Saturday, May 24, 2014

DILEMMA | Reasons why US will not help PH vs China in fight over Ayungin

From InterAksyon (May 25): DILEMMA | Reasons why US will not help PH vs China in fight over Ayungin

China is not currently facing an Ayungin dilemma. It's not equally worried about a rogue state rep.

Why, the baddest bad-ass rogue state today is the United States, the state that routinely kills and murders alleged combatants and non-combatants in Pakistan and other countries in the arc of crisis from Central Asia to the Middle East.

Russia is considered by some as another rogue state for what it has done in the Crimea. In this sense, China is in good company -- the movers and shakers of the world today.

US not signatory to UNCLOS

In my opinion, it is the US (and the Philippines), which face an Ayungin dilemma. The US is not a signatory to UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and thus does not recognize such concepts and principles as archipelagic state and exclusive economic zone upon which the Philippine claim is based. So, how can you "support an ally" for a cause based on principles you yourself do not accept?

In that sense, the US does not consider waters off the 12-nautical mile zone as territorial waters of the Philippines but as international waters where navigation (including war ships) can pass undisturbed during times of peace.

This is consistent with its national interests since the South China Sea connects its forces in the Indian Ocean (and beyond, i.e., the Middle East and the Mediterranean) with forces in Okinawa and northeast Asia (South Korea and the Japanese homeland).

Of course, it will oppose Chinese attempts to have them as their own sovereign waters.
In the same vein, the Americans will not be very enthusiastic in having the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, etc. slice the SCS into smaller domestic waters that could impede navigation of US warships as well as interdict the flow of oil to Japan.

If our claims are not upheld by the ITLOS (we are not sure when the verdict comes out and we're not sure if the verdict will be in our favor), then they are international waters and the Mutual Defense Treaty, in my opinion, cannot be invoked to draw in US military response to China's actions.

US Senate needs to declare war before helping PH

I am reminded of the warnings raised by then Senator Claro M. Recto in the late 50s and 60s that there is no guarantee that the US will help us militarily even if the Philippine homeland attack because it is the US Senate which needs to declare war on the belligerent party.

It is true that the US president has gained a lot of war-making powers since the Vietnam war. The question remains: will the US president go to war with China over disputes over contested (emphasis on contested) waters and territory? Is it to the US national interest to do so?

US was If we consider the historical record, the US has never clearly supported our territorial claims outside of the Treaty of Paris parameters. It was silent on our Sabah claim for the obvious reason that it did not wish to invite quarrels with Britain and Malaysia during the height of the Cold War. I have outlined the reasons above why it is also silent on SCS/WPS claims.

Ayungin not covered by Mutual Defense Treaty

At this writing, our claims are not yet upheld by ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea). Technically, Ayungin Shoal, is not covered by the Mutual Defense Treaty. Until that happens, Ayungin is not undisputably Philippine territory and thus the US is not duty bound under the MDT to help us.

My more important point is, if ITLOS declares Ayungin to Philippine territory, is it in the US interest to first support the Philippine claim given that it is not a UNCLOS signatory?

Next, if China forces the issue and moves aggressively against Ayungin, what will the US do? What China has to do is to really clamp down and blockade the shipwreck and starve our marines to submission. Will the US respond with red fire? Will it "persuade" Chinese coast guard vessels to stand down? With what? With war ships or with similar coast guard assets? But would the US have coast guard vessels in the area?

In short, China has the option of appearing to act in a non-military manner (through the use of civilian Coast Guard vessels and ever fishing ships) to blockade Ayungin and achieve its strategic objectives in those parts.

The US apparently does not have that option. The Philippines does not seem to have the option because it does not have the numbers.

Did US help PH in Mischief Reef in 1995?

I end this note by asking some questions. How did the US behave when the Chinese occupied Mischief Reef in 1995 onwards? How did it behave when the Chinese established de facto control of Scarborough Shoal as late as 2012?

The answers to these questions are obvious. The questions are not rhetorical ones. Pushing our claims is a sovereign duty. However, to do so premised on a big brother's support is foolhardiness. This is even more true because big brother does not have a good record as an international citizen. From the Law of the Sea to the International Criminal Court law to the Climate Change conventions, the US is definitely a rogue state out of sync with the rest of the law-abiding world.

The American pot cannot accuse the Chinese frying pan of being black! And the Filipino acolyte cannot sing the refrain.

