Monday, June 23, 2014

Bulatlat: Benito and Wima | A story of love and revolution

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jun 23): Benito and Wima | A story of love and revolution

Their relationship was tempered by difficulties, hardships, living with risks, and the ups and downs of waging a revolution.

(Contributed photo /

[2] (Contributed photo /

Theirs is not an ordinary love story. They did not have the luxury of a long engagement while saving for the future. They did not aim to build a normal middle-class family. They did not experience the cycle of excitement, boredom, stagnation then renewal that most relationships go through. Instead their relationship was tempered by difficulties, hardships, living with risks, and the ups and downs of waging a revolution.
Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon are being accused by the Aquino government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of being high-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). They are currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

But like most loving couples, one could see the intimacy in how they relate and communicate with each other. When receiving newspapers, books and documents from visitors, they would make two sets and take turns reading them.

“We never get tired of talking to each other,” Wilma said. When they talk, they stare at each other and almost in whisper, listening intently to what the other says.

Young love

If one is a hopeless romantic and believes that one is destined to meet his or her soul mate, then Wilma and Benito’s love story would be a perfect fit. They both attended Rizal High School, which has been named as the “largest secondary school in the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records since 1993. The student population in Rizal High School has reached 15,959 by school year 2000-2001.

During Wilma and Benito’s time, the student population might not have breached the 10,000 mark yet, but still, in all likelihood, it could have been in the thousands. They said they did not belong to one barkada (peer group) but were together for assignments, school projects and both of them were involved in the student paper, Rizalian.

They were, after all, among the top three in the batch. Benito graduated salutatorian and Wilma was the first honorable mention. When asked, they admitted shyly that both the valedictorian and Benito, the salutatorian, courted Wilma, but she, of course, chose Benito.

In their fourth year of high school, both were among the delegates of the Rizal High School for the National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC). After the acquaintance party, Benito waited for Wilma and confessed his love.

“That’s it,” Wilma said. “So, you answered him right away?” this writer asked. Wilma looked at Benito and asked, “Did I agree right then and there?” Benito replied, “That’s what I understood from your response to my proposal.”

Wilma admitted Benito was her longtime crush. She turned to Benito and asked, “How about you? Was I the one you really liked back then? The two laughed.

It was the beginning of their journey together.

Fighting the dictatorship

In 1969, both qualified for scholarships and entered the University of the Philippines (UP). Benito was a national state scholar and Wilma a provincial state scholar. Benito took up chemical engineering while Wilma was enrolled as Statistics major.

At that time, the student movement was flourishing in UP. The two got involved in activism.

Both became members of the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK) although they applied for membership separately.

“We had different schedules,” Wilma said. “We were not always together.”
If they wanted to see each other, Benito waited for Wilma after class. They would go to the main library and just talk and be together.

Asked if they went dating, the two said they watched one movie together before martial law. “It was a Bruce Lee film,” Benito said. “We did not go on regular dates. We did have the money to spend on that.”

When each of them narrated their life stories to, Wilma said she didn’t know some of the details that Benito was talking about. At some part of her life story, Wilma said she did not inform Benito of some of her plans due to security reasons.

When both of them decided to leave the university to organize full-time for the SDK, they saw each other during meetings. “That’s our kind of dates,” Wilma said.

Both of them fell in love with trade unionism and were enlisted as members of the SDK Labor Committee. They had different assignments. Before martial law was declared, Wilma was organizing in the eastern part of Metro Manila while Benito was assigned in Quezon City and Marikina.

(Contributed photo /

[3] (Contributed photo /

A few months after Marcos imposed martial law, the two got married. “We never planned it in advance. It was my mother who demanded for a ceremony and a marriage document,” Wilma recalled.

One midnight of January 1973, the two had their wedding somewhere in Cainta. They had Wilma’s mother as a witness and no other visitor. They were wearing ordinary clothes and had no reception after the ceremonies.

Four months later, Benito was captured. He and Wilma saw each other again after that at the Ipil Rehabilitation in Fort Bonifacio. Wilma was also arrested in July of the same year.

“The military did not know we were married and so we pretended that we were just getting to know each other in jail,” Wilma recalled. “After a few days, we were holding hands.”

Wilma was released first. While Benito was still in detention, she planned to leave Manila to organize peasants in Northern Luzon. Due to heavy military operations in the area, however, she was advised not to proceed.

When Benito was released, both decided to go to the Visayas islands to continue their revolutionary work. They were first deployed to Cebu to do underground organizing work among workers.

Their life in Cebu was difficult as they had no regular meals and no allowance. They had to walk long distances to reach some of their contacts. It was also the time that Wilma got pregnant. They were in their early 20s. They could start a family in a more convenient way but instead of retreating back to Manila, the two faced the challenges together.

After a year, they were assigned to Eastern Visayas. It was during this time that their commitment to the revolution and to each other deepened further.

“It was like we were freed,” Benito recalled. He said that while in Cebu, they had limited contacts; in Eastern Visayas, entire villages accepted them.
“The mothers would volunteer their children to join the armed revolution,” Wilma said. She said that in some areas, the military declared free-fire zones. “The soldiers would shoot anyone in sight, even the civilians,” she said. “That’s why it was easy for them to join the NPA [New People’s Army]. If they did not, they might end up getting killed anyway.”

For years, they walked barefoot as wearing slippers at that time was considered bourgeois. They travelled on foot for days, sleep on makeshift tents and use sacks as blankets.

“Wasn’t it cold at night?” the couple was asked. “It’s okay. We had each other,” Wilma said.

Together, they practiced the theories that they learned and drew lessons from their experiences in agrarian revolution and mass organizing. The couple had debates and these debates helped sharpen their assessment and analysis of their revolutionary work.

Wilma said that in a relationship, it is better that each one has his/her own individual development in the movement, especially the women. “Each should have his/her own standing and independent study. There must be a free exchange of ideas, too, ” she said.

After Marcos was toppled, the couple took on different tasks. There were many times that they were not together.

On March 22, 2014 they were together when they were arrested. Both of them were charged with common crimes such as multiple murder [4], serious illegal detention and kidnapping [5], among others.

Asked about the criminal charges filed against them, Wilma said, “In the history of just struggles, revolutionaries were always branded as criminals. Review the pages of history and you’ll see that Jose Rizal, Macario Sakay, Andres Bonifacio were all charged with common crimes.”

“In the eyes of the ruling elite, revolutionaries are criminals,” Benito said.

Their movements are currently limited because they are in jail. They are also not able to do what they loved doing: organizing and living among the masses. But still, they are in high spirits. When they were being brought before the court, Wilma greeted the NPA on the occasion of its 45th anniversary, while Benito shouted that the struggle would continue.

