Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Army foils bombing attempt in Pikit

From the Philippine Star (May 28): Army foils bombing attempt in Pikit

Army bomb experts defused Tuesday night a bomb found inside a crowded videoke pub in Pikit town in the province.

The improvised explosive device was fashioned from a live 60 MM mortar projectile rigged with a battery-operated blasting device attached to a mobile phone.

Rene Labanon, owner of a small store nearby, said the three men that brought the IED inside the establishment even bought cigarettes from him before fleeing,  leaving a bag containing the IED inside the videoke pub.

Labanon immediately alerted authorities, enabling them to clear the area and deactivate the IED.

The incident was preceded by two roadside bombings in another barangay in the same town two weeks earlier.

No one was hurt in the two bombings, but the attack caused  panic among local folks.

MILF: MILF Trainees at Hiroshima University talk with JICA on peacebuilding

From the MILF Website (May 28): MILF Trainees at Hiroshima University talk with JICA on peacebuilding

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Trainees for the Hiroshima Peacebuilding Human Resource Development Project for the Bangsamoro Government are slated for discussion about peaceuilding practices and initiatives with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the Hiroshima University today.
The prestigious training is a month-long project of JICA and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in collaboration with the Hiroshima University and Hiroshima Prefecture Government.

The eight trainees for the Training were selected by the MILF leadership from the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), Office of the Chief of Staff – BIAF, Office of the MILF Political Committee, Social Welfare Committee (SWC) of the MILF Central Committee, and Dawah of the MILFCentral Committee.

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Head Office in Hiroshima Headed by Madame Mihoko Kumamoto and Institute for Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) are also tapped for some assistance.

Earlier, Madame Komamoto and Berin Mckenzie of UNITAR Hiroshima gave lectures about United Nations, and on Managing Changes, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development.

The Training Director for this Hiroshima Peacebuilding Human Resource Development Project is Prof. Yoshida Usamo of the Faculties of Social Science and Law of the Hiroshima University. He is being assisted by Meg Kagawa of the Hiroshima University.

Prof Yoshida stressed the Training is principally intended to help in the capacity development of the Bansgamoro in the field of good governance and public administration under the principle of the decentralization of powers and resources being measured by the best satisfaction of the residents in the delivery of basic services.

Distinguished personalities and professors from the Hiroshima Prefecture Government and Hiroshima University, respectively, gave lectures that epitomize the effective and remarkable translation of the both the academic and theoretical principles of good governance, public administration and peoples participation into actual endeavor.

Visits to the UNESCO World Heritage – Miyajima Shrine and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (the site where the atomic bomb was dropped during the World War II) were also organized.

The MILF trainees composed the First Batch. The application for the Second Batch of Trainees are already opened, screening and selection process shall be undertaken in July to August and in September they will go to Hiroshima University for a month-long training as well. The Third and Final Batch Training shall be in early next year. Interested applicants including Non-Moros can go to the Office of the Project Assistance Team co-located at the Office of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS) at Campu Muslim in Cotabato City. 

The MILF Trainees conveyed the utmost gratitude of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people to the Government of Japan and its people for the strong support and for the GPH – MILF Peace Process and the establishment of the Bansgamoro Government as envisioned in 2016.

MILF: OPAPP Secretary Deles stresses inclusiveness of CAB

Posted to the MILF Website (May 28): OPAPP Secretary Deles stresses inclusiveness of CAB

During a solidarity lunch meeting with members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) headed by Chairman Mohagher Iqbal and representatives from the sector of the indigenous people on Friday, May 23, 2014 at EDSA-Shangrila Hotel in Mandaluyong City, Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Advises on the Peace Process (OPAPP) stressed the inclusiveness of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)saying that it has always been about protecting the rights of all Filipinos in Mindanao, including the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs).

“Inclusivity has been and will always be at the heart and core of the Bangsamoro agreement,” Deles said as quoted by reporters during the meeting. She emphasized that “the CAB upholds and protects the rights and welfare of everyone” and ensures broad representation and participation of all sectors, groups, and tribes in the future Bangsamoro autonomous government.

The CAB signed on March 27, 2014 at the ground of the Presidential Palace in Manila is considered as the final political settlement between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It will put an end to the more than 40-year old bloody conflict that cost the lives of more than a hundred thousand people and displaced about 400 thousands native inhabitants of the region since the revolutionary war started in 1968.

On his part, BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal said that they have ensured the inclusion of IP concerns in the draft law. He discussed some provisions which include among others: the right of the IPs for native titles and respect to indigenous customs and traditions, justice systems, and political structures; right to an equitable share in the revenues from utilization of resources in their ancestral land; right to free and prior and informed consent; right to political participation including at least two reserved seats for the IPs in the parliament; right to basic services; and right to freedom of choice to self-identity.

Iqbal thanked the commissioners who represent IPs in the BTC, namely Froilyn Mendoza and Melanio Ulama, and IP’s advocating for IP concerns as he called on IP stakeholders and champions to continue the advocacy towards the passage of the BBL.

Deles lauded “the commitment of the BTC to ensure the recognition and active provisions with respect to the rights of indigenous people in the prospective Bangsamoro" and cited its efforts in creating a “Task Force for IP concerns.”

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) and the European Union assist the work of the BTC Task Force for Indigenous Peoples. Also present at the solidarity lunch were Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco, officials of the ARMM, representatives from Congress, and Upi town Mayor Ramon Piang who was formerly an alternate member of the GPH Peace Panel representing the IPs.

Catamco cited her full support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will be deliberated in Congress and for the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the law. “The creation of the Bangsamoro is an achievement itself by every Moro and non-Moro Indigenous Peoples.”

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo also gave a video message for the occasion where he expressed confidence that issues of indigenous peoples have been “sufficiently covered and dealt with” in the draft basic law.

Deles announced that the Office of the President and the BTC will submit the draft law to Congress next month. “The Office of the President has been working overtime to complete its review of the draft for submission and approval of the President and even the President has already been going over the draft himself,” Deles said. (Source OPAPP website)

NPA statement served as warning for slain mayor

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 28): NPA statement served as warning for slain mayor

WHILE the death of Laak Mayor Rey Navarro remains a mystery to his family, friends and constituents, an earlier statement issued by the New People's Army (NPA) appeared to be a warning against the slain mayor.

Ka Aris Francisco, spokesperson for the NPA-Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command, in a statement e-mailed to Sun.Star on May 22, linked Navarro to illegal logging activities in his town.

