Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Troops, cops capture commie in Zamboanga Sur

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 8): Troops, cops capture commie in Zamboanga Sur

A government patrol arrested a communist rebel after a brief chase in the town of Lakewood in Zamboanga del Sur province in southern Philippines, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said Rene Lucasan tried to flee from the village of Gasa after seeing the soldiers and policemen patrolling the area. Troops under the 53rd Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Col. Alvin Luzon chased Lucasan until he was cornered.

Soldiers, who are members of the 14th Division Reconnaissance Company, seized a .45-caliber pistol and a loaded magazine from Lucasan, who admitted during interrogation that he is a member of the New People’s Army which has been fighting for a separate communist state in the country.

Col. Ignacio Obligacion, commander of the 102nd Infantry Brigade, in a report to Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said Lucasan was eventually handed over to the town’s police force for further investigation.

“He readily admitted that he is a member of the local militia unit of the NPA called KARA and also served as a look out and informant of the NPA in the town, Obligacion said.

Barrientos commended the soldiers and policemen for the arrest of Lucasan. “The futility of the NPA ideology is evident.  Only the hardcore NPA leaders continue to believe in this irrelevant ideology,” he said. “More and more of their members are surrendering or being captured after endless days of hardship and hunger in the mountains.  We are calling on the rebels who wish to return to normal and peaceful lives that the Army, the community and your family will welcome you with open arms. Everyone is a winner if there is peace and development in the country.”


ISIS: A Threat Well Beyond the Middle East

From The Diplomat (Jul 7): ISIS: A Threat Well Beyond the Middle East

The success of militants in Iraq may be inspiring radicals in Southeast Asia.

The threat of Islamic militants deploying terror tactics across Southeast Asia is making an unwelcome comeback. Driven in part by the relentless drive into Iraq by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the threat has already emerged in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Authorities in these countries fear home-grown Islamic militants in league with Baghdadi and his Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will return and plot their own caliphate, not unlike Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) did when it launched its own terror campaign in league with al-Qaeda more than a decade ago.

Arrests have been made in Malaysia amid reports that four new terrorist groups have emerged to stake a claim over much of mainland Southeast Asia. All are Sunni Muslims with Shi’ites in their sights. Police are also looking for another five Malaysian men who fled to the Philippines where they are believed to be in hiding with the Abu Sattaf.

The arrests followed the release of a video from ISIS senior clerics, titled There Is No Life Without Jihad.

In the video, Abu Muthanna al Yemeni from Britain boasts about the many countries that have supplied ISIS mercenaries, adding: “We have brothers from Bangladesh, from Iraq, from Cambodia, Australia, UK.”

Muslim leaders in Cambodia rejected the claims although diplomats says hundreds of foreign nationals, including Khmers, are fighting with ISIS. Among them are those who studied in madrassas in the Middle East.

In recent days ISIS has changed its name to simply the Islamic State, after more than 15,000 militiamen loyal to Baghdadi extended the civil war in Syria southwards into Iraq, reaching as far as the northern outskirts of Baghdad. It insists a caliphate has been established across both countries and has released a map outlining its territorial ambitions, stretching from the Atlantic coast of Spain and Morocco to the western border of Myanmar.

In Malaysia, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, recruitment for ISIS and its vitriolic anti-Shia campaign is occurring through social media outlets, including Facebook. One analyst pointed to Lotfi Ariffin, who has 24,796 followers and was a member of Malaysia’s hardline Islamic party PAS.

“It is worrisome, yes,” said Shahriman Lockman, a senior foreign policy analyst at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic & International Studies.

“If they wanted a safe haven for their training and operations, they could easily go to the numerous failed states in Africa. But they chose to operate from Malaysia, where the risk of being under surveillance is much higher.”

Among them was 26-year-old Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, said to be Malaysia’s first suicide bomber after he reportedly drove a military vehicle ladened with explosives into an Iraqi military post, killing 25 soldiers, six weeks ago. Details of the attack were published on the ISIS website under the headline “Mujahidin Malaysia Syahid Dalam Operasi Martyrdom.”

Malaysian police have also arrested 19 people over the last two months in a counterterrorism operation the authorities hope will end any plans by jihadists of establishing recruitment and training centers in the Southeast Asian country.

Meanwhile, the Royal Malaysian Navy is conducting background checks on staff after an officer was arrested for harboring militants plotting attacks in Iraq and Syria.
Analysts said ISIS leader, Baghdadi, is attracting support and filling a void left by the killing of Osama bin Laden, with promises of an Islamic state and his ruthless approach to jihad.

“ISIS’s priority has to be to sustain and consolidate its present campaign in Syria and Iraq rather than dissipate resources and personnel in non-core areas for the movement such as Southeast Asia,” said Gavin Greenwood, a regional security analyst with Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates.

“However, ISIS’s success to date has and no doubt will continue to attract recruits to the movement with any survivors to what may be years of fighting from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand representing a threat based on their skills and experience.”

The New Straits Times reported the four terror groups were independent of each other and subscribed to the similar ideologies of JI, al-Qaeda and ISIS. Like their predecessors, they held links to militants in the Southern Philippines, in particular the Abu Sayyaf.

Intelligence sources cited by the newspaper did not name the groups, although a fifth outfit based in West Malaysia on Borneo was named as Darul Islam Sabah, which it said police were monitoring.

Members of all these groups have apparently undergone weapons training and have been armed with the financial backing of Malaysian businessmen.

Greenwood also drew comparisons with Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s when the U.S. and other Western countries supported the Mujahideen, which included the likes of bin Laden, saying the current dynamics are “analogous to those who fought” there, back then.

In the first decade of this century, hundreds of lives were lost through JI’s bombing campaigns, mainly in Indonesia. Thousands more have been killed by Islamic militancy in the Southern Philippines and Southern Thailand, although fighting in both countries has its roots in ethnic groups demanding a homeland as opposed to jihad and its modern day ideology, which was honed by the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia.

