Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Army foils bombing in Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Army foils bombing in Cotabato

An Army’s explosive ordnance team foiled a bombing attempt on Tuesday night by still unknown suspects in Cotabato.

“An Army EOD Team successfully recovered an IED (improvised explosive device) made out of 60mm projectile near a videoke bar on Makapindig Extension St. in Poblacion, Pikit town, North Cotabato about 9:45 p.m.,” a military report said.

At about 8 p.m. a concerned citizen informed Pikit police station about a suspected IED that he spotted near a videoke bar owned by a certain Rene Labanun.

The responders, led by a Sergeant Regori, also recovered a cellphone that served as a triggering device. No one was hurt from the incident.

Last May 12, two explosions rocked nearby Batulawan village also in Pikit town. No one was injured.


Compostela Valley town mayor killed in ambush

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Compostela Valley town mayor killed in ambush

Mayor Reynaldo Navarro of Laak, Compostela Valley was killed after he was ambushed in Davao del Norte Tuesday morning.
Navarro’s convoy was traversing the highway of K9, Sagayen village in Asuncion town at around 9 a.m. when unidentified men fired shots at them, an initial report of Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesman Captain Ernest Carolina said.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at Tagum Doctors Hospital.
Soldiers and police are now in the crime scene for investigation.


Diplomats, Sultanate of Sulu tackle Bangsamoro

From the Manila Times (May 27): Diplomats, Sultanate of Sulu tackle Bangsamoro

The Philippine Ambassadors Foundation Inc., with the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and in collaboration with the Center for Research and Communication and the School of Law and Governance of UA&P, will host a roundtable discussion (RTD) on issues surrounding the Bangsamoro framework agreement.

The organizers said the RTD will call together select members of the diplomatic corps and other legal minds, including representatives from the Sultanate of Sulu, at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in Pasig City on May 29.

They added that it will serve as an occasion for the participants to discuss the political, socio-economic and legal consequences of the framework agreement. Ambassadors Lauro Baja, Willy Gaa and Jose Romero Jr. and Rep. Celso Lobregat will provide inputs to the subject. In attendance is HRH Prince Omar Kiram, Grand Prince and Royal Cabinet Senior Minister of the Royal Hashemite Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah.

The Bangsamoro Basic Framework Agreement, having been signed, will now go to Congress for the passage of a Bangsamoro Basic Law. The results of the RTD will eventually be submitted as possible inputs in upcoming congressional discussions.

For inquiries, call Lily Grio at 634-5874 or 637-0912 local 350 or e-mail at lily.grio@uap.asia.


MILF: Speech of BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal at Solidarity Event (May 23)

Posted to the MILF Website (May 27): Speech of BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal

Solidarity Event, May 23, 2014
Sharingri-la EDSA Hotel


I welcome you all to this event of celebration, solidarity, and hope. I thank you all for your presence in this solidarity event.

We celebrate today the consensus reached in the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) of the proposed public policies governing the Indigenous People in the Bangsamoro. This consensus was possible because of the historical kinship that all indigenous people in Mindanao share for centuries of struggle against all forms of colonization. This solidarity and kinship makes us hopeful and confident that we will overcome more challenges in our collective and continuing assertion for self-determination. 

The provisions on the IPs in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) are consistent and build on the terms of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).  Let me provide you the main features of the draft provisions.

The heart of this section is the recognition by the Bangsamoro government of the rights of the indigenous peoples and it is mandatory that it adopts measures to protect and promote IP rights particularly the following:

1) The right of the IPs to their native titles and/or fusaka inged, indigenous customs and tradition, justice systems and indigenous political structures;

2) Right to an equitable share in revenues from utilization of resources in their ancestral lands;

3) Right to free and prior and informed consent;

4) Right to political participation including at least two (2) reserved seats for the IPs in the Parliament;

5) Right to basic services and;

6) Right to freedom of choice as to their identity.

The reserved seats in the Parliament were expressly identified as allocated for the Tedurays, Lambangian, Dulangan Manobo, Blaan and Higaonon. The customary processes of these IP groups will generate a list of nominees from which the Chief Minister will appoint the IP reserved seats representatives.

The proposal further provides that it is mandatory for Parliament to enact the mechanisms for the equitable shares of the IPs to exploration of natural resources in their ancestral lands subject to their exercise of their right to free, prior and informed consent. The Parliament will also have to legislate a justice system appropriate for the indigenous peoples as defined by them.

The proposed BBL reiterates the obligation of the Bangsamoro government as provided for in the CAB to protect the rights of the IPs in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The proposal also provides that the Parliament may create an appropriate office or ministry for the IPs which shall be part of the Bangsamoro cabinet to develop and implement the programs for the IPs.

The Parliament may create appropriate local government units in the areas inhabited predominantly by the IPs subject to the criteria it may set forth in the Bangsamoro Local Government Code.

I make the following observations on these proposed provisions.

First, they provide guarantees for the protection and promotion of the rights of the IPs in the Bangsamoro.  When the Bangsamoro government is in place, the IPs should be confident that their native title and/or fusaka inged over particular areas is recognized and within these areas, they will enjoy broad rights. 

Second, the provisions are broadly formulated to allow the parliament enough flexibility to evolve the mechanisms for the full protection and promotion of the IP rights in the context of the Bangsamoro. 

Third, the provisions do not make any distinction as to Islamized and non-islamized IPs to promote unity and kinship among the different IP groups founded on shared vision, principles and future.  The only instance that particular IP groups were mentioned is with reference to the reserved seats for IPs to forestall any doubt that those seats were indeed reserved for these IP groups.

Fourth, the provisions clearly establish the strong foundation for continuing dialogue and the assertion of the IPs of their rights on one hand and the concomitant obligation on the part of the Bangsamoro government to protect and promote IP rights guaranteed under international and domestic laws on the other.  In the end, guarantees and protection in law are good only up to the extent that the IPs themselves are able to assert and demand respect for their rights.  On the other hand, the Bangsamoro government will have to enact policies to ensure that the IP’s right to their native title are effectively exercised.

The IP provisions in the proposed BBL provide only the general principles. Mechanisms, structures and processes have to be fleshed out in legislations in Bangsamoro parliament.  The BTC understands the predicament of the IPs under the ARMM where applicable laws and mechanisms for the exercise of their rights were vague, inadequate and when recognized, were poorly implemented.  It is for this reason that the BTC has formed a multi-stakeholder task force on indigenous concerns to begin even at this early stage a consensus-building process for putting in place the mechanisms and processes to implement the IP provisions in the Basic Law. The task force is mandated to complete the following tasks before the BTC ends its term:

1.    Build support of all stakeholders to the IP provisions in the Draft Basic Law.

2.    Continue to explore and dialogue on the best mechanisms and processes to implement the IP provisions that include among others the identification of IP areas and tenurial instruments for submission as legislation to the BTC, BTA and to the Bangsamoro Parliament.

3.    Conduct confidence-building measures to foster understanding and cooperation between and among IP groups.

The establishment of the task force concretely demonstrates our commitment to respect and promote the rights and welfare of all IPs especially the IP groups that continue to feel marginalized in the autonomous region.  Reaching a consensus on this roadmap for the IPs has not been easy.  The IP issue has been one of the most difficult and complex concerns I addressed as Chair of the BTC. Understandably, groups held on to unshakeable ancestral domain claims backed by clashing interpretation of international and domestic legal and political principles.

Yet, a zero-sum, take no prisoners’ approach in addressing this complex issue proved counter-productive and destructive of relationships that are key to building peace in our communities.  We made progress only when we took on a new lens and develop a new language that will foster unity not division in our communities. With this new lens, we can now imagine a Bangsamoro where all groups equitably and mutually reap what have been gained in our quest for self-determination on top of rights already enjoyed by each and every person or group.  We should focus our energies to weaving our beliefs, laws and rights towards forming a tapestry of peace, unity and progress in the Bangsamoro.

Let me call on the IP stakeholders and champions to engage the BTC task force and continue the dialogue we began in the BTC towards realizing the vision behind the IP policies in the proposed BBL.  For those who believe that the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act (IPRA) answers the long struggle of the IPs to protect their ancestral domain claim, rest assured that we respect that stand. There is no rancour in our heart. It is part of their right to self-determination. In the same vein, I am appealing to them also to respect the view and stand of the MILF, clearly contained in all signed documents and in the proposed BBL, that there is only one ancestral domain in the Bangsamoro, which is owned by Moros and IPS. Give us the chance to prove that in the Bangsamoro, the IPs have a bright future. This we will prove once the Bangsamoro is in place.

