Friday, May 23, 2014

Negrenses lauded for help

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 23): 7 Negrenses lauded for help
in ‘winning the peace’ drive

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division yesterday honored its civilian partners in its “winning the peace” campaign in Negros and Panay, as it marked its 40th founding anniversary at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, assisted by Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, led the distribution of plaques of merit and appreciation to seven Negrenses, who have contributed a lot in accomplishing the mission of 3ID in Negros and Panay islands.

The awardees were Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo, Ma. Lina Sanogal, action officer of the Provincial Peace, Integration and Development Unit of Negros Occidental, DILG Negros Oriental officer Farah Gentuya, Ma. Lourdes Tizon of the Paghili-usa sa Paghidaet Negros, Marit Stinus Cabugon of the Center for Freedom, Democracy and Inclusive Development Inc., Dr. Jess Cañete of the Commission on Human Rights in Negros Oriental, and Bentham de la Cruz, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Negros Oriental chapter.

Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID spokesman, said yesterday that Degamo was instrumental in the recent signing of declaration of the normalization of Negros Oriental, which indicated another model of collaboration, cooperation, support and unity between the local and national officials, AFP, PNP and civil society organizations.

Sanogal, also the Provincial Planning and Development officer of Negros Occidental, was instrumental in pioneering the Pro-PIDU program under the Negros First agenda of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., that served as the template for one of the steps in winning the peace in the province, Tiongson added.

Tison, an active advocate of the local and multi-sectoral peace and development initiatives, was cited for her contributions to the Winning the Peace campaign in Negros, and for facilitating the critical incident stress debriefing to the direct and indirect survivors of the La Castellana massacre.

Cabugon, Tiongson said, served as sponsor of the 11th Infantry Battalion Lapu-Lapu Educational Assistance Program scholars at the Negros Oriental State University-Guihulngan campus, and she provided school fees and monthly stipend for LEAP scholars.

Cañete was cited for efforts to manifest the CHR dedication on human rights advocacy in Negros Oriental, while Mayor de la Cruz actively supported the various programs of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, military records show.

Tiongson said Gentuya served as a significant partner of the 302nd Brigade in facilitating the allocation of more than P8 million worth of program of works, and helped in the community-based programs of the unit, among others.

The military awardees from Negros island were Capt. Ronald Albert Dividina of the 62nd Infantry Battalion as Best Intelligence Officer, Capt. Sherwin Lagasca of the 11th IB as Best Operation Officer, 1Lt. Von Ryan Gomez (11IB) - Best Civil Military Operations Officer, 1Lt. Julambri Haber (79IB) - Best Company Commander, 2Lt. Jerome Mandocdoc (11IB) - Best Platoon Leader, Sgt. Joel Colongon (62IB) - Best Enlisted Personnel in Combat, Sgt. Cafgu Active Auxiliary Member Samuel Sabanal - Best CAA, 302nd Infantry Brigade - Best Infantry Brigade, and 11IB - Best Infantry Battalion, military records also showed.

Iriberri also conferred the Gold Cross Medal on 2Lt. John Tumamao, while 1Lt. Shamon Pamittan, Sgt. Marlon Losaria, and PFC Vincent Garbo received the Bronze Cross Medal.

3rd Infantry cited for Bayanihan effort

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 23): 3rd Infantry cited for Bayanihan effort

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernado Iriberri yesterday praised the 3rd Infantry Division for its success in the implementation and promotion of the Bayanihan effort, leading to the recent declaration of Negros Oriental as a Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready province.

Iriberri, who was the guest of honor and speaker during the 40th founding anniversary celebration of 3ID in Jamindan, Capiz, said, “As you usher more provinces and communities in Negros and Panay to normalcy, we will see the light of hope for peace and development shining through and eventuality spreading across all of the Visayas.”

He said the 3ID is now in the homestretch in clearing 52 communities from the control of the New People’s Army in Negros and Panay, following the liberation of 20 barangays from rebel influence.

“This gain can serve as a template for your other efforts in bringing lasting peace in the region,” Iriberri added.

He also acknowledged the contribution of 3ID interagency partners in winning the peace campaign. “It is my firm belief that 3ID and the Philippine Army alone could never lead to the much longed-for-peace in the same way that divided efforts will not result in victory of our campaign, Iriberri also said.

He noted the exemplary performance of 3ID, headed by Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, in the delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster response, in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda.

“Your perseverance to deliver disaster response and relief operations in spite of your agony is unimaginable,” Iriberri said, noting that some of them lost their loved ones.

“As we work together, we can overcome many difficulties and eventually march toward the realization of our goals for peace and development in this region,” Iriberri also said.

Troops, cops kill NPA commander, 6 others

From the Business Mirror (May 23): Troops, cops kill NPA commander, 6 others

A New People’s Army commander and six of his men were killed in an encounter with Army soldiers and policemen early on Friday morning in a village in Matnog, Sorsogon.

Chief Supt. Victor Deona, Bicol police commander, however, said the fatalities have yet to be identified, adding that two rebels were captured.
One of the captured rebels was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor wounds he suffered during the encounter, Deona said.
The bodies of the fatalities were taken to a funeral parlor in Matnog, where they can be identified by their relatives.
Deona said one of the casualties was identified by village residents as a commander, using the names Ka Cris and Randy.
He said the communist guerrillas were in the place and were preparing to attack the Matnog police station when they were found by the soldiers and policemen who were on security patrol.
Deona said those involved in the encounter believed that there could be more than seven fatalities, saying that though surprised, the rebels were able to put up strong resistance in their withdrawal resulting in an almost 30-minute gun battle.
A police report said information about the presence of some 25 heavily armed rebels on mission for revolutionary taxation at Sitio Hukdong, Barangay Balocawe, in Matnog town was also reported to the Army-police hotline allegedly by a barangay resident. Matnog has been the site of several bloody battles between communist rebels and government forces some two decades ago.
Deona added that there were intelligence reports that the communist guerrillas planned to attack the Matnog police station to seize firearms stored in the facility.
Owing the reports, Deona said that Army Scout Rangers and policemen in the area were able to hatch a plan to stop the attack.
No government casualty was reported in the gun battle that started at 5:40 a.m.
The troops recovered six high-powered firearms including a light machinegun and an M-203 grenade launcher at the scene of the encounter.
Maj. Gen. Yerson Depaysa, 9th Infantry “Spear” Division commander, troops from the 31st Infantry Battalion under 903 Infantry Brigade are in hot pursuit of the fleeing rebels, adding he had also ordered the village secured.