“The other factor that will concern the security services in Southeast Asia and elsewhere is the example ISIS has given, despite its model of a small but well armed and financed insurgent force overwhelming far larger military formations having no likely parallels in the region,” Greenwood said.

“Overall ISIS’s main impact on the region is to serve as an inspiration for Islamic radicals rather than a movement that poses a direct threat to any Southeast Asian countries.”

This is the same philosophy that was spun by bin Laden and followed resolutely by JI, leading to a breathtakingly cruel bombing campaign that brought widespread death and lasted more than a decade.


Cebu hearing of MILF, Sayyaf men hit

From Tempo (Jul 8): Cebu hearing of MILF, Sayyaf men hit

CEBU CITY – Mayor Michael Rama here has strongly opposed the holding of the court hearing involving the case of alleged members of the notorious Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Cebu City.

Rama said the case of the alleged members of the notorious groups is a high security matter and should not have been held in the peaceful Cebu City. The suspects are being tried in court for their alleged involvement in the 2009 landmine attack that killed two US Navy personnel in Indanan, Sulu.

The court has decided to hold the hearing of the case in Cebu City for security reasons.

“I will never stop making an issue about it. Why not hold the hearing in Manila? Why not hold it in the office of the DILG or in Camp Crame or Camp Aguinaldo? Why Cebu?” Rama told reporters yesterday.

Rama said he will bring his opposition to the Supreme Court.

Rama expressed his disgust as the Cebu City Police Office, aided by the Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, beefed up the security around the Quimonda Building, which temporarily holds the Palace of Justice, for the 2 p.m. hearing of the said case.


The China-Philippines dispute in the East Sea

From Vietnam Net (Jul 7): The China-Philippines dispute in the East Sea

Aside from Vietnam, with its greedy U-shaped or nine-dotted line that covers over 80 percent of the South China Sea (East Sea), China also has maritime disputes with the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. To further understand China's ambition and plot in the East Sea, VietNamNet give you a panorama of the dispute between this country and the Philippines. 

China’s territorial claims

china's marine disputes, the philippines, east sea disputes

China claims to have discovered the islands in the Han Dynasty in 2 BC. The islands were claimed to have been marked on maps compiled during the time of Eastern Han dynasty and Eastern Wu (one of the Three Kingdoms).

Since the Yuan dynasty in the 12th century, several islands that may be the Spratlys have been labeled as Chinese territory, followed by the Ming Dynasty and the Qing dynasty from the 13th to 19th Century. In 1755, archaeological surveys the remains of Chinese pottery and coins have been found in the islands and are cited as proof for the PRC claim.

Chinese fishermen have used the islands since 200 BC.

China claims by far the largest portion of territory - an area defined by the "nine-dash line" which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan. It says its right to the area comes from 2,000 years of history where the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation.

In 1947 China issued a map detailing its claims. It showed the two island groups falling entirely within its territory.

The Philippines’ territorial claims:

The Philippines affirmed there was no effective sovereignty over the islands until the 1930s when France and then Japan acquired the islands. When Japan renounced their sovereignty over the islands according to the San Francisco Treaty, there was a relinquishment of the right to the islands without any special beneficiary.

In 1956, a Filipino citizen, Tomas Cloma, unilaterally declared a state on 53 features in the South China Sea, calling it "Freedomland". As the Republic of China moved to occupy the main island, Cloma sold his claim to the Philippine government, which annexed the islands in 1978, calling them Kalayaan. On June 11, 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines issued Presidential decree No. 1596, declaring the Spratly Islands as a part of Filipino territory.

Both the Philippines and China lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China) - a little more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China.

Rival countries have wrangled over territory in the South China Sea for centuries - but a recent upsurge in tension has sparked concern that the area is becoming a flashpoint with global consequences.

Recent actions:

In 1970, China occupies Amphitrite Group of the Paracel Islands.

In 1971, Philippines announces claim to islands adjacent to its territory in the Spratleys, which they named Kalayaan. The Philippines President Marcos announced the claims after Taiwanese troops attacked and shot at a Philippine fishing boat on Itu Aba.

In February 1992, China passes a law declaring the entire South China Sea as its territory, triggering protests from around the region.

In 1997, the Philippines begins to challenge Chinese sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal.

In 2002, ASEAN and China agree to a code of conduct in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

On February 25, 2011, the Chinese frigate Dongguan fired three shots at Philippine fishing boats in the vicinity of Jackson atoll. The shots were fired after the frigate instructed the fishing boats to leave, and one of those boats experienced trouble removing its anchor.

In April 2012, the Philippine warship Gregorio del Pilar was involved in a standoff with two Chinese surveillance vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by both nations.

The Philippine navy tried to arrest Chinese fishermen who were allegedly taking government-protected marine species from the area, but the surveillance boats prevented them.

On April 16, 2012, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged a Philippine archaeological ship to immediately leave the waters of the Scarborough Shoal, which China claims is an "integral part of its territory."

On May 7, 2012, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying called a meeting with Alex Chua, Charge D'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China, to make a serious representation over the current incident at the Scarborough Shoal.

China then raised trade barriers on imported pineapples and bananas from the Philippines. On May 16, 2012, a fishing ban in the Scarborough Shoal by the governments of China and the Philippines became effective.

By July 2012, China had erected a barrier to the entrance of the shoal.

On September 5, 2012, Filipino President Aquino promulgated Administrative Order No. 29, naming maritime areas on the western side of the Philippine archipelago as the West Philippine Sea.

On September 23, China launched a program to increase the number of UAVs monitoring the Scarborough Shoal, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands.

On January 10, 2014, China imposes a "fishing permit" rule in the South China Sea, much to the chagrin of the United States, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

On March 11, 2014, two Philippine ships are expelled by the Chinese Coast Guard from Ayungin Shoal in the Spratlys Islands.

In January 30, 2013, Filipino officials took their territorial disputes with China to international arbitration after Chinese government ships took control of a disputed shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

On March 30, 2014, the Philippines submit its legal arguments and evidence on the case.