Let me thank the two IP representatives in the BTC, Commissioner Froilyn Mendoza and Commissioner Melanio Ulama who were both passionate in articulating the sentiments of the IPs in the drafting of the law.   I thank them for their openness to explore avenues for cooperation and consensus.  I would like to thank all my fellow commissioners for exerting the effort to understand the complex subject of the IPs.  My gratitude to the IP experts and advocates who helped us explore possible options moving forward. 

Finally, let me thank the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) with support from the European Union (EU) for providing technical, facilitation and logistical support to the consensus-building process. CHD will continue to provide assistance to the Task Force on IP Concerns.

Thank you.


MILF: Bangsamoro women attend capacity building seminar at BLMI

From the MILF Website (May 27): Bangsamoro women attend capacity building seminar at BLMI

Forty Three (43) Bangsamoro women from different areas of Mindanao representing their respective organizations or agencies attended a three-day seminar on capacity building from May 23-15, 2014 at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) training hall, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
Work Ethics and values as household, community managers and leaders were part of the topics that were presented and discussed during the seminar proper.

Sheikh Mahmod Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director welcomed the participants with a message of hope and motivation by saying that Moro Women must be able to cope up with the challenges that lay ahead  without compromising their dignity and faith. 

Prof. Esmael Abdula, BLMI Training Unit Officer facilitated the program and delved on some updates of the GPH-MILF Peace process and BLMI programs that were successfully undertaken by the institute.

Dr. Tarhata S. Guiamalon, a Shari’ah Lawyer lectured on Work ethics and Office etiquettes.  She emphasized the value of ethics in organization that may propel an institution towards excellence.  She mentioned about the internationally- accepted protocol and practices in organizations where Bangsamoro Women must try to absorb, acquire and practice.

Sheikh Sam Alabat, also a Shari’ah Law graduate from the International Islamic University Pakistan (IIUP) and BLMI Extension Service Unit head touched on Shari’ah and Politics in Islam and categorically emphasized the essentiality of Islamic Leadership and Management where everyone must be cognizant on its application and its moral implications while performing one’s responsibilities.

Dr. Guiamalon also spoke on strategic leadership techniques and mechanisms. She emphasized the importance of preparedness in times of exigencies. She also dealt on halal industry which is associated with Muslim’s basic needs and consumable foods that the Bangsatoro needs to be aware of; on what is allowable and forbidden in Islam
Mrs. Noraida Chio, Senior Program Officer of The Asia Foundation (TAF) lectured on the necessity of hygiene and other related issues that the Bangsamoro Women should always uphold such as cleanliness, sanitation and health awareness in accordance with Islamic Teachings. “Cleanliness is one-half of faith” she stressed.

In his closing remarks, BLMI Executive Director Mahmod S. Ahmad expressed his appreciation on the dynamic participation of the women and inspired them by saying that “Behind the success and failure of man there is always a woman”. He also mentioned the significant contributions of women during the time of the prophets. Mr. Salik Abdula synthesized the topics presented and discussed by speakers.

At the end of the activity, the participants expressed their profound gratitude to BLMI Management, speakers as well as to The Asia Foundation (TAF) – Aus-Aid for their continuous assistance to the Moro people in Mindanao and their continued support to the just ended peace process.


MILF: LGU Upi holds peace advocacy-symposium on Bangsamoro

From the MILF Website (May 27): LGU Upi holds peace advocacy-symposium on Bangsamoro

The local government unit of Upi held peace advocacy- symposium on the proposed Bangsamoro Government in cooperation with the MILF Kutawato Provincial Political Committee on May 25, 2014 at Poblacion Nuro.
Upi Mayor Ramon Piang Sr. delivered the welcome message the participants comprising some members of the MILF Central Committee, Bangsamoro Transition Commission, local tribal and religious leaders.

Prof. Raby Angkal, who represented MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jafaar, reminded the audience and DXUP Teleradyo listeners how Rajah Tabunaway and Datu Mamalu, the ancestors of the Moros and the Tedurays, respectively governed their people in the then unexploited Mindanao.

Atty. Haron Meling, Chief Executive Assistance of BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal discussed the envisioned ministerial form of government for the upcoming Bangsamoro Region.

He stressed that, “Under the new Bangsamoro new polity all sectors of the society will be represented”. That draft basic law contains that women, indigenous people, settlers and the youth will have their seats in the Bangsamoro Regional Parliament. There shall also be party-list representatives.

Mr. Mario G. Debolgado, representing the settlers and the business sector, categorically stated that the incoming Bangsamoro Government is the solution to the centuries-old Mindanao question.

Atty. Rolando "Anwar" Chew representing the "New Muslims" of Upi expressed his support to the Bangsamoro that maybe created by law.

"Yes to Bangsamoro Basic Law; Yes to Bangsamoro Government", said Atty. Chew. The symposium ended with assurance of support from the participants representing various sectors of Upi town.


MILF: What is settled in signed agreements is settled’, MILF says

From the MILF Website (May 27): What is settled in signed agreements is settled’, MILF says

A ranking member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has categorically said during an interview with Luwaran early today that those issues already agreed by the Parties especially those contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will not be touched.
“What is settled is settled and both parties by protocols are not allowed to touch them. This is the rule and this must be followed; otherwise, the process will go on and on in full circle.”

This was the clarification made by Mohammad Ameen, Secretary to the MILF Central Committee, on the eve of the forthcoming results of the review of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) conducted by the Office of the President.

He said that the MILF is firm on the position that those issues especially on powers that are agreed by the MILF and government contained in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes must not be tinkered with.

On April 20, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) had formally signed and adopted the BBL and on April 22nd, the BTC submitted it to the OP, which is now conducting a due diligent study of the document.

Except one, all the 15 BTC commissioners signed the BBL, 12 without reservations and only two with qualifications. Only Commissioner Johaira Wahab did not sign it, simply because she was absent during the signing ceremony last April 20.

Ameen expressed strong conviction that President Benigno Aquino III is as consistent as the MILF in preserving the gains of the peace process especially after the signing of the CAB last March 27.

Meanwhile, reports reaching Luwaran that a powerful lobby is exerting strong pressures to the government to change position on the matter of Lake Lanao, which in the Annex on Power-sharing is part of inland waters, which is one of the exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro.

Spearheading the move, the report added, were people who are consistently opposing any political deal between the government and the MILF since years back.


MILF: BTC consultation-forum in Tawi-Tawi on draft BBL gains positive responses

From the MILF Website (May 26): BTC consultation-forum in Tawi-Tawi on draft BBL gains positive responses

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) consultation-forum on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) held at the Beachside Inn, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on May 17, 2014 gained positive responses. According to BTC Commissioner Raissa Jajurie, the consultation on the draft Bangsamor Basic Law (BBL) was simultaneously held in Sulu and Basilan provinces purposely to inform the people of where we are now.
The forum which started at around 8:30 A.M. was attended by some 140 sector representatives. After a short programme, Commissioner Jajurie begins her presentation, using the local Tausug vernacular to stress her points. Imam Bantala Abubakar, in low tone commented, she is a Tausug, she is one of us.

Comm. Raissa first highlighted the creation of the BTC on December 2012 by virtue of Executive Order No. 120 issued by President Benigno Aquino III that is tasked to draft the BBL. The BTC is composed of 15 members, 7 from the government side, 8 members are from the MILF including its Chairman. Comm. Jajurie said that after a year of hard work, the BTC was able to come up with a draft BBL and transmitted it to the Office of the President on April 22, 2014 for review and certification as urgent bill by the president. It will then be transmitted to the Congress for deliberations and enactment into law.

One passed, it shall become an enabling act for the creation of the new Bangsamoro Region that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by July 2015 when the Bangsamoro TransitionAuthority takes over as a transition regional government.

Comm. Raissa then proceeded and discussed some important features of the Basic Law. She said that the BBL contained among others, the transitional arrangement, political autonomy, transitional justice, fiscal autonomy, IP matters, basic rights and socio-economic components of the Annex on Normalization.

 The draft BBL is composed of a preamble, 19 Articles, 244 Sections for a total of 97 pages. The BBL translates the new political and electoral system of a Ministerial form for the Bangsamoro. The Regional Bangsamoro Parliament shall be composed of 80 members, 50% of which are party representatives, 40% district representatives with reserved seats for the indigenous peoples, settlers, women and youth. They shall serve a 5-year term and can run for another term. Any member of the regional parliament who has served for two (2) terms is disqualified to run for another term (3rd term).