Village chief abducted

From the Mindanao Newsbits section of the Manila Bulletin (May 23): Village chief abducted

Davao City – A village chief in Maco, Compostela Valley was reported to have been abducted by undetermined  of armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The man was identified as Edgar Reyabonansa of Barangay Malamodao.

When reached by Manila Bulletin, Army Capt. Ernest Carolina, information officer of the 10th Infantry Division, said the abduction was confirmed by 1001st Brigade that operates in the area.

No other details were given by the army. Carolina said until now no reports were received by the family members from his abductors. No demands were given either, police said.

The leadership of the NPAs has not yet issued any statement.

Mortars to be used in bombing Zambo recovered

From Solar News (May 23): Mortars to be used in bombing Zambo recovered

A local bomb squad expert checks the mortars said to be intended by lawless elements to bomb vulnerable targets in Zamboanga City. (Solar News Online)

A local bomb squad expert checks the mortars said to be intended by lawless elements to bomb vulnerable targets in Zamboanga City

Combined elements of the military and the police have safely recovered on Thursday (May 22) two 60mm mortars, reportedly intended by lawless elements to bomb vulnerable targets in this city.

Police found the mortars placed inside a plastic bag abandoned along the roadside at Sitio Salum, Barangay San Roque here around 5:30 p.m.
Personnel of the bomb squad were immediately dispatched to the area to handle the explosives.
The PNP believes that the mortars were the missing parts police failed to find in a hideout during the arrest of suspected Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Abu Jomar last Saturday in Upper Calarian.  The bomb components are to be used by lawless elements to conduct bombing activities in the city.
Elements responsible for the safe recovery of the explosives include MIG9, Zamboanga City Police Bomb Squad, Intel-Zamboanga City Police, Regional Intelligence Unit 9, Task Force Zamboanga, and R2.
The plan by lawless elements to bomb vital Zambo installations and vulnerable targets was earlier confirmed by Sr. Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City Police Acting Director.
Targets were earlier identified by police as gasoline stations, bars, and pubs.
Casimiro said that aside from bombing vulnerable areas in the city, lawless elements are reported to be targeting top city officials such as City Mayor Beng Climaco, and House Representatives Celso Lobregat and Lilia Nuno for possible assassination.
The arrest of suspected Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Nujir Ahidji alias Abu Jomar last Saturday in a Zamboanga village, however, was said to have disrupted plans by the group. 
Although bomb components such as cellular phones, an improvised blasting cap, and cut wiring were said to have been recovered from the suspect, arresting officers reportedly failed to find up to six mortars to be used by the group to bomb certain targets in Zamboanga.
Last Thursday morning, operatives of the military and the police arrested another suspected Abu Sayyaf bomb expert in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
Najir Ajilul, alias Arab-Arab, was arrested by AFP and PNP elements after the former engaged the latter in a shootout in Barangay Tabayo, South Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
Casimiro believes that the group operating in Zamboanga is part of a network operating in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi Tawi, and Zamboanga del Norte areas.

Police recover Sayyaf bombs in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner Website (May 23): Police recover Sayyaf bombs in Zamboanga City

Police recovered two Abu Sayyaf mortar bombs on a village in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, officials said Friday.

Officials said the 60 mm mortars were recovered late Thursday afternoon hidden in a bush at Sitio Salom in San Roque village.

The recovery of the bombs came barely a week after joint army and police forces arrested an Abu Sayyaf bomber, Nujir Ahidji, in a raid May 17 at Southcom Village just outside the military’s Western Mindanao Command hosting US forces in Zamboanga City.

“The recovery of the mortar bombs was the result of intelligence operation,” Senior Inspector Joseph Ortega, a regional police spokesman, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

It was unknown who hid the bombs in the village, but Ortega said police are still investigating the Ahidji to determine the identities of other Abu Sayyaf militants hiding in Zamboanga.

The military said it is also hunting down militants in Zamboanga and nearby areas.

“The Western Mindanao Command and the Philippine National Police are jointly intensifying law enforcement operations in order to eliminate criminal activities through expeditious arrest of remaining leaders and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and other lawless elements,” said Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, a military spokeswoman.

The Western Mindanao Command is one of several military bases in southern Philippines where the US maintains a high-security facility under the command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines which is helping local troops fight terrorism.

Just earlier this month, police also captured a 36-year old Abu Sayyaf militant, Harijin Jinny, in downtown Zamboanga while working as a security guard on a store just outside the police headquarters.

Last month, police commandos raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout in Zamboanga’s Santa Maria village and killed 2 militants and captured 6 more following a firefight that wounded one policeman. Commandos recovered four .45-caliber pistols and three fragmentation grenades from the hideout.

US commander warns about China-Vietnam standoff

From the Sun Star (May 23): US commander warns about China-Vietnam standoff

The US military commander in the Pacific warned Friday that the risk of a miscalculation that could trigger a wider conflict in a tense territorial standoff between China and Vietnam is high and urged both nations to exercise restraint.

Adm. Samuel Locklear also urged Southeast Asian nations and China to hasten the drafting of a legally binding "code of conduct" to prevent territorial rifts from turning into armed conflicts that could threaten the region's bustling economies.

Southeast Asian diplomats have accused China of delaying the start of negotiations for such a nonaggression pact while it tries to consolidate its control of disputed territories.

Locklear said he was concerned about a three-week standoff between China and Vietnam near the disputed Paracel Islands and urged them to resolve the territorial conflicts on the basis of international law.

"I have serious concerns," Locklear told reporters. "The risk of miscalculation, I think, is high and we encourage them both to exercise restraint."

China raised the stakes earlier this month when it deployed an oil rig off in waters also claimed by Vietnam, which sent ships to try to disrupt the drilling operation. Street protests morphed into bloody anti-Chinese riots that damaged hundreds of factories.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who also attended an economic forum in Manila, told The Associated Press in written comments Thursday that "like all countries, Vietnam is considering various defense options, including legal actions in accordance with the international law."

But he said Vietnam would defend itself if it comes under attack.