China and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the Philippines, signed an agreement in 2002 to refrain from occupying uninhabited reefs and shoals in the sea, and from building new structures that would complicate disputes.

The DECLARATION ON THE CONDUCT OF PARTIES IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA (DOC) says the parties reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and other universally recognized principles of international law which shall serve as the basic norms governing state-to-state relations;

The parties plan to set up a formal code of conduct (COC) to resolve the dispute and prevent any potential conflict. But the process of negotiations has been proceedings very slowly.

Official voices from the governments:

With the Philippines’ arbitration bid progressing before the United Nations, China blasted Manila for its legal recourse to settle maritime disputes in the South China Sea, and accused the Philippines of deviating from the agreed upon guidelines of discipline, as well as provoking tensions in the disputed waters.

In strongly worded remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying scored the Philippines for its “indifference” to China’s position and charged Manila with discrediting Beijing before the international community, reported The Inquirer.

The Philippines on February 25, 2014 strongly protested China’s water cannon attack on Filipino fishermen in a disputed shoal nearly a month ago, citing how such acts “escalate tensions” and “threaten the peace” in the region.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told reporters that while the Chinese action was “alarming,” it did not warrant an immediate military response.

The Philippine government on May 14, 2014 released military surveillance photos of Chinese land reclamation on a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea that it said showed Beijing violated a regional agreement not to escalate territorial disputes, reported CBC News.

Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Charles Jose said the pictures show Chinese aggressiveness in asserting its claims over the entire South China Sea.

The aerial photographs were accompanied by a caption stating that they were obtained from "Philippine intelligence sources." The caption said the "extensive reclamation" by China on the Johnson South Reef, called Mabini by Manila and Chigua by Beijing, was "destabilizing.

The Philippines on February 27, 2014 called on Malaysia, Vietnam and other claimants to join its legal challenge to China's massive territorial claim in the South China Sea, reported AP.

The Philippines chief lawyer, Solicitor-General Francis Jardeleza, said Malaysia, Vietnam and two other governments could either take part in the Philippine case or file their own complaints against China.

Smaller countries, he said, can only have a chance to peacefully defend their territories against the Asian superpower in a legal arena.

"Where can the weak go?" Jardeleza asked in a Manila forum on the territorial disputes. "We are here to prove that from the point of view of the rule of law, all of the actions and all of the claims of China are ... invalid."

What does international media say

china's marine disputes, the philippines, east sea disputes

The Philippines accuses China of strengthening its military presence in the South China Sea

In a resolution issued in Brussels in March 2014,  the Centrist Democrat International (CDI)  said it “condemns the forcible takeover and occupation of the Scarborough Islets and the Ayungin Islands in the South China Sea” that the CDI said were “possessed and occupied by the Philippines as part of its continental shelf and within its exclusive economic zone.”

The CDI is an umbrella organization of political parties and groups working with democratic governments around the world.

New York Times June 16, 2014 reported that Chinese actions have also worried senior United States officials. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scolded China for “land reclamation activities at multiple locations” in the South China Sea at a contentious security conference in Singapore in late May.

Critics say the islands will allow China to install better surveillance technology and resupply stations for government vessels. Some analysts say the Chinese military is eyeing a perch in the Spratlys as part of a long-term strategy of power projection across the Western Pacific.

US Secretary of State John Kerry in April 2013 conveyed Washington’s support to the Philippine Government’s decision to bring its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea before a UN arbitration tribunal, describing Manila’s move as “a step in the right direction.”

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Kerry expressed the US' full support for the Philippines in aiming to seek for a peaceful resolution to the disputes over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which is being claimed by four other countries—Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.

Kerry specifically said the US will be showing support for the Philippine initiative to form an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit and related meetings.

Filipino newspapers China keep doubtful about China’s willingness to set up a COC for the South China Sea issue.

GMA News in June 2014 commented that China will not likely work for a rapid completion of a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea until all its expansion activities in the resource-rich waters is completed, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Thursday.

Del Rosario, casting doubts on China’s sincerity in agreeing to negotiations on a non-aggression pact with its Southeast Asian neighbors, said its “expansion agenda” in the South China Sea is stalling efforts to finalize a code.

“I’m not very optimistic about whether China is serious about an expeditious conclusion [of a code of conduct] because I can see the aggressive provocative acts that we are seeing now and which is, I think, is their way to pursue an expansion agenda,” Del Rosario told reporters at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on disaster management in Manila.

China - which claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea—has recently increased its construction activities and civilian and military presence in contested areas, triggering concerns among its smaller Asian neighbors that are also laying claim to some parts of the area.


Malacañang reappoints 'bypassed' officials

From the Philippine Star (Jul 7): Malacañang reappoints 'bypassed' officials

Malacañang has re-appointed officials, including Energy Secretary Jericho Carlos Petilla, bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) during the adjournment of Congress last June 14.

Based on the documents of the CA, Malacañang also appointed Jose Mejia as a member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) for a term of four years beginning July 9, 2014 until July 8, 2018.

Brigadier Generals Arnold Manciat, John Oliviamor Estabillio, Medardo Geslani, Edgar Gonzales, and Vicente Yordan were also appointed for their rank along with over 100 officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines who were re-appointed by the executive department.

Unlike career ministers and foreign service officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) who were re-appointed by the Palace, there is no notice that Commission on Election (Comelec) commissioner Grace Padaca has been re-appointed by the Palace.

Padaca was among those who were bypassed when Congress adjourned sine die last month.

The CA records were updated as of July 2.


MILF: BM caucus conveys stand on BBB Delay

From the MILF Website (Jul 8): BM caucus conveys stand on BBB Delay

Solidarity Mission to Mindanao. A delegate warmly confers with the representatives of local advocacy organizations based in Central Mindanao, including the Bangsamoro Caucus, during the “Solidarity Mission to Mindanao,” an RTD conducted by the Initiative for International Dialogue (IID) on July 2 at Cotabato City as part of its "Friends of the Bangsamoro" Campaign.