Even during incarceration, their love and passion for the revolution and for each other never seem to waver. ( [1]

URLs in this post:


Bulatlat: Wilma Austria, a woman, a student of history, a patriot, a revolutionary

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jun 23): Wilma Austria, a woman, a student of history, a patriot, a revolutionary

“Why should one stop when a lot has to be done to attain radical change not only for Filipinos but for other exploited and oppressed peoples as well?”

(Contributed photo /

[2] (Contributed photo /

At 61, Wilma Austria looks frail but when she begins to speak, one would know why the powers-that-be is afraid of this woman.

The nation was surprised when, even with government troops guarding her closely at Camp Crame, Wilma raised her fist and said, “Binabati ko ang Bagong Hukbong Bayan sa ika-45 anibersaryo nito. Patuloy na lumalakas sa buong bayan. Hindi matalo-talo ng AFP!” (I greet the New People’s Army on its 45th anniversary. It continues to gain strength nationwide. The AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] could not defeat it!)

Later, Wilma would tell in an interview that there was a continuation to that sentence, which was not captured on television. “I added, ‘at kahit kailan ay hindi matatalo ng AFP!’ (and will never ever be defeated by the AFP).”

Wilma and her husband Benito Tiamzon, together with five others, were arrested on March 22 in Carcar, Cebu. The military has repeatedly claimed that the Tiamzons are high-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Why is this woman undaunted in the midst of incarceration? Where does her strength come from?

 The foundations of her character were shaped early.


Born on December 21, 1952, Wilma grew up in San Joaquin, Pasig. She is fourth of five siblings.

Her father was a clerk and her mother a housewife. “My father’s salary was P4 per month and we had to make do with that,” she said.

She was exposed to nationalism during her childhood. Her paternal grandfather fought the Japanese invaders as a guerrilla. “I remember how during reunions my father and his siblings would talk about my grandfather. My grandfather was arrested, and tortured by the Japanese but he was able to escape,” Wilma said.

She even learned some guerrilla songs, taught by her Grade 3 teacher. Asked if she remembers one, Austria did not hesitate and sang, “Ang maging gerilya’y napakahirap/ Lagi sa bundok at parang/ Ang puhunan ay buhay/ Para sa kalayaan.”

“Of course, at that time, I could not fully understand the meaning of the song,” she said. She never thought that she would choose the same kind of life later on.

She later learned that her teacher who taught guerrilla songs was a daughter of a guerilla fighter. She later on encountered other nationalist teachers at the Rizal High School.

Her inquisitiveness was already evident then. Asked to join an oratorical contest celebrating the centennial of Emilio Aguinaldo, Wilma did her research and wrote her own piece. She wrote the truth: that Aguinaldo betrayed the country when he signed the Pact of Biak na Bato and that he ordered the killing of Andres Bonifacio. “My teacher said, ‘Even if this is true, we could not possibly use this because the occasion is the centennial celebration of Aguinaldo.’ But she was happy that I did a research and wrote my own piece,” she related.

She graduated first honorable mention. She entered the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1969 as a provincial state scholar.

Wilma dreamt of becoming a doctor. “But we could not afford it even with a scholarship,” she said. She took up Statistics instead.

At that time, the student movement was already flourishing in the university. Wilma and a classmate enlisted themselves in discussion groups (DGs) organized by the Nationalist Corps and the UP Student Council.
They studied the writings of Renato Constantino and Claro M. Recto and later on revolutionary writings.

She later joined the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), first as a member of Gintong Silahis, its cultural arm. She played the lead role in Bertolt Brecht’s “The Mother” during the SDK Congress.

Wilma said she enjoyed the ideological discussions at Gintong Silahis. “We discussed every composition, deciding which parts to keep and which to revise,” she said.

It was not long before she joined the SDK’s labor committee. She frequented picketlines of striking workers.

Wilma recalled that one time, a wife of one of the workers threw a stone at one of the policemen near the picketline. “The stone hit the policeman and he was so angry he fired at us,” Wilma said. They were fortunate no one got hurt.

“Such experience had a huge impact on me, and even on my fellow activists at that time,” Wilma said. She learned how workers and their families were being exploited as wives and children of the workers helped man the picketlines.

After the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in December 1971, Wilma decided to leave the university to become a fulltime organizer.

“I felt suffocated inside the university. My mind and my heart were no longer there,” she said.

Besides organizing workers, Wilma had the opportunity to organize the fisherfolk in Navotas. “They gave me fish, which I took to our HQ [headquarters] and shared among comrades,” Wilma said. She was staying at the SDK headquarters at Albany st. in Cubao, Quezon City.

Later, her work expanded to cover district-level comprehensive organizing work. They formed groups of the youth, women, urban poor and built alliances with positive sectors.

“There was an upsurge then,” Wilma recounted. “It was easy for the people, especially the workers, to embrace the national democratic struggle.”

Before the declaration of martial law, Wilma said they were all set to form a broad alliance of workers from different unions at the district level. It would have been a major breakthrough.

On the eve of martial law, she was at one of those picketlines when assailants fired at them. Two workers died and two others were wounded.
She continued being active in the underground revolutionary movement even when activists were arrested left and right.

One day, she went home to get some of her things. A few minutes later, elements of the Philippine Constabulary came to their house. “My mother was so nervous when she opened the door. She denied I was home. I hid under the bed, behind the newspapers,” she said.

The authorities left. When it was already dusk, she rode a tricycle, literally covered by several relatives; she managed to leave the place safely.

In July 1973 though, she was not as lucky. She and two others were arrested when the Philippine Constabulary raided a worker’s house in San Pedro, Laguna. They were first brought to a safe house before they were transferred to Ipil Rehabilitation Center at Fort Bonifacio.

Wilma was subjected to physical torture. She was slapped repeatedly and made to squat for hours. Her captors also beat her legs until they became sore. The following day, the torturers repeated the beatings. It took three to four months before it stopped.

Luckily she was not raped but one time, a military officer ran his pointing finger from her throat down to her navel. “I pretended to lose consciousness,” Wilma said.

She was released in March 1974. Undaunted, she decided to go to the countryside to continue her revolutionary work. Benito Tiamzon was released in June of the same year and both of them went to Cebu first. They helped in the underground organizing in the city for one year.

“Those times were difficult,” Wilma said. “We had few contacts.” They walked for several kilometers to get to the workers and sometimes were hungry.

“We had no regular meals. We usually had lugaw (porridge). Sometimes, we picked up shells by the shore,” Wilma recounted. “The workers sometimes gave me tamarind to eat.”

Even when she became pregnant, she continued her work. In 1975, she and Benito went to Eastern Visayas to plant the seeds of the revolution there. She gave birth in the barrio.

Wilma said her commitment to the cause deepened even more as she immersed herself in the anti-feudal struggle. For five years, she and Benito lived among the peasant masses. “We walked barefoot. In those days, wearing a pair slippers is considered bourgeois,” Wilma recalled.