Analysts have said that countries confronted by China in disputed waters, like Vietnam, may seek a deeper security alliance with Washington.

When asked by reporters about that possibility, Locklear said Washington has been forging such relationships and would welcome strategic ties with Hanoi.

"We look forward to exploring opportunities to expand our partnership with the nations such as Vietnam as well, but Vietnam is among many," Locklear said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, he said that the Asia-Pacific has become the most militarized region in the world, with some of the largest army and naval forces.

"How these forces are managed to create a fabric of security that allows economic success here has not yet been determined," Locklear said.

Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Laura del Rosario said the drafting of a code of conduct has been so delayed that it could be overrun by developments in the South China Sea, where territorial spats have flared and become more complicated in recent years.

"We're not acting fast enough and there are so many changes happening now," she said.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, bringing it into conflict with the far smaller nations of Vietnam, the Philippines and three others that have rival claims. Beijing also has a territorial dispute with Japan over a cluster of islands in the East China Sea.

Last year, the Philippines filed a complaint against Beijing before an international tribunal in The Hague challenging the legality of its claims. Beijing wants one-on-one talks with each of its rival claimants, something that gives it an advantage due to its sheer size and power.

US efforts to pivot back to Asia after years of heavy military engagement in the Middle East were not meant to curb China's influence, Locklear said, suggesting Asian governments would treat China by its actions in the region.

"In my opinion, the only person that can contain China, is China," Locklear said.

BIFM: Photo -- Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters - Mujahideen of Mindanao, Philippines

Posted to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement Facebook page (May 23): Photo: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
Mujahideen of Mindanao, Philippines

MILF: Editorial -- More than one month already

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (May 22): More than one month already

Perhaps, even before this editorial comes out, the Office of the President (OP) might have connected already with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in relation to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that it had formally submitted last April 22. To be exact, one month and three days has already passed to this day.
For the nth time we say that our trust with President Benigno Aquino III is fully intact and we know how he is committed to make the resolution of the Bangsamoro Question as his best legacy to the people in this country. But sure enough, the dose of medicine contained in the BBL, as crafted by the BTC, will not please everybody’s taste. This includes people whose vocation and forte is to see only the legal side of the document or argument. In such an eventuality, the long haul ahead can be predicted.

On the side of the BTC, it has never doubted that this engagement with the OP is forthcoming, because there is no other way to handle it. With heart and soul, the BTC commissioners have poured it all in crafting this historic document. All of the 15 commissioners, except one, signed the BBL.

For the MILF, there will be no open engagement vis-à-vis BBL, except perhaps by those connected with the peace negotiation. But surely, it will monitor the movement of the document very closely. Any slip in the handling can spell a great difference. This can only be averted through strong partnership with government.

As a reminder, the proposed BBL is supposed to be the start of the work to legislate a political agreement contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). This is the reason that most of the provisions of the BBL were copy pasted from signed documents; others were culled from recommendations from civil society organizations (CSOs), non-government organizations (NGOs), local government units (LGUs), peace workers and individuals; and the rest to flesh out gray areas in the CAB but taking account its spirit.  For instance, the CAB merely speaks of a ministerial form of government, but it did not spell out a mechanism whereby in times of no confidence vote of the chief minister whose authority is to call for fresh election. In all or most states of the parliamentary type, including not full states such as Sabah, Sarawak, and Penang in Malaysia, such power rests with the symbolic head of the government, which they referred to as “governor”.

With time moving so fast, it is our wish that all parties must tighten their belt to ensure the smooth-sailing of the BBL. For sure, we do not have the benefit of so much time at our disposal.

MILF: MCSOPP conducts another consultation on BBL in Isabela City

From the MILF Website (May 23): MCSOPP conducts another consultation on BBL in Isabela City

The Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) in coordination with the Consortium of Civil Society Organizations conducted consultations-dialogue with officials of local government units of Basilan and other local NGO’s at BASELCO Conference hall, Isabela City on May 17, 2014.
According to Allan Pisingan, Head of the organizers there are five series of consultations scheduled in Basilan alone and this would be the first and it would be followed by another four consultations soonest possible time.

The participants were the provincial governor, mayors, councilors and heads of government line agencies. Most of the mayors were not present but they sent their representatives on their behalf. Commissioner Peter Eisma and Commissioner Al Camlian were the invited resource persons.

Those that attended were Vice Governor Sakkalahul, Provincial Board Member Candu I. Muarip, former Provincial Board Member Jubaira Said, Isabela City Councilor Nida Dans, Noel Baul of Lamitan City, Father Jomoad, Provincial Administrator Tahira Ismael, PARO Suwaib Ismail, Lt. Col. Mongao of the 104th Brigade of the Philippine Army and other personalities, representatives from CSOs, NGOs and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In his welcome message read by the Provincial Administrator Tahira Ismael, Gov. Jum Akbar says, “I welcome you all, guests and participants at “bilang ina ng provinsya kung usapang kapayapaan lagi ako nandoroon”. (As a mother of the province if we talk about peace I am always be there”).

In another message by Tahira Ismail, she said, “Nagugulat ako kung bakit nagkalat ang balita sa buong lalawigan na kaming mga nasa hanay ng LGUs ay ayaw daw sa BBL at boboto ng ‘NO’ sa darating na plebisito. Paano kami aayaw hindi naman kami nakapagsabi nyan at hindi rin kmi na imbita sa mga consultasyon ng mga kababaihan at hindi namin alam ang nilalaman ng BBL, kung NO ang Isabela ay hindi ibig sabihin lahat ng mamayan ng Basilan ay umaayaw din.” (I am surprised of the news spread around that we in the local government units are opposed to the BBL and will vote NO during the plebiscite”. “How can we say NO when we were not the one who said that and we were not invited during the consultations with the women; and we do not know the contents of BBL?” “If Isabela will vote, it doesn’t mean that the residents of Basilan are also opposed to it”.)  She further said.

“There were eight (8) series of consultations done by the women sector, and roughly 400 hundred women attended and all knew about the BBL, while never that we were invited, she clarified.