[Editor’s note: Amado “Bong” Mendoza is a faculty member of the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines (Diliman) and is primarily interested in Philippine politics and political economy. He used to write for Business Day covering the finance beat and the online edition of Inquirer. This piece first appeared in his Facebook page, and he has allowed to re-post it.]

CPP: CPP condemns US cellphone and online surveillance in Philippines

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 24): CPP condemns US cellphone and online surveillance in Philippines

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the US government and its security, defense and intelligence apparatus for conducting cellphone surveillance in the Philippines where the US collects all text messages and metadata in an outright case of interventionism in violation of Philippine national sovereignty and in all-out contempt of Filipino privacy rights and local laws.

“The CPP calls on the Filipino people to unite and denounce US spying in the Philippines and demand the revelation of all details of US spy operations in the country. The Filipino people must stand firm and demand an immediate end to US spying operations.”

“The Filipino people must hold the Aquino regime responsible for allowing the US intelligence agencies to conduct its spy operations in the Philippines. It is an act of national treachery for the Aquino regime to allow or fail to act against wholesale US online and cellphone surveillance which have victimized the Filipino people.

“Every Filipino is a victim of US cellphone surveillance,” said the CPP. “At the scale and extent to which the US carried out its data collection, it is highly likely that every text message being sent by every Filipino has ended up not only in the inbox at the other end of the conversation, but in the massive inbox of the US NSA, in outright violation of every Filipino’s privacy rights.”

In a report published in the online publication The Intercept, it was revealed that the NSA has already put in place its MYSTIC data collection program which gathers text messages content and metadata (time, location and other data related to the text message). It pointed to an entry in the 2013 budget proposal of the US intelligence community that seeks allocations to “sustain MYSTIC capabilities to provide comprehensive metadata access and content against targeted communications in [], Kenya, Caribbean, Mexico and the Philippines.”

“It is apparent that the MYSTIC program has been put into place with the consent and cooperation of the local telecommunications companies as indicated by its capability at real-time surveillance,” pointed out the CPP. The same budget entry state that the MYSTIC program offers “real-time, complete access to the additional target country’s GSM network(s) and provides for retrospective tasking and near-real-time access/delivery of metadata”.

The CPP has long denounced US intelligence operations in the Philippines as indicated by the setting up of an office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) within the PNP national headquarters in order to conduct surveillance operations in the country.

The CPP pointed out further “that in having set up its spy apparatus in the Philippines, the US government is capable of gathering valuable political intelligence which it can use to effectively intervene, influence and ensure a favorable outcome of Philippine elections.”

The CPP cited an article published last May 8 by the French newspaper Le Monde which revealed that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted spying operations against Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sec. Mar Roxas of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). The Le Monde article was based on documents held by Edward Snowden, a former contractual employee of the US National Security Agency (NSA), who left his former employer to protest the electronic surveillance methods which violate the privacy rights of every single internet user.

“By collecting information on both Binay and Roxas, as well as all other government officials and politicians, the US is out to take hold of every and all pieces of information it can use to make the Philippine government pliable to US policy,” added the CPP. Binay and Roxas are among the politicians believed to be gunning for the Philippine presidency in 2016.

“Neither Binay nor Roxas found anything wrong with the US spy agencies listening to all their phone conversations and collecting all their text messages,” said the CPP. “This is either a testimony of the colonial, mendicant and pro-US mindset of Filipino politicians or to the fact that they have already been bagged by the US using the collected intelligence information.”

Rebels claim killing 3 soldiers in Davao del Norte

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 24): Rebels claim killing 3 soldiers in Davao del Norte

Communist rebels said Friday they had killed three soldiers in a land mine explosion in a remote area of Talaingod in Davao del Norte, but the military immediately denied the claim.

Aris Francisco, spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area, said in a statement e-mailed to media offices that the land mine the rebels detonated on May 22 wounded “scores” of other soldiers.

“The combat troops were part of the troops-contingent that immediately conducted military operations after the release of (Cpl. Rogelio Rosales) on May 19,” he said, referring to a soldier the rebels had released and turned over to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

But the military denied that it suffered heavy losses in Talaingod on May 22.

Capt. Ernest Carolina confirmed though that eight people, including four civilians, were injured in a land mine in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, on Friday.

Carolina, spokesperson of the army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the explosion damaged a patrol car of the Monkayo police and wounded its driver and three civilians in the vehicle.

The blast occurred around 8:40 a.m. Upper Ulip, Carolina said.