Comm. Jajurie emphasized that once BBL is ratified ARMM is deemed abolished and all devolved agencies under ARMM are vested in the BTA. She clarified that there shall be a phase and gradual disposition of appointed employees of ARMM so as not to disrupt the flow of basic services. Those that wish to retire or those that reach the age of retirement may opt to apply for a separation or retirement from government.
The Bangsamoro Regional Parliament or legislative assembly of the MILF Bangsamoro-led Government shall be composed of 50 members that will be appointed by the President.

Comm. Jajurie suggested that it is high time to practice how to lead, how to speak, and show leaderships rather than remain an observer, critic or be a “wait-and-see” person. It is high time to work hard, because if the majority of the voters of Tawi-Tawi disapproved the BBL, Tawi-Tawi cannot partake with the bounty of Bangsamoro and the opportunities that await the Bangsamoro people. The life and fate of your province lies in you.  I urge you to close-rank with one another to accept peace or continue to remain living in an impoverish province.

An open forum follows. The participants actively participated because Atty. Raissa spoke in the local vernacular and her answers were also in the local dialect. The presentation of Comm. Jadjurie was so impressive because she acted intelligently and articulately; issues were clarified.

Mr. Sastri Buddin, Provincial Director of the CSC In Tawi-tawi synthesized the program contents substantively. A closing du’a was rendered by Hji Mansur B. Sakili, the BTC on Air Anchor, praying for the early passage of the BBL in Congress. Participants congratulated Comm. Jajurie for the job well done and requested her presence back in Tawi-Tawi.


MILF: Kinship renewed between Moros and Ips

From the MILF Website (May 26): Kinship renewed between Moros and Ips

A simple yet meaningful ritual was performed May 23 at a hotel in Mandaluyong City to reaffirm the ancient  kinship between the Bangsamoros and Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) member Melanio Ulama and Nuroddin Abdulrahman represented the descendants of Rajah Mamalu and Rajah Tabunaway, respectively, in performing the age-old tradition symbolizing the historic ties of Moros and indigenous peoples.  

The solemn rite was set in the solidarity program organized by the BTC and Center for Humanitarian Dialogue with the theme “Celebrating Common Ground, Building a Shared Future.”

Moros trace their lineage to Rajah Tabunaway while IPs descended from Rajah Mamalu. Tabunaway and Mamalu were mythical  brothers who pledged to do no harm unto one another as well as their descendants inspite of Tabunaway embracing Islam and Mamalu keeping their indigenous belief.

BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal said they were celebrating the consensus reached in the BTC on proposed public policy governing IPs in the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal revealed the salient provisions of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) concerning IPs. He enumerated specific rights for IPs such as those pertaining to their native titles (fusaka engid); equitable share in exploration of natural resources; free, informed, prior consent; political participation, basic services and freedom of choice in identity.

To address the various issues on IPs, Iqbal urged interested stakeholders to engage the newly-created BTC Task Force on IP Concerns being headed by Guiamal Abdulrahman whose father, the late MILF founding member Sheik Abu Halil Yahya, was a pure-blooded Teduray of Upi, Maguindanao.
Iqbal described the task force as concrete demonstration of their “commitment to respect and promote the rights and welfare of all IPs especially those who continue to feel that they are marginalized in the Bangsamoro.”

In appealing to those who believe that the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) answers the long struggle of the IPs to protect their ancestral domain , Iqbal said they hold no rancor in their hearts against them as the MILF acknowledges this as part of IPs right to self-determination. Yet, he likewise appealed to them to “respect the MILF stand clearly contained in all signed documents and proposed BBL that there is only one ancestral domain owned by Moros and IPs.”          

In her message of solidarity, OPAPP Sec. Teresita Deles hailed the event as a “showcase of the capacity of the BTC to build consensus and establish mechanisms within itself on how these issues will be addressed to ensure peaceful, dynamic and constructive resolution of the concerns between the descendants of Mamalu and Tabunaway in recognition of their common roots as peoples of the region.”

She said they “will be awaiting the results of this difficult but essential effort in moving forward.”
Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco, herself a member of Bagobo and Banobo IPs, pledged before the audience that they can “count on (her) fullest support for the passage of BBL once it is deliberated in Congress,; relatively may I count on your equal support to recognize the rights of our IPs as enshrined by law and observed according to the principles of peace, justice, equality and kinship.”

In his videotaped message, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo congratulated the BTC and the Task Force on IP Concerns for having “sufficiently covered and dealt with IP issues and concerns.”

Others who attended the solidarity program were Mayors Ramon Piang and Abdullah Campong (North and South Upi, Maguindanao, respectively), European Union officials, MILF Peace Panel Secretariat, ARMM bureaucrats, IP champions, members of the academe and media.


MILF: Jamiat Cotabato holds forum on Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

From the MILF Website (May 24): Jamiat Cotabato holds forum on Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

The Jamiat Cotabato (Cotabato University) held a half-day forum on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on May 21, 2014 at the institution’s Compound, Barangay Mother Tamontaka, Cotabato City.
The objective of the forum was to develop students and faculty awareness on the 17-year old GPH-MILF Peace Process that led to the signing of the CAB; and other related issues pertaining to the envisioned Bangsamoro Region.  Resource persons were from the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).

Sheikh Sam Alabat, BLMI Extension Service Unit head, in-charged for Community Organizing programs lectured on Shari’ah and Politics in Islam by underlining its inherent correlations. He also discussed the CAB’s essential features.

This writer, BLMI Research Unit Head, talked on the proposed ministerial form of Government for the Bangsamoro, political party formation and electoral system as stipulated in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which formed part of the CAB.  

Another engagement took place at GJ Compound, Crossing simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on May 22. The program was sponsored and facilitated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Religious Sectors comprising the ulama (Islamic Scholars), Shari’ah Court members and Madaris teachers.

The BLMI Extension service and Research Unit Officers lectured on the CAB, the proposed Bangsamoro Region and other related issues.

Before the end of the program, a time was allotted for an open forum for participants to express their views, concerns and clarify matters on the issues at hand.

The organizers expressed their gratitude to BLMI Management for the valuable knowledge imparted to the participants. The participants went home enlightened and satisfied with the clarifications afforded to them on CAB and the proposed Bangsamoro new political entity.

With the upcoming Bangsamoro Region, the BLMI is not only a human capacitating agency but also extensively engaged in community programs on advocacy, research and community organizing. It is an institute that empowers the Moro people specifically MILF members, supporters and sympathizers in state-building endeavors.  


CPP/Ang Bayan: Balikatan Exercises and EDCA

From the English language edition of Ang Bayan (May 21): Balikatan Exercises and EDCA

Up to 3,000 American soldiers arrived in the Philippines to join Balikatan Exercise 2014 from May 6-16. It was the 30th in the Balikatan series and the biggest and first to be launched after the Aquino regime and the US government signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) on April 28.

More than 4,500 AFP troops joined the Balikatan. Also attending were 60 Australian troops and 25 members of the Hawaii National Guard. Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City and the Western Command in Puerto Princesa, Palawan served as Balikatan’s command centers.

The live fire exercises, combat maneuvers and other training were held at the Naval Education and Training Center in San Antonio, Zambales; Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija; Clark Air Base in Angeles City; Crow Valley, Tarlac; and Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite. Up to 700 US and AFP troops also launched a mock attack by land and air in Palanan, Isabela.

The US used the opportunity to project its military might. The USS Tortuga docked at Subic to bring troops and military equipment. Modern weapons like the Osprey; F/A Jet Fighters, CH-53 transport helicopter; Sikorsky and Cobra attack helicopter; and Hercules cargo aircraft, among others were used in the combat maneuvers.

Using “humanitarian operations” as camouflage, the US military sent 200 American troops to Guinobatan, Albay and Legazpi City from April 21 to May 7, and even to Tacloban City, Cebu City and Bohol. There was much ado in the media about a classroom repaired by the troops and the provision of a few days’ medical and veterinary services. What went unannounced were the American troops’ other activities, among them partnering with local troops in the antiguerrilla war and laying down communications and intelligence infrastructure.