Commissioner Al Camlian preferred to call it a dialogue instead of consultation. He spoke partly on the salient features of BBL and his time was mostly allotted for an open forum. One question asked was about the term ‘Bangsamoro’ which cannot be found in the Philippine Constitution. Comm. Al Camlian answered it on the basis of historical perspective that can be found at the Library of Congress of America the so-called “Zamboanga Declaration of Intent of Purposes of 1924”.

In the said declaration, the Moros that converged in Zamboanga City were protesting against the inclusion of the Moro Territory to the grant of independence to the Philippines saying that Bangsamoro shall instead be a separate Moro independent state or a protectorate of America. Another option demanded by the Moros was that, after 50 years a referendum shall be held whether the Moro territory shall remain a US protectorate colony or be an independent state. Thus the term Bangsamoro that refers to the native inhabitants of Mindanao already existed since 16th century.

Commissioner Peter Eisma supplicated the term Bangsamoro saying that, “It is not an Islamic State as most of the Christians think rather it is inclusive because there are reserve seats for the settlers, IPs and other sectors in the Bangsamoro Parliament”. He further said that the term “Asymmetric as mentioned in the Framework Agreement on the Bangamoro (FAB) is neither political nor legal terminology but a mathematical ones, which means not the same in shapes and it connotes special case to Bangsamoro government”.

Isabela City councilor Nida Dans, who attended as representative of Mindanao Commission on Women clarified the ‘NO’ inclusion of Isabela City into the Bangsamoro Region, saying “That there was a petition made by Mayor Cherrylyn Santos but the council denied it as they have not seen yet the BBL”. It was her personal act and does not represent the will of the residents of Isabela City”, Dans said.

Jubaira Said, former Provincial board member and former city councilor of Lamitan suggested to the BTC the conduct of series of consultations on the BBL in Lamitan and Isabela so that people thereat shall be enlightened, instead of being scared of the BBL”.

The activity started at 8:30 AM and ended at 4PM.

MILF: AFADMIN convenes civil society organization in support to BBL

From the MILF Website (May 23): AFADMIN convenes civil society organization in support to BBL

The Action for Advancement and Development in Mindanao, Inc. (AFADMIN) convened civil society organization (CSOs) for round table discussions (RTD) with the aim at converging advocacy programs in support to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It was held on May 10, 2014 at the Pagana Kutawato Restaurant, Cotabato City.
According to AFADMIN, the RTD aims to hammer out innovative strategies, promote a synchrony of tempo among the Bangsamoro CSO’s in pursuit of a BBL advocacy convergence.

AFADMIN is a group of young Moro leaders and professionals composed of alumni of Congressional Internship program. They have experiences in the policy deliberation both in lower and upper house as part of their internship program in Congress.

The participants came from the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD), Moro Women Development and Cultural Center (MWDeCC), Mindanao Action for Peace and Development (MAPAD) Initiatives, Muslim Youth Religious Organization, Inc. (MYROi), Kadtabanga and the AFADMIN.

Lawyer Suharto Ambolodto, gave inputs on the flow and dynamics in the congress regarding the passage of any bill.

Atty. Ambolodto said that groups who will advocate for the BBL must focus in the communities like Cotabato City, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

“Our Bangsamoro constituents are very low in terms of awareness on the current realities,” he pointed out.

“How could we gain their support during plebiscite if they are not aware about it?” he asked.

A prominent leader in Sulu, who requested anonymity, explained that not all Moros are unaware of the development of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process.

“It is sad to say that some Moros refused to understand the ongoing peace process despite the conduct of advocacies on FAB and other related concerns on the peace process,” he said. 

“In fact, in one advocacy on FAB, no less than the OPAPP, the MILF, LGUs led the activities,” he added. 

“But in the advancement of the campaign for support to the BBL, it is true that we must have synergy of effort,” he further said.

Rasul Enderez Ismael, DILG ARMM Chief of Staff, shared his experiences and ideas in terms of advocacy work and approaches. He suggested that the advocacy team must focus on profiling the senators and congress men’s legal advisers, research officers, among others, and engage with them.

Yusoph Lumambas, Secretary General of the UNYPAD shared with the participants the reactions and comments of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano regarding the issue on “BBL passage in the congress” after the simultaneous peace rallies in Mindanao and Manila led by the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP).

Lumambas quoted Senator Cayetano who said that, “The BBL passage in the congress depends on its contents and details. If there are many questions there will also be long deliberations”.

Datu Ali and Badrudin Mangindra of the AFADMIN gave the summary and outputs of the RTD.
They said that among the important results of the RTD is the creation of the Bangsamoro Caucus (BMC).

The CSO’s in attendance expressed their commitments to work harder for the realization of the plans and activities that maybe undertaken in support to the passage of the BBL in the Congress.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video -- Defeat the AFP's campaign of suppression in Mindanao!

Ang Bayan video report posted to the CPP Website (May 22): Defeat the AFP's campaign of suppression in Mindanao! [ANG BAYAN, 2014 May 21]


The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns in the strongest terms possible the intensified war of suppression being carried out by the Aquino regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the peasant masses and Lumad communities, as well as against the Moro people, across the different regions in Mindanao. The aim is to suppress the people's resistance, both their democratic mass struggles and their revolutionary armed movement, in order to pave the way for the entry of big foreign mining, logging and plantation operations in various parts of Mindanao.

The CPP joins the Filipino people in condemning the Aquino regime for squandering billions of pesos for its heightened military campaign in Mindanao while the majority of the people continue to wallow in poverty. At the same time, the Aquino regime adamantly refuses to heed the people's demand for rehabilitation in the areas devastated by supertyphoon Pablo in December 2012. Worse, it has allowed mining and logging firms to continue its operations even in the towns which suffered destructive mudflows resulting from widespread denudation.

CPP/NPA: Mayor Navarro is lying as logging is rampant in Laak villages in video footages

NPA propaganda statement/video posted to the CPP Website (May 23): Mayor Navarro is lying as logging is rampant in Laak villages in video footages
Aris Francisco
NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Sub-region Sub-regional Command
[Video: Logging operations in Laak, Compostela Valley
Laak Mayor Rey Navarro is misrepresenting himself when he denied being part of the Big 4 logging lords. Raw footages taken by comrades (see attached) showed rampant logging in several interior roads in Brgy. Ampawid and Brgy.Andap—proof that actual logging is taking place in Laak town. Navarro attempted to absolve himself by saying that Laak was merely a transit point of trucks coming from the boundary of agusandelsur, site of logging operations.