Monkayo police were investigating the burning of a bulldozer owned by local gold miner Candido Balunos when the explosion occurred.

Also injured by the explosion were three members of the local community watch and an unidentified village council member.

Carolina also admitted that two other soldiers were injured in a May 19 NPA land mine explosion in Paquibato. “But there, nobody was killed,” he said.

Meanwhile, military bomb experts safely detonated four landmines that soldiers found on roads in Makilala, North Cotabato, on Friday morning.

Lt. Aldrin Moral, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 39thInfantry Battalion, said the land mines could have been intended for military personnel using the roads but could harm civilians as well.

On Wednesday, military bomb experts also successfully detonated two improvised explosive devices planted on a road in President Roxas, North Cotabato, a day after a foiled attack on the town’s police station in which five rebels were killed.

Palace: DND looking into passing of ‘state secrets’ from Qatar

From GMA News (May 24): Palace: DND looking into passing of ‘state secrets’ from Qatar

The Department of National Defense will look into allegations that military and economic secrets of Qatar had been passed to the Philippine government via three Filipinos, one of whom has been sentenced to death for the alleged act, MalacaƱang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace will ask the DND to “respond” to the allegations, but added the department will be taking “necessary action” on the matter.

“We'll ask the DND to respond to this.  I'm pretty sure our friends in the DND are aware of it and will be taking necessary action,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.

Valte also reassured the three Filipinos – one sentenced to death and two to life imprisonment – of continued legal assistance in their cases.

“(K)ung may kaakibat na death sentence 'yan, normally the Department of Foreign Affairs, through our embassy in that particular place, will make representations or will render legal assistance para mapababa at hindi ma-execute,” she said.

On Friday, DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the Filipino sentenced to death was an employee of a state-owned company while the two others were technicians in a military base.

A report published by Qatar-based Doha News said a court found the three men guilty for passing along military and economic secrets to the Philippine government.

It described the one sentenced to death as reportedly a lieutenant in the Philippine state security force working as a budgeting and contracting supervisor at a large state-owned Qatari company.

Those who received life terms were technicians working with the Qatar Air Force, the report added.

According to the report, the main defendant allegedly received millions of riyals in exchange for spying services.

11 hurt in IED explosion in ComVal

From ABS-CBN (May 24): 11 hurt in IED explosion in ComVal

Eleven people, including six policemen, were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off as their vehicle was passing through Purok 8, Sitio Macopa, Barangay Upper Ulip in Monkayo, Compostela Valley on Friday morning.

Aside from the policemen, the group on board a police vehicle, also consisted of 3 civilian volunteers, a barangay councilor, and the driver.

According to Felix Cordilla, driver of the vehicle, they were on their way home when the blast occurred.

He said they came from CMS Mining Corporation, located near the blast site, to check on a reported burning of a backhoe by suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

According to investigator SPO3 Setchuan Te, they were surprised by the incident since they conducted road security checks prior to the explosion.

Authorities recovered 50 meters away from the blast site wiring and fragments of PVC pipes, believed to have been used for the IED.

Alert villagers foil bomb attempt vs Army troopers in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Alert villagers foil bomb attempt vs Army troopers in N. Cotabato

MAKILALA, North Cotabato -- Alert villagers prevented another attempt by communist guerillas to blow up military vehicles plying remote villages of this town when they found suspected bombs at a road side frequently used by soldiers, officials said.

The residents whom Army authorities refused to identify for security reasons, alerted the soldiers about their discovery and prevented what could have been another bloody incident.

Col. Nilo Vinluan, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion based in Poblacion, Makilala, said the four improvised bombs could have been planted by communist New Peoples’ Army in Barangay Luna Sur, one of the villages known infiltrated by communist rebels under NPA Front 53.

Combined forces of the 57th and 39th Infantry Battalion safely defused the IEDs fashioned from 60 mm mortars with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

“Obviously, this was the handiwork of the NPAs because they have been doing this to our troops," Vinluan said in a radio interview.

“Clearly, they wanted to get back at us,” he added.

Vinluan said the rebels suffered heavily when they tried, but failed, to overrun police station of President Roxas, North Cotabato Tuesday dawn.

In the incident, five NPA leaders, including Commander Revo, a sub-leader of NPA Front 53, were killed, scores wounded, including one rushed by the police at the provincial hospital.

The discovery of IEDs in Makilala came two days after two similar improvised bombs were found in Green Hills, President Roxas.