To create the impression that the US would stand by the Philippines’ side in its territorial assertions versus China, American troops conducted military maneuvers in the South China Sea. In fact, the US has made no commitment to side with the Philippines should an armed confrontation erupt regarding the conflicting claims in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista endorsed three AFP military bases on May 5 for the use of the US in stationing its troops and equipment. Bautista identified them as the naval detachment in Oyster Bay in Palawan; the naval station in San Antonio, Zambales; and the Philippine Army base in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Under the newly signed EDCA, the Philippine government will be providing the US with “Agreed Locations” or areas within AFP military camps that could be used for weapons storage, maintaining sea vessels, landing and launching airplanes and drones, resupplying and as rest and recreation stations for American soldiers.
[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]


CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA punishes 67th IB in Davao Oriental

From the English language edition of Ang Bayan (May 21): NPA punishes 67th IB in Davao Oriental

Red fighters under the Comval-Davao East Coast Subregional Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) launched a series of military actions against the Philippine Army 67th IB.

Two soldiers were wounded in a sniping operation launched by members of the NPA Front Guerrilla 15 Operations Command in Barangay Binondo, Baganga at 11 a.m. of April 23. Two hours later, four military troops were killed by command-detonated explosives used by an NPA unit in Purok 7 Tanggaan, Barangay Manurigao, New Bataan, Compostela Valley. On May 5, a soldier was killed in a sniping operation launched by an NPA team against a Peace and Development Team (PDT) in Barangay Pagsabangan, New Bataan.

Meanwhile, on May 11, Red fighters from the NPA Guerrilla Front 20 Operations Command burned a bulldozer owned by Cateel mayor Camilo Nuñez in Sitio Yapsay, Taytayan, Cateel, Davao Oriental. The operation was not merely part of the total log ban campaign currently being waged in the entire region by the revolutionary movement but was a punitive measure against Nuñez for his criminal negligence in failing to institute long-term rehabilitation for the victims of typhoon Pablo that devastated the area in 2012.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]


CPP/Ang Bayan: 1001st Brigade concocts hostage drama in ComVal

From the English language edition of Ang Bayan (May 21): 1001st Brigade concocts hostage drama in ComVal

For days, the Aquino government’s reactionary officials feasted on the Philippine Army 1001st Brigade’s fabricated story that the New People’s Army (NPA) had taken scores of miners and their families hostage in Compostela Valley from May 3 to 5.

Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process and Corazon “Dinky” Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development even joined in the chorus by airing condemnations and appeals to the NPA to stop using civilians as human shields.

In reality, no hostage-taking took place. The 1001st Brigade merely manufactured lies to cover up its mounting battle casualties, its own human rights violations and its protection of foreign destructive mining operations.

According to Ka Daniel Ibarra, spokesperson of the Comval-Davao Gulf Subregional Command, the military forcefully evicted small miners, Lumad and peasants from the streams and other areas within Apex Mining Company’s concession in Maco and threatened that their communities would be bombed. Terrified, the miners had no choice but to abandon their houses and livelihood.

The 1001st Bde expelled the small miners to enable Apex Mining to operate unencumbered using open-pit mining, which caused massive landslides that killed several people in the area and erased Barangay Mainit from Maco’s map in 2012.

On the other hand, Red fighters launched three ambushes on the mining giant’s soldier-protectors between April 12 and May 5, killing 23 soldiers and wounding five others from the 71st IB, 9th IB and Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC).

Eleven soldiers were killed in an ambush mounted by Red fighters on patrolling elements of the 71st IB in Sitio Panganasun, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan. On April 13, Red guerrillas ambushed a DRC unit along the Maco-Maragusan border, killing eight and wounding two fascists. The day before, four troops under the 9th IB were killed and three others wounded when Red fighters waylaid them at the Apex Tenement Complex in Masara, Maco.

Before these offensives, the NPA punished Apex Mining on April 10 for its violations of the laws and policies of the People’s Democratic Government against the destruction of the environment and the oppression of the peasant masses and the mining company’s own workers in Barangay Masara. The NPA destroyed 18 vehicles and pieces of machinery in five tunnels. (See related article in Ang Bayan’s April 21, 2014 issue)

In retaliation, the 1001st Bde poured in 800 troops or two battalions to sow terror and further protect Apex Mining and its owners, among them Enrique Razon (the fourth wealthiest man in the Philippines and a major contributor to Aquino’s election campaign), to the detriment of Lumad farmers, small miners and the company’s workers. Apex also used hired goons under the Mongoose Security Agency to harass the lowly paid workers who are in danger of losing their jobs under the company’s retrenchment program in June. The military likewise disseminated lists of alleged active leaders targeted for arrest and imprisonment.

Meanwhile, in Paquibato District, three soldiers under the 69th IB were killed and six others were wounded by a command-detonated explosive while they were on patrol in May 17. It was the NPA’s fourth attritive action against the 69th IB since January.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]


CPP/Ang Bayan: Intensified militarization and terrorism in Mindanao

From the English language edition of Ang Bayan (May 21): Intensified militarization and terrorism in Mindanao

There are five divisions currently stationed in Mindanao, comprising 60% of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). These forces are under the AFP Southern Command.

The Southern Command which covers the whole of Mindanao is divided into the Eastmincom and the Westmincom. The Eastmincom is composed of the 4th ID and 10th ID. The 4th ID is mainly trained against the regions of Northeast Mindanao (NEMR) and Northcentral Mindanao (NCMR). The 10th ID, on the other hand, covers the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) and has a brigade in Far South Mindanao (FSMR). The Westmincom comprises the 1st ID and 6th ID. The 1st ID is in turn divided among the Moro areas and West Mindanao (WMR) while the 6th ID is focused on the Moro areas and FSMR.

There are up to 30 battalions under the Eastmincom. Currently, there are 15 battalions under the 10th ID; and 13 battalions under the 4th ID. On top of this is the 76th IB which is now Eastmincom’s strike force. Also added to the Eastmincom is the 5th Special Force Battalion.

Aside from this are the naval and air forces, including the 3rd Tactical Operations Wing, the 5th Civil Relations Group, the 5th and 7th Air Reserve Center, the 52nd Engineering Brigade, the 10th and 11th Tactical Operations Group, the 10th, 11th, 12th and 15th Regional Community Defense Group and the Naval Reserve Center in Eastern Mindanao. This is aside from two battalions under the two divisions that are focused on intelligence work.

Apart from the AFP’s regular forces, there are various paramilitary groups organized and trained by the 72nd IBPA-Cadre Battalion, including the CAFGU, SCAA, CAA, Investment Defense Force (IDF), Bagani Force in Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur, and the ALAMARA group in Paquibato-Talaingod. The process of pulling out a brigade (701st) from Central Luzon began in 2009-2010. In 2013, the 76th IB was deployed from the Bondoc Peninsila. In March, the 9th IB and the 68th IB were transferred from Bicol to Compostela Valley. Just this May, a battalion under the 6th ID in Maguindanao was transferred to the 10th ID and deployed to Compostela Valley.

The seven newly added battalions are concentrated in five provinces: Agusan del Sur, North Cotabato, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. They have been positioned at the SMR-NEMR-NCMR tri-boundary.

Of all the regions, SMR is the most militarized. Fourteen full battlions are deployed here, while nine other battalions are positioned along its borders with NEMR, NCMR and FSMR.

The AFP’s intensified suppression operations are focused on areas where there are ongoing mining, logging and plantation operations (such as oil palm, banana and pineapple) or that are being targeted for entry by these companies. The goal is to suppress the people’s opposition to these companies’ operations which are destructive to the environment and cause the seizure of the Lumad’s ancestral lands.

Military abuses are widespread, including the militarization of entire communities and the use of schools, barangay halls and other civilian structures as military barracks. Soldiers also routinely violate domiciles and steal personal belongings, farm animals and food.

Farms and their environs are increasingly being bombed from the air or targeted by artillery fire, traumatizing residents, especially children. The targeted residents are accused of being NPA supporters, with some forcibly used as guides in AFP operations.

A striking case is the militarization of Talaingod, Davao del Norte. For a month, more than 1,300 residents of Barangay Palma Gil evacuated to Davao City to protest the repression, terrorism and brutality of AFP forces. Like them, the Manobo-Matigsalog tribespeople who fled Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon to Cagayan de Oro City in September 2013 did so to protest the military terrorism of the 8th IB. In August 2013, up to 325 residents of Loreto, Agusan del Sur evacuated to protest the abuses of the 26th IB.

Extrajudicial killings are also mounting. The latest cases are the killing by the 29th IB of Ricardo “Polon” Tuazon in the upland areas of Butuan City on April 28 and the abduction, torture and slaying on March 24 by 9th IB personnel of Wilmar Bargas, a small miner from Maco, Compostela Valley.