"For as long as local reactionaries like Navarro continue to make big business out of the remaining forest resources, the NPA will impose measures to protect the environment and peasants, lumads and masses who suffer from the effects of rampant logging," Francisco said.

"Fascist troops who continue to violate human rights of peasants while plundering the forests are legitimate targets," he added.

The NPA accused Navarro as a part of the "Big 4 logging lords." This was denied by the slain mayor.

The rebels sent video clips to the media that allegedly showed "rampant logging in several interior roads in Barangay Ampawid and Barangay Andap."

"Proof that actual logging is taking place in Laak town," Francisco said.

The NPA also claimed that there were cutting of trees monitored in Barangay Titoy and Datu Davao.

Navarro previously said: "Laak was merely a transit point of trucks coming from the boundary of Agusandel Sur, site of logging operations."

Meanwhile, Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy condemned on Wednesday the murder of Navarro, whom he considered as the "black eye" of the province.

Politics, illegal logging eyed as motives in mayor's killing

From the Sun Star-Davao (May 28): Politics, illegal logging eyed as motives in mayor's killing

AUTHORITIES are looking into politics and illegal logging as possible motives behind the ambush-slay of a town mayor in Compostela Valley Wednesday morning.

Laak Mayor Reynaldo Navarro, 62, on board a white Montero Sport with plate number SHE-663, was on his way to Tagum City when six armed men riding in two motorcycles attacked him upon reaching Km. 9 at Purok 12 in Barangay Sigayen in Asuncion town in Davao del Norte around 8:20 a.m.

Two of the attackers were also killed when Navarro's security escorts retaliated.

Five were also wounded in the incident, including the mayor's driver, identified as Timitilito Pacano; his security escorts Police Officer 3 (PO3) Glen Ochoco and PO1 Rey Leones of the Laak Municipal Police Station; and two civilians identified as Crispolo Patajo Sr. and Paquito Tonocante.

The gun battle lasted for 20 minutes. Authorities recovered from the crime scene M16 and M4 rifles.

"We could not yet conclude anything as of this moment. But we will look into all the possible angles of his death (including politics and illegal logging activities in Laak). Let the authorities conduct further investigation," said Compostela Valley Provincial Police Office (CVPPO) Director Abraham Rojas.

Citing an initial investigation conducted by Asuncion police, Rojas said Navarro was declared dead on arrival at Tagum Doctors Hospital.

"Two of the six attackers were also killed during the encounter after his [Navarro] security escorts retaliated," he said.

Rojas said the mayor had been receiving several threats through text messages and phone calls.

Navarro, former vice governor of Compostela Valley, is serving his last term as Laak mayor.

Members of the Asuncion Municipal Police Station and Laak Municipal Police Station with troops from the Army's 60th and 55th Infantry Battalion were immediately deployed to conduct further investigation, pursuit operation, and random checkpoint in the area.

Newly-installed PRO-Davao Director Wendy Garcia Rosario, meanwhile, said he will visit the area and meet with the provincial police personnel in relation to the incident.

In a separate interview, Army's 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Ernest Carolina could not confirm those behind the ambush, though early this month, the mayor was tagged as one of the alleged "Big 4 Logging Lords" in Compostela Valley.

The accusation was made after the rebels' captured Sergeant Jeric Bucio Curay of the 72nd Infantry Battalion last month. The NPA's Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-Regional Command earlier warned Navarro to submit to its revolutionary government's total log ban policy.

Navarro, however, denied any involvement in illegal logging activities.
In an earlier interview with the mayor, he said he really had no idea on the accusations of the NPA. He was also puzzled as to why the communist group keeps on tagging him as one of the Big 4.

"Bakit naman ako palagi nila sinisisi sa mga illegal logging? At bakit ako lang ang pinag-iinitan? Bakit ang Laak lang? Ang kahoy na pinuputol ay nanggagaling sa bundok. Wala dito sa Poblacion at hindi naman ako, kundi sila ang may control sa kabundukan," Navarro said in a text message to Sun.Star Davao dated May 26.

"Ang hiling ko lang sa kanila hulihin nila ang mga tao at kagamitan sa paglogging, tingnan nila kung nakikialam nga ba ako sa gawain nila ng sa gayon ay mapatunayan nila kung sangkot nga ako sa illegal na nangangahoy, na kapag natatanong ay nagsasabi na may basbas daw ng NPA ang kanilang operasyon," Navarro added.

But NPA's Comval-North Davao spokesperson Aris Francisco said Navarro is misrepresenting himself when he denied being part of the "Big 4 Logging Lords."

He added that a raw footage taken by their comrades showed rampant logging in several interior roads in villages Ampawid and Andap in Laak.

"This is a proof that actual logging is taking place in Laak. Navarro attempted to absolve himself by saying that Laak is merely a transit point of trucks coming from the boundary of Agusan del Sur, site of logging operations," Francisco said.

DND troubled by China's sinking of Vietnamese boat

From the Sun Star (May 28): DND troubled by China's sinking of Vietnamese boat

THE Department of National Defense (DND) said Wednesday that it is troubled by China's actuation to sink a Vietnamese fishing boat at the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

"We are troubled and wary of this incident. This is an indication of the volatility of the situation," said DND spokesman Peter Paul Galvez in a phone interview.

Galvez said the incident also highlights the need to exert efforts to avoid such incidents, including the signing of a Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea, a follow-up to the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

"This further highlights the need to have efforts to avoid such incidents and accidents at sea. That is why the Philippines, in particular the DND, is pursuing the shared protocols of interaction and Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, code of conduct and not a DOC," he said.

The Philippines is also locked in a territorial dispute with China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei over the oil and minerals rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China has turned aggressive in its claims over the past years.

Asked if the defense department is concerned China would also sink Filipino fishing vessels in the disputed region, Galvez said: "That's why we are wary...It's hard to issue a categorical statement and warn all (Filipino) fishermen."

Pressed what would the DND do to protect Filipino fishermen, Galvez said: "We'll continue to be vigilant. It's hard to issue a statement this early as it may cause panic to our fishermen."

Top security officials earlier that said they are not sending Navy ships in the Spratlys so as not to heighten the the tension with China.

6th Infantry Division sa Mindanao may bagong hepe na

From the Mindanao Examiner Website (May 28): 6th Infantry Division sa Mindanao may bagong hepe na

Pormal ng umupo bilang bagong hepe ng 6th Infantry Division sa Maguindanao province si Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan at nangako ito na lalong pagiibayuhin ang magandang tiwala ng publiko sa militar.
Pinalitan kamakailan ni Pangilinan si Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz at mismong si Lt Gen. Hernando Iriberri, ang hepe ng Philippine Army ang siyang nanguna sa naturang okasyon na dinaluhan rin ng mga alkalde ng naturang lalawigan at kalapit na lugar.