She was later assigned to another region in Luzon and Benito was assigned elsewhere.

She was arrested again in October 1989 and was able to escape after less than three months.

She was captured for the third time in 1994 and was released on recognizance due to the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

At the time of their recent arrest, she and Benito were monitoring closely the rehabilitation and relief efforts being done by revolutionary forces in the Visayas provinces. The arresting team never returned the cash donations they were carrying, which was sent via the NDFP, a portion of which came from NPA units, amounting to P1.5 million.

Even as she complained of several illnesses, Wilma said there’s no stopping her from doing what she has done for nearly five decades.

“Why should one stop when a lot has to be done to attain radical change not only for Filipinos but for other exploited and oppressed peoples as well?”
Wilma said. “Being with the masses, in their everyday life-and-death struggles has strengthened our links to them.” ( [1]

URLs in this post: 

Bulatlat: Benito Tiamzon, a worker, a true scholar of the people, a revolutionary at heart

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jun 23): Benito Tiamzon, a worker, a true scholar of the people, a revolutionary at heart

“Happiness is in the revolution,” Benito said, smiling. “I could not think of any other life. There is no other way. The revolution is not a burden, an obligation I perform with a heavy heart. It comes out naturally.”

(Contributed photo /

He came from a poor family so at a very young age, he had to do his share for the family’s upkeep. Benito Tiamzon learned shoemaking when he was still a boy. Her mother accepted job orders at home to augment the family’s income. His father was a tenant farmer in Cainta, Rizal.

Born on March 21, 1951, Benito grew up in Marikina. He and his eight siblings helped their parents make shoes with their bare hands. The fourth of eight children, Benito also helped his father work on the farm.

“We were always indebted,” Benito recalled. “We always looked forward to Saturdays, the day we received our pay for making shoes.”

A bright student, Benito went to the Rizal High School in Pasig. He became editor in chief of the student paper the Rizalian.

Impressed with his intelligence, his teachers pooled their money to pay for Benito’s school expenses so he could continue going to school. When he graduated in 1969, he was the class salutatorian.

He went to UP as a national state scholar and took up chemical engineering.

“I was just like any other ordinary student,” Benito said. He joined the Alpha Sigma Fraternity.

On January 26, 1970, Benito joined his first demonstration. At that time, he did not belong to any activist organization so he just tagged along because he felt the need to do so. He did not realize then that it would be a momentous day that would shape the country, as well as the life that he would choose.

“I just rode one of those buses parked in front of the AS steps and joined the indignation rally outside Congress where Marcos was delivering his SONA [State of the Nation] speech,” Benito recalled.

When evening came, the protesters chanted, “Malacanang! Malacanang!” Benito, still carrying all his books, which were heavy, went along. It was the first of a series of clashes between the protesters and the police, which came to be known as the First Quarter Storm of 1970. That was his baptism of fire.

His experience led to his political awakening. He attended discussion groups organized by the Nationalist Corps. Later, in 1971, he joined the Philippine Collegian. His brods (fraternity brothers) such as Victor Manarang and Antonio Tagamolila encouraged him to take the editorial exams. As a staff writer, he wrote stories about demonstrations and strikes of workers.

At that time, he was already a member of the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK). There were two competing yet both radical groups of students in the university: the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) and the SDK.
Benito said that there was a proposal to merge the youth organizations but it was later discarded. “It was decided that it’s best to maintain the multiplicity,” he said, and credited such tactic to the rapid and aggressive expansion of organizations.

He added that the SDK then was viewed as a cadre organization but such error was repudiated in 1971 when the national democrats gained the leadership of the SDK.

At SDK, Benito joined the labor committee and became active in trade union work.

His involvement with trade union work and his natural affinity with the working class made him decide to devote his life to the movement. He left the university after his second year to do fulltime-organizing work in Marikina and Quezon City. He was involved in community-chapter building and organizing shoemakers. He felt at home organizing shoemakers as he was one himself as a child.

When martial law was imposed, Benito went underground but continued with his organizing activities, covering Metro Manila-Rizal. He was in charge of trade union organizing.

As activists, they had no allowance and were compelled to be resourceful to be able to perform their tasks. “We would go to Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Bel and members of the old Party [Communist Party of the Philippines],” he recalled.

Not only did they learn from the veteran union organizers, they also received support, Benito said. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran would receive them in their home in Tondo, feed them and give them transportation money.

While working with existing trade union federations, they also formed their own.

Benito was eventually arrested and detained at the Ipil Rehabilitation Center at Fort Bonifacio in May 1973. “I was tortured for almost a month,” he said. His captors wanted to extract information. “They did not know me. I pretended to be a mere SDK applicant,” he added.

He was detained for 14 months. He believed he should have been released earlier if not for one incident. One morning, while he and the other political detainees were doing their exercise, one of them started humming the Internationale, the hymn of Communist parties. Agitated, they hummed in chorus. As punishment, two of their colleagues were made to sleep outside and some were transferred to the maximum-security prison. They held a hunger strike in protest.

A few months after he was released in 1974, he and his wife Wilma decided to go the countryside.

“The policy then was to focus on a few major islands first,” Benito said, referring to the revolutionary movement that was still at its early stage.

They were first assigned in Cebu. Benito organized among the workers of Atlas Mining in Toledo.

After a year, they went to Eastern Visayas. It was here where they learned the intricacies of the anti-feudal struggle and the national democratic revolution. “There were major breakthroughs in the conduct of social investigation, agrarian reform and mass organizing,” Benito said.

Benito said mass organizations flourished in the villages. It did not take long before the region became a stronghold of the underground revolutionary movement. The New People’s Army guerrillas successfully launched tactical offensives, delivering heavy blows to government troops.

Years later, Benito was assigned to lead the urban mass movement. At one point, he was in charge of Ang Bayan, the publication of the CPP, which was considered as part of the alternative press during martial law years.

His being a writer and editor is still evident to this day. When her wife Wilma asked for a copy of one of the publications given to them by visitors, Benito handed it to her, replete with editing marks. In some pages, Benito inserted sentences using a pencil. He told Wilma that many of articles were not as clear and as concise as they should be and but added that two of the pieces were written well.

After dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, Benito did not see any reason to abandon the revolution. Knowing there has been no substantial change, he performed many other important tasks and has continued to embrace the cause that aims to end the poverty he knew since childhood.

(Nasa rebolusyon ang kaligayan) “Happiness is in the revolution,” Benito said, smiling. “I could not think of any other life. There is no other way. The revolution is not a burden, an obligation I perform with a heavy heart. It comes out naturally,” Benito said.

He said that difficulties and challenges are unavoidable but not insurmountable. “The masses provide us the strength,” he said.