Violations of children’s rights are likewise widespread, such as the occupation of schools. In a striking case, soldiers harassed a community school in Side 4, Mangayon, Compostela, Compostela Valley last year. In March, 57th IB elements arrested “Balong,” a 14-year old boy from Magpet, North Cotabato, falsely accusing him of being an NPA member.
[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]


CPP/NPA-SPOC: Todo-todong operasyong militar ng 903rd Brigade, Phil. Army, pumupuntirya sa mamamayang Sorsoganon

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 26): Todo-todong operasyong militar ng 903rd Brigade, Phil. Army, pumupuntirya sa mamamayang Sorsoganon
Samuel Guerrero
NPA Sorsogon Provincial Operations Command (Celso Minguez Command)
Naninibasib laban sa mamamayang Sorsoganon ang nagpapatuloy na operasyong militar ng 31st IBPA, 5th Scout Ranger Coy at iba pang pwersang militar na nasa kumand ng 903rd Bde PA sa buong probinsiya. Mula buwan ng Abril hanggang sa kasalukuyan, todo-todo ang mga operasyong militar ng tropang AFP na pumupuntirya at namemerwisyo sa mga inosenteng sibilyan.

Noong Abril 27, 2014, pagkatapos ng isang engkwentro sa pagitan ng pinagkumbinang tropa ng 31st IBPA at 5th SR Coy at isang tim ng BHB sa Brgy. Cococabitan, Bulan, Sorsogon, binintangang kasapi ng NPA si Brgy Kapitan Eddie Albor ng nasabing baranggay at iligal na ikinulong dahil sa mga gawa-gawang kaso. Ngayon, pinipilit si Kap. Albor na pumirma sa isang sinumpaang salaysay na nagsasaad ng kasinungalingan na isang mataas na kadre ng NPA ang kaswalti sa naturang engkwentro. Ang pagpirma diumano ni Kap. Albor ay kapalit ng pagpapalaya sa kanya ngunit hanggang sa kasalukuyan, iligal pa rin siyang nakakulong sa Sorsogon City District Jail.

Pinagtatakot at binalingan ng galit ng tropang Alpha Coy, 31st IBPA ang mga residente ng Brgy. San Juan, Casiguran, Sorsogon noong Abril 29, 2014 matapos ang matagumpay na ambus ng isang yunit ng CMC-BHB doon. Nagbanta ang mga pikon-talong mga sundalo ng 31st IBPA, sa harapan mismo ng Brgy. Council dito, na uubusin nila ang mga pinaghihinalaan nilang suportador ng BHB sa buong bayan ng Casiguran. Napatay sa ambus na ito si Cpl. Edison Capital at nasamsam ng BHB ang isang .45cal pistol. Kasalukuyang nakikipag-ugnayan ang BHB sa pamilya ng nadamay na sibilyan sa naturang ambus para sa karampatang aksyon.

Upang maghasik ng mas matinding teror sa mamamayan, muling nadagdagan ang kaso ng extra-judicial killing sa Sorsogon. Binaril-patay ng Alpha Coy, 31st IBPA si Joseph Benson, isang binata na taga Brgy. Inlagadian, Casiguran nitong madaling araw ng Mayo 9, 2014. Tinambangan si G. Benson sa Brgy. Escuala, Casiguran, habang naglalakad pauwi mula sa pakikilamay sa patay na nakaburol malapit sa Alpha Coy HQ ng 31st IBPA sa Brgy. Casay ng parehong bayan. Inamin mismo ng nag-ooperasyong tropa ng Alpha Coy, 31st IBPA sa ilang mamamayan sa lugar na si G. Benson ay pinaghinalaan nilang kasabay ng mga operatiba ng BHB na nag-ambus sa kanilang tropa sa Brgy. San Juan noong nakaraang Abril.

Walang-kahihiyang nagnakaw ng isang bangkang-de-motor ang 31st IBPA na nag-ooperasyon sa mga interyor na baranggay sa bayan ng Bulan at Matnog noong 10:30 ng gabi, Mayo 5, 2014. Ang biktima ng mga kawatang 31st IBPA ay ang pamilya Masujer ng Brgy. Sagrada, Bulan, Sorsogon. Pinuntahan ng tropang 31st IBPA ang pamilya Masujer noong umaga ng Mayo 5 at pinipilit nilang kunin ang bangkang pag-aari ng pamilya dahil diumano’y pag-aari ito ng BHB. Pansamantala napigilan ni Mrs. Marife Masujer ang mga kawatan ngunit bumalik sila pagsapit ng gabi para tuluyang nakawin ang bangka na sinakyan ng aabot sa tatlumpo (30) na elemento at unipormadong tropang 31st IBPA papunta sa direksyon ng bayan ng Bulan. Nakumpirma ng biktima na ang tropa ng 31st IBPA ang nagnakaw ng bangka nila nang bumalik pa ang mga ito noong Mayo 7 sa kanilang bahay at pinipilit silang ituro ang isang kasapi ng BHB. Dagdag pa sa pagkakakilanlan sa tropang kaaway na nagnakaw ay ang kasamahan nila na sina Leo Pomarejo alyas “Joy” at Roberto Mondejar alyas “Agta/Aries” na kapwa mga rebel returnee na sumuko sa AFP noong 2009. Ginagamit ng 31st IBPA ang mga rebel returnees na ito sa panggigipit at harassment sa mga taumbaryo sa mga lugar na inooperasyon nila. Dahil sa takot, pansamantalang lumipat ang pamilya Masujer sa kanilang mga kamag-anak sa ibang baranggay. Hanggang sa ngayon hindi makapaghanapbuhay ang pamilya Masujer na tanging pangingisda ang pinagkakakitaan.

Lalo pang lumabas ang berdugo at pasistang mukha ng 31st IBPA sa pagkubli ng pinakabagong paglabag nila sa mga batas ng digma, internasyunal na makataong batas CARHRIHL at batayang karapatang-pantao. Idinamay ng tropang kaaway ang pamilya Garduque sa mga bilang ng kaswalti sa kanilang pag-atake sa isang iskwad ng BHB sa Sityo Hukdong, Brgy. Balocaue, Matnog, Sorsogon nitong Mayo 23, 2014. Napatay si Elias Garduque at malubhang nasugatan naman ang kanyang asawa na si Cynthia Garduque at ang kanilang 1-taong gulang na sanggol. Alas 5:45 ng umaga nang kubkubin nila ang mga kasama na pansamantalang nagpahinga malapit sa bahay ng pamilya Garduque. Pagkatapos ng ilang minutong putukan hindi nila inagapan ang duguang mag-ina at pinagbawalan na may makalapit na taumbaryo na nais sanang sumaklolo sa mag-anak nang marinig ang putukan malapit sa kanilang bahay. Hinayaan nila ang mag-ina hanggang alas-3 ng hapon bago dalhin sa ospital. Sobrang bihasa na sa pagngangalngal ng kasinungalingan si Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala dahil alas-8 ng umaga pa lamang ng araw na iyon ay idinadahilan na ng hambog na CO ng 903Bde PA na pawang mga kasapi diumano ng BHB ang mag-asawang Garduque na sa katotohanan ay mga residente ng Brgy. Balocaue. Makikita sa awtomatikong pagsisinungaling ni Kakilala na SOP na ng AFP na akusahang NPA ang sinumang maging kaswalti sa kanilang mga operasyong militar at wala silang pinag-iiba sa pagtrato sa armadong NPA bilang kalaban at sa mamamayang sibilyan. Napatunayan din sa labanang ito na hindi rinerespeto ng AFP ang pagkilala sa katayuang ‘hors de combat’ dahil kahit na ipagpalagay ngang kasapi ng BHB ang sugatang si Cynthia Garduque at ang kanyang sanggol, dapat sana’y isinugod sa ospital ang mga sugatan pagkatapos ng labanan laluna nang may mga sibilyang residente nang nakikiusap sanang lumapit sa pamilya Garduque. Buong kayabangan pa ni Kakilala nang banggitin nitong ‘walang collateral damage’ sa labanan kaya maaari pa nitong idahilan na ‘NPA regular’ na ang sanggol na 1-taong gulang pa lamang na malubhang nasugatan.