The place where the IEDs were found was 100 meters away from the detachment of 57th IB whose personnel conducted pursuit operations after the NPAs attack the town police station.

“We expect more retaliatory attacks from the NPAs," Vinluan said.

The communist guerillas in North Cotabato remained silent on Army claims they were responsible in the foiled bomb attempts.

Notorious NPA bagged in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Notorious NPA bagged in Samar

Troopers of the 87th Infantry Battalion and local police units have successfully arrested a notorious New People's Army (NPA) fighter operating in Brgy. Tinago, Calbiga, Samar last May 19.

In a report forwarded to the PNA Saturday, Lt. Col. Antonio B. Dulnuan, 87th Infantry Battalion commander, identified the suspect as Wenifredo Cabornay alias "Ilaw".

The rebel was spotted and positively identified by a concerned citizen while attending the fiesta celebration of Barangay Tinago, Calbiga, Samar.

Aware of Cabornay’s notoriety, a concerned citizen reported his presence to the military.

Cabornay is one of the most wanted fugitives in the province for his criminal acts since 2010.

Immediately, Dulnuan coordinated with his counterpart at the Samar Philippine National Police and formed an arresting team composed of his troops and troops from Calbiga Municipal Police Station and Regional Public Safety Maneuvering Company.

The combined effort of the military and police personnel led to the successful arrest of Cabornay by virtue of warrant of arrest for rebellion under criminal case No. 2004-1465; murder with the use of unlicensed firearms under criminal case No. CC-2010-1777 and CC2010-1778, both without bail; attempted murder with the use of unlicensed firearms under criminal case number CC-2010-1779 all issued in July 2010 by Honorable Judge Yolanda Dagandan; murder cases under criminal case number CC-2012-1848 and CC 2012-1862 without bail by Honorable Judge Janet Cabalona, both of RTC Branch 33, Calbiga Samar in September 2012.

Cabornay is currently under the custody of Calbiga Municipal Police Station for documentation and proper disposition.

Armed men attack compound of Lanao electric coop in Marawi

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Armed men attack compound of Lanao electric coop in Marawi

Unidentified men fired upon the headquarters of the Lanao Del Sur Cooperative compound in Marawi City shortly after midnight Friday, a report reaching here said on Saturday.

No one was hurt in the attack, the report said.

It said that the attack was believed directed at Ashary Maongco, the General Manager of Lasureco, who reportedly got the ire of some local officials for ordering the disconnection of electricity to 35 municipal towns in Lanao Del Sur that failed to pay their power bills.

Prior to Friday’s attack, an influential town official reportedly ordered the burning of the Mounted Crane of Jera General Construction, a Bicol-based construction company, which was undergoing rehabilitation of Lasureco’s 69 KV and 13.2 KV lines along the highway of Ditsaan-Ramain on May 13, 2014.

Maongco has reportedly filed a criminal case against town Mayor Ali U. Adiong, of Ditsaan-Ramain in Lanao Del Sur, with violation of Arson before the Provincial Prosecutor of Lanao Del Sur.

Aside from arson, Maongo also filed an administrative case against Adiong for grave misconduct an oppression with the Ombudsman Mindanao in connection with the burning of the equipment.

In an affidavit submitted to the Court of Appeals in Cagayan De Oro City, on May 19, 2014, Maongco accused Ditsaan town Mayor Ali Untao Adiong, his driver and 10 other “John Does” of allegedly burning the equipment.

Maongco has secured the affidavit of six witnesses to the burning of Jera’s Truck Mounted Crane while conducting a joint rehabilitation project of the LASURECO and the Department of Energy (DOE) in Lanao Del Sur.

Maongco suspected that the attack on the LASURECO compound Friday night was directed at him because he and his family were living in the compound together with workers of the Jera General Construction.

The Philippines News Agency (PNA) in Northern Mindanao tried but failed to contact Mayor Adiong and the military in Lanao Del Sur to get an official report of the LASURECO attack and to comment on Maongco’s allegations.

Military discovers ‘mass grave’ in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Military discovers ‘mass grave’ in Misamis Oriental

CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental -– Elements of the army’s 58th Infantry Battalion based her has found another mass grave site believed victims of New People’s Army (NPA) summary execution in the hinterland village of Aposkahoy, said a military spokesperson on Saturday.

Lt. Dandy T. Melmida, the spokesperson of the army’s 58th IB, said that the military has exhumed the remains of four unidentified persons at the grave site – some of them hogtied and buried with their personal belongings – last Wednesday.

