Sunday in Sitio Lagasan barangay Kulay Bato.

Mayor Furigay commended the police, military and the intelligence community for the early discovery of the IED which could have injured or even killed many people if the bomb exploded.

The mayor urged the barangay leaders to be alert and vigilant in the face of threats by the terrorist group who are out to create confusion among the people.

Furigay asked the police and military to seize and secure the other explosives which are allegedly still out in the custody of the ASG.

Based on intelligence there are still eight IED that managed to enter the city.

At the same time, the barangay chairmen asked the military and police to field more personnel and add more checkpoints in entry and exit points of the city.

Phil Navy holds bloodletting activity in Cebu

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Phil Navy holds bloodletting activity in Cebu

The Naval Forces Central (NAVFORCEN) here held a bloodletting activity on May 16 in line with the nationwide celebration of Philippine Navy’s 116th Founding Anniversary.

The bloodletting was held simultaneously nationwide, according to a statement from Lt. James Reyes, NAVFORCEN civil military operations officer.

Reyes said the bloodletting generated around 17,500 liters of total accumulated blood.

He said the bloodletting was done in partnership with Department of Health (DOH) Region 7 Blood Center (RBC) based in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical  Center Cebu (VSMMC) led by Dr. Reynette Christine Ligaray.

Dr. Ligaray stressed the importance of serving the community by participating in life-saving activities.

"Knowing within yourself that you saved a life through your donated blood is a priceless fulfillment,” she said.

NAVFORCEN Commander Commodore Reynaldo L. Yoma AFP, for his part, said they are happy to have served their countrymen by sharing blood.

"It is our symbol of humanity and kindness to our fellow Filipinos,” said Commodore Yoma in a press statement.

Yoma thanked the health department for giving the Philippine Navy sailors and marines the opportunity to donate blood and be a part of other people’s lives.

AFP’s Joint Task Force-NCR joins Brigada Eskwela 2014

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19): AFP’s Joint Task Force-NCR joins Brigada Eskwela 2014

The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines joins this year’s Brigada Eskwela with the theme “Making our Schools Safer.”

The "National Schools Maintenance Week" of the Department of Education (DepEd) starts Monday, May 19 until May 25, 2014.

JTF-NCR Commander BGen Manuel S. Gonzales AFP joins in the kick-off ceremony Monday, May 19 at the Valenzuela City Astrodome together with DepEd officials led by Undersecretary for Regional Operations Rizalino D. Revira, Dr. Luz S. Almeda, Regional Director for DepED-NCR, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, other DepEd and local officials.

The JTF-NCR in collaboration with some 50 schools in Metro Manila, together with volunteer teachers, school heads, parents and stakeholders will conduct school maintenance in preparation for the opening of classes on June 2.

Maintenance works include minor repairs on tables and chairs, repainting, ceiling repair, polishing school building and grounds, electrical system maintenance, hygiene and sanitation facilities maintenance, and others all in the spirit of “Bayanihan.”

Spanish autonomy models inspire PH legislators to ensure progress in Bangsamoro

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19): Spanish autonomy models inspire PH legislators to ensure progress in Bangsamoro

Philippine legislators foresee a spur in development in the future Bangsamoro region as they completed a five-day study visit program on Spain's autonomy models, a statement said.

"I am now envisioning a spur in Bangsamoro development," Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said. Pimentel, along with Senator Pia Cayetano and Representatives Deputy Speaker Pangalian Balindong, Jim Hataman-Salliman, Jesus Sacdalan, Bai Sandra Sema, Nancy Catamco, Rodolfo Biazon, Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. and Arnulfo Go participated in a study visit program organized by the Spanish Embassy in Manila and funded by the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID). Also joining them were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles and Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas.

"During this study trip, we were exposed to European Union standards and I am hoping that these EU standards can creep into the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law," Pimentel said. "If Europe is progressive because of these standards, I am hoping that the Bangsamoro will also progress."

Pimentel was referring to the different standards in governance and administration put in place by the Spanish national government and being followed and implemented by the autonomous regions.

Cayetano cited the health care in the autonomous community of Galicia as an example. "The national government and the national laws still dictate the number of systems or standards that one must provide but the implementation reside with the autonomous government," she said.

"Seeing how it works here gives me better ideas on how to share the power," Cayetano added.