Ang serye ng panteteror ng tropang AFP sa pangunguna ng 903rd Bde PA sa Sorsogon ay bahagi ng desperado at inutil na Oplan Bayanihan ng kasalukuyang rehimeng Aquino. Sa kabila ng pagkukunwari bilang mga ‘reformed’ na sundalo sa iba’t-ibang palabas tulad ng mga operasyong civil-military o CMO kusa pa ring lumalabas ang pangil at pagiging berdugo ng mga pasistang AFP at nahuhuli ang kanilang kasinungalingan sa kanila mismong bibig.

Kailangang higit na magkaisa ang mamamayang Sorsoganon at maging mapagbantay sa mga anti-mamamayan na kampanya ng tropang 903rd Bde PA at 31st IBPA. Kailangang ilantad ang mga abuso at paglabag ng mga tropang kaaway para ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatang- pantao. Sisikapin ng Celso Minguez Command – Bagong Hukbong Bayan na panagutin ang tropang berdugo sa kanilang mga krimen laban sa mamamayan.


20th IB arriving in NegOr

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 27): 20th IB arriving in NegOr

The 20th Infantry Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, based in Samar, will arrive in Negros Oriental Wednesday or Thursday, to fill the vacuum while soldiers of the 79th IB, based in Siaton town undergo a three-month battalion excellence training in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Vizcaya.

Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Brigade, said the province is lucky that the Armed Forces of the Philippines decided to “loan” the 20th IB, that has also recently completed the same training to avoid a vacuum while the 79th IB troops are on training.

Patrimonio allayed public fears that, after the declaration of Negros Oriental as conflict manageable and development-ready in relation to the reduced problem of insurgency, the Philippine Army will pull out of the province.

During the recent declaration, AFP officials had repeatedly assured that government troops will remain in Negros Oriental, even though areas no longer affected by the presence of the New People’s Army will be turned over to the Philippine National Police.

Patrimonio said that in their first two months, the 20th IB will be exposed to the jurisdiction of the 79th IB for familiarization.

After two months, the 79th IB will leave for the training that will last for two to three months, before they return to Negros Oriental.

The training is for the best battalions in their divisions, and aims to improve their skills and qualify for additional firearms and logistics, among others, he said.


Kin claim bodies of 2 ‘NPA rebels’

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 27): Kin claim bodies of 2 ‘NPA rebels’


Family members of two of the four suspected New People’s Army rebels killed in the latest clash with soldiers in the mountains of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental Saturday, claimed their bodies from a funeral parlor in the city yesterday.

The family members of the suspected rebel who were identified by the Philippine Army as Diosdado Dacal-dacal, in his 30s, married and a resident of Cadlum in Barangay Nagbalaye, Sta. Catalina town; and Feliz Yanoc, 33, married, of Sitio Avocado, Barangay Talalak, brought with them credentials, such as marriage and birth certificates to prove their claim.

They were accompanied by Lisa Badayos, of the human rights advocacy group, Karapatan.

The bodies of Dacal-dacal, Yanoc and two still unidentified persons were found in adjacent locations Sunday morning in Sitio Pataw, Barangay Sto. Niño in Tanjay City, after about three hours of sporadic gun battles between government troops and suspected NPA members Saturday afternoon.

Yanoc’s son, 17, said he had not seen his father for a long time. The eldest of seven siblings, he claimed that the last time he remembers seeing his father was when he was five years old.

He said his mother was not able to accompany him in claiming the body of Yanoc, whose true name, as reflected in a marriage certificate, was Gerobert Yanoc, because she had given birth only on May 8.

Dacal-dacal’s wife, Cita, and her 13-year-old daughter claimed the body of Diosdado. They declined to be interviewed and shied away from the camera. They were accompanied by the wife of Jessie Dacal-dacal, Diosdado’s brother, who was captured in an encounter April 3 in Balayong, Pamplona, where two other suspected rebels were killed.

Jessie was also in Tanjay City yesterday afternoon to help identify and facilitate the release of the body of his brother.

Badayos said that, after clearance is given, the bodies will be brought to their homes in Sta. Catalina.

The two other casualties, who remain unidentified, are believed to be from Negros Occidental, military sources said.

If unclaimed in the next few days, the Philippine Army will ask for the assistance of the Tanjay City government to bury the bodies, Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, said.

Patrimonio said troops continue with their operations in the vicinity of the encounter site in Sitio Pitawa, and he vowed to get the remainder of the NPA’s South East Front-Komiteng Rehiyon Negros. With the deaths of the four men, Patrimonio said the total strength of armed regulars of the SEF-KRN has been reduced to 19 members.

He said that, of the 24 people that the Army troopers encountered in Pitawa, 19 were armed regulars, and five civilians, and one courier, the wife of an alleged rebel, a daughter, and two alleged helpers or supporters.

Patrimonio identified the two “helpers” as Pedring, 33, and his brother, Rodel, 18, both surnamed Biton and residents of Sto. Niño, Tanjay.

The two, believed to be mass-base supporters of the NPA, or Yunit Militia, surrendered to authorities during the encounter, Patrimonio said.

He appealed to the remnants of the NPA’s SEF-KRN to surrender so that lasting peace may be attained in Negros Oriental.


Navy: Threats to territorial integrity ‘real and present’

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Navy: Threats to territorial integrity ‘real and present’

The Navy is on its way to shifting its focus to territorial defense as it admitted that the threats to the country’s territory are “real and present.”

Navy chief Vice Adm. Jesus Millan said they are ready to fulfill their mission despite the challenges that confront them.

“The menace of various threats to national security and territorial integrity are real and present. The geopolitical landscape changes with the latest developments and volatile situation in the region,” Millan said in a speech delivered during the Navy’s 116th anniversary in Palawan.

“But the Navy commits to remain steadfast to surmount the odds and meet the expectations of our people,” he added.

Millan said the military’s gains in maintaining internal security would allow them to perform its task of protecting the country’s territory.

“With the AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) relative success in Internal Security Operations, the strategic direction for our Navy today is to shift to its territorial defense role,” he said.

To accomplish the mission, Millan said there is a need to upgrade the Naval Station Carlito Cunanan located in Ulugan Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“We need to build mission essential facilities like boat houses, hangars, traiing facilities, additional living quarters, and other necessities so we can adapt to the tempo of their operations,” the Navy chief said.

“The Navy leadership knows that this cannot be accomplished overnight. But with the help of our President, we are confident that our dreams will not remain as dreams,” he added.

Aquino thanked the Navy for their dedication to their mission despite the limitations and challenges they are facing.

“Despite the limited capabilities of our uniformed men, I never heard you say ‘Sir, we can’t do it; we lack capability here.’ The truth is I have confidence in your decisions and I am confident that you will attain your objectives because our armed forces is strong” the president said.

“My appeal to you this: I hope you do not change.”

Aquino said the Navy plays a vital role because the linkages among the country’s islands depend on the sea.

“It is but appropriate for the state to take care and strengthen you, soldiers who also care for our entire nation,” he said.

Aquino said the holding of the Navy anniversary in Palawan is meaningful as the Naval Forces West, whose headquarters is located in the province, is a major operational command that patrols the West Philippine Sea.

“The upgrading of our equipment here translates to strengthening efforts to secure of our territory,” he said.

“Every peso allotted to this station is equivalent to uplifting the national dignity and the security of our people.”

The Cunanan naval station is near the Oyster Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea and one of the sites that the military wants to develop.

The government has allotted P500 million to develop the Ulugan Bay base, including P313 million to improve the pier, harbor and support facilities at Oyster Bay.


4 rebels slain in Negros clashes

From the Philippine Star (May 27): 4 rebels slain in Negros clashes

Four suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA), including an alleged ranking leader, were killed in a series of encounters with members of government security forces in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental on Saturday.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, spokesman for the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said soldiers from the 79th Infantry Battalion were on patrol in Sitio Pitawa, Barangay Sto. Niño when around 24 rebels shot at them at about 4 p.m.

The soldiers retaliated, resulting in an encounter that lasted for about 35 minutes.

Another clash ensued at around 4:45 p.m. as the Army troops were pursuing the rebels.

Two of the fatalities were identified as Diosdado “Aming” Dacal-dacal, alias “Gim,” “Adonis” and “Marco” and Felix Yanoc. The identities of the two other rebels have yet to be determined as of press time.

Tiongson said Dacal-dacal was a squad leader of NPA’s Sentro Grabidad Platoon-Southeast Front.

Cpl. Melbert Dapilaga, wounded in the left shoulder, was reported to be in stable condition at a hospital in Dumaguete.

Tiongson said two rebels surrendered after the encounter, but he refused to disclose their identities for security reasons.