The Bangsamoro Caucus conveyed its official stand on the current delayed status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as it is still stranded at the Office of the President (OP) during the “Solidarity Mission to Mindanao,” a half-day Round Table Discussion (RTD) conducted by the Initiative for International Dialogue (IID) on July 2 at Cotabato City.
This was in response to the restive pronouncements of some sectors invoking transparency and thereby calling for the full disclosure and publication of both the BTC’s original draft and the OP’s “castrated” version of the BBL.

“Transparency is never an issue among us. We trust our leaders in the MILF. Hence, we can always wait for whatever they may advise us,” said Datu Habib Sharifuddin Maulana of the Caucus secretariat.

His statement even confirmed the Caucus’ tacit reservation and option to take exception from the bandwagon of “cynics” and instead appeals for sobriety in the midst of this hullabaloo over the alleged BBL “secrecy” by both parties.

It was conveyed timely with the visit of IID’s partners from Southeast Asia that same date for a “Solidarity Mission to Mindanao” as part of its “Friends of the Bangsamoro” Campaign, IID’s joint undertaking with the local advocacy groups and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict in Southeast Asia (GPPAC-SEA).

The Mission aims to help mobilize popular support for the successful conclusion of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation and the eventual passage of the BBL into law in congress. It consisted of delegations from East Timor, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and one from the Netherlands.

According to them, the delegates were very grateful as the Mission has accorded them opportunity to interact with different local advocacy groups here in Central Mindanao including UNYPAD, AFADMin, MAPAD, MHINRAC, BCJP, Kabalikat Civicom, Seed Foundation, MWDECC, KASAMA, Al-Ihsan and MAP.

They were happy to share their people’s respective experiences as they are also struggling for right to self-determination in their own countries and to know more about the struggle of the Moro people which have reached another milestone when CAB was signed between the GRP and the MILF last April 27, this year. 

The delegates were amazed by the stable status of CSOs here, their strong linkages and convergence between and among them on the common advocacy for the Bangsamoro.

A delegate from Thailand particularly from the district of Pattani is stricken with awe upon knowing how the struggle of the Bangsamoro have reach this far. Thai Muslims in Pattani as well as in Yala and Narathiwat of the south of Thailand also experience related ethnic and religious discrimination.  

The RTD was facilitated by UNYPAD and MAPAD, both are local partners for local and international advocacy works of IID, a regional solidarity and advocacy organization based in Davao City.

Bangsamoro Caucus is a consortium of seven local NGOs based in Central Mindanao engaged in advocacy convergence in the community and national legislature. Specifically, it aims to consolidate and integrate grass root advocacy works in the localities as well as gain legislative support to the BBL in congress. 

UNYPAD, MAPAD, AFADMin and MWDECC are convenors of the Bangsamoro Caucus.


CPP/Ang Bayan: Hold Aquino and his co-conspirators accountable

Propaganda statement by CPP Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Jul 7): Hold Aquino and his co-conspirators accountable
CPP Ang Bayan
The Supreme Court yielded to the Filipino people’s surging resistance to the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) when it declared that using the DAP is violative of the Philippine constitution.
Although the decision was fraught with loopholes to enable Benigno Aquino III to evade criminal liability, it could not but underscore the fact that public funds have been used by the ruling regime according to whim and to further its political interests.

The decision will spur the people’s struggle to completely abolish the pork barrel system and hold the Aquino regime to account for plunder and corruption.

The DAP is a system invented by the Aquino regime that accords Aquino the privilege of distributing billions of pesos in public funds at his own discretion.

The DAP system was begun under the leadership of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Sec. Florencio “Butch” Abad in 2011. All DBM memorandum orders that released up to `177 billion were signed and approved by Aquino.

Various sectors are demanding a detailed accounting of how DAP was spent. Aquino claims that it was used for “economic development projects.” In fact, Aquino allotted it to his minions’ projects to ensure their loyalty and support.

The Supreme Court decision is designed to absolve Aquino since only specific portions have been declared unconstitutional. Moreover, none of those involved in the fund malversations of the past under DAP will be held liable. This provides Aquino with the means of evading possible impeachment in the Lower House of Congress. Why, indeed, would he be impeached by the very beneficiaries of DAP and PDAF?

Nonetheless, filing and impeachment case in the Lower House will help identify and isolate Aquino allies in Congress who have long been benefiting from the DAP and PDAF and refuse to hold the Pork Barrel King accountable for his crimes.

The Supreme Court decision and the people’s growing clamor to hold Aquino to account and oust him will further push the ruling Aquino clique to pull all stops to remain in power beyond 2016 in order to evade criminal prosecution. Thus, it is a must to go all-out in exposing, isolating and ousting the Aquino regime before the 2016 elections.

One effective means of molding public opinion in order to completely isolate the Aquino clique is to hold widespread people’s assemblies in communities, schools, factories, offices, churches and many other areas where the public could air its grievances against the Aquino regime and the latter’s lies under the illusory “righteous road” and “good governance” slogans.

In these assemblies, the Filipino people can muster their anger not only against the Aquino regime’s corruption, but against its accountability for widespread unemployment, low wages, rising prices of food and medicine, landlessness and mounting cases of landgrabbing.

The regime must likewise answer for its policies that have given rise to tuition fee hikes in public and private schools, criminal negligence of millions of calamity victims, the relentless export of migrant labor, intensifying military abuses and all-out war against the peasant masses. The Aquino regime must also be prosecuted for treason in having signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and allowing all-out US military presence in the country.


Manila tipped off on 5 ‘terrorists’

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 8): Manila tipped off on 5 ‘terrorists’

Philippine authorities have been alerted by Malaysia about five alleged international terrorists linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group, police sources said on  Monday.

The alleged terrorists went into hiding in  Mindanao following the Malaysian crackdown on Islamic militants, a source said.

The five militants, according to Malaysia’s star Online  were University Malaya lecturer Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, shop owner Mohd Najib Husen, former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39, Darul Islan Sabah members Mohd Amin Baco, 31 and Jeknal Adil, 30.