Indiscriminate cutting of trees were also monitored in Brgy. Titoy and Datu Davao. Navarro even ordered village officials in Datu Davao to fix interior roads to facilitate logging activities which he sponsored, according to the officials themselves who reported to the New People’s Army of Navarro’s direct participation in the logging activities.

The recent capture and the humanitarian release of prisoners of war, Sgt. Jeric Curay of the 72nd Infantry Battalion and Cpl. Rogelio Rosalesof the 60th IB, thus, showed the earnestness on the side of the New People’s Army, particularly the Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command, to impose the People’s Democratic Government’s total log ban.

For as long as local reactionaries like Navarro continue to make big business out of the remaining forest resources, the NPA will impose measures to protect the environment and peasants, Lumads and masses who suffer from the effects of rampant logging. Fascist troops who continue to violate human rights of peasants while plundering the forests are legitimate targets.

Escaped MILF man killed in shootout with cops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 22): Escaped MILF man killed in shootout with cops

DIGOS CITY, Philippines—A Moro Islamic Liberation Front leader who escaped from the Davao del Sur Provincial Rehabilitation Center in December 2012,  six months after he was arrested for illegal possession of firearms and explosives,  was shot and killed in what the police claim was a shootout with the authorities.

Senior Superinendent Michael John Dubria, Davao del Sur police director, said that Ghalib dela Cruz traded shots with police officers  who were trying to re-arrest him in Barangay (village) Sto. Rosario in Sta. Maria, Davao Occidental, on Thursday.

Dubria exercises jurisdiction over Davao Occidental, a new province carved out of several Davao del Sur towns.

He said members of the provincial police’s intelligence section under Chief Inspector Samson Kimayong  and of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group led by Chief Insp. Marvin Avelino had gone to a secluded area of Barangay Sto. Rosario upon receiving verified information that the fugitive MILF leader was hiding there.

“But efforts to recapture him peacefully proved futile. He resisted and engaged our men in a gun battle,” Dubria said.

Dubria said a .45-caliber pistol with live cartridge was recovered along with Dela Cruz’s body following the brief firefight.

Dela Cruz was arrested in June 2012 during a warrant-backed raid in Malita town, now part of Davao Occidental.

Government security forces seized a cache of assorted high-powered firearms and explosives, including a Barret 50-caliber sniper rifle, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, two RPG propellers, two RPG fillers and 13 rounds of 50 caliber bullets.

He was charged with violation of Republic Act 8294 or the illegal possession of firearms law and had been remanded to the Provincial Rehabilitation Center here.

The MILF had condemned Dela Cruz’s arrest.

Rashid Ladiasan, a member of the MILF’s ceasefire secretariat, said the raid and the arrest of MILF members, including Dela Cruz, who had not committed any crime was a violation of the truce.

He said Dela Cruz was a sub-leader of the MILF’s 105th Base Command.

On December 6, 2012, Dela Cruz escaped from jail along with eight other inmates.

Jail warden Dionesio Espinosa had since issued a shoot-to kill order against them.

Army expands wellness farms

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 23): Army expands wellness farms

The 303rd Infantry Brigade is expanding to three of the six districts of Negros Occidental its Negros First-Army Wellness Farm which aims to “win the peace” in the province, with almost all of its beneficiaries rebel returnees.

Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the program is designed to ensure food security, generate basic income and sustainability, especially for former New People’s Army rebels and their families, who had abandoned the armed struggle to live a peaceful life.

The first Army Wellness Farm, that was implemented in the 2.5-hectare lot inside Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, has been successful in producing organic products, like vegetables, livestock and poultry.

Aying said organic farming is one of their non-traditional innovations in addressing the insurgency problem in Negros Occidental, without using guns.

“We want to capacitate former rebels by teaching them organic farming and other means of livelihood to ensure sustainable sources of income when they re-integrate to the community,” Aying said.

Majority of the rebel returnees who are beneficiaries of the project surrendered to the 303rd Infantry Brigade in 2011 to 2012.

Members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and regular members of the Philippine Army have also joined in the cultivation of the Wellness Farm in Murcia.

Aying said he is eyeing the satellite Wellness Farms in the 1st, 5th and 6th districts of the province also as “learning and livelihood centers”, with the support of the provincial government of Negros Occidental.


“The program recognizes economic capacity-building of the beneficiaries to become self-reliant and less vulnerable, with a projection towards their permanent settlement and production areas assured of protection from lawlessness and natural disasters,” he said.

Despite the high economic state of Negros Occidental, the latest survey by the National Economic and Development Authority revealed that it still belongs to the category of provinces with the lowest average family income in the rural areas, causing high poverty incidence in this side of the island, he said.

Citing the survey results, Aying said he also observed that low income in rural areas results in low literacy among children, as many of them are pulled out of school to work in sugar plantations.

This problem has resulted in inter-generational poverty and illiteracy. Food insecurity is inextricably linked with poverty as one of the major root causes of violence that leads to lawlessness and armed conflict, he added.


While Negros Occidental remains one of the provinces where the communist insurgency is still active, Aying said the armed struggle has become an intergenerational practice in some families, and a way of life in a culture of violence.

As a response to this social predicament, the 303rd IB adopted the Wellness Program based on an integrated framework consistent with the peace and development concept of the Provincial Peace, Integration and Development Unit (Pro-PIDU).

The Pro-PIDU, a sub-committee of the Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Occidental, of which the 303rd IB is a member, is spearheading the campaign to address the root causes of insurgency in the province.


It adopts a systems approach towards sustainable peace-building through the transformation of communities along the different dimensions of conflict – personal, relational, structural and cultural.

Aying said the Wellness Farming System operates through a network of farms and gardens designed for productivity to benefit the focus-targeted recipients.

Since the implementation of the project nine months ago, gross sales from vegetable farming, livestock and poultry raising have reached P300,000, Aying added.

The provincial government gave P1.5 million for the program in the preparation of land and development of facilities in Murcia.

Aying acknowledged the help of civil society organizations including the Kasanag and Alter Trade Foundation Inc. and offices of the provincial government of Negros Occidental.