During their inquest, while soldiers and policemen looked on, Benito exclaimed, “Tuloy ang laban!” (The fight continues.)

In many parts of the country, the armed revolution rages on even as the military repeatedly claims the NPA’s Supremo has been captured. ( [1]

URLs in this post:

Bulatlat: Benito and Wilma | Portrait of two revolutionaries

From the pro-CPP online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Jun 23): Benito and Wilma | Portrait of two revolutionaries

Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today's hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea /

Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today’s hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea /

Not like other personalities from the revolutionary Left such as Prof. Jose Maria Sison. Luis Jalandoni, Coni Ledesma, Fidel Agcaoili, and the late Tony Zumel, Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon were never thrust in the limelight, at least before their March 22 arrest. For the general public and the media, they are enigmatic.

The government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, without knowing who they really are, often portray them as “hardliners” in the communist movement. At one point, the Aquino government and the AFP, trying to create intrigues within the Communist Party of the Philippines, baselessly announced that there are disagreements between the communist leadership in Ultrecht, The Netherlands, referring to Prof. Jose Maria Sison, and in the country, referring to Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, regarding the peace talks with the government.
Who are they? What is their background? What shaped them to become revolutionaries? How are they as a couple? How do they think and what are their thoughts about the country?

These three articles about them hope to answer these questions, and more through telling their life stories and reflecting their thoughts.


[2]Benito Tiamzon, a worker, a true scholar of the people, a revolutionary at heart [3]

“Happiness is in the revolution,” Benito said, smiling. “I could not think of any other life. There is no other way. The revolution is not a burden, an obligation I perform with a heavy heart. It comes out naturally.”

Wilma Austria, a woman, a student of history, a patriot, a revolutionary [4]

“Why should one stop when a lot has to be done to attain radical change not only for Filipinos but for other exploited and oppressed peoples as well?”

[5]Benito and Wima | A story of love and revolution [6]

Their relationship was tempered by difficulties, hardships, living with risks, and the ups and downs of waging a revolution.

URLs in this post:

[3] Benito Tiamzon, a worker, a true scholar of the people, a revolutionary at heart:
[6] Benito and Wima | A story of love and revolution:

Former CAFGU killed by alleged NPAs

From ABS-CBN (Jun 23): Former CAFGU killed by alleged NPAs

Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels killed a former Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member in Negros Occidental province, police said Monday.

Jovito Velasco and his wife were on board a tricycle on their way home in Barangay Mansalanao, La Castellana town, when 3 armed men ordered the driver to stop.

Velasco's wife told ABS-CBN News that her husband ran to a sugarcane field where he tried to hide but the gunmen pursued him.

The victim succumbed to 7 gunshot wounds. Eleven spent .45 caliber bullet shells were recovered from the crime scene.

The armed men did not hurt the driver of the tricycle.

The introduced themselves as NPA members, police said.

The wife of the victim said the gunmen were misinformed that her husband is a military informant.

Velasco left the CAFGU in December last year and started his own business.

His wife wants justice for the death of her husband but she also fears for her life.

CPP/Ang Bayan: 60th IB kills 2 civilians in Davao del Norte

Article in the English language edition of  the CPP propaganda publication Ang Bayan (Jun 21): 60th IB kills 2 civilians in Davao del Norte

The 60th IB has been targeting defenseless civilians in Davao del Norte to take revenge for its defeats in the hands of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the battlefield and the political arena.

A habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) driver and a local mass leader are the latest victims of extrajudicial killing by the 60th IB in the province this June.

Elements of the 60th IB killed Wilfredo Estrebillo in Sitio Pandulian, Barangay Mabantao, Kapalong on June 4. Estrebillo was one of six habal-habal drivers accused by the 60th IB of transporting food and equipment to the NPA. The five others are Eleazar Batobato, Loloy Labaho, Undo Labaho, Dodong Labaho and Peter Joy Eway. They are frequently blocked and harrassed at military checkpoints.

Estrebillo was one of the civilians who witnessed the arrest of Cpl. Rogelio Rosales by Red fighters in Barangay Florida, Kapalong in May for his involvement in illegal logging. The military wrongly suspected Estrebillo of having had a hand in Rosales’ capture and took revenge.

Elements of the 60th IB likewise killed farmer Flaviano Morales on June 13 in Barangay Napungas, Asuncion. Morales was a mass leader in their village and also served as municipal electoral staff for Bayan Muna. Weeks before he was killed, he was twice interrogated by the 60th IB.

[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: Red fighters mount military actions in Rizal and Sorsogon

Article in the English language edition of  the CPP propaganda publication Ang Bayan (Jun 21): Red fighters mount military actions in Rizal and Sorsogon

Four enemy elements were killed and one wounded in military actions launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Rizal and Sorsogon this June.

In Rizal, two soldiers were killed after a section of Red fighters under the NPA Narciso Antazo Aramil Command (NAAC) seized the initiative from a platoon of soldiers from the 21st Division Reconnaissance Company in Barangay Calawis, Antipolo City at around 10:30 a.m. of June 5.

Seven hours later, a soldier from the 16th IB was wounded when a military platoon attempted to ambush an NAAC squad hiking in Sitio Binayuyo, San Jose in the same city. The Red fighters outfought and outmaneuvered the enemy and safely retreated.

Meanwhile, in Sorsogon, Sgt. Rene Madrona and PO2 Christopher Escreza were killed in back to back special partisan operations mounted by the NPA Celso Minguez Command.

Madrona, who was meted punishment in Barangay Pactol, Bulusan municipality at around 8 p.m. of June 10 was an intelligence operative of the Philippine Army handling the town’s network of informers.

Escreza, who was punished at the Barcelona town center at around 4 p.m. of June 11 was an intelligence officer of the Philippine National Police actively engaged in building a municipal-wide counterrevolutionary spy network. The NPA seized Escreza’s 9 mm pistol.

[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 seizes 5 firearms in Agusan del Norte

Article in the English language edition of  the CPP propaganda publication Ang Bayan (Jun 21): NPA seizes 5 firearms in Agusan del Norte

Red fighters under the Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur Subregional Command raided the house of Ramon Calo, the rabidly counterrevolutionary mayor of Carmen, Agusan del Norte, seizing five firearms.

The raid conducted on the night of June 8 yielded a baby M16, an Ingram machine pistol, a 9 mm pistol and two shotguns aside from magazines and rounds of ammunition. The Red guerrillas also confiscated a laptop and two cameras. After the raid, the NPA was able to make a quick and safe retreat.

The locals have long been complaining about Mayor Calo’s militarist rule. Aside from his minions in the military and police, he maintains his own private army.