“We are coordinating our intelligence with the Philippines counter-terrorism unit and Interpol,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Hamidi as quoted by the Star Online.

Malaysian authorities believed the terrorists might have sought sanctuary in one of  ASG camps in Sulu and, also believed to be haven for  the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Authorities were trying to ascertain if the militants could be in contact with terrorist Zulkifli Abdul Khir, also known as Marwan, the most wanted terrorist in the region, who was last sighted by Philippine troops in the company of BIFF rebels in Mindanao.


Three-way fight for AFP chief looms; top gun early favorite

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 8): Three-way fight for AFP chief looms; top gun early favorite

A three-way battle for the top military post shaped up on Monday as the incumbent Gen. Emmanuel Bautista would be retiring in a week’s time after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

The contenders are Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jefrey Delgado (PMA “Sandigan” Class 1982), Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang (PMA Class 1981) and Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Irriberi (PMA “Matikas” Class 1983).

Bautista, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Dimalupig” Class of 1991, presided over his last command conference at Camp Aguinaldo but this was not made open to the media.

Sources said the command conference assessed   the military’s counter-insurgency program dubbed as Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan.

The IPSP replaced   Bantay Laya 1 and 2 of the previous administration that failed to put an end to the 45-year-old communist insurgency.

Bautista, then AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, pushed for the IPSP which earned him the moniker “Bayanihan general.” The IPSP aimed to involve all sectors to end the communist insurgency.

All three  contenders are members of the Board of Generals led by the chief of staff.

Of the contenders, it was Delgado who said he was not banking on the remaining years of his career to become chief of staff.

I’m not really thinking about that at this time. I’m very much contented  with where I am now. I am very much focused on the directions of the Philippine Air Force, “Delgado told reporters during a recent interview.

Delgado  as a young lieutenant served as  chief security aide for Kris Aquino, the youngest sister of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

His closest rival though is Irriberi, former Senior Military Adviser  and spokesman of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Irriberi may able to “steal the thunder” amid talk that Delgado has already “conceded”.

Catapang, on the other hand, is already a “spent force,” a military source said without going into details.


PHL opposes law increasing China's military presence in South China Sea

From GMA News (Jul 8): PHL opposes law increasing China's military presence in South China Sea

The Philippines on Tuesday signaled its opposition to a new Chinese law that will subject nearly the entire South China Sea to Beijing’s military enforcement—a move that is likely to further fuel tensions in the troubled waters.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine government was still “studying the new law and its possible implications,” but maintained that Manila had “sovereignty and rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea.”
China’s new law, the South China Morning Post reported, “would step up protection of China's military facilities and its territorial waters following reports of inadvertent intrusions into restricted zones and concerns about spying.” It is said to take effect on August 1.
Jose said the Philippines will complete its assessment of the latest Chinese directive “as soon as possible” to determine its next course of action. 
The Philippines has adopted the name West Philippine Sea for parts of the South China Sea that falls under its exclusive economic zone, a 200 nautical-mile stretch of sea from a coast where a country has an exclusive right to fish, explore oil and exploit other resources but where foreign ships could freely pass through.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the resource-rich waters, a vital sealane where oil and natural gas have been discovered in several areas.
China claims almost 90 percent of the South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line map and the cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south that’s called the Spratlys.
Manila filed a case against China before a The Hague-based tribunal to try to declare its massive claim illegal.

MILF urges Aquino to 'personally' address snag in peace process, blames OPAPP

From InterAksyon (Jul 8): MILF urges Aquino to 'personally' address snag in peace process, blames OPAPP

MILF fighters cheer after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (file)

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Tuesday urged President Benigno Aquino III to “personally attend” to a snag in the Mindanao peace process, saying the government’s review of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law was too obsessed with legalities.

An editorial on the MILF website, Luwaran, said Aquino’s name was “at stake” as it warned that, “like the MILF, not all in government prefer to solve this conflict in Mindanao through peaceful means and fairly.”

“There are those whose agenda run counter to the policies of the MILF and government and whenever opportunity arises they will do their thing on their own fashion,” the editorial said. “The worst enemy is not from without but from within. That is why spies and traitors are punished painfully during wars or even in peacetime.”

Although the editorial did not name who the MILF thought was responsible for the setback, it said: “Part of the review team were the very office tasked by the government to oversee the conduct of peace negotiations not just with the MILF but with all ‘rebel’ groups in the Philippines and a former lady commissioner of the BTC who did not sign the proposed BBL.”

This is a clear reference to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, headed by Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles.

The BBL is supposed to be the basis for the creation of a new autonomous entity, the Bangsamoro, to replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as agreed by the government and MILF in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

After it was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, chaired by MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, the draft BBL was submitted to Malacanang which, in turn, was supposed to pass it to Congress before it adjourned last month.

The setback was first disclosed by MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal -- who is also chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that drew up the draft BBL -- in a speech at a peace forum in Istanbul, Turkey on June 26-27, in which he recounted that, just before a meeting between Aquino and MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Hiroshima, Japan on June 23, he was handed “a copy of the proposed BBL bearing the remarks and comments from the OP, which heavily diluted the original proposal coming from the BTC.”

The remarks, which Iqbal quoted an MILF lawyer as saying “would be worse than the Republic Act No. 9054 that created the so-called Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” became the subject of the meeting between Aquino and Murad.

Reacting to Iqbal’s disclosure, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer issued a statement assuring that, “we are not throwing in the towel because we do need the towel for this laborious task that is 99 percent perspiration.”

“We appeal to the understanding of all sectors who have accompanied this process and who like us desire to institutionalize a Bangsamoro that is grounded on a solid foundation and enjoying very strong people's support,” she said.

However, the Luwaran editorial described the OP’s comments as “like a cow bearing a horse, which defies the law of science or nature that the offspring will always carry the genes of the parents.”

“We do not know what made the review team look at the Moro Question as purely legal matter,” the editorial said, as it reiterated the MILF’s position that “the current Constitution would require an amendment to finally put to rest the conflict in Mindanao,” in contrast to government’s stand that the Charter “has the flexibilities to accommodate and implement legally” the CAB.