NorCot PNP recommends promotion of 15 town cops who repulsed NPA attack

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): NorCot PNP recommends promotion of 15 town cops who repulsed NPA attack

The North Cotabato Police Provincial Office has recommended the promotion of 15 policemen of President Roxas town who successfully defended their post against an attack by an estimated 100 New People’s Army (NPA)rebels earlier this week.

Sr. Supt. Danny Peralta, provincial police director, said his office has submitted an endorsement letter regarding the matter before Philippine National Police Region 12 Director Chief Supt Lester Camba for approval.

Peralta stressed that the courageous town cops, including their superior officer Sr. Insp. Bernabe Rubio deserves a one-rank promotion for bravery on fending off the rebels to overrun their station.

Apart from Rubio who was grazed by a bullet in the head, no other cop was hurt during the hour-long encounter that took place shortly before dawn last May 20 near the town proper.

The botched NPA assault left five rebels dead.

In an interview by reporters, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II also commended the gallantry demonstrated by the police officers.

Gunmen seize Chinese businesswoman, daughter in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Gunmen seize Chinese businesswoman, daughter in Basilan

In a bid to rescue a Chinese businessmen and her daughter seized by 10 unidentified gunmen, the police have launched pursuit operation to track down the whereabout of the victims, and the abductors clad in camouflage uniforms and bonnet masks in this city and adjoining areas.

Isabela City police commander Supt. Albert Larubis said the pursuit operations was launched in coordination with the military forces based in this province.

Larubis identified the victims as Dina Iraham, 45, and her daughter, Yahong Tan, 19, who are natives of China but had long been staying and doing business in this city.

Larubis said the victims were seized around 9:35 p.m. Thursday along I. Magno extension Street, Barangay Port Area, this city.

He said investigation showed the victims were inside the Dalby’s videoke house, which they own and operate, when at least 10 gunmen arrived and introduced themselves as operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

He said the gunmen suddenly grabbed the victims and dragged them to the shore and forced to board on two motorized bancas.

The videoke house of the victims is located just a few meters away from the shoreline.

Larubis said the suspects sped under cover of darkness towards the direction of Panigayan Island.

Police identify suspects in Vigan bomb explosion

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Police identify suspects in Vigan bomb explosion

Police had already identified three suspects in an explosion in front of a business establishment in the business district here at dawn of Tuesday that alarmed residents of General Luna Street in Vigan City.

Superintendent Maximo Taclas, Vigan City chief of police, said the suspects were identified through a closed- circuit television (CCTV)camera installed near the scene.

He said the police are looking into a dispute between Danny Tiu, the owner of a hardware shop, and the owner of a lot he bought recently as possible motive of the incident.

The incident at about 2:00 a.m. last Tuesday happened when unidentified suspects on-board in motorcycle lobbed an improvised explosive device (IED) that exploded in front of a hardware store along the Genera Luna Street in Vigan City.

Fortunately, no one was hurt after the explosion but the business building was heavily damaged due to the broken glass windows with still undetermined worth.

Taclas allayed the fear of the residents and visitors saying that the explosion was not a terroristic act but an isolated incident.

He also assured safety and security at the city proper as he deployed “round the clock” visibility and monitoring by policemen deployed in the locality.

NPA rebels ambush soldiers after Brigada Eskwela activity in Camarines Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): NPA rebels ambush soldiers after Brigada Eskwela activity in Camarines Sur

New People's Army (NPA) rebels ambushed soldiers on their way back to camp after assisting the Department of Education in the Brigada Eskuwela 2014 activity in Cawayan Elementary School in Libmanan, Camarines Sur on Thursday.

Members of the Bravo Company of the 42nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were on their way back to camp when ambushed around 11:16 a.m. Thursday.

The soldiers were able to engaged the rebels in a brief firefight, forcing the rebels to withdraw towards Barangay Magsaysay, a mountainous village.

The soldiers had just come from Barangay Cawayan where they participated in Brigada Eskwela 2014 being undertaken by parents, teachers and students of the school in preparation for the opening of classes when the incident happened.

No casualty was reported on the government side as they immediately returned the rebels’ volley of fire but the soldiers believed that some rebels were wounded as evidenced by traces of blood in the ambush scene.

Army and police authorities have reminded their men to be always on the alert in view of intelligence reports that NPA dissidents are planning to attack local police offices.

Troops capture Abu Sayyaf bandit in Zamboanga del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Troops capture Abu Sayyaf bandit in Zamboanga del Norte

Combined police and military forces have captured a suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte, the police reported Friday.

Captured was Najer Ajilol, who is facing three counts of kidnapping before a local court here and has a standing warrants for his arrest.

The police reported that Ajilol was captured around 7:45 a.m. Thursday at Purok Mambong, Barangay (village) Candiz, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

The police said Ajilol, prior to his capture, was sighted by “eye of the barangay” members in Barangay Matiag, Siocon.

The “eye of the barangay” consist of members of the intelligence community.

The police and military forces have intercepted Ajilol, who was driving a motorcycle, in Sitio Canatuan, Barangay Tabayo after they set up checkpoints in all possible exits of Siocon town.

The police said Ajilol drew his gun and fired towards the troops that prompted the lawmen to return fire.

However, Ajilol managed to escape by jumping into a ravine prompting the lawmen to launch a manhunt operation that resulted to his capture following another brief shootout at Sitio Mambong in Barangay Candiz in the same town.

The arresting team has recovered from the suspect’s possession a caliber .45 caliber pistol with ammunition and a hand grenade.

The police said Ajilol was taken to a hospital in Ipil, the capital of the nearby Zamboanga Sibugay, since he was wounded in the second shootout.

Update: Ranking rebel leader among those killed in Sorsogon encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Update: Ranking rebel leader among those killed in Sorsogon encounter

A ranking New People's Army (NPA) leader was among those killed in Friday morning's encounter with the troopers of the 903rd Infantry Brigade in Matnog, Sorsogon, the military said.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, identified one of the five rebel fatalities as a certain "Ka Randy," reportedly the commanding officer of the NPA's "Probinsyal Yunit Guerilya" in Sorsogon.

Zagala said they are still in the process of identifying the four others.

The encounter with the rebels took place at around 5:44 a.m. at the vicinity of Sitio Hukdong, Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon where troopers from the 903rd Infantry Brigade encountered 25 NPA fighters.