Sinabi naman ni 6th Infantry Division spokesman, Col. Dickson Hermoso na lubos ang pasasalamat ni Gapuz sa suportang ipinamalas ng publiko sa kanyang liderato.

Si Pangilinan ay nagtapos sa Philippine Military Academy at miyembro ng Class 83, samantalang Class 81 naman si Gapuz.

“The presence of so many people from all walks of life witnessing the ceremony is a manifestation that 6th Infantry Division had won the peace in its area of responsibility,” ani Hermoso sa Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper.

Nasasakupan ng 6th Infantry Division ang lalawigan ng Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.


Ang bagong hepe ng 6th Infantry Division sa bayan ng Awang sa Maguindanao province na si Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan kasama sina Philippine Army chief Lt Gen. Hernando Iriberri at Maj. Gen. Romeo Gapuz. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Mark Navales)

President Aquino leads Philippine Navy’s 116th Anniversary in Palawan

From the Office of the President of the Philippines (May 27): President Aquino leads Philippine Navy’s 116th Anniversary in Palawan

President Benigno S. Aquino III hailed the Philippine Navy’s contribution to the country’s defense and security, as he led its 116th anniversary celebration at the Naval Station Carlito Cunanan here Tuesday.

“Nakasalalay sa dagat ang ugnayan ng ating mga kapuluan, at malaki ang papel na inyong ginagampanan dito,” the President said in his speech during the event.

“Kaya naman, nararapat lang na alagaan at bigyang-lakas ng estado kayong mga kawal na siya ring kumakalinga sa buong sambayanan.”

Holding the anniversary celebration in Puerto Princesa is meaningful, he said, noting that the headquarters of the Naval Forces West (NFW) is a major operational command of the Navy that patrols the West Philippine Sea.

The command is at the frontline of the country’s territorial defense operations in the Kalayaan Group of Islands, making it necessary for the government to enhance the facility, he said.

The President indicated that every peso spent in the modernization and improvement of the facility will in turn give the people the peace of mind they want.

He also seized the opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women of the Navy who continue to do their job for the benefit of the people.

“Sa bumubuo ng ating Philippine Navy, tumitindig ako sa harap ninyo ngayon bilang kinatawan ng sambayanang Pilipino na nagsasabing: Maraming, maraming salamat sa bawat isa sa inyo,” he said.

“Muli, isang malugod na pagbati sa ikasandaan at labing-anim na anibersaryo ng Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas.”

This year’s anniversary celebration has the theme, “Protecting Our Territory, Safeguarding Our Future”.

Troops fear 'miscalculation' in next mission to Ayungin

From Rappler (May 28): Troops fear 'miscalculation' in next mission to Ayungin

The next mission to Ayungin might be more difficult, soldiers tell Rappler

AYUNGIN MARINES: Lieutenant Mike Pelotera and fellow Marines deployed to the West Philippines Sea. Photo by Rappler

AYUNGIN MARINES: Lieutenant Mike Pelotera and fellow Marines deployed to the West Philippines Sea. Photo by Rappler

It's been two months since the Philippine Navy evaded a Chinese Coast Guard blockade that trapped 9 Marines in the disputed Ayungin Shoal, a much-publicized incident in the high seas that culminated in the successful rotation of Philippine troops there.

Lieutenant Mike Pelotera is back on land, was able to spend time with his family, is sporting a new haircut, and has shaved his beard. But his thoughts remain in BRP Sierra Madre, the grounded Philippine Navy ship that has served as an unconventional naval detachment in the West Philippines Sea.

He is worried that the next rotation mission to Ayungin Shoal would be more difficult.

"'Yung pag-re supply at pagpalit sa amin successful. Medyo may worry kami kaunti dahil doon sa epekto ng nangyari sa nakaraan. Sana this coming resupply o reprovisioning, sana maging successful din yung outcome nung operations pagdating sa palitan ng tropa," Pelotera said. (The previous resupply and rotation mission was successful. We worry about its impact. We hope that the next reprovisioning and rotation miision will also be successful.)

Rappler spoke with Pelotera on Tuesday, May 27, during the 116th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Navy in the Naval Forces West headquarters in Ulugan Bay in Palawan. President Benigno Aquino III awarded troops and personalities who have have helped protect the country's maritime claims.

Fear of 'miscalculation'

Security officials who spoke with Rappler on condition of anonymity said they fear "miscalculations" at sea.

The next rotation would test how far China will go in driving away the Philippines from the shoal, according to one officer interviewed by Rappler.

"China will have to stand their ground. They will have to be more aggressive," he said.

Marines are normally deployed there for 3 months. But it's not normal times. Pelotera and 8 others were trapped there for 5 months, forcing the headquarters to airdrop essential supplies.

China has accused the Philippine government of reneging on its supposed earlier commitment in relation to Ayungin in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which Beijing calls the Ren'ai Reef.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei earlier said the Philippines, in 1999, made an "unequivocal commitment to China on many occasions that it would tow away the ship" grounded in Ayungin.

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs has not categorically denied China's claim that it agreed to pull out of Ayungin in 1999. But it reiterated that Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf over which the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

Rising tension

The situation in the South China Sea continues to get worse.

Following the Philippines’ report that China is reclaiming land in Mabini Reef, Vietnam has also accused China of ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel. Water cannon attacks and blockades have also been a common sight in the disputed seas.

There is no saying how long the current batch of Philippine Marines is going to stay at sea. Even in peaceful times, deployment is punishing because of the heat, limited supply of food and drinking water, and, above all, loneliness.

Filipino Marines and sailors deployed in the disputed waters get special training. They are prepared for worst-case scenarios.

Buhay ng sundalo ay may halong hirap. Hanggang nandito ang armed foces natin willing kaming itaya ang buhay naming madepensahan lang ang terriroryo natin," Pelotera said. (The life of a soldier is rife with difficulties. Your armed forces are willing to give up our lives to defend our territory.)

One of the weakest in Asia, the Philippine military doesn't stand a chance against China's military might. But their duties are clear, said Colonel Alvin Parreño, superintendent of the Marine Corps Training Center.

Delay, if not repel

"They are ready to at least delay, if not repel, the enemy and give warning to the mainland," said Parreño.

“Our men are ready for any contingencies that might come. They are ready to give up their lives and what is important is they can perform their duty," he added.