[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/NDF: The AFP’s indiscriminate shelling and bombing in the hinterlands of Bayugan City has forced the people to flee their homes and livelihood

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jun 20): The AFP’s indiscriminate shelling and bombing in the hinterlands of Bayugan City has forced the people to flee their homes and livelihood

Maria Malaya
NDFP Northeast Mindanao
Its dismal failure to render the revolutionary movement to inconsequentiality within the first half of its term has pushed the reactionary US-Aquino regime to escalate the AFP’s brutal military operations in the Caraga region.

Since January this year, the AFP has added three more battalions to its already existing five, and has immediately commenced its military operations without let-up in the entire Caraga region. As a result, human rights violations committed by the reactionary troops of the US-Aquino regime have greatly increased.

Alongside the vast fighting masses in the North Eastern Mindanao Region (NEMR) , the NPA has heroically fought this latest round of military campaign and operations, which has resulted in numerous battles between Red fighters and the forces of the reactionary AFP-PNP-CAFGU. From January up to the present, there had been 50 military incidents, 44 of which were tactical offensives (TOs) of the NPA in NEMR. Out of the 44 TOs, 41 were attritive operations (harassments), 1 was annihilative, and 2 were sanctions against giant agri-business plantations that continuously violate people’s rights and welfare and disregard revolutionary policies.

As a result of these battles, the Armed Forces of the reactionary regime sustained 77 casualties, where 39 were killed-in action (KIA) and 38 wounded-in-action (WIA). The Red fighters only sustained a total of 14 casualties, 7 of whom were martyred while 7 were wounded. The AFP, consistent with its tradition as mercenaries, gunned down civilians whom they suspected to be members of the NPA.

The latest of these incidents were a number of skirmishes in the mountainous area of Bayugan City. Dawn of June the 15th, company-sized troops of the 26th IB entered the hinterlands of Mt. Ararat, Bayugan City. Around 6:45AM of the next day (June 16), an NPA team harassed this group of 26th IB soldiers, 2 of which were instantly rendered as casualties.

The following day, June 17, around noon, 2 Huey helicopters of the Air Force delivered additional troops at Purok 4, San Juan, Bayugan City. However, shortly after the choppers took off, another NPA team harassed said AFP troops. Only a little over an hour after the incident, another pair of Huey helicopters came for rescue but was unable to land because they were fired at by NPA snipers.

Early morning of June 18, the AFP deployed additional troops to Sitio Lanao, Brgy. Magkayangkang, and mounted 2 105mm cannons. But, around 11:00 am, an NPA team harassed a column of the AFP in Sitio Dalikan, Mt. Carmel, which is a hill adjacent to Mt. Ararat.

Using the 2 cannons, AFP troops commenced shelling Mt. Ararat by 12:30PM, with the aim to drive NPA forces out of the area. Not content with the cannons, by 2:30PM until 3:00PM, 2 OV-10 bomber planes dropped 9 bombs and indiscriminately fired 50-calibre machine guns onto Mt. Ararat and other nearby areas. Upon initial investigation, there were a few houses of local residents nearly hit by the bombs and grazed by the bullets of the 50-calibre machine gun. This is a desperate move on the part of the AFP just to drive NPA forces, especially those who have courageously fought and caused casualties against operating AFP troops, out of the area. There is absolutely no truth to the claim that an NPA camp was the target of their shelling and bombing.

This cowardly method of shelling and bombing have greatly shocked and harassed residents of Barangay Ararat and other neighbouring barangays, forcing them to flee their homes and farms. The NPA has long been organizing in these barrios, but never has it resulted in enforced evacuations. The presence of the NPA, in truth, is not the reason why the masses have evacuated these areas, but it is because of the terror brought on by the AFP’s heavy shelling, bombing and indiscriminate machine gun firing.

These bloody military operations in Caraga have not only been carried out in the hinterlands of Bayugan Ctiy, but are simultaneously being launched in many areas within the four provinces of Caraga where, aside from employing psywar operations through RSOT or COPD and combat operations, heavy artillery and bomber helicopter and planes are used to terrify and cause extensive detriment to the people. These weapons of sheer terror form part of the so-called military aid given by their US imperialist master, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones.

We call on the people to unite and vehemently protest against these brutal combat operations and military campaign of the reactionary US-Aquino regime, most especially against the indiscriminate shelling and bombing of the AFP, and firing against civilians such as the incident in Tagkiling, Butuan City which killed a farmer last April 27, this year.

We call on humanitarian and enlightened sectors as well from the religious, middle forces and local officials to immediately lend support to the evacuees and other victims of human rights violations.

We call on all concerned sectors, including NGOs, the religious, middle forces and the mass media, to form an independent body to investigate this latest incident of enforced evacuations and other vile forms of human rights abuses in the hinterlands of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

Peace drive in Binalbagan, too

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 23): Peace drive in Binalbagan, too

Binalbagan Mayor Emmanuel Aranda called on the families and relatives of rebels, who are still steeped in the communist ideology, to persuade them to return them to mainstream society.

Aranda made the appeal Saturday as he led his constituents in welcoming participants in the Marching for Peace, Serving the Countrysides activity of the Provincial Peace,Integration and Development Unit, in Brgy. Bi-ao, Binalbagan.
Aranda said that genuine peace can be achieved by helping one another, rallied Binalbagan residents to support the peace and humanitarian efforts of the provincial government of Negros Occidental, the Philippine Army and the National Police.
Brgy. Bi-ao, that is classified by the military as an infiltrated barangay of the New People’s Army, was the venue for the 3rd leg of the 11-day Pro-PIDU activity, that was aimed to stop violence, protect the people, and develop the conflict-affected communities.
Residents of the Cabacungan and Puso Barangays in La Castellana, Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla had earlier availed of the free services rendered by various government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, civil society groups, Philippine Army and National Police during the Pro-PIDU - sponsored activities.
The Pro-PIDU activity, especially the marching of armed soldiers in the hinterland barangays and display of heavy armaments, was criticized by some groups, saying it creates fear among the people.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, described the peace effort as an election where people are free to choice between candidates “peace or violence”.
Gov. Alfredo Marañnon, who attended the Pro-PIDU activity in Brgy. Bi-ao,Binalbagan, and Aranda reiterated that the government is ready anytime to help rebels to return to the mainstream society.
“The real adversary is poverty and not our fellow Negrosanon. We must help one another to stop poverty,” Maranon stressed.

Soldiers and policemen have already walked almost 100 kilometers in the hinterlands of the 5th district, which aims to show that they are the legitimate armed forces of the people, who are ready to protect them at all cost.
The peace activity will again converge in Brgys. Buenavista and Carabalan, all in Himamaylan City, this week.

Obama tells China, ASEAN: Resolve sea dispute peacefully

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 22): Obama tells China, ASEAN: Resolve sea dispute peacefully

United States President Barack Obama urged China and the other Southeast Asian countries with claims over parts of the South China Sea to peacefully resolve their territorial disputes and avoid escalating tensions.