While the editorial also acknowledged calls for the draft BBL to be made public, it stressed that the MILF “is not taking an active endorsement” of these calls.

Nevertheless, it said the current snag had led people to “speculate on the nature” of the OP’s comments on the draft BBL and had, thus, made it “better to discuss, at least the generalities of the comments, rather than close the door of their understanding completely.”

“The people have the right to know,” it said.


US official: Beijing's South China Sea claim problematic

Posted to InterAksyon (Jul 8): US official: Beijing's South China Sea claim problematic

Beijing's claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea is "problematic" and the Asian giant's actions have raised tensions, a senior US official said Tuesday on the eve of high-stakes talks.

China also disputes islands with Japan -- a US security ally that Washington is treaty-bound to defend if attacked -- and officials travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry said they had "heightened concerns" about "the readiness of claimants to utilise military, paramilitary, coastguard forces in furtherance of their claims".

Kerry arrived in Beijing Tuesday for the sixth Strategic and Economic Dialogue, billed as the main annual meeting between the world's two largest economies.

The two days of tough discussions will seek to chart a path ahead in turbulent China-US ties roiled by differences over Asia-Pacific maritime tensions, Internet hacking and trade issues.

China's claim to the strategic South China Sea -- also claimed in part by the Philippines and Vietnam, among others -- is based on a line drawn on 20th century maps.

"The ambiguity associated with the nine-dash line is problematic," said a US official travelling with Kerry.

China and its neighbours have stepped up their patrols of disputed areas, and recent spats in the South China Sea have led to boats ramming each other, the use of water cannon and arrests of fishermen.

The heightened tensions are "very relevant to the United States as a Pacific power, as a major trading nation, as an important consumer of the sea lanes and as a long-term guarantor of stability in the Asia-Pacific region," the senior US administration official said.

The official spoke anonymously in order to discuss the talks frankly, and added that the conversation will be held in "a very direct, candid, and constructive way".

In a related development, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday played down recent tensions with neighbor China, saying the countries were "inextricably linked" and his door was always open for dialogue.

Tokyo and Beijing have long been at odds over islands in the East China Sea, with simmering distrust flaring last week after Japan relaxed restrictions on the use of its armed forces in a controversial change in military policy.

Abe was in the Australian capital Canberra where he and counterpart Tony Abbott signed an agreement on closer defense ties, a move that could further anger China.

"The China relationship is one of our most important bilateral relationships, so it should be a mutually beneficial relationship based on strategic interests," Abe said at a press conference.

"The door to China is open from the Japanese side and we hope that the Chinese side take the same posture."

He added that the "fundamental position of Japan is that we want to improve our relationship with China".

In an interview with The Australian newspaper Abe urged Beijing to play a constructive role in regional security.

"Japan and China are inextricably linked to each other. It is not uncommon for various unresolved issues to exist between neighboring countries," he said.

"China is a major country which, together with Japan and Australia, has to play a prominent role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.

"It is my strong expectation China will abide by international norms and play a constructive role in dealing with regional issues.

"In accordance with the principle of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, I would like to develop relations with China in a way that keeps a broad perspective."

China last week lashed out at Abe after his cabinet formally endorsed a reinterpretation of a constitutional clause banning the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances.

Beijing argued that it could open the door to remilitarization of a country it considers insufficiently penitent for its actions in World War II.

Tensions also continue to simmer over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

During his visit to Australia, Abe attended a meeting of the cabinet-level National Security Committee in Canberra and addressed parliament, the first Japanese leader to do so.

The two sides also finalised a deal to share defense technology, which could lead to closer cooperation on submarine technology and an increase in joint military training.

Abe said in the interview that Australia and Japan had become "strategic partners through deepening concrete defense cooperation", as well as through joint peacekeeping efforts, joint military exercises and exchanges of defence leaders.

Abbott also moved to reassure China, saying Canberra's closer defence relationship with Japan was "not a partnership against anyone; it's a partnership for peace, for prosperity and for the rule of law".

"Our objective is engagement. We both welcome the greater trust and openness in our region that's exemplified by China's participation in this year's RIMPAC naval exercises," he told parliament.


China deploys missile-armed nuclear subs to South China Sea

Posted to InterAksyon (Jul 8): China deploys missile-armed nuclear subs to South China Sea

From Navy.81.Cn

China has deployed three nuclear powered ballistic missile-armed submarines to its South China Sea fleet to further stamp its power and influence in the region, where it is embroiled in territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Chinese media released a photo, apparently taken last May, of three Type 094 missile submarines docked at a Yulin naval base on Hainan Island.

The submarines' presence at Hainan Island, which is China's main base covering the South China Sea, is seen as a major development as this the first time Beijing deployed its ballistic missile submarines to a forward base.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy marked two milestones in this year's CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) naval exercises with the US Navy.

One: The Philippine Navy carried out ship borne helicopter operations using its new Augusta / Westland AW109E helicopters from BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

Photo (above) shows an AgustaWestland helicopter similar to the ones procured by the Philippine Navy.

Both ships are equipped with one helicopter each and outfitted for maritime patrol and search and rescue.

The Philippine Navy plans to upgrade the helicopters' capabilities to include anti – submarine warfare but this will depend on availability of funds.

The second milestone: The BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio del Pilar carried out open sea operations and maritime interdiction exercises for the first time with the US Navy.

Philippine Navy Lt. (JG) Rommel Rodriguez, Philippine Navy Fleet spokesman, said both ships have taken part in other naval exercises prior to CARAT.

The Type 094, also known as the Jin Class, is China's first ballistic missile submarine and is armed with 12 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with a range of 4,900 miles.

The Washington Free Beacon, a US online newspaper, noted that the stationing of the three Chinese missile submarines at Hainan Island is the beginning of regular sea patrols in the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

The timing of the submarines' deployment also came at the height of tensions between China and Vietnam.

Sometime in April, a Kilo–class attack submarine was spotted by surveillance aircraft in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands.