As facilities are upgraded and modern assets are acquired, Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Millan said wars – if the situation comes to that – are won by men and not by machines.

"They are our best weapons. In the distant and solitary posts out there in the West Philippines Sea, where the only frequent visitors of our marines and sailors are loneliness and uncertainty, our country’s best hope that [they will] stand their ground hinges on [their] indomitable courage and strong resolve to serve [their] country.”

PH contingency plan amid sea row up

From the Manila Standard Today (May 29): PH contingency plan amid sea row up

President Benigno Aquino III said on Wednesday that the government is drawing up a contingency plan amid possible more violent incursions in disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Aquino made the statement following the sinking of a Vietnamese boat that was rammed by a Chinese vessel near a controversial oil rig near the disputed Paracel Island.

“We are closely monitoring the developments. We are gathering all the lessons we have learned. Our Armed Forces of the Philippines, Coast Guard, and other concerned agencies are looking at possible scenarios and what our appropriate responses should be,” the President said.

“But if we make public our responses, that is like giving up our game plan for those whose beliefs are not aligned with ours. So we should keep secret our contingency plans,” he added.

Vietnam said some 40 Chinese boats surrounded one of its ships on Monday before one of them rammed it. All 10 Vietnamese fishermen on board were rescued.

But a commentary which appeared in China’s Xinhua News Agency accused Vietnam of “increasingly aggressive and dangerous acts’ against Chinese oil drilling in Paracels, which China refers to as Xisha islands.

“Such recklessness must stop,” the commentary said, while accusing Vietnamese of making “irresponsible and wild accusations” against China, “which could encourage and embolden Vietnamese activists into undertaking even more aggressive acts.”

The article explained that the incident was a “result of a kamikaze-style attack (by the Vietnamese) as the boat deliberately ran into Chinese waters and collided with one of the vessels protecting the oil rig.”

It added that the “the Chinese side displayed restraint and issued warnings that were ignored by the Vietnamese boat.”

As this developed, Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh told Vietnam’s state-owned VNS news agency that that China has moved its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 to a new site on Wednesday, but said it was “still completely within Viet Nam’s continental shelf.”

Binh added that the new position of the rig still violated Viet Nam’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

Binh was responding to an announcement on Monday by the China Maritime Safety Administration that the rig had been moved from 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude to 15 degrees 33 minutes 38 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 34 minutes 62 seconds east longitude.

“Viet Nam resolutely opposes the action and requests China to immediately stop the rig’s operation, withdraw it and escort service ships from Viet Nam’s waters, and not repeat such acts,” he said.

“Viet Nam has full legal foundations and historical evidence to assert its undeniable sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.”

Also on Wednesday, the Vietnamese Consulate Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Ha Noi and handed them a diplomatic note protesting against all of China’s recent actions.

Binh said China used force to occupy the Hoang Sa archipelago and its action violated international law.

As of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, the rig was moved four nautical miles east-northeast at a speed of 4.5 nautical miles per hour.

This was revealed by the deputy head of the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department, Ha Le, at a press conference in Ha Noi.

At 10am, the rig was anchored at a new site, 25 nautical miles east-southeast of Tri Ton Island in Viet Nam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, 23 nautical miles east-northeast of its previous location.

Vietnamese observation vessels have maintained their presence about six nautical miles from the rig.

Two Chinese planes constantly swept over the rig as it was moving.
China also deployed larger and higher capacity vessels operated by military and marine surveillance units.

Native tribe petitions army to stay in Abra

From the Manila Standard Today (May 28): Native tribe petitions army to stay in Abra

More than 1,000 members of the Binongan tribe have petitioned military authorities to retain the army battalion assigned in the province to maintain peace and order in the area, Mayor Alejo Domingo said on Tuesday.

He said tension was high in the town following the killing of tribal leader Ama Licuben Ligiw, a former communist rebel, who has returned to the folds of the law, and his two sons last March 3, and both security forces and the communist New People’s Army (NPA) have been blaming each other for the murders.

“There are threats from the NPA because of the unresolved killing,” Domingo said.

In their petition written in Ilocano titled “Pakaammo,” members of the Binongan tribe expressed support to the 41st Infantry Battalion and denied reports they complained of alleged military abuses in the area. The “Pakaamo” was issued during a meeting of the council of elders to thresh out problems caused by the Ligiw case.

Other than helping maintaining peace and order, the soldiers have been engaged in repair and rehabilitation of school buildings, construction of various community projects such as foot bridges, barangay halls, basketball court and day-care centers. The soldiers also perform a pivotal role in times of disasters.

The Abra Provincial Police Office challenged soldiers and the rebels to undergo lie detector test to get to the truth on who was behind the murders of the Ligiws and to settle the issue once and for all.

A police spokesman said the soldiers went through the polygraph test, but members of the leftist Kakailan Salkniban Tay Amin Naggapuan and the Cordillera Human Rights advocates refused to cooperate.

In Isabela province in Cagayan Valley, 69 former members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) who have been integrated into the armed forces, completed six months of rigid military training.

The group was the last batch of former CPLA members to undergo training and they will be assigned to the 5th Infantry Division, Ifugao Gov. Dennis Habawel said.

The CPLA gave up their rebellion in 1986 after a new constitution provided for creation of an autonomous region in the Cordilleras.

Cotabato police awarded for bravery in NPA attack

From Rappler (May 28): Cotabato police awarded for bravery in NPA attack

15 policemen and women from the President Roxas municipal police station are awarded the PNP Medal of Bravery

KATAPANGAN. PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima (L) awards PO1 Razel S. Genzola the PNP Medal of Bravery at Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City on May 28, 2014. Photo courtesy of the PNP PIO

KATAPANGAN. PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima (L) awards PO1 Razel S. Genzola the PNP Medal of Bravery at Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City on May 28, 2014.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) awarded 15 policemen and women for their “courage and gallantry” in defending the President Roxas municipal police station from alleged New People’s Army (NPA) members.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima himself went to Mindanao on Wednesday, May 28, to lead the awarding rites at the Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City.

On May 20, over 100 suspected members of the NPA attacked the police station of the town of President Roxas in Cotabato.

A close quarter firefight ensued, resulting in the death of 5 alleged NPA members and an undetermined number of wounded. “[The NPA members] underestimated the readiness and dedication to duty of the outnumbered government forces,” said Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas in a previous statement.