During the study visit, the Philippine delegation was given a first hand view of the experiences of Spain in the setting up of its 17 autonomous communities, provided with best practices and lessons learned on the relationships between the central and autonomous governments as well as on territorial and political organization, public administration, decentralization and models of local autonomy. The legislators also visited the local government units of Galicia, namely, the municipalities of Santiago and Cambados as well as Madrid for in-depth discussions on their specific autonomy systems.

"We've heard from the people themselves. We've heard it from the President of the Parliament of Galicia, we've also heard from the mayor of the town of Cambados. We've also heard from the Xunta de Galicia (Government of Galicia) the executive branch and met the President," Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.

"In all of these learnings and all of the information they gave us, somehow we have a working knowledge on how a country like Spain which gave autonomy to 17 regions can become a model for possible adaptation on the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)," Rodriguez added.

Other delegates to the study visit includes representatives from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, namely Undersecretary Jose Lorena, Assistant Secretary Rose Romero, Director Polly Michelle Cunanan and the legal team of the government peace panel, Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman and Atty. Armi Bayot. (OPAPP)

'Bangsamoro pact legal, PH constitution its paramount basis'

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 19): 'Bangsamoro pact legal, PH constitution its paramount basis'

In light of the concerns of critics on the legality of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), Government of the Philippines (GPH) Legal Team head Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman affirmed that the Philippine Constitution has been the paramount basis of the CAB which is now translated into a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be submitted to Congress for passage this year.

"The CAB is legal," Basman said while reiterating that the GPH Peace Panel welcomes the concerns of everyone on the CAB. "We are open to engaging and informing everyone on the different provisions on the CAB."  

 Constitutional basis

According to Basman, Article X of the Philippine Constitution, which contains provisions on autonomous regions served as the basis for the Bangsamoro's ministerial form of government. “The general guideline it provided for the structure of government of an autonomous region is that the executive and legislative branch of the autonomous government must be elective and representative of the constituent political units."

She said that the republican form of government is entrenched in the Constitution. However, the exact form and mechanism to derive citizen’s representation in the government is not specifically prescribed in the Supreme Law and so it does not exclude other structures of representative democracy.

On the devolution of powers to the Bangsamoro, Basman said that “Section 20 of Article X is the constitutional basis for the listing of devolved powers.” She added that the signed CAB, which lists such power-sharing arrangements between the Central and Bangsamoro governments, has yet to be fleshed out in the Basic Law that will undergo national legislation. “It is therefore up to Congress to determine the extent of the legislative powers to be granted to the Bangsamoro legislative body and the relationship of this power vis-à-vis existing and future national legislations.”

As to the retention of the President’s general supervision over autonomous regions, Atty. Basman said this will continue in the Bangsamoro which respects the power of the national government and national sovereignty. She said that like what has been exercised by the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the future Bangsamoro government that will replace it will also have devolved powers to regulate its constituent Local Government Units (LGUs).

Basman also assured that the CAB respects the powers of constitutional bodies. She cited excerpts of the CAB that gives “due regard to the powers of the Supreme Court,” “without prejudice to the power, authority and duty of the national Commission on Audit,” and its continued mandate in autonomous regions like the future Bangsamoro.  

Basman likewise clarified that the police force for the Bangsamoro will be under the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) as required by the Constitution. “Also, having a human rights body specifically catering to the Bangsamoro will not diminish the current powers of the national Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as in fact this arrangement already exists in the form of the Regional Human Rights Commission in the ARMM.”

On the creation of autonomous regions in the country, Atty. Basman underscored that “our Constitution itself provides the justification for the asymmetry and reserved a separate set of provisions for two particular areas in the country – Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.”

“This progressive and enlightened section recognizes the uniqueness of the peoples belonging to these areas and provides for their rightful exercise of self-governance. The Bangsamoro Basic Law as the enabling law for the establishment of the Bangsamoro precisely aims to operationalize this constitutional objective,” she said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers such as Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez and Magdalo Party-List Representative Francisco Ashley "Ace" Acedillo also affirmed the constitutionality of the CAB during a weekly press briefing held at the House of Representatives. Rep. Rodriguez reiterated that the CAB only provides for enhanced autonomy, negating claims that it creates an independent state.