However, it was not determined if the submarine was Chinese or Vietnamese as both countries are equipped with this submarine class.

According to the article, US Adm. Samuel Locklear, US Pacific Command chief, described China's submarine force as "large and with significant capability."

"China continues the production of ballistic missile submarines," Admiral Locklear was quoted as telling the US House Armed Services Committee in March 2014, warning further that China will have a "credible sea–based nuclear deterrent" by the end of 2014.

The international defense industry web site, IHS Jane's Fighting Ships, pointed out that the People's Liberation Army – NAVY (PLAN) already has four operational Type 094s as well as five nuclear attack submarines.

China also has 53 diesel–electric submarines in its fleet.

Another defense industry web site showed surveillance photos of a 5th Type 094 submarine being built at China's Bohai shipyards.

Apart from the three submarines, China also recently sent two Type 056 Jiangdao–class guided missile corvettes to its South China Sea fleet.

According to Jane's Fighting Ships, the Jiangdao class corvette is normally armed with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, as well as a 76mm main gun and two 30mm cannons.

Lt. Rodriguez of the Philippine Navy Fleet said CARAT 2014 was the first time integrated helicopter operations were conducted with BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz in real world situations.

"This year's CARAT focused on strengthening Maritime Domain Awareness, which includes training on Visit, Board, Search, Seizure (VBSS) operations, maritime interdiction operations and search and rescue," Lt. Rodriguez told TV5, "This has enabled the Navy to test and evaluate this operational doctrine."

Anti–submarine warfare training was not included in CARAT 2014, but Rodriguez stressed that the Philippine Navy plans to develop this capability, although "budget is the main requirement."

"At this stage, we are already conducting studies on the specifications, though there are still other assets in the priority pipeline," he conceded.

The Philippine Navy will acquire two additional AW109Es, for a total of five helicopters. According to AgustaWestland, the two additional helicopters will be equipped for economic zone protection, surface surveillance, search and rescue and maritime security.

AgustaWestland said the AW109E's cabin is designed to be outfitted with a number of "modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles." Delivery of the two helicopters is expected at the end of 2014.

Alleged NPA leader captured in Zambo Norte

From MindaNews (Jul 8): Alleged NPA leader captured in Zambo Norte

A suspected New People’s Army leader was captured Monday following a skirmish in the hinterlands of Zamboanga del Norte, an Army official said.

Col. Apolinario Alobba, commander of the Army’s 101st Infantry Battalion, identified the alleged NPA leader as Mercy Maghinay, 35, who reportedly carries the aliases of Ka Joycee and Ka Genevie.

Alobba tagged Maghinay as the secretary of Front Feliciano “B” of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

He said Maghinay was captured around 12 noon Monday following a 15-minute firefight in Sitio Guigang, Barangay Guibo, Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte.

He said Maghinay was captured after she was abandoned by her comrades who fled to different directions.

Alobba said the firefight ensued when the troops chanced upon the NPA rebels while conducting security patrol after receiving reports there were lawless elements in the area.

He said the troops recovered a shotgun, a caliber .45 pistol, a hand grenade and P100,000 cash.

He said the rebels that figured in Monday’s clash were responsible in the burning of construction equipment worth P50.3 million on November 19, 2013 in Sitio Gusay, Barangay Titik, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.


Ranking female NPA leader nabbed in Zambo Peninsula

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Ranking female NPA leader nabbed in Zambo Peninsula

A ranking female New People's Army (NPA) leader was nabbed by militiamen under the 20th Special Forces Company during operations in Sitio Guigang, Barangay Guibo, Siayan town, Zamboanga Del Norte Monday.

Capt. Franco Suelto, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson, said the troops were on routine security patrol when fired upon by a band of NPA guerillas, including arrested rebel leader Mercy B. Maghinay around 12 noon the other day.

Return fire from government troopers forced the NPAs to retreat leaving Maghinay behind along with one .45 caliber pistol, one hand grenade, one shotgun and PHP100,000 in cash.

Suelto said Maghinay is believed to be the top leader of local NPA group “Feliciano Bravo” frequenting the hinterlands of Zamboanga Del Norte.

Her group was also said to be responsible in the burning of construction equipments approximately worth PHP50.3 million pesos in Sitio Gusay, Barangay Titik, Sindangan,Zamboanga Del Norte last Nov. 19.

Last month in Zamboanga Del Norte, the NPA also left a female member behind after an engagement with 10th Infantry Battalion which eventually prompted her to surrender to the operating troops.

“The incident was the latest on the strings of captured or surrendered NPA. After hiding several years in General Santos City, Maghinay was previously arrested by virtue of different warrant of arrest related to her crimes as top leader of NPA in Oct. 5, 2008. She opted to rejoin her comrades which reflects the dwindling and weak leadership of the NPA in Western Mindanao that even previously captured leaders were accepted to lead the group," Suelto pointed out.


Letter of Credit for F/A-50 to be opened within 7 days --DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Letter of Credit for F/A-50 to be opened within 7 days --DND

The letter of credit (LOC) for the purchase of the South Korean F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" will be opened within seven days, Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Modernization, Installation and Munitions Fernando Manalo said Tuesday.

"The LOC will be opened within seven days starting today (Tuesday)," Manalo added, without giving further details.

An LOC is a document issued by a financial institution, or a similar party, assuring payment to a seller of goods and/or services provided certain documents have been presented to the bank.

Contract for the Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) jet aircraft, of which the Philippines has ordered 12 units for P18 billion, was signed last March 28.

Upon opening of the LOC, two F/A-50 jet aircraft are expected to be delivered within 18 months.

The next two units will be delivered 12 months later and the remaining eight jet planes in staggered basis within eight months.

The F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles, aside from light automatic cannons.

The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter aircraft until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter planes.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.4-1.5. Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.


Two of three suspects charged for death of Impasug-ong mayor are former rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): Two of three suspects charged for death of Impasug-ong mayor are former rebels

A ranking police official on Tuesday announced that two of the three suspects charged in the killing of Impasug-ong Mayor Mario Okinlay last week are former New People's Army (NPA) fighters.