He said the troops recovered an M-16 Armalite, a handheld radio, a bandolier, and alleged subversive documents from the scene of the encounter.

Lt. Col. Harold Pascua, chief of the Army’s 79th IB, urged the rebels to surrender peacefully as he assured them that their rights would be protected.


Army troops kill 2 NPA rebels in Samar clash

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Army troops kill 2 NPA rebels in Samar clash

Two communist rebels were killed in an encounter between government troops and the New People’s Army (NPA) on Monday afternoon in Matuguinao, Samar.

Maj. Amado Gutierrez, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division, said soldiers were conducting security operations in Barangay Mahayag, around 5:30 p.m. when about 10 to 20 rebels fired at them.

A five-minute clash then transpired, leaving two NPA members dead. utierrez said the identities of the two rebels are still being determined.

Government troops did not suffer casualties during the encounter.

The afternoon clash also led to the recovery of an M16 rifle, an M16 baby armalite, and an M2013 grenade launcher.

Soldiers are now conducting pursuit operations against the insurgents.


Soldier faces dismissal for drugs, illegal logging

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Soldier faces dismissal for drugs, illegal logging

A soldier held captive for 16 days and was recently released by the New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas is facing dismissal from service for allegedly using illegal drugs and being involved in illegal logging in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte.

Cpl. Rogelio Rosales of the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion (IB) was found guilty by his superiors of violating the Articles of War 97, said Capt. Ernest Carolina, spokesman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.

Carolina said Rosales committed acts prejudicial to military discipline and discredits the entire organization.

He said Rosales reportedly admitted in a sworn statement his use of shabu, which was one of the allegations the NPA hurled against him during his 16 days in captivity.

Rosales, however, denied involvement in illegal logging, as alleged by the rebels.

Lt. Col. Roberto Bunagan, commander of the 60th IB, said Rosales’ drug test results, which were negative, are now irrelevant and the soldier is liable to administrative punishment.

Carolina said the recommendation on Rosales’ dismissal is still subject to approval by the higher officials in the Philippine Army.  


NPA mass grave found in Misamis

From the Philippine Star (May 28): NPA mass grave found in Misamis

The Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion discovered last week a mass grave in Claveria, Misamis Oriental that reportedly contains the remains of people summarily executed by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Lt. Dandy Melmida, 58th IB spokesman, said soldiers exhumed from the mass grave in the hinterland village of Aposkahoy the remains of four people, some of them hogtied and buried with their personal belongings.

Melmida said a former rebel tipped off the military on the location of the mass grave. The NPA reportedly executed 36 people found guilty by its “kangaroo court” sometime in 1986.

Melmida said another mass grave was discovered last April 21 in Barangay Farmbugas, also in Claveria, where the skeletal remains of 12 people were unearthed.


Abus demand P30-M ransom for trader, child

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Abus demand P30-M ransom for trader, child

Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group demanded P30 million in exchange for the release of a Chinese businesswoman and her daughter, snatched last week in Isabela City, Basilan, security officials said yesterday.

The ransom demand was intercepted by the Task Force Dalby, which was formed to handle the safe recovery of Dina Lim Eraham, 45, and her 19-year-old daughter Yahong Lim Tan, said Senior Inspector Joseph Ortega, spokesman for the Police Regional Office 9.

The victims were snatched at their karaoke bar in Isabela City by at least 10 armed men in camouflage uniforms Thursday night. The gunmen took the victims on two pumpboats and escaped toward Malamawi Island off Isabela City.

The ransom demand was reportedly relayed by the kidnappers to the victims’ family through a cell phone call on Saturday.

Authorities did not say whether the kidnappers imposed a deadline for the payment of the ransom.

Ortega said the Isabela City police has yet to identify the leader of the kidnappers, although one of them was identified through a police sketch.


Village chairman killed

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Village chairman killed

New People’s Army (NPA) members flagged down a village chairman and executed him for working as informant of the military Tuesday dawn in a barangay in Tigbao town, Zamboanga del Sur, police said.

The victim was identified as Jomer Cadino, chairman of Barangay Nangannagan, Tigbao, said Senior Police Inspector Joseph Ortega, Spokesman of Police Regional Office 9 (PRO) based in this city.

Investigation disclosed that Cadino, aboard his motorcycle service vehicle, was on his way to the town when he was flagged down by the rebels about 5 a.m. Tuesday and fired at several times with an M16 rifle.

Cadino died on the spot from several bullet wounds in the different parts of his body.

Ortega said police probers could not ascertain the motive of the execution except that it was learned the victim was active on intelligence work and a supporter of the government forces.


New army commander vows to uphold Bangsamoro peace process

From the Philippine Star (Mar 27): New army commander vows to uphold Bangsamoro peace process

Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, outgoing commander of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, shakes hand with his successor, Brig. Gen. Edmund Pangilinan (right) in the presence of Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri (middle) during a symbolic change of command at Camp Siongco in Maguindanao last Monday. (John Unson)

The new commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID)- whose  territory covers bastions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)- promised to uphold the tenets of the peace process in carrying out the unit’s security missions.

Brig. Gen. Edmund Pangilinan, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 1983, assumed on Monday as commander of 6th ID, replacing Major Gen. Romeo Gapuz, who was division commander for almost two years.

Gapuz, a member of the PMA’s Class ’81, officially retired on Monday from the military service, after serving as Army officer for more than three decades.

Gapuz relinquished his post to Pangilinan, in a symbolic rite at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, in the presence of local officials led by Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri.

Gapuz, who became popular for his backchannel peace dialogues with the MILF, said he is sure Pangilinan will continue the diplomatic programs he started while commander of the 6th ID, meant to help boost the goodwill between the government and the rebel group.

There has never been any single Army-MILF encounter in the territory of 6th ID since 2009.

Pangilinan, in a message during the turnover rite, said he will see to it that organic units of the 6th ID and other military organizations under its tactical control will all religiously adhere to the 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF.

The 6th ID has jurisdiction over major MILF enclaves in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, known bastions of the rebel group, which signed a final peace deal with government, the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, on March 27, 2014.

“I will uphold the primacy of the peace process in managing the security functions of the 6th ID,” Pangilinan said.

Iriberri was accompanied to Camp Siongco for the event by his subordinate officers, among them the spokesman of the Philippine Army Headquarters, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato.

The turnover program, held at the grandstand of Camp Siongco, was also attended by representatives of the MILF, and  the joint Coordinating Committee of the Cessation of Hostilities, which is comprised of combined representatives of the rebel group, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

Pangilinan said he would also focus on programs that can hasten the reconciliation of feuding clans in the 6th ID’s area of coverage.


Aquino mulls over Itlos options vs China’s aggression in West Philippine Sea

From the Manila Standard Today (May 27): Aquino mulls over Itlos options vs China’s aggression in West Philippine Sea

PRESIDENT Aquino indicated on Tuesday his determination to press for international action against China’s continuing aggression in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) in blatant violation of an existing Declaration of Conduct (DOC) on the South China Sea, citing ongoing Chinese construction of runway facilities at Mabini Reef that it recently occupied, which is well within Philippines territory.
“In putting up these facilities, the reclamation work they are doing at Mabini Reef really constitutes violation of both the spirit and the letter of the DOC, which was agreed upon in 2002,” Mr. Aquino said in an interview after attending the 216th Philippine Navy anniversary rites at a naval base in Palawan off the West Philippine Sea.
Mr. Aquino added: “And we brought this up and we will be bringing it up again before Asean and probably also in Itlos.” He was referring to the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) United Nations’s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
The Philippines government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, earlier filed a case to assert sovereignty over its territories, backed by 10 volumes of evidence called “memorial,” before the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, which handles issues under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
On Tuesday President Aquino again invoked specific provisions of the DOC that China violated in building structures at Mabini Reef.
He read to reporters the DOC’s fifth declaration which states that “the parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited island, reef, shoals, case and other features and to handle their differences into a constructive manner.”
Mr. Aquino said the ongoing Chinese construction projects at Mabini Reef are “a big violation” of the DOC. “No matter how good a lawyer is, one cannot defend the violation,” he said citing the prohibition against “inhabiting presently uninhabited” territories.
He recalled that during the recent Asean leaders dialogue in Myanmar (formerly Burma), he joined Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam in expressing “alarm” over increasing incidents of Chinese aggression in the region.
 “We are alarmed by this and we join calls to abide by the provisions clearly stated in the DOC to avoid increasing tension in the region,” Aquino said, lamenting that “while everybody is saying we will conform to international law and everyone is talking about peaceful negotiations, we are getting worried why these developments are still happening,” referring to the reported Chinese encroachments in neighboring territories.
“But having said that, of course, we are watching everything that is happening. We are getting the right lessons and these are being studied by our Armed Forces, the Coast Guard and other concerned agencies who are looking at possible scenarios and appropriate responses,” Aquino assured. “Now, if I tell you the response, ‘like giving away the game plan to those who see things differently from us. So, let us just keep our contingency plans confidential for the meantime,” he said.