The following were awarded the Medal of Bravery (Medalya ng Katapangan):
  • Senior Inspector Bernabe Rubio (President Roxas Municipal police chief)
  • Inspector Sherwin D. Panaguiton
  • Senior Police Officer 4 Arnold S. Nadela
  • Senior Police Officer 3 Larry J. Gregorio
  • Senior Police Officer 2 Isidro T. Guirhem
  • Senior Police Officer 1 Marivic D. Pedrola
  • Police Officer 3 Julius C. Dagpin
  • Police Officer 3 Michael Angelo B. Cariño
  • Police Officer 3 Rafael O. Carbon
  • Police Officer 2 Dennis A. Soledad
  • Police Officer 1 Raymund Niño P. Nuevo
  • Police Officer 1 Razel S. Genzola
  • Police Officer 1 Job Franklin D. Santos
  • Police Officer 1 Johnny Boy K. Lomotos
  • Police Officer 1 Roy Angelo B. Rasonabe
NEW EQUIPMENT. Purisima also turns over a new vehicle, assault riffles, ammunition, and cash assistance. Photo courtesy of the PNP PIO

NEW EQUIPMENT. Purisima also turns over a new vehicle, assault riffles, ammunition, and cash assistance. Photo courtesy of the PNP PIO

Rubio, who was wounded during the encounter, will also receive the PNP Wounded Medal (Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting) from the PNP Regional Office 12.

Purisima also led the turnover of a KIA 4x4 troop carrier, assault rifles and ammunition, as well as financial support for the police station.

Ex-Alex Boncayao Brigade member sworn in as 290th House lawmaker

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): Ex-Alex Boncayao Brigade member sworn in as 290th House lawmaker

A former member of the Alex Boncayao Brigade is the 290th legislator at the House of Representatives.

Abang Lingkod representative Joseph Stephen Paduano was sworn in by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Wednesday after the chamber received his certificate of proclamation from the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Abang Lingkod is a sectoral organization representing farmers and fisherfolk.

It participated in the May 2010 elections but failed to get the needed number of votes to have a seat in Congress. It was able to secure a party-list seat in the 2013 elections.

Militants sought the disqualification of the group as it allegedly represented a gun-for-hire organization supported by landed families in Negros Occidental.

Paduano is known as “Carapali Lualhati,” the national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), a communist urban hit squad that broke away from the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army.

The Comelec disqualified Abang Lingkod to run in the 2013 elections for failing to represent the marginalized sector but the Supreme Court later ruled in favor of the group.

When they were disqualified, the group took the case to the high tribunal, which stopped the Comelec from implementing the order against them.

Comelec maintained that Abang Lingkod should be disqualified. The group then went to the high court alleging that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion.

The high court allowed Abang Lingkod to participate in the elections while the case was pending before eventually ruling to compel Comelec to proclaim them.

In 2013, the group obtained 260,215 votes out of over-all 26,722,131 party-list votes, which entitled them a seat at the House of Representatives.

2 Reds killed in Samar clash

From Tempo (May 28): 2 Reds killed in Samar clash

Government forces killed two communist insurgents as fresh skirmishes broke out between soldiers and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Samar province.

This brings to 13 the number of NPAs killed in span of one week in separate military operations throughout the country.

Capt. Amado Gutierrez, spokesman for the Army’s 8th Infantry Division (8ID), said the latest encounter occurred around Monday at about 5:30 p.m. in Barangay Mahayag, Matuguinao town, Samar.

Gutierrez said troops from the Army’s 43rdIB were conducting peace and security operations in the area when they engaged a group of NPA insurgents.

The operation was launched in response to reports on the presence of armed rebels in the said barangay.

According to the 8ID spokesman, the troops were fired upon by the insurgents, prompting them to return fire.

After the firefight, government forces found the bodies of two NPA rebels. But Gutierrez said that based on accounts by villagers, the NPA suffered more casualties.

NPA amazon captured by soldiers after firefight in North Cotabato—Army

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 28): NPA amazon captured by soldiers after firefight in North Cotabato—Army

A New People’s Army commander has been captured during a brief firefight between soldiers and insurgents in Arakan, North Cotabato on Tuesday, the military announced Wednesday.

However, Col. Nilo Vinluan, commander of the 57th Infantry Battalion, declined to release the identity of the “NPA amazon” but added that she has been turned over to the police.

Vinluan said about 30 NPA rebels under Front 53 clashed with patrolling soldiers about 4 p.m.

As the rebels were retreating, the advancing soldiers caught up with the woman NPA leader and captured her.

“A handgun was also recovered from her possession,” he said.

Vinluan said no government troop was harmed in the clash.

The military has been conducting manhunt operations in the hinterlands of North Cotabato following the foiled NPA raid on the police station of Pres. Roxas on May 20.

Five rebels – including an NPA leader – were killed when the “undermanned” President Roxas police put up a fight.

“Her rights will be respected,” Vinluan said when asked if the captured rebel was being treated well.

The military said the NPA continues its activities in North Cotabato even after the foiled Pres. Roxas raid.

Lt. Col. Apollo Lamaton, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion based in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, said the rebels also appeared to have become desperate that they now plant explosives on roads that even civilians used.

Lamaton said four landmines were recovered in Barangay (village) Luna Sur in Makilala, North Cotabato.  Lamaton’s unit has jurisdiction over Makilala.

“If not for the civilians who relayed the information to our Peace and Development Team personnel in the area, there was a great possibility of innocent citizens dying in a landmine explosion,” he said.

AFP remains on heightened alert in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 27): AFP remains on heightened alert in N. Cotabato

Peacekeeping forces especially the military in North Cotabato remains  on heightened alert against possible retaliation of members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

This is according to Capt. Manuel Gatuz, spokesperson of the 57th Infantry Battalion, after the lawless elements’ rumored attack following their failed offensive on Tuesday dawn last week in President Roxas town.

“We have additional forces assigned to different villages particularly in President Roxas,” Gatuz noted adding that they also strengthen their close coordination with the PNP.

Further, he stated that they have issued hotline numbers for faster communication in case of emergency.

Meanwhile, the official emphasized that the situation in President Roxas are now in their control and that they are continuously monitoring the area.

On the other hand, Gatuz said that the military is steadfast in the promotion of the peace and development program in far-flung areas of the province to counter insurgency.

“Together with the local officials of the villages, we are going to different areas giving information to residents on the programs and projects of the government which they can avail of,” he explained.

Through this, Gatuz said that the villagers especially the indigenous people can also have the chance to express and extend their opinions and complaints to the government.

He also encouraged rebels to be one with the government instead of creating conflict as there are programs intended for them in case they surrender their firearms.