“It is important for us to be able to resolve disputes like maritime disputes in accordance with international law, and encourage all parties concerned to maintain a legal framework for resolving issues, as opposed to possible escalation that could have an impact on navigation and commerce,” President Obama said on Saturday (Manila time) following an Oval Office meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who expressed similar concerns.

In a joint statement issued after the meeting, the US and New Zealand said they “share the goal of a stable and secure world, buttressed by the principles of peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for universal rights and freedoms.”

“Our two countries work side-by-side to support peace and stability both in the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” the two leaders declared.

The US and New Zealand further recognize the importance of regional institutions in the Asia-Pacific region “that promote rules and norms and foster cooperative efforts to address shared challenges.”

“As such, both countries are working with fora such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Islands Forum to strengthen these rules and norms,” they said.

Regarding regional maritime disputes, both countries stressed that they are united in supporting the peaceful resolution of disputes, the respect for international law and unimpeded lawful commerce, and the preservation of the freedom of navigation and overflight.

In the South China Sea, President Obama and Prime Minister Key called on ASEAN and China to reach early agreement on a meaningful and effective Code of Conduct.

In discussing the need for diplomatic and dialogue to resolve disputes, the two leaders “rejected the use of intimidation, coercion, and aggression to advance any maritime claims.”

The two leaders finally reinforced the call for claimants to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

China claims virtually all of the South China Sea, which is rich in natural resources and crisscrossed by some of the world’s busiest sea lanes. That has brought it into dispute with other neighbors, including the Philippines, a longtime US ally.

Among ASEAN Member States with claims over South China Sea, only the Philippines has so far filed an arbitration case “with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. On January 22, 2013 , Manila formally served China with a Notification and Statement of Claim.

However, China presented the Philippines with a diplomatic note in which it described “the Position of China on the South China Sea issues,” and rejected and returned the Philippines’ Notification.

In accordance with the Tribunal’s first Procedural Order dated August 27, 2013, the Philippines filed its Memorial last March 30, addressing matters relating to the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal, the admissibility of the Philippines’ claim, as well as the merits of the dispute.

The UN-backed Arbitral Tribunal hearing the case brought by the Philippines against China under Annex VII to the UNCLOS over their territorial dispute in the South China Sea has fixed December 15, 2014 as the date for the Chinese government to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial.

Still, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which acts as the Registry in the proceedings. received a Note Verbale from China in which it reiterated its position that “it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines” and that the Note Verbale “shall not be regarded as China’s acceptance of or participation in the proceedings.”

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana. The other Members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany.

The PCA is an intergovernmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.

Int’l maritime experts downplay China’s nine-dash line claim

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 23): Int’l maritime experts downplay China’s nine-dash line claim

South China

China’s nine-dash line claim is invalid without convincing explanation.
This was stressed by maritime and legal luminaries gathered in Danang City, Vietnam, for an international conference to examine historical evidence of territorial sovereignty over the contested Paracel and Spratly Islands.

Over in Japan, President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to link arms to boost maritime cooperation amid a simmering territorial dispute with China when they meet today.


Retired French General Daniel Schaeffer said China was able to defy international law over the past years by maintaining its “groundless claim” over the disputed region and infringing upon the sovereignty of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia – all claimants to parts of South China Sea.

The former French military attaché to China, Thailand, and Vietnam noted that the “nine-dash line” argument is no longer just a matter of particular concern of these countries in the region, but is of utmost concern to the international community. Therefore, he said an international consensus should be reached to ask China to abolish its claim.

And since the Chinese government has failed to present any credible evidence that proves its sovereignty over the South China Sea, pioneering legal scholar and Asian expert Jerome Cohen recommended that like the Philippines, Vietnam should file a case against China before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) supported by the argument that the nine-dash line runs counter to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


Cohen, who is currently a professor of law at New York University School of Law and serves as “counsel” at the international law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, said Vietnam should use all legal means available to demonstrate to the world that justice is on their side by either uniting with the Philippines or it can unilaterally sue China in an international arbitration court in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS, to which China is a signatory.

The Philippines filed on January 22, 2013 a case against China before the UN-backed Tribunal to settle once and for all their long-standing sovereign dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

China, however, rejected the Notification and Statement of Claim of the Philippine government to initiate arbitral proceedings against its nine-dash-line claim in the West Philippine Sea.

Internationally acclaimed expert on the law of the sea Professor Eric Franckx emphasized the importance of the UNCLOS which was signed by many countries, including China that agreed to settle sea disputes through the convention.

Franckx, who convenes and teaches Law of International Organizations and International Law of the Sea at the Brussels School of International Studies, said UNCLOS takes priority and governs the settlement of sea disputes this means Vietnam can unilaterally bring China in an international court.

On the other hand, University of New South Wales in Australia Professor Carlyle A. Thayer suggested that Vietnam submit a proposal to the UN Security Council seeking for a debate on China’s illegal oil rig placement in the South China Sea and its impact on regional security.

Thayer, who is a Southeast Asia regional specialist with special expertise on Vietnam, said that


China, as a world power, may use its veto power to reject any UNSC resolution. However, at least the international community will better understand Vietnam’s goodwill and China’s actions, asking China to withdraw its platform from Vietnam’s waters.

The international scholars who attended the Danang conference even affirmed that it is unacceptable if any party to the South China Sea disputes uses force to change the status quo, destabilize the region and violate sovereignty of another nation, in its attempt to take control of the disputed region.

The conference, which brought together nearly 100 Vietnamese and foreign scholars, was held to garner additional support for Vietnam’s struggle for justice, after China unilaterally positioned its floating drilling rig Haiyang Shihyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May.


Meanwhile, President Aquino is scheduled to visit Japan today to boost the country’s defense and economic cooperation with its strategic partner. His visit includes a meeting with Abe Tuesday noon.

Japan has committed to provide 10 patrol vessels to the Philippines in an effort to reinforce its capability to protect and guard its territorial waters, Gilberto Asuque, Chargé d’ Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo.

The first three sea vessels will be delivered to the Philippines next year while the remaining seven will arrive in early 2016, Asuque said.

“Japan supports the Philippine policy to raise our capacity in level of awareness for maritime domain, capacity to monitor. For that purpose, the Japanese government has supported the Philippine government in terms of assistance to provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 10 patrol  crafts,” Asuque said in a media interview here.

Asuque said the multi-role response vessel aims to enhance the capability of the Philippine Coast Guard “to monitor the maritime domain, exclusive economic zone and effectively enforce Philippine laws within that maritime zone.”

The delivery of the patrol boats comes amid the country’s lingering spat with China over overlapping territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea.
In addition to the patrol crafts, Asuque said Japan will also provide assistance to improve the Philippine coast guard’s telecommunication system.