He said that the first mass grave was also found last April 21, 2014 in the farming village of Farmbugas here with an estimated 12 skeletal remains of unidentified victims believed to have been executed by the communist NPA rebels at the height of the purged in 1986.

Melmida said that a former NPA rebel who witnessed the summary execution 28 years ago disclosed the location of the mass grave to the military authorities.

Melmida said that the informant also disclosed to the military that the NPA rebels executed 36 people, found guilty by the “Kangaroo court” who tried them sometime in 1986 to frame up charges.

He said that the communist guerillas buried the executed victims in several mass grave sites in the hinterlands of Claveria, the bread basket town in Misamis Oriental.

In mid-1980s, the NPA, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, launched a massive purging known as “Operation Zombie” by killing their comrades suspected of being military informants, including those who withdrew their support from the movement and those who are not useful to them anymore, Melmida said.

Lt. Col. Jose Eriel Niembra, commander of the army’s 58th IB, denounced the unreasonable killings of poor people, especially those who refused to support the underground movement.

“The unreasonable killings perpetrated by the communist NPA rebels still exist today through the NPA’s Special Partisan Units (SPARU),” Niembra said.

He said that the unreasonable killings perpetrated by the NPA rebels show that under the communist movement there is no justice system or rule of law.

Niembra also ordered the turnover of the exhumed bodies to the regional police crime laboratory in Cagayan De Oro City for the possible identification of the victims so that they could be returned to their families for a decent burial.

(ENCOUNTER UPDATE) Another female rebel injured in Sorsogon encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): (ENCOUNTER UPDATE) Another female rebel injured in Sorsogon encounter
Another female New People's Army rebel was injured in an encounter between a 25-man rebel group and Philippine Army soldiers in Sitio Bugtong, Barangay Balocawe, Matnog, Sorsogon, on Friday morning, a top military official in Bicol said here Saturday.

Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, Sorsogon-based 903rd Infantry Brigade commander, revealed that a rebel named "Ka Cynthia" is now under the strict monitoring of Philippine Army men while in a hospital with her one-year-old child after she was wounded in the clash.

Kakilala said that at about 5:45 a.m., while soldiers of the 301st Infantry Brigade troops were patrolling, they encountered more or less 25 rebels and killed six rebels, including the commander of the Sorsogon Guerrilla Unit identified only as "Ka Randy."

The Army men also captured one amazon or female rebel identified as as "Ka-Rupel" and other unnamed male dissidents.

Government troops recovered high-powered firearms including two baby armalite rifles, M203 grenade launcher and an M16 rifle in the 30-minute firefight, according to Kakilala, who added that there are now three captured guerrilla members under their custody.

NPA mass grave unearthed in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): NPA mass grave unearthed in Misamis Oriental

Troopers from the 1st Special Forces Company have discovered a New People's Army (NPA) mass grave in Barangay Aposkahoy, Claveria town, Misamis Oriental last May 21.

The former unit is under the operational control of the 58th Infantry Battalion.

In a statement forwarded to the PNA Saturday, 58th Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Jose Eriel Niembra said the grave contain the remains of four persons and their belongings.

Residents in the area revealed that the victims were executed by the NPAs for withdrawing their support to the rebels in 1986.

“The poor people in the countryside are all victims of NPA threat and intimidation, even now this kind of unreasonable killing is still existing through the NPA’s Special Partisan Units (SPARU). The people have awakened to the reality that under the NPA, there is no justice system or rule of law, only death for those they found guilty or even just suspected of being detrimental to the underground organization," Niembra stressed.

In the 1980s, the NPA higher organ launched a massive purging known as “Operation Zombie” by killing their comrades suspected of being military informants, including those who withdrew their support from the movement and those who are not useful to them anymore.

The exhumed human remains were turned over to PNP Region 10 Crime Laboratory for possible identification for them to be returned to their families and given decent burial.

Compostela Valley welcomes 46th Infantry Battalion

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): Compostela Valley welcomes 46th Infantry Battalion

The 46th Infantry Battalion was formally transferred and welcomed by the Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division in Maco town Friday.

Welcoming ceremonies were conducted by 10th Infantry Division assistant division commander Brig. Gen. Roberto D. Domines, Jr.,

“The arrival of additional forces will help 10ID to better respond to the ever changing situation on the ground, to better protect the people, to assist in the peace and development efforts of the government, and to stabilize areas that have been regained from the NPA thru peace and development outreach programs of the Division. The situation here in Compostella Valley is rather different from your previous area of operations in Central Mindanao. The enemy here, particularly the NPA would use their dirty tactics in order to disrupt and discredit our peace and development efforts in the area," he added.

