Monday, July 14, 2014

Pew: 5 key takeaways on global views of the U.S. and China

From the Pew Research Center (Jul 14): 5 key takeaways on global views of the U.S. and China

As new revelations about America’s electronic surveillance efforts continue to emerge, a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread opposition around the world to U.S. eavesdropping. Still, America’s overall image remains mostly positive. At the same time, however, people see the global balance of power shifting, with China on the rise, and the U.S. in relative decline.

Here are five key takeaways on how the world views the U.S., China, and the superpower competition between the two major rivals.

In nearly all 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens.

1 People around the world don’t want the U.S. eavesdropping on their leaders or their citizens – or for that matter, on American citizens. In nearly all 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens. And most tend to believe the U.S. government shouldn’t listen in on American citizens either. Moreover, the revelations about U.S. spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden seem to have had an impact on America’s reputation for respecting individual liberty – in 22 of 36 countries polled this year and last, fewer people now believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedom of its people.

In nearly all of the 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens.

2  They don’t like drones either. In 39 of 44 countries, a majority or plurality oppose U.S. drone strikes against extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In 27 nations, at least seven-in-ten disapprove of drones. The only three countries where at least half support drone strikes are Israel, Kenya and the U.S.

3 Still, the U.S. remains largely popular around the world. Across 43 nations, a median of 65% express a favorable opinion of the U.S. The U.S. gets its highest ratings from a diverse set of countries: the Philippines, Israel, South Korea and El Salvador. Views remain overwhelmingly negative in several predominantly Muslim nations, such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a more positive overall image than its main geopolitical rival – a median of just 49% give China a favorable rating.

World Sees China as Eventual Top Power

4 But global publics tend to believe that China will surpass the U.S. to become the world’s leading superpower. A median of 49% say China will eventually replace or has replaced the U.S. as the world's leading superpower; 34% disagree. This view is shared across all regions surveyed – Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia. This is especially true among some of America’s top European allies. Across the seven European Union nations polled, a median of 60% think China will or already has replaced the U.S.; only 33% say this will never happen.

5 Many in Asia worry that territorial disputes will lead to conflict with China. The rising power of China generates anxieties among its neighbors. In particular, there are widespread concerns that the many territorial disputes between China and other Asian nations will lead to a military conflict. More than eight-in-ten hold this view in the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea. Two-thirds of Americans and 62% of Chinese also say they are concerned.

Army troops recover landmines in General Nakar, Quezon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Army troops recover landmines in General Nakar, Quezon

Three landmines were discovered by elements of 1st Infantry (Always First) Battalion led by 1LT Lamosao during an encounter with at least 30 New People's Army (NPA) members in Barangay Marcelino, General Nakar over the weekend.

The landmines were retrieved after 15 minutes of firefight between the opposing troops. According to several residents, the NPAs suffered a number of casualties but this information is still to be validated. Meanwhile, two from the Army troopers were reported wounded and were taken to AFP Medical Center.

Prior to the encounter, there were reports received by this unit that CTs in the area were set to conduct military offensive actions against government forces and other soft targets particularly private contractors accomplishing priority projects of the government in the area.

According to LTC Mangabay, Commanding Officer, 1IB, he was aware of the information that the landmines laid by the CTs were intended for the trucks and other heavy equipment used in the on-going construction of the road connecting General Nakar, Quezon Province and Aurora Province.

Col. Rodel Mauro Alarcon, commanding officer of 202nd Brigade, denounced the use of landmines as a violation of the Geneva Convention Law as stated in the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by the NPA with the Philippine government in 1998.

General Nakar Mayor Leovegildo Ruzol, in an interview after the encounter, commended the move of the 1st Infantry Battalion in pursuit of peace and development in their municipality.

He also acknowledged the presence of Army troops especially their efforts in helping the municipality to achieve and sustain peace and order.

Village Peace Officer shot dead in Butuan City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): Village Peace Officer shot dead in Butuan City

Butuan City -- About 10 unidentified heavily armed men wearing camouflage military uniforms waylaid a village peace officer of a hinter barangay (village) in this city, Sunday afternoon, shot him at close range killing him on the spot, according to police reports.

Butuan City Police identified the fatality as Elicio Gallendo Cagat, 40; Purok Chairman and a resident of Purok 17, Tud-ol, Brgy. Tungao of this city.

The police report said that Cagat was shot by armed assailants at Km. 14, Purok 27 of the said village, 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Purok chairpersons are designated as peace officers of their districts.

According to witnesses, the victim was walking on his way home from Brgy. Tungao proper, when he was waylaid by the suspects, who fired at him close range, hitting the victim on the different parts of his body. He died on the spot. His remains now lies at his residence in said barangay.

Follow up investigation is now being conducted by the Butuan City Police Station 5 to identify the suspects and to file the appropriate charges against them.

It should be recalled that on the morning of June 26, heavily armed men in camouflage military uniform on board two passenger vans also raided a residence of a retired police officer in Purok 18, Lower Mandacpan, Brgy. San Vicente a riverside village of this city, inflicting damage on the vehicles of the owners and searched the premises for some firearms. The armed men took away a 12 gauge shotgun, four pairs of shoes, a motorcycle battery charger and the ignition keys of the owner's vehicles and fled the area before responding city police personnel arrived.

Police initially pointed to the communist rebels as the perpetrators of that incident. However, a deeper probe was still being conducted on the incident as well, police report said.

High-powered firearms, 3 landmines recovered from NPA in Sorsogon clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): High-powered firearms, 3 landmines recovered from NPA in Sorsogon clash

Military units in Sorsogon have recovered three high-powered firearms, three landmines and a handheld radio during an encounter with 25 New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Barangay San Isidro, Bulusan, Sorsogon Monday.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, said the troopers involved in the encounter were from the 31st Infantry Battalion.