“You may have the platform or the vessels but you need the communications system in order to ensure that the vessel is able to communicate with the command and control office and the Coast Guard,” he said.

Prayers, family help solider surrvive fierce clashes

From the Philippine Star (Jun 23): Prayers, family help solider surrvive fierce clashes

Prayers and the love of his family helped a wounded army ranger to survive for the fifth time a major encounter, including the deadly attack by the Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province last week, that left seven of his comrades dead and 24 others wounded.

Staff Sergeant Christopher Anino, an army ranger assigned with the US-trained 3rd Light Reaction Company (LRC), was among those who barely escaped but wounded from the barrage of mortar attacks the militants launched Thursday at sitio Kagay, Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul town.

The joint reconnaissance marines and LRC units were closing in on the bandits to rescue kidnap victims when they came under heavy volume of indirect fire from the Abu Sayyaf group.

Anino, although among those wounded, retaliated along with the other soldiers,  sparking gunbattle that left 10 Abu Sayyaf dead and 13 wounded, repelling the militants.

Anino, who sustained shrapnel wounds on his right leg and left forearm, was airlifted along with the 24 other wounded soldiers to the Camp Navarro General Hospital inside the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

Recuperating from his bed at the heroes’ ward, Anino said it was his fifth time to survive fierce clashes  shrapnel or bullet slugs embedded in the different parts of his body as a reminder of the battles he had gone through.

“But this will not stop me to serve and defend the people and the country,” the native of Bohol said, adding he is ready to go back to Sulu if given the mission again.

The soldier said he holds no secret amulet in surviving all the deadly encounters.

“It was all because of training discipline and whenever I am assigned for mission I always pray and think of my wife and children that I will return to them safely,” Anino said as he was among those awarded with wounded medals merit by Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of Westmincom in a simple ceremony over the weekend.

Guerrero lauded the heroism displayed by Anino in protecting the rest of the latter's comrades and accomplishment of his mission despite being wounded.

AFP strengthens partnerships for disaster response

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 23): AFP strengthens partnerships for disaster response

To further improve the manpower and services in disaster response and humanitarian aid, the Armed Forces of the Philippines has continued their partnership with two organizations to boost its performance.

General Emmanuel Bautista, AFP Chief of Staff, signed two memoranda of agreement, one with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines and the other with Unilab Laboratories.

“There will be more calamities and disasters that will affect our communities, but we are confident and we are comforted by the fact that we as a people stand united in the spirit of Bayanihan,” Bautista said.

For their part in the partnership with Tzu Chi, the AFP would be the main manpower during the activities in building homes for the victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

Soldiers and engineers would come from the AFP and they would also coordinate with the local government to help in the construction.

Also, the AFP’s alliance with Unilab would see the military provide medical personnel and the logistics during post-disaster scenarios.

Lieutenant General Ramon Zagala, AFP Public Affairs Chief, said that the partnership was meant to strengthen and improve the services of the three parties.

“It’s all about partnership, yes we provide the manpower, but we are all equals here,” Zagala said.

Bautista signed the agreements with Tzu Chi Philippines Chief Executive Officer Alfredo Li, and Attorney Jose Maria Ochave, Unilab Senior Vice President for External Affairs.

Authorities foil kidnapping, arrest 4 Abu Sayyaf brigands in Zambo City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): Authorities foil kidnapping, arrest 4 Abu Sayyaf brigands in Zambo City

The government authorities have foiled a kidnapping attempt and arrested four suspected Abu Sayyaf brigands including a financier in separate raids in this city, military and police officials announced Monday.

Those arrested in two separate raids were identified as Sattar Abdulla alias Abu Sattar, Jerry Intimani alias Jumong, Sammara Akbaw, and Gaber Masturan.

Army’s 1st Infantry Division acting commander Col. Aminkadra Undug said that Abdullah, the alleged financier, was arrested by combined military and police forces in a raid around 2:20 a.m. Sunday in Barangay Tumalutab, this city.

Tumalutab is one of this city’s eight island barangays and is located 40 kilometers east of this city.

Undug said that Abdullah is facing six counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges before a Court in Pasay City and corresponding warrant was issued for his arrest.

Zamboanga City police officer-in-charge Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro said the other three suspects -- Intimani, Akbaw, and Masturan -- were arrested in a raid Sunday evening in two safehouses at Sitio Caragasan, Barangay Maasin, 13 kilometers west of this city.

Casimiro said that Intimani and Akbaw, both natives of Patikul, Sulu are the team leader and spotter, respectively, while Masturan is the speedboat operator.

Casimiro said the combined police and military raiding team led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU) has confiscated from the suspects two caliber .45 pistols with ammunition, a fragmentation grenade and a three-engine speedboat locally known as “jungkung.”

He said the arresting team also recovered a sketch plant from the suspects’ possession indicating their targets for kidnapping.

He said one of the suspects’ targets to be kidnapped is the 12-year-old son of the owner of a shipyard known as “Tong Baradero” in Barangay Recodo and a certain Mr. Saavedra, who owns a chain of pharmacies in this city.

Casimiro announced during Monday’s weekly press conference of Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar that the CIDU is readying charges to be filed against the suspects.

Israeli defense manufacturer bags USD 20-M contract to supply upgraded APCs for the AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): Israeli defense manufacturer bags USD 20-M contract to supply upgraded APCs for the AFP

Elbit Systems Ltd., one of the leading Israeli defense manufacturers, announced that it has bagged a USD 20 million (around P882 million) contract to supply upgraded armored personnel carriers (APCs) for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Upgrades include 25 mm unmanned turrets, 12.7 mm remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and fire control systems (FCS) for 90 mm turrets.

Elbit said that a total of 28 APCs will be supplied over a one-year period.

The contract marks a significant breakthrough for Elbit Systems, as it is the first one awarded to the company in the Philippines.

"We are very pleased to be awarded our first contract for the Philippines Armed Forces, which we hope will be followed by others. Our extensive portfolio and our vast experience enable us to offer our customers advanced solutions, answering the specific requirements of various combat vehicles, and this award further positions us as world leader in the field of ground vehicle upgrades," Elbit Systems' Land and C41 general manager Udi Vered said.

The APCs are for the use of the Philippine Army, which operates around 343 AFVs (armored fighting vehicles) and APCs.

Around 85 percent of these AFVs are on green status (fully mission capable) while another 10 percent are on yellow status (undergoing repair) and five percent are on red (beyond repair)

About 150 of these are the United Kingdom-built GKN "Simba" with the remaining AFVs consisting of United States-designed V-150 and V-200 APCs, M-113 "Bradley," Turkish made ACV-300s and British Scorpion CVRTs.

These vehicles give the PA its armor capability and are organized into a 14-vehicle mechanized infantry companion for deployment with regular units.