Five rebels, including "Ka Randy," were killed while two others were captured.

Government troops, who sustained no losses, also recovered five high-powered firearms.

DND lifts moratorium on new pension system

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): DND lifts moratorium on new pension system
The Department of National Defense (DND) said in a statement on Friday that it has finally lifted the moratorium on the new pension system of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Pension and Gratuity Management Center (AFPPGMC).

This will allow the transfer pension accounts to automated teller machine (ATM) of any authorized government servicing banks (AGSB) from various financial institutions.

The lifting based on a memorandum last March 7 will allow the AFP to implement the new system on June 30 this year.

The new system, which was supposed to take effect last Jan. 1, was halted due to a moratorium from the Defense Secretary in December last year following an opposition from affected financial institutions.

The moratorium allowed the AFP to consult with affected stakeholders for the resolution of issues and also to coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for further study of the new pension system and process according to existing rules and regulations.

AFP pensioners are requested to apply or transfer their pensions to any AGSB, including the Land Bank of the Philippines, United Coconut Planters Bank, Philippine Veterans Bank, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

They are also requested to get a letter of introduction (LOI) from any finance service unit and present it to the AGSB of their choice for them to open their AFP Pension Account.

They are then requested to proceed to the AFPPGMC with their LOI and a copy of their pension account before June 30.

Army troopers capture 2 NPA automatic rifles in Surigao del Sur clash

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Army troopers capture 2 NPA automatic rifles in Surigao del Sur clash

Troopers from the 36th Infantry Battalion captured two AK-47 automatic rifles following a clash with New People's Army (NPA) rebel forces in Barangay Hinapuyan, Carmen, Surigao del Sur Thursday afternoon.

The unit, headed by 1st Lt. Daniel G. Gahid, was on a routine security patrol when it encountered the rebel group at around 2:35 p.m.

The outfit is a field unit of the Cagayan de Oro City-based 4th Infantry Division.

This triggered a 10-minute firefight which resulted in the rebels fleeing after sustaining an undetermined number of casualties and leaving behind two AK-47 automatic rifles and some personal belongings.

“I would like to thank the people in the area of the 4th Infantry Division for their collaboration with our troops. Without their help and support, there is nothing much we can do. Likewise, to the rebels who were inspired by their former comrades who surrendered to the 4th Infantry Division last May 21, welcome back to normal life. These positive developments are manifestation that with the cooperation of all, nothing is impossible. Soon, our aspirations for a peaceful country will be realized,” 4th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya said.

PN, US Navies co-host UNSWC 10th RAS

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): PN, US Navies co-host UNSWC 10th RAS

The Philippine Navy and US Navy co-hosted the US Naval War College (UNSWC) 10th Regional Alumni Symposium (RAS) in Manila from May 21 to 23.

With the agenda on “Enhancing Regional Maritime Stability”, US and international alumni of USNWC had an opportunity to exchange insights and perspectives on security challenges in a comfortable and not-for-attribution environment.

PN public affairs office chief Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said an estimated 100 participants from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, United States and Vietnam attended the event.

The program includes keynote speeches by prominent military leaders in the region, faculty-led panels addressing contemporary challenges operational and technical issues of relevance to the region and table-top war games.

Topics on information sharing/interoperability, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) lessons learned and preserving freedom of navigation were also discussed.

RAS is an academic conference designed to continue the professional military education of USNW College alumni after they graduate from the college.

It also allows the graduates to take advantage of the “Newport Connection” across many classes.

Philippines, Indonesia sign agreements on sea boundaries, education, counter-terrorism

From the Philippine News Agency (May 23): Philippines, Indonesia sign agreements on sea boundaries, education, counter-terrorism

The Philippines and Indonesia on Friday signed agreements on sea boundaries, education and measures to combat terrorism.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrived in Manila on Thursday for a two-day state visit and to attend the 23rd World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA).

The agreement on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundary was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his Indonesian counterpart, Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr said the agreement was the result of a rules-based negotiation between the Philippines and Indonesia to achieve an equitable delimitation of their overlapping EEZ in the Mindanao Sea, Celebes Sea and the Philippine Sea.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the cooperation on higher education between the Philippine Commission on Higher Education and the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture was inked by Secretary del Rosario and Indonesian Education and Culture Minister, Professor Dr. Mohammad Nuh.

The signing of this MOU aims to promote cooperation, higher education, research and training for the mutual benefit of the Philippines and Indonesia, Coloma said.

The MOU on combating international terrorism between the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Council and Indonesia’s National Counter-Terrorism Agency was signed by National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Jr. and Indonesia's head of the National Counter-Terrorism Agency Ansyaad Mbay.

The agreement aims to enhance the counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries’ security, defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

President Benigno S. Aquino III and President Yudhoyono witnessed the signing of the three agreements.

PH, Indonesia: Maritime deal model for dispute settlement

From Rappler (May 23): PH, Indonesia: Maritime deal model for dispute settlement

President Benigno Aquino III and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono witness the signing of 3 bilateral agreements that bring their countries to a 'new phase' of cooperation

STRONGER TIES. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Benigno Aquino III at the signing ceremony in Malacañang. Malacañang Photo

STRONGER TIES. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Benigno Aquino III at the signing ceremony in Malacañang. Malacañang Photo

The Philippines and Indonesia on Friday, May 23, signed 3 agreements, including what their leaders called a “new key milestone” in bilateral cooperation – the delimitation of maritime boundaries in overlapping exclusive economic zones – which they believe can be a “model” for dispute settlement.

President Benigno Aquino III and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Manila for a two-day state visit, witnessed the signing of the agreements at the Palace Reception Hall after a bilateral meeting.

In their joint statement after the meeting, both leaders cited in particular the significance of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary.

“This is a milestone agreement that is founded on the principles of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It serves as solid proof to our steadfast commitment to uphold the rule of law and pursue the peaceful and equitable settlement of maritime concerns,” Aquino said.

Yudhoyono said the important agreement, negotiated for 20 years by the two countries, is “in fact is a new key milestone” that would not only benefit both countries but would also bring them even closer.

“This indeed is a model, a good example that any border disputes including maritime border tension can be resolved peacefully,” he said.

The Indonesian leader added that the use of “military might” in territorial disputes would endanger not only regional, but also global, peace and stability.