Navy upgrades base nearest West PH Sea

From ABS-CBN (May 27): Navy upgrades base nearest West PH Sea

[Video: President Aquino at the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Navy]

Aquino hopes for better ties with China

MANILA - The Philippine Navy prepares to defend the West Philippine sea as it modernizes its command post nearest the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) amid a latest skirmish between Vietnam and China off the Paracel Islands.

President Aquino spoke in an interview following his attendance in the 116th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy Open Grounds, Headquarters Naval Forces West Naval Station Carlito Cunanan Barangay Macarascas, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Tuesday.

In his speech during the ceremony, Aquino said, "ang pagpapaunlad ng mga kagamitan natin dito ay pag papaigting din sa seguridad ng ating teritoryo at ng ating mga kapwa Pilipino sa mga lugar na ito."

He spoke ahead of the demonstration of the Naval Forces West’s capabilities.

Aquino said, “Mamaya lang masasaksihan natin ang mga pinaunlad na kakayahan ng inyong command center, na pihadong higit pang magbibigay lakas sa inyo. Kabilang dito ang kapasidad para sa weather and media monitoring at isang asset tracking system na may kakayahang tumukoy ng galaw at direksyon ng mga sasakyang pandagat sa loob ng mahigit sa tatlumpung kilometrong coverage.

"Bukod pa ito sa downlink system, at satellite-based maritime surveillance system na magpapaigting pa sa pagtatanod sa ating karagatan at magbubunsod ng mas mabilis at wastong pagresponde.

"Nariyan din ang video teleconferencing system na tutulong sa pakikipagugnayan ng command center ng Naval Forces West at sa headquarters ng Philippine Navy at sa iba pa nating units na may ganito ring teknolohiya, ang mga pagbabago pong ito bahagi lang ng malawakan nating stratehiya upang makamit ang mga layunin ng ating Philippine Navy.”

The base has been the launching pad of the Navy's activities in the South China Sea.

It has also been eyed for coverage by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, thus potentially putting the US smack in the middle of the South China Sea disputes.

The EDCA will allow increased rotational presence of US forces in Philippine bases in exchange for capability upgrades of the Philippine military.

Us President Barack Obama said during his recent state visit to the Philippines that the US' goal is not to contain china.


Aquino, however, maintained he is still hoping for better relations with China.

"RG, parang not everything I do is...para bang related to China. Hindi porke't kumain ako sa Chinese restaurant ibig sabihin naghahabol ako ng better relationship with them, although I want better relationship with them.
"So this is our closest geographical facility to an area where we have a lot of interest. And instead of delaying the ability of our forces to respond to anything, be it a man-made or a natural disaster, then it is logical to put them in a position where they can address the particular issue at the soonest possible time. So that's the basic issue. It is in furtherance of our interest rather than in anticipation of anybody else's acts."

In his own speech, Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Jeses Millan said there are real and present threats to the West Philippine Sea.

“The menace of various threats to national security and territorial integrity are real and present. The geopolitical landscape changes with the latest developments and volatile situation in the region," he said.

Aquino's remarks come amid latest reports of a skirmish between China and Vietnam in the Paracel Islands. Weeks ago, riots broke out in Vietnam to protest a Chinese oil rig. The discovery led to the collision of a Chinese and Vietnamese ship.

"Kakatanggap ko lang nung balita, ang tinukoy ay isa pero hindi pa natin naco-confirm, so naghihintay ako ng confirmation. Pero doon pa lang sa Myanmar sa ASEAN na dialogue, sumali na tayo doon sa page-express ng alarm sa nangyayari. At ang masakit nga nito noong bumisita sa atin si Prime Minister Tan Dung ng Vietnam, iyong 80 na ibinabahagi sa atin na report, 80 barko raw ng China na nandoon sa kasalukuyang nagbabantay ng kanilang oil rig at nagkakaroon ng tensyon ay tumaas pa raw ang bilang na 120 o 130 kung tama ang tanda ko.”

Aquino was referring to the incident weeks ago when the Chinese oil rig was discovered off the Paracel Islands. This was raised in the 4th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar.

“Naaalarma tayo dito at sumama tayo sa panawagan na meron nga tayong usapan, nandun na nga sa DOC [Declaration of Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea], iyong sa pagi-increase ng tension. Nandun nga iyong lahat nagsabi, 'will conform to international law,' lahat nagsabi ng 'peaceful negotiations' at tayo ay nababahala na bakit ganito ang nangyaring mga developments.

"Pero having said that, siyempre pinapanood natin lahat ang nangyayari diyan. Kinukuha natin 'yung mga tamang leksyon at pinag-aaralan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas, Coast Guard at ibang mga concerned agencies na kumbaga, tinitingnan ang mga possible na scenarios at ano ang appropriate response natin.

"Ngayon, kung sasabihin ko naman iyong mga response natin, e parang ibinigay ko na iyong game plan natin sa mga hindi parehong pananaw sa atin. So palagay ko ay pabayaan natin nakalihim muna iyong ating mga contigency plans."

Aquino also said he was not surprised that a constitutional challenged has been raised against the EDCA before the Supreme Court.

"That was expected. It was expected that there will be quarters that would file it, and true to form, most of those that I saw in the papers today that filed were the ones expected to file."

The Ayungin Shoal standoff, China's reclamation at Mabini Reef, and Chinese incursions Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Island group have been raised by the Philippines in an arbitration case against China before an arbitration tribunal.

Aquino has thumbed down the idea of following China’s lead and building in uninhabited islands to assert claims.

”Well, we agreed to it in [ASEAN in] 2002 at isa sa provisions diyan, if I am not mistaken, iyong sa [nasa iyo ba iyong DOC?] Anyway, nandun sa DOC not to inhabit presently uninhabitable islands.

"So, pag nagtayo tayo ng facilities doon to inhabit a previously uninhabitable, pati tayo are guilty of violating the agreement that we all agreed to. So I don't think that is the proper way...

"So, pagtatayo nitong mga facilities nila [China], iyong pagre-reclaim doon sa Mabini, e talagang mukha namang violation of both the spirit and the letter of the DOC, which was agreed upon in 2002. And we brought this up and we will be bringing it up again before ASEAN and probably also in ITLOS [International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea].”

A non-binding Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea has failed to stem rising tensions in the area.

The anniversary on Tuesday had as its theme “Protecting our Territory, Safeguarding our Future." It is the first time in Philippine Navy history to hold its anniversary in the naval operating forces. This is to showcase the Philippine Navy's future plans of developing and improving its forward operating base in Palawan, facing the West Philippine Sea.

The anniversary celebration also saw the awarding of deserving officers, enlisted personnel, civilian employees and partners of the Philippine Navy in nation-building, maritime cooperation and other concerns.


In the same ceremony, Aquino paid tribute to the Philippine Navy and Marines who outmaneuvered Chinese ships trying to block them from restocking a naval outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

During the Araw ng Kagitingan rites last month, the chief executive already paid tribute to the Marines who stood their ground at the Ayungin Shoal for a few months despite harassment by Chinese ships of restocking missions.

The Ayungin Shoal standoff, China's reclamation at Mabini Reef, and Chinese incursions Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Island group have been raised by the Philippines in an arbitration case against China before an arbitration tribunal.


Lt. Jovy G. Iringan, PN - Distinguished Aviation Cross
Lt. Ferdinand B. Gato, PN -Distinguished Navy Cross
LTJG Sherwin A. Bulahan, PN -Distinguished Navy Cross
Lt. Col. Rodel G. Martires PN(M) - Distinguished Navy Cross
TSG Olegario Q. Paredes PN(M) - Bronze Cross Medal
Hon. Rogelio L.“Babes” Singson [Secretary, DPWH] - Plaque of Appreciation
Hon. Eugenio B.“Jun” Bito-Onon, Jr. [Mayor, Municipality of Kalayaan, Palawan - Plaque of Appreciation
Atty. Emmanuel S. Caluyo [Solicitor I, Office of the Solicitor General] - Plaque of Appreciation