VFP prexy denies rejecting organization's Constitution, By-Laws

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): VFP prexy denies rejecting organization's Constitution, By-Laws

Col. Emmanuel V. De Ocampo, Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) president, has denied that war veterans are rejecting the Constitution and By-Laws (CBL) approved by Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin.

This is contrary to the press statement issued by retired Col. Bonifacio De Gracia, an interim VFP official who is only in acting capacity.

De Gracia is now in hot water after De Ocampo belied having knowledge of the statement issued by the former on June 18 which stated that all “all 182 delegates rejected the changes made by Gazmin in the classification of organizations that may join the VFP as an umbrella organization, membership requirements, the composition of the Supreme Council, committees and management, including the financial system.”

Apart from De Gracia’s lack of authority, the statement itself has been described as patent lies by some Convention delegates who are AFP retirees. “There were very few World War II veterans present, roughly less than 10% of the attendees,” said a post-war veteran who requested anonymity.

When asked to comment on the issue, retired Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) administrator, who was present in the Convention, said that he does not recall any motion that rejects the new Constitution and By-Laws approved by the Defense secretary.

This is supported by video footages and taped recording of the convention and workshop.

“It comes as no surprise because from the very start, Col. De Gracia has been vigorously campaigning against the CBL approved by Secretary Gazmin. He is obviously against reforms in the VFP, despite the clamor of the majority of the veterans,” Carolina, who was also in attendance as secretary of National Defense representative during the VFP Executive Board meeting, added.

De Gracia was also chided for disinformation and inciting dissent among the veterans that the Constitution and By-Laws approved by the Defense Secretary has not been done in consultation with the veterans and that it is an “intrusion” into the affairs of the Federation.

De Gracia has been consistently uncooperative on Department of National Defense (DND) efforts to inform and educate VFP members on the approved CBL.

The former is also being questioned for occupying concurrent positions in the VFP as he is also acting Secretary General and Vice President for Administration aside from being acting executive vice president and vice chairman of the Executive Board.

However, any of De Gracia’s nomination has not been approved by the Secretary of National Defense as of press time.

DND is now finding out if De Gracia is receiving salaries for these positions even without the benefit of a legitimate appointment from the approving authority.

“DND affirms the legality of the VFP Constitution and By-Laws approved by Secretary Gazmin. They went through the mill so to speak, it was presented to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare of Congress and is in accord with R.A. 2640, the law that created the VFP. In fact, no less than the Courts had affirmed its legality when the VFP’s petitions for issuance of a temporary restraining order for its implementation had been denied,” Carolina said.

Contrary to disinformation and wrong speculations that the CBL would diminish the core function of the current set up of officers, downgrade the roles of the veterans’ widows and children, the CBL will further strengthen the VFP in order to advance the interest of All Filipino veterans and consequently, their families, and not just the interest of the few.

Carolina also bared that presently, VFP’s membership does not even comprise 30 percent of the total pensioners of PVAO.

“Many veterans do not want to join because of the perception that VFP is mismanaged and that they would not derive any benefit from it in spite of the fact that the government entrusted to the Federation vast tracts of land, real properties and prime assets,” he said.

Philippine-Japan defense tie-up contributes to regional peace, embassy official says

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 23): Philippine-Japan defense tie-up contributes to regional peace, embassy official says
Defense and security collaborations between the Philippines and Japan have continued to contribute to regional peace and stability, a Philippine diplomat has said.

The two countries have made arrangements for their key agencies to conduct dialogues on a regular basis, Charge d' Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo Gilberto G.B. Asuque said in an interview with Radio TV Malacanang last week.

Asuque said both countries have joint bilateral meetings at the political level; the undersecretaries of their respective foreign affairs ministries have been holding annual consultations to review overall bilateral relations; and the Philippines’ Department of National Defense and Japan’s Ministry of Defense also have regular dialogues.

"The (Philippine) Secretary of Defense and the (Japanese) Minister of Defense hold regular consultations to discuss regional issues and how both countries can contribute to the enhancement of regional peace," he said.

"This dialogue is an opportunity for the security officials to show how they can help each other in contributing to regional peace as well as in efforts to address other security concerns, not only in this region, but also in other parts of the world."

He said this tie-up has resulted in the Philippines and Japan providing support for global efforts to combat piracy in the coast of Somalia.

According to Asuque, Japan has offered Coast Guard support for the combined maritime force, while the Philippines contributed a liaison officer in the combined maritime force.

President Benigno S. Aquino III is slated to make a one-day working visit to Japan on Tuesday (June 24) to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as to address a Mindanao peace forum in Hiroshima.

The President will return to Manila on Tuesday evening.

4 Sayyaf militants arrested in Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jun 23): 4 Sayyaf militants arrested in Zamboanga City

Security forces arrested four Abu Sayyaf militants in separate operations in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police and military officials said on Monday.

Captain Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, said Sattar Abdulla alias Abu Sattar, was arrested in the village of Tumalutab on Sacol Island at dawn Sunday after long intelligence surveillance.

He said Abdulla, an Abu Sayyaf financier, is also tagged as behind several kidnapping cases in the region.

“Elements of 1st Military Intelligence Battalion, Army Task Force Zamboanga, Police Regional Office 9, Zamboanga City Police Office and supported by Presidential Anti-organized Crime Commission apprehended a hardcore ASG/KFRG financier in the vicinity of Tumalutab around 2:20 in the morning of June 22,” Suelto said.

He said Abdulla is facing six counts of “kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom” and that a warrant for his arrest was Judge Toribio Ilao, of Branch 266 in Pasig City. Suelto said Abdulla is currently being interrogated by the police in Zamboanga City.

Colonel Aminkadra Undug, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, commended troops and policemen involved in the capture of Abdulla. “The capture of the Abu Sayyaf (member) is the result of successful joint law enforcement operation through Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council of the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police,” he said.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, a regional police spokesman, said three more Abu Sayyaf militants involved in kidnappings for ransom were also arrested by the police and military in the village of Maasin late Sunday.

He said the trio - Jerry Intimani, Sammara Akdaw, and Gaber Mastukan – were being investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group under Superintendent Luisito, the regional commander, who led the operation.

Magnaye said two .45-caliber pistols and a hand grenade were seized from the militants.

“Prior their arrest, joint police and military intelligence operatives were able to monitor the trio in Zamboanga City after the informers tipped off law enforcers regarding their presence in the city,” Samuddin said.

He said the three militants were planning to strike in Zamboanga. “Due to intensive intelligence surveillance, the combined law enforcers were able to locate the safe house of the militants, thus, search warrant was applied and was served on Sunday evening, which resulted to their arrests at their safe house,” he said.

About two dozen Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya had been captured by security forces in Zamboanga City since early this year.

Filipino authorities have blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the spate of terrorism and ransom kidnappings in the southern Philippines and in Sabah in Malaysia.