On her part, GPH Peace Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, in her recent public speech, said that independence was never an agenda in the negotiations. Atty. Basman also said that the creation of Bangsamoro as a sub-political unit of the Philippine state that respects its territorial integrity and national sovereignty, is far from being a prelude to an independent state. “The Bangsamoro is therefore within the frame of our 1987 Constitution.” (OPAPP)

China deploys more ships in VN waters

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): China deploys more ships in VN waters

China has sent two more armed naval ships to waters surrounding the Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig illegally set up in Vietnam's waters, according to a senior official from the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force.

When they arrived, the vessels removed unveiled canvas sheets hiding their weapons, intimidating Vietnamese fishing vessels, said Nguyen Van Trung, deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Department at a press conference in Hanoi on Saturday.

Trung said the Chinese ships kept approaching and provoking the Vietnamese forces patrolling Vietnam's waters around the oil rig.

He said the warships included a fast-attack missile craft coded 755 and a fast patrol attack craft coded 789.

He added that as Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance ships approached the oil rig to demand China remove it, many Chinese ships encircled, rammed and fired water cannons into Vietnamese ships.

Trung said one Chinese ship intentionally rammed a Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force ship when it was on duty about seven nautical miles from the oil rig.

At the same time, Chinese "fishing" vessels continued to surround Vietnamese fishing vessels, however, the Vietnamese refused to move from their traditional fishing grounds.

The Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force said it had tried to exercise the utmost restraint. Together with the Coast Guard Force, it continues to provide support for Vietnamese fishing boats to ensure their safety and operations, said Trung.

In a bulletin aired on Radio Voice of Vietnam, Trung said that by yesterday afternoon, China had 134 ships of various kinds, including coast guard ships, warships, refueling ships and fishing vessels, around the oil rig.

In another development, the Minister for Public Security, Tran Dai Quang, on Saturday telephoned his Chinese counterpart, Guo Sheng Kun, over recent public protests against the oil rig set up within Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.

Quang updated the Chinese official about incidents at industrial parks in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, central Ha Tinh province and Ho Chi Minh City.

He told the Chinese minister that some people had used the spontaneous protests to create social disorder and that dozens of policemen had been injured.

He added that the incidents were regrettable and that hundreds of people for being held for investigation.

The Vietnamese government has promptly directed ministries, agencies and localities to take measures to help the affected businesses resume their activities and enable local foreigners to stabilize their lives, he said.

Trung said China should withdraw the oil rig from Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and suggested the two sides sit down and hold talks to clear up differences.

Meanwhile, police in central Ha Tinh province have launched legal proceedings against 16 people involved in a disturbance at the Vung Ang Economic Zone.

The suspects are being investigated on charges of causing public disorder, intentionally injuring others, destroying and stealing assets, said Colonel Bui Dinh Quang, deputy chief of the provincial police, yesterday.

Earlier, local police also started legal proceedings against a public disorder case at the zone's Son Duong Formosa deepwater port project on May 14.

The province's competent agencies are conducting further investigations and encourage people to hand in images and video clips on the incident to be used as legal grounds for strictly punishing the offenders under the law.

Many foreign experts and workers were discharged from hospital at the weekend. They thanked doctors and nurses at Ha Tinh hospitals for their treatment.

Int'l press conference

An international press conference was held in Hanoi on Saturday to inform foreign reporters about bad individuals' extremist actions that affected social order and safety in several localities in the country.

Dang Minh Khoi, Assistant to the Foreign Minister and head of the Northeast Asia Department under the Foreign Ministry, said right after learning about the incidents, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung immediately chaired several meetings with concerned Ministries and localities on how to promptly fix the situation.

He underscored that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has maintained regular contacts with foreign agencies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to promptly handle the protection of foreign citizens in Vietnam as well as their legitimate rights.

Lieutenant General Hoang Kong Tu, head of the Investigation Security Agency under the Ministry of Public Security, reported that the agency is working hard to investigate whether workers received money to participate in destroying the assets, but no official information on the action has been found.

Regarding the issue, the local police commenced criminal proceedings against 300 people on charge of appropriating and destroying assets, causing public disorder, and taking actions against on-duty officials.

He reported that several foreigners in Vietnam were found to work without work permits and were sent to their homeland.

Lieutenant General Tu confimed that two people lost their lives in the incidents due to their fights with the rioters, which were out of expectations.

Army hunts down NPAs in twin attacks in Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Army hunts down NPAs in twin attacks in Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat

The military’s 1002nd Infantry Brigade has launched a massive manhunt against a band of communist guerillas who raided the mining field equipment of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur Monday morning, the Army here said.