The 46th Infantry Battalion was formerly attached to the Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division.

It served in the Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat for five years before being deployed to augment the 10th Infantry Division.

46th Infantry Battalion commander Col. Marlo M. Guloy was given the “Kampilan” Awards while two Command Plaques were given to the unit.

Personnel from the unit were md the Military Merit Medal for their invaluable services rendered to the division particularly in its efforts in stabilizing the province after the “Maguindanao Massacre” in 2009 and the successful seizure of the biggest Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Camp at Barangay Ganta, Datu Piang, Maguindanao earlier this year.

The transfer orders were being issued by the Armed Forces chief-of-staff, Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista, in order to boost the peace and development efforts in Eastern Mindanao.

President Aquino now following-up draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law

From the Philippine News Agency (May 24): President Aquino now following-up draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law

President Benigno S. Aquino III is now following-up the progress of the Bangsamoro Basic Law draft which will be submitted to Congress for ratification, a Malacanang official said Saturday.

This follow-up came a month after receiving the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

It is currently with the Office of the President (OP).

“The president himself made several follow-ups with the legal team,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte further cited President Aquino previously saying that he was cognizant of the urgency but at the same time understood the task at hand.

“He is understanding of the task at hand,” she added.

The draft law will pave the way for a Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

It can be recalled that President Aquino III, in his state of the nation address (SONA) last year, urged Congress to pass the BBL before 2014 ends.

4 IEDs found in North Cotabato

From InterAksyon (May 24): 4 IEDs found in North Cotabato

Google map showing Makilala, North Cotabato

Residents of a village in Makilala town, North Cotabato discovered Friday four improvised explosive devices believed planted by communist rebels.

The explosives, found around 6 a.m. Friday in Barangay Luna Sur, were immediately reported to the troops of the 39th and 57th Infantry Battalions, 57th IB commander Nilo Vinluan said.

The discovery came two days after two IEDs, also believed planted by the New People’s Army, were found in Barangay Greenhills, President Roxas town.

Authorities in the province have remained on high alert following the botched NPA raid on the President Roxas police station recently.

6th ID chief Maj Gen Gapuz retires

From InterAksyon (May 24): 6th ID chief Maj Gen Gapuz retires

Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz (photo by Dennis Arcon,

COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- The commander of the 6th Infantry Division, Major General Romeo Gapuz, retires Saturday as he turns the mandatory age of 56.

Gapuz bows out after 35 years in the service, the last years of which he said have been filled with major challenges.

Under his watch, the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which ended decades of fighting, was signed.

Gapuz is the only 6th ID commander to set foot at the MILF stronghold of Camp Darapanan.

The turnover of command for the division is scheduled on Monday and is expected to be graced by Armed Forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista.

Gunmen attack Lanao Sur electric cooperative

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (May 24): Gunmen attack Lanao Sur electric cooperative

M79 grenades shells recovered from the compound of the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative in Marawi City in the province of Lanao del Sur in the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Unidentified gunmen attacked with grenade launchers before dawn Saturday the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative in Marawi City in the restive  Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Officials said there were no casualties in the attacks, but it damaged several properties of the electric cooperative in the village of Gadongan. At least 20 grenades hit the compound where senior cooperative officials are staying.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but this occurred after the cooperative cut off electricity in 35 towns in the province due to non-payment of their bills.

It was unknown why the police and military failed to respond to the attacks. It was the second attack in two weeks against the electric cooperative.

Just this month, gunmen also torched a crane truck - owned by Jera General Construction - contracted by the electric cooperative to hasten energy projects in Lanao del Sur.

The armed men were in several vehicles when they attacked the truck along the highway in Ditsaan-Ramain, one of the towns whose electricity had been cut off.

Policemen and soldiers deployed in the town also failed to respond to the arson and failed to arrest the perpetrators who stayed in the area for several minutes and fired their guns indiscriminately in the air before fleeing.

Cooperative officials were also receiving death threats and they have called on the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate this and the continuing attacks against the firm.

The governor of Lanao del Sur Mamintal Adiong has not issued any statement on both attacks on the cooperative and so were the police and military, but a reform movement in the province called Sautol Haqq which literally means “Voice of Truth” has condemned the attacks. It previously called on the Aquino government to investigate corruption allegations in the province.