“There is the ‘Balik-baril Program’ of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) where lawless elements are granted with cash assistance in exchange of their firearm,” the official noted.

Gatuz is hopeful that with this, insurgency problem in the country will be solved because after all, the fighting forces are both Filipinos.

Army reminded of rule of pursuit

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 26): Army reminded of rule of pursuit

Army soldiers pursuing the fleeing rebels they had encountered Saturday in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, were reminded to strictly follow the rule of law and put the safety of the populace as their primary consideration.

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, made the reminder as he commended troopers of the 79th Infantry Battalion for their professionalism and observance of human rights in two successive encounters with about 24 members of the New People’s Army in Sitio Pitawa, Brgy. Santo Niño, Tanjay City.

The two encounters Saturday claimed the lives of four suspected rebels, whose bodies were left behind, and were retrieved at the encounter site by government troopers.

In a statement he issued, Baladad said 79IB troopers are now in close coordination with barangay officials to ensure the safety and security of residents, and for assistance in the burial of the slain rebels.

Two other rebels surrendered after the encounter. One of them, who was hit in the right foot, was immediately treated by members of the 79IB medical team. They were apprised about their constitutional rights, Baladad, said in a statement.

Army Cpl. Melbert Dapilaga also sustained a minor injury.

Recovered from the encounter site were an M-16 rifle, a Kenwood hand held radio, a bandolier of ammunition, assorted personal belongings and subversive documents.

Baladad thanked the residents of Brgy. Santo Niño in Tanjay City, for the information about the presence of an armed group in their place.

He said additional troops have been dispatched to the neighboring areas of the encounter site to run after the fleeing rebels, while members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives conducted an investigation at the scene of the incident.

Baladad added that their medical team has been placed on standby to help those injured NPA members who would seek for medical assistance.

Scout Rangers back in Negros Oriental

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 28): Scout Rangers back in Negros Oriental

The elite Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army is back in Negros island, but only as a small-size unit.

The 3rd Scout Ranger Company, that forms part of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, has been placed under the supervision of the 302nd Infantry Brigade in Negros Oriental, military records show.

The three other 1st SRB companies are presently deployed in Samar, following their successful operations against the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga September last year.

Its former commander, Lt. Col. Oriel Pangcog, who was awarded with Distinguished Conduct Star by President Benigno Aquino III, in recognition of his exemplary leadership displayed during the Zamboanga crisis, is now assigned at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Pangcog served as 1st SRB commander for one year and nine months.

The return of the Scout Rangers unit to Negros was requested by the 302nd Infantry Brigade, a source within the military said.

The 1st SRB had been assigned in Negros island for several years, before they were shipped to Zamboanga last year, to help address the hostage crisis.

PFC Ian Paquit, a member of the 3rd Scout Ranger Company, who was killed while saving his fellow Scout Ranger troopers in a fierce firefight with the MNLF fighters in Zamboanga, was awarded a Medal of Valor (posthumous), the highest military decoration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Noy open to new security alliance with US

From the Philippine Star (May 28): Noy open to new security alliance with US

President Aquino scans the West Philippine Sea during the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Ulugan Bay in Puerto Princesa City, home of the Naval Forces West. It was the first time that the Navy anniversary was celebrated in Palawan.

President Aquino is open to a new security alliance with the United States as embodied in the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

He said this when asked about the new “security architecture” in the Asia-Pacific region reportedly being eyed by the US with its strategic partners and allies, including the Philippines.

“We both want to be real in the sense that we will improve the inter-operability, capability of their most advanced forces and ours that is just trying to build up its capability,” Aquino told reporters yesterday in a chance interview following the celebration of the Philippine Navy’s 116th anniversary in Palawan.

The President said he is unperturbed by the petitions filed with the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the legality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US government.

The new security arrangement is being eyed as tensions over China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea continue to rise.

The STAR reported the plan to establish a new security alliance in the Asia-Pacific that would require the US to work with “spokes” including Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and possibly Singapore and Thailand.

The US is also convincing Malaysia to join the security architecture, which is part of Washington’s plan to rebalance its forces in Asia Pacific.

Three of the countries being eyed to join the alliance – Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines – are embroiled in territorial disputes with China.

Japan and China are claiming the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

China’s territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea covers about 90 percent of the potentially oil- and gas-rich area and overlaps with those of the Philippines and Malaysia as well as Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

Second petition vs EDCA

The SC yesterday received another petition to stop the implementation of EDCA and void it for being unconstitutional.

In a 101-page petition, militant groups led by Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining the government from implementing the deal forged by the Philippine and US governments.

It was the second petition filed against the defense pact signed on the day US President Barrack Obama visited the country last month.

The new petitioners raised the same arguments cited in the first petition filed on Monday by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada.

They alleged that EDCA is a basing agreement that needs the concurrence of the Senate under the Constitution – contrary to the claim of the administration that it is merely an executive agreement and not a treaty.

“EDCA clearly involves the entry of foreign troops and facilities in Philippine territory. EDCA authorizes US forces and contractors, vehicles, vessels and aircraft operated by or for US forces to have access to and conduct activities in agreed locations,” the lawmakers said through lawyer Rachel Pastores.

They cited Article XVIII Section 25 of the Constitution, which requires that foreign military bases, troops or facilities “shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate.”

The petitioners noted that the use of the term “agreed locations” clearly shows the real nature of the deal since it was used by the US government to describe a forward base.

They said EDCA allows prepositioning and deployment of US ships, aircraft and even missile systems.

“Deploying forces and materiel includes the launching of military drones, which have become not just surveillance planes but deadly offensive weapons. The Philippines has become a launching pad for covert or overt US military operations abroad,” read the petition.

They alleged that EDCA jeopardizes the sovereignty of the country as it gives “Americans blanket authority to take appropriate measures to protect US personnel and private contractors, which may include arrests and even the use of lethal force. The US is merely obliged to coordinate such forceful measures with the Philippine government.”

They said that EDCA also violates Article II Section 8 of the Constitution, which prohibits nuclear weapons in the country.

It contravenes national interest as it exempts US troops from payment of taxes and fees in use of public utilities, the petitioners said.

Under the EDCA, the US will be allowed to build structures, as well as preposition weapons, defense supplies and materiel, station troops, civilian personnel and defense contractors, transit and station vehicles, vessels and aircraft in the country for a period of 10 years.

The two militant lawmakers were joined by Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr., Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emi de Jesus, ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio, Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, film director Joel Lamangan, anti-bases activist Renato Constantino Jr. and members of the Makabayan Coalition led by Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment led by Clemente Bautista also joined the petition.