‘Return to spirit of DOC’

Yudhoyono said he and Aquino “also exchanged views on the importance of ASEAN and also the countries in Asia, so that we may truly safeguard the stability, the security in our region,” and cited tensions in East Asia and South East Asia on the South China Sea row.

Yudhoyono said with this in mind, all concerned parties “must return to the spirit” of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN member-nations and China in 2002, which provides guidelines for claimants to avoid creating tension in the disputed area.

He urged “all parties who have an interest, to maintain order, to maintain stability in our region…to return to the spirit that we have agreed upon and that we have in possession.”

“The position of ASEAN is clear; the position of Indonesia is clear: that any of the tension must be resolved peacefully without the use of military force. We must return to the spirit that we have in the Declaration of Conduct – Code of Conduct, COC – which we can refer to International Law, which refer to the resolution, using political [means] and diplomacy as a tool,” he said.

The Philippines has accused China of repeated violation of the DOC, as well as the UNCLOS with its incursions on Philippine territory as contained in a pleading it had filed before an international arbitral tribunal against China.

Stronger ties, common concerns

The two countries also forged a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia on Higher Education Cooperation, which seeks to promote cooperation, higher education, research and training for the mutual benefit of the Philippines and Indonesia.

The third agreement is the Memorandum of Understanding between the Anti-Terrorism Council of the Philippines and the National Counter Terrorism Agency of Indonesia on combating international terrorism to be signed, which aims to enhance counter terrorism cooperation between the officials of security, defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies of the Philippines and Indonesia.

“These agreements reflect the strong resolve of both our nations to not only deepen our bilateral engagements, but also, and more importantly, enable our peoples to be true partners in achieving prosperity,” Aquino said.

Aquino said he and Yudhoyono affirmed their countries’ “unwavering solidarity” during their meeting, where they exchanged views on enhancing economic cooperation, particularly their belief that two-way trade can be further increased.

“We took note of Indonesia’s being the Philippines’ 11th largest trading partner in 2013, with total trade between us amounting to $3.51 billion. We both share the belief that much more can be done to maximize the prospects of equitable growth. In this regard, we took note of the commitment in the Plan of Action to double bilateral trade by 2016,” he said.

As both countries have migrant workers abroad, Yudhoyono said he had Aquino agreed to work “as close as possible, so that our migrant workers may receive the protection that they deserve…and their rights from the receiving countries.”

They also agreed to pursue cooperative activities in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), and to develop air and sea links between the two countries.

“I believe such linkages will spur trade, accelerate SME development, and strengthen community empowerment in the Southern Philippines and in the Sulawesi region….This will ultimately redound to more doors of opportunity opening for all our peoples,” Aquino said.

The President also cited Yudhoyono’s “visionary leadership…both as President of his people and as a voice of reason to all of us in Southeast Asia” which he said is affirmed by his receipt of the World Economic Forum Global Statesmanship Award, the first for an Asian leader.

Aquino will host a state dinner for Yuhoyono and in Malacãnang on Friday night, where he will confer on the Indonesian leader the Order of Sikatuna with rank of Rajah.

Philippines, Indonesia seal historic maritime deal

From Rappler (May 23): Philippines, Indonesia seal historic maritime deal

A first for the Philippines, the treaty draws a boundary between overlapping EEZs

HISTORIC DEAL. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (left) and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (right) finish signing a historic maritime deal between their countries. Behind them, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III witness the signing. Photo by Rey Baniquet/PCOO/Malacañang Photo Bureau

HISTORIC DEAL. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (left) and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (right) finish signing a historic maritime deal between their countries. Behind them, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III witness the signing. Photo by Rey Baniquet/PCOO/Malacañang Photo Bureau

It took 20 years to set this boundary between the overlapping EEZs in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea.

In a primer, the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explained, "With a clearly demarcated EEZ boundary as guided by the official chart, Filipino fishing vessels and fishermen will be able to operate and undertake livelihood activities in the Philippine EEZ knowing where the Indonesian EEZ begins."

"Coast guard and law enforcement authorities of the Philippines and Indonesia will now know the maximum extent of their respective EEZs thereby implement rules and regulations with clear jurisdictional area," the DFA added.

This is the Philippines' first maritime boundary treaty.

“The agreement is a milestone for Philippine-Indonesia relations as the EEZ boundary will open opportunities for closer cooperation in the preservation and protection of the rich marine environment in the area, increased trade, and enhanced maritime security,” the DFA explained.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his Indonesian counterpart, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, inked the deal in Manila with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as witnesses.

Yudhoyono is in Manila for a two-day state visit timed with the Philippine hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA). He was due to receive the prestigious Global Statesmanship Award from the WEF on Friday.

HISTORIC AGREEMENT. The map shows the exclusive economic zone boundary between the Philippines and Indonesia. Photo courtesy of DFA

The Philippines and Indonesia signed on Friday, May 23, the historic agreement that draws a boundary between the two countries' overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs), which will help Filipino and Indonesian fishermen in the long run.

In its primer, the DFA said Aquino needs to ratify the treaty, then submit it to the Senate "for concurrence in accordance with Section 21, Article VII of the Philippine Constitution."

Proof of 'friendship, goodwill'

“The conclusion of the negotiations attests to the friendship, patience, goodwill, and commitment of the governments of the Philippines and Indonesia to peacefully address maritime issues,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia, who led the Philippine team in negotiations.

The EEZ is an area 200 nautical miles from a coastal state's baselines, or edges, within which the state has the sovereign rights to explore and exploit, and conserve and manage natural resources, among others.

The rules for setting the EEZ boundary can be found in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the same convention that the Philippines invokes in its historic case against China over the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The case between the Philippines and China is different, however.

The Philippines, for one, insists that its case against China has nothing to do with overlapping EEZs. (READ: What's at stake in our case vs China)

China claims it does. It uses this argument to prove that the arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is hearing the Philippines' case against China, has no jurisdiction over it. This is because China rejected arbitral proceedings over the delimitation of maritime boundaries in an UNCLOS declaration in 2006. (READ: China rejects PH case, invokes int'l law)

Garcia however said the agreement “is a significant contribution to, and an example of, reasonable efforts to build a stable and peaceful regional community, in consideration of the interests of countries concerned and in accordance with international law.”