Senior Supt. Pedro Austria, 10th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (RCIDU-10) chief, identified those charged as Joven Yanggo and Efren Yanggo.

Both men are members of the NPA's Front Committee 88 who already surrendered in January 2012.

Austria said they have photographs and files on the two as residents of Impasug-ong and were given financial aid by the government when they surrendered more than two years ago.

Under the program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, rebels who surrender are given P50,000 livelihood assistance, P15,000 "immediate assistance," and as high as P50,000 pesos for every firearm surrendered.

Austria said they are still determining if the Yanggos have already returned to the NPA, even after the rebel group claimed responsibility for killing Okinlay.

A certain Ryan Daluniag was charged along with the Yanggos for killing Okinlay, but there is no evidence yet linking him to the NPA, Austria said.

The case was filed before the Bukidnon Provincial Prosecutors Office in Malaybalay City on Friday, after witnesses identified the three as those who allegedly carried out the ambush last July 2.


PHL gov't studying new Chinese law that will strengthen military hold in the South China Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 8): PHL gov't studying new Chinese law that will strengthen military hold in the South China Sea

The government is studying the implications of a new Chinese law that will bolster Chinese military enforcement over the disputed South China Sea where the Philippines and several other Asian countries have overlapping claims.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said on Tuesday the government will finalize its assessment as soon as possible.

“We are studying the new law and its implications,” Jose stressed.

The new law, which takes effect on Aug. 1, would increase military protection of Chinese offshore territories in the contested waters, in what is seen as a latest attempt by China to reinforce its hold on the South China Sea, which is said to be rich in oil and natural gas.

Jose was quick to point out that the Philippines has “sovereignty and rights and jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea,” a name adopted by the Philippines for parts of the South China Sea that are covered by its exclusive economic zone.

China says it has indisputable ownership of almost the entire waters despite protests from its smaller Asian neighbors like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.


Army captures top female NPA leader in Zamboanga province

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 8): Army captures top female NPA leader in Zamboanga province

Photos released by the 1st Infantry Division to the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper show a captured NPA leader Mercy Maghinay being examined by a doctor as part of a routine procedure.

Government troops captured a top communist rebel leader following a firefight in the town of Siayan in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos, Jr, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said troops captured Mercy Maghinay, who heads the New People’s Army forces in the province.

Barrientos, quoting an army intelligence report, said Maghinay, a native of Zamboanga del Sur province, had been arrested in 2008 in General Santos City and eventually freed on bail only to rejoin the NPA in Zamboanga del Norte province.

Citing reports from Col. Apolinario Alobba, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade in Zamboanga del Norte, Barrientos said troops and government militiamen also recovered a shot gun, a .45-caliber pistol, a hand grenade and some P100,000 in cash from Maghinay.

Alobba said members of the Special Forces and 10th Infantry Battalion were patrolling the hinterland village of Guibo when it encountered Maghinay’s group near a rebel encampment and firefight ensued. He said there were no reports of military casualties and it was unknown if there were rebels killed or wounded in the fighting.

He said Maghinay’s group was also behind last year attack on a construction firm in the village of Titik in Zamboanga del Norte’s Sindangan town where rebels torched some P50 million in equipment.

Barrientos, quoting an army intelligence report, said Maghinay, a native of Zamboanga del Sur province, had been arrested in 2008 in General Santos City and eventually freed on bail only to rejoin the NPA in Zamboanga del Norte province.

“The capture of Maghinay is a big blow to the leadership of the NPA in Western Mindanao,” he said.

Barrientos also urged rebels to surrender peacefully and avail of the government’s amnesty program and various livelihood aids and reunite with their families. “The NPAs is on the run and they are tired and hungry and we urge them to return to the folds of the law and reunite with their families, join the mainstream society and live peacefully with the community,” he said.

“We shall ensure the safety and well-being of the NPAs who will lay down their arms.  This is an opportunity to live peacefully and return to the comfort of their families. We are Filipinos and we all aspire for a peaceful country,” he added.

The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a secessionist war for decades now and previous peace talks had collapsed after Manila rejected several demands by rebel leaders and among them is for the government to free all political prisoners languishing in jails across the country.


Malaysia intercepts Syrian man trying to sneak into Zamboanga City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 8): Malaysia intercepts Syrian man trying to sneak into Zamboanga City

Malaysia has intercepted a Syrian national who was trying to slip into the southern Philippines using a forged Malta passport, reports said Tuesday.

Malaysia’s The Star Online said the 32-year old Khaled Abdul Rahman Mohamad has been arrested in Sandakan town in Sabah before he could board ferry bound for Zamboanga City in southern Philippines on June 17. Mohamad arrived in Kuala Lumpur on June 6 using a Syrian passport.

Authorities are still investigating Mohamad, who pleaded guilty on July 7 for violating Malaysia’s Passport Act 1966. Investigation said that Mohammad has paid money to obtain the fake Malta passport. But authorities did not say where he got the passport and his reason for trying to sneak in the Philippines.

Just last month, Malaysian authorities arrested three of its citizens, one of them came from fresh training from southern Philippines, where  a Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli bin Hir who goes by the alias Marwan, is actively training recruits alongside with the militant group Abu Sayyaf.

Zulkifli, a leader of the Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia and member of the Jemaah Islamiya, had trained a significant number of bombers and new cadre of Malaysian militants who are looking for combat experience before joining militant groups active in Syria and Iraq, among them the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, according to another report by the Kuala Lumpur-based newspaper New Straits Times.

Citing intelligence sources, the report said those who had gone for training at the Abu Sayyaf camps had also participated in the group’s militant and criminal activities. It said militants were required to pay a significant amount of money for the training that would provide them with the skills and confidence needed in battle.

It was not immediately known whether the spike on ransom kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines and cross-border raids in Sabah was connected to the training of the militants or if ransom money is being used to finance the training and for the purchase of weapons by the group.