Bautista said past environmental violations of US troops in the Philippines were not addressed in EDCA such as the grounding of USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reef and dumping of toxic waste by a US Navy contractor in Subic Bay.

The filing of the new petition coincided with the 15th anniversary of the ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which the petitioners had also assailed before the SC.

2 ex-rebels shot dead in Alabang

From InterAksyon (May 28): 2 ex-rebels shot dead in Alabang

Two former rebels were shot dead Tuesday by a motorcycle-riding pair couple near the public market in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, city police chief Senior Supt. Allan Nobleza said Wednesday.

He identified the victims as George Acero and Romeo Dacles, former leaders of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB).

The two sustained bullet wounds in the back.

The RPA-ABB was a faction of the New People’s Army (NPA) that later entered into a peace agreement with the government. The NPA tagged the group as the liquidation squad of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that also served as the private army of political warlords.

DVIDS: Philippine and US Navy Seabee divers conduct Joint Training during Exercise Balikatan 2014

From DVIDS (May 27): Philippine and US Navy Seabee divers conduct Joint Training during Exercise Balikatan 2014

Philippine and US Navy Seabee divers conduct joint training during Exercise Balikatan 2014
Seabee Divers from the Philippine and US Navy Underwater Construction Teams practice underwater cutting techniques on surface prior to applying this skill underwater during exercise Balikatan in Sangley Pt, Philippines. Conducting mil-to-mil training during exercise Balikatan in the Philippines is the fourth of seven stops spanning six countries across the Pacific for members of Underwater Construction Team Two's Construction Dive Detachment Charlie. They'll be conducting inspection, maintenance and repair of various underwater and waterfront facilities along with participation in four PACFLT exercises during their six-month PACOM deployment. (Photo by Equipment Operator 1st Class (SCW/DV) Manuel Terrero)

Green Diver, back down the latter until your helmet’s awash” – “Make it hot” and “Switch off” were some common phrases one could hear echo from the combined Philippine and U.S. Navy dive side. During the month of May both nations partnered in support of Subject Matter Expert Exchanges involving port/harbor recovery scenarios during this year’s Exercise Balikatan.

Throughout nine grueling days of high heat and periodic down pours Underwater Construction Team TWO trained eight Philippine Navy UCT divers on topics including; surface supplied diving systems and procedures, underwater cutting and welding techniques and procedures, diving casualty management and neurological examinations. From the makeshift classroom to underwater employment all PN Divers received immensely valuable training that goes hand in hand with the strategic goals of Balikatan 2014.

“The Philippino divers are outstanding, resourceful and very attentive,” said Builder 2nd Class (SCW/DV) Joseph Hophan, the project supervisor for UCT TWO’s Construction Diving Detachment Charlie (CDD/C). “We had to take a crawl, walk, run approach to our mission here in the Philippines. Diving is already very dangerous, when you add cutting and welding to the equation your focus shifts toward safety and the steps we take to mitigate risk. They did great and learned at an impressive rate.”

Each PN diver was given a project to practice various types of welds. Once they felt comfortable with what they learned during topside (dry) welding they were put to the test underwater. From proper terminology, electrode placement and speed they were able to experience how hard it is to weld underwater.

“I don’t think they realized how hard it was going to be,” said Construction Mechanic Second Class (SCW/EXW/DV) Nathan Emmett, lead welder, for Construction Diving Detachment Charlie. “Once you call for power it was lights out, the visibility goes to zero. I was surprised at how fast they learned.”

Along with cutting and welding underwater for the first time, the PN UCT divers were able to gain valuable knowledge on side scan sonar techniques and procedures.

“We were able to use their system and train them on what they have,” said Builder Second Class (SCW/DV) David Madmon, Hydrographic Survey Technician, Construction Diving Detachment Charlie. “I think it resonates more when you’re able to train them on a piece of equipment they already own, when we leave they can continue to practice what we taught them.”

From deployment to recovery PN UCT and UCT TWO divers surveyed over 5km of ocean floor.

“At the end of the day they were able to locate, mark and measure any object that was found,” said Madmon.

The closing ceremonies were filled with the sounds of sea stories and the sharing of local cuisine. With another Balikatan in the record books UCT TWO continues to solidify the already concrete bond between our good friends and deepsea brothers of the PN UCT’s – Hooyah Seabees, Hooyah deep sea!

UCT TWO’s CDDC participated in exercise Balikatan in the Philippines on their fourth of seven stops spanning six countries across the Pacific for members of Underwater Construction Team Two's Construction Dive Detachment Charlie. They'll be conducting inspection, maintenance and repair of various underwater and waterfront facilities along with participation in four PACFLT exercises during their six-month PACOM deployment.

Soldiers clash with NPA anew in North Cotabato

From ABS-CBN (May 28): Soldiers clash with NPA anew in North Cotabato

Soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion clashed anew with members of the New People's Army (NPA) around 4 pm Tuesday at the boundary of Barangay Kitawtaw, Bukidnon and Barangay Napalico, Arakan, North Cotabato.

Lt. Col Nilo Vinluan, commander of 57 IB, said the clash is an NPA tactic to distract military operations not just in Arakan, but also in other towns in North Cotabato.

"Tinitingnan natin as isa sa mga taktika nila pero alam naman din kasi natin na they're very pressured ngayon," said Vinluan.

During the operation, a woman believed to be a member of the rebel group was captured and is now under the custody of the military for interrogation.

"Aalamin lang natin kung miyembro ba talaga sya ng NPA o ordinaryong sibilyan lang, kukunan sya ng statement tapos yung local government unit rin mismo ang mag de-determine kung resident ba talaga sya sa area," Vinluan added.

A garand rifle believed to be owned by an NPA fighter was recovered right after the encounter.

No casualty was reported on both sides.

Bomb experts defuse IED in Cotabato

From the Manila Bulletin (May 28): Bomb experts defuse IED in Cotabato

PIKIT, North Cotabato – Bomb experts defused on Tuesday night an improvised explosive device (IED) recovered in Poblacion here, police reports said.

Inspector Mautin Pangandigan, officer-in-charge of Pikit PNP, said the bomb was discovered next to the videoke house owned by a certain Rene Labanon located along Macapendeg Street, Poblacion, around 8 p.m., Tuesday.

Pangandigan said the IED was fashioned from 60-mm mortar with nine volts battery and a mobile phone as triggering device.

Witnesses told Pangandigan that three unidentified males who acted as customers of Rene Labanon’s videoke house left a ‘mysterious’ package just beside the store.