Colonel Norman Flores, commander of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade based in Saranggani province, told reporters in a radio interview that manhunt was still on-going in the mountain villages in the borders of Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat.

About 50 heavily armed New Peoples Army (NPA) led by a certain Joan Casamurin, also known as “Ka Alvin” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) Front 72 first attack the field offices of SMMI in Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, set on fire container vans and other facilities in the area.

The attack occurred before sunrise Monday, the Army said.

As the rebels torched the facilities, another band of guerillas, about few kilometers away from SMI project site, attacked and disarmed security guards of a private mining firm conducting exploration activities in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat and took more than a dozen assorted firearms.

“No casualty was reported on mining workers. Our troops are hunting the NPAs as of now,” Flores said, adding that the twin attacks could be part of a retaliatory offensive by the NPAs following the arrest of Felix Armodia alias “Ka Jing” early this month.

“Ka Jing” allegedly led about a hundred NPAs who raided the Matanao police station in Davao del Sur, killed two policemen and engaged pursuing elements of the 39th Infantry Battalion in a fierce firefight.

Army donates trash cans in Brigada Eskwela in Ormoc City

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Army donates trash cans in Brigada Eskwela in Ormoc City

The 802nd brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) showed their support to the Brigada Eskwela spearheaded by the Department of Education (DepEd) by donating trash cans.

Brigade commander, Col. Dinoh Dolina said that the donation would help recipient schools manage their garbage.

Two drums were provided each to the New Ormoc City National High School, Ipil National High School and Curva National High School.

Aside from trash can donations, the government troops also flexed their arms along with several other all-time supportive stakeholders of Deped Ormoc City Division as they assist in various activities in line with the Brigada Eskwela held in these schools.

The soldiers played great role for fast recovery following the devastation brought by super typhoon 'Yolanda.' And they do not only combat for peace and protection against insurgency but they also go frontlines in backing the community during various occurrences, calamities and events, said Dolina.

Sec. Luistro lauds Korea's Araw Contingent for helping rebuild school facilities destroyed by Yolanda

From the Philippine News Agency (May 19): Sec. Luistro lauds Korea's Araw Contingent for helping rebuild school facilities destroyed by Yolanda

Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro on Monday expressed “very, very deep gratitude” to the Joint Support Group of the Republic of Korea (ROK) particularly its Araw Contingent which helped rebuild school facilities destroyed by typhoon Yolanda in Leyte province.

The top official likewise proposed to regional director Luisa B. Yu that one room in the lounge of the DepEd Regional Educational Training Center (RELC) be named after the Araw Contingent.

The RELC is one of the 20 public facilities that were rebuilt by the Korean military force in four towns of Leyte. The completed facility, composed of four buildings, a training center and two dormitories, was turned over to the DepEd Monday.

“The Araw Room (is) a sign that the sun will forever shine and will not sit on this part of the Philippines because we will always remember you. Each one of you will be held in great esteem in our hearts,” he stated.

Luistro said that Koreans remembering the Philippines and staying here for one year “is a commitment that we will never forget.”

Since their arrival here in December last year, the contingent has already completed the repair and rehabilitation of 91 classrooms. More repairs are expected in the next seven months.

“But more than just a building, which we can lose at some other time, the memory of your one year stay here in the province of Leyte and the Philippines will be like the sun that we will always remember,” he said.

"Even after you leave, every time we rise in the morning we will remember you. And whenever we sing and we raise our Philippine flag we will remember the sight of the sun that shines shared by our brothers from the Republic of Korea,” he added.

DepEd regional director Yu said that the newly-repaired RELC would benefit some 31,593 teachers who will be trained in the venue and staying at its dormitories.

“We are deeply honored to be recipient of this rebuilding effort made by our Korean brother. We are amazed by your generosity, your industry and the social consciousness you’ve showed us with the restoration of this RELC,” she cited.

She urged that the rebuilding project be deemed as manifestation of the “strengthening of ties and a signal for continues care and support for our country’s people and their aspiration” instead as repayment of the blood shed by Filipino soldiers during the Korean War.

She disclosed that of the 7,500 Filipinos sent during the Korean War, 112 were killed, 113 wounded and 16 went missing.

The ceremony ended with dance presentations of selected members of the Araw Contingent, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) engineers and selected pupils of an elementary school in Leyte.