The EOD team led by Sgt. Edwin Regori confirmed it was an IED and had it disrupted and rendered safe, around 10:30 p.m., Tuesday.

Gazmin leads Flag Day rites in Cavite

From the Manila Bulletin (May 8): Gazmin leads Flag Day rites in Cavite  

Officials and residents are celebrating the 116th National Flag Day today with Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin as lead guest in simple ceremonies at Miguel Santo, Alapan II-A, a heritage site in this capital city.

The program at Alapan Heritage Park’s “Dambana ng Pambansang Watawat” (Shrine National Flag) will start at 8 a.m. with the “Battle of Alapan” reminiscing tableau, wreath-laying at “Inang Laya” (Mother of Freedom) Monument and hoisting of the Philippine giant flag as among highlight activities.

The “Battle of Alapan” on May 28, 1898 was one of the fierce encounters between the revolutionaries and Spanish soldiers in Cavite. History revealed that the new Philippine flag was first waved during the capture of some 270 Spaniards in the Alapan encounter.

The “Battle of Alapan” and the Flag Day commemoration is a rundown of activities to Philippine Independence Day celebration at Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit town on June 12.

Expected today at the Alapan Shrine program proper are local officials led by Mayor Emmanuel L. Maliksi and Third District (Imus) Representative Alexander L. Advincula, Governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla Jr., Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson; and former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata, president of Cavite Historical Society.

Tourism Officer Corazon Z. del Mundo said that some 2,000 residents are expected to witness the Shrine event with the theme “Pagsunod sa Yapak ng mga Dakilang Pilipino, Tungo sa Malawakan at Permanenteng Pagbabago.”

The Flag Day celebration has been set for the first time at the heritage park in Alapan II-A.

Del Mundo said the new Shrine in the three-and-a-half-hectare site is part of an ongoing project of the national government, through the initiatives of the National Historical Commission, Department of Tourism (DOT), local government and other concerned agencies.

The cost of the heritage park under a five-year-development plan is estimated at R300 million, according to Del Mundo.

In an interview, Del Mundo said that with the new Shrine and 60 feet “Inang Laya” Monument in place, a new museum, flag repository and crematorium would also be built at the park site under the plan.

The added historical attraction at the Shrine is the 30-meter (98 feet and 5 inches) tall flagpole that was extracted from Luneta Park last year and placed in a huge base in the area.

The famous giant flagpole at the Rizal Monument area was turned over to Imus City government on September 16, 2013 by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-South Manila District Engineering Office and Department of Tourism (DOT) National Park Development Committee after it was replaced by a new and taller one.

Philippine town mayor ambushed

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (May 28): Philippine town mayor ambushed

     Mayor Reynaldo Navarro

A southern Philippine town mayor accused by communist rebels as behind illegal logging activities was killed by gunmen in ambush Wednesday in Davao del Norte province, security officials said.

Officials said Mayor Reynaldo Navarro, of Laak town in Compostela Valley province, who was travelling with his group when gunmen attacked them near the village of Sagayen in Asuncion town. Several others were wounded in the attack.

“Mayor Navarro was killed in the ambush,” said Captain Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, adding soldiers from the 60th Infantry Battalion were sent to the area to help the local police force in tracking down the ambushers.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell heavily on the New People’s Army rebels who previously threatened the politician - along with two other active police officers and a retired policeman - for his alleged involvement in illegal logging activities in Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur and Davao del Norte.

“Thus, in the face of brazen abuse of power and wanton disregard of the environmental preservation, the NPA perseveres in imposing its total log ban campaign and carrying out punitive sanctions against the Armed Forces and the big logging lords.”

“To protect the remaining forest covers, campaign for reforestation, stop abusive large-scale logging, and secure the livelihood of the masses through sustainable communal farming, the NPA Sub-regional Command strongly enforces its total log ban policy,” said Aris Francisco, a rebel spokesman.

Just this month, rebels captured a government soldier, Corporal Rogelio Rosales, of the 60th Infantry Battalion, for protecting illegal logging in Davao del Norte’s Kapalong town. He was eventually freed to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who negotiated with the NPA for the safe release of the soldier.

Rosales, who yielded illegal drugs during his capture, was eventually removed by military service after he admitted using drugs during a routine debriefing shortly after his release.

Last month, the NPA arrested Sergeant Jeric Bucio Curay, a member of the 72nd Infantry Battalion, at a rebel checkpoint in Laak town. He was released also to Duterte two weeks later.

The rebels, who are fighting for a separate state in the country, also threatened to attack mining companies in Mindanao, especially those engage in open-pit and destructive mining practices, and those that encroach in ancestral domain of indigenous communities in the southern region.

Kidnapped Filipina trader freed in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (May 28): Kidnapped Filipina trader freed in Southern Philippines

Abu Sayyaf militants have freed Wednesday  a kidnapped Filipina trader in the southern province of Sulu after three months on captivity, police said.

Police said the 33-year old Sugar Diane Buenviaje was released in the town of Jolo where her sister waited and took a plane bound for Zamboanga City. It was unknown how much ransom her family paid the kidnappers.

Buenviaje was kidnapped in February in Mapun town in Tawi-Tawi province where her family owns Cagayan Enterprises and General Merchandise.

Police tagged the group of Alhabsi Misaya was behind Buenviaje’s kidnapping. Misaya’s group is believed to be holding the 29-year old Chinese holidaymaker Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipina Marcy Dayawan, 40, who were kidnapped from Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort in the town of Semporna in Sabah on April 2.

The victims were first brought by their captors led by Murphy Ladja to Tawi-Tawi before escaping by boat to Sulu and handed the hostages to Misaya, who was also tagged as behind the series of bombings in Sulu in recent years.

Misaya has demanded P500 million ransom in exchange for the safe release of the Chinese woman. It was unknown whether Buenbiaje was held together with the Chinese and Filipina woman or not.

The Abu Sayyaf was largely blamed for the daring raid on the posh Pulau Sipadan resort in 2000 where they kidnapped 21 people and ransomed them off to Malaysia and Libya for at least $25 million.

In November, the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped a Taiwanese tourist Chang An Wei, 58, after killing her husband Hsu Li Min, 57, in a daring cross-border raid in Sabah’s Pom Pom Island.  The woman was eventually released a month later near the village of Liban in Talipao town in Sulu after paying ransom. The Abu Sayyaf has resorted to ransom kidnappings to raise money for the purchase weapons and fund terror attacks in the Philippines.