The firefight lasted for 25 minutes, he added.

Zagala said the clash stemmed from a text message forwarded by concerned citizens in the area who reported that the rebels were conducting extortion activities in the area.

Col. Cesar M. Idio, 903rd Brigade Commander, further instructed his troops to sustain combat operations to ensure that the NPAs can no longer threaten the residents

“We will continue our focused internal peace and security operations to protect the people of Sorsogon from harassments and extortion activities by the NPAs. This is necessary in order for the province to have a conducive environment for its further development,” he added.

Bautista concludes farewell visit to major AFP commands

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Bautista concludes farewell visit to major AFP commands

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista concluded his farewell visits to major military headquarters in the country Monday, afew days before his retirement on July 18.

The last leg of Bautista’s tour Monday included a visit to the Southern Luzon Command Headquarters in Lucena City, where he was welcomed by its commander Lt.Gen. Caesar Ronnie F. Ordoyo.

He also visited the Philippine Navy’s Bonifacio Naval Station in Taguig City, Philippine Air Force Headquarters in Pasay City, and Philippine Army Headquarters also in Taguig City.

“The reason I’m here is to express my gratitude and compel you to sustain the momentum achieved by our 'Bayanihan'. I thank you for the services you rendered, the heroism you exhibited, and your sacrifices for the country,” Bautista said in his speech in Villamor Air Base.

“Our tasks going forward are challenging, but we only need to stand united as one organization loyal to our mandate as defender of our people and our nation. I am confident that the AFP will carry on with its accomplishments whoever the next chief-of-staff is,” he stressed.

Bautista was given a warm welcome in his tour at the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, and Philippine Air Force.

Army chief Lt.Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri presented Bautista with a plaque of his Command Duties.

Iriberri also praised the AFP chief's leadership in the implementation of IPSP Bayanihan, Army Transformation Roadmap and the AFP Transformation Roadmap.

“We acknowledge not only his dedication and discipline, but more importantly we acknowledge the legacy of excellence and patriotism that has made his tour of duty a time of growth for the AFP,” Iriberri said.

Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C Millan also expressed his gratitude to the chief-of-staff, who received a replica of BRP Alcaraz (PF-16) as memento, for his support to the Navy’s Strategic Sail Plan 2020 in connection with the AFP Transformation Roadmap.

Bautista was also welcomed by Air Force vice commander Major Gen. Wilfredo O. Ona, where the chief-of-staff thanked the officers and personnel of the Air Force for their role in defending Philippine territory, in assisting survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, and in supporting the operations in Zamboanga City.

Aside from his tour of Southern Luzon Command and Major Services Monday, Bautista also visited the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on July 12; Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac on July 11; and Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City and Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City on July 10.

He started his tour in Western Command in Palawan and Central Command in Cebu on July 9, where he also expressed his gratitude on the two units' commitment and dedication in fulfilling vital roles

The Central Command was at the center of humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations of the AFP in the aftermath of the Visayas earthquake and Supertyphoon "Yolanda".

Meanwhile, Western Command is currently at the forefront in defending Philippine territories in the South China Sea.

“Our nation and the whole world witnessed the service and heroism we exhibited in Visayas. They saw us in Bohol, Leyte, and Panay ravaged by 'Yolanda'. It is there that we wholeheartedly and skilfully showed the dedication of our soldiery. With that, I thank all of you," Bautista said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III's national address on July 14, 2014 (English version)

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): President Benigno S. Aquino III's national address on July 14, 2014 (English version)

"To my beloved countrymen, my bosses.

I asked for this opportunity to speak to you today, to explain a few points regarding the Supreme Court decision on DAP.

First of all: What was the situation when we came in?

When we assumed office last June 2010, the 2010 budget was still in effect, and we likewise inherited the proposed 2011 budget. Of the Php 1.54 trillion set aside for the government for the whole of 2010, only Php100 billion -- or 6.5 percent -- was left for the remaining six months of the year. You really have to wonder: Where did the money go?

You may also remember anomalous projects like the dredging of Laguna Lake, where we were supposed to pay 18.7 billion pesos just to play with mud; or the GOCCs that gave away exorbitant bonuses to its officials and employees, even if they were already operating at a loss.

It is clear that corruption was endemic in the budgeting system of the past. We made sure to excise all of that — we cancelled anomalous projects, we corrected the governance of GOCCs, and we began to end all the sleight of hand with the people’s money.

Through Zero-Based Budgeting, only programs that would truly benefit citizens would be given funding. With this method, there is no room for continuing appropriations, which was one of the reasons we had such a complicated bureaucracy; why there were so many opportunities for corruption; and why there were programs that fed the pockets of a few, thus depriving benefits from the rest of the nation.

Although it wasn’t our intention, fixing the budgeting process stalled the public sector’s contributions to the economy. Because of underspending, our GDP went down. If we were to look at this as an irrigation system: We were left with leaky canals that let too much water out. We first had to make made sure to seal those cracks in the system so we do not waste any more water, and make the entire mechanism more effective. And because there were just too many cracks in the channels, we couldn’t bring enough water to certain crops, water they needed to flourish.

We carefully studied the situation. We discovered that there were departments that were able to implement projects quickly and efficiently using the funds given them, because they immediately streamlined their system. There were also agencies that were in the process of examining their system, with an eye toward fixing flaws, to ensure that the people’s money wouldn’t be wasted. But, naturally, time didn’t stop as all this was going on; there were agencies that understood that they wouldn’t be able to use funds appropriated for the year toward projects for the people. So the question then was: What do we do with the funds we haven’t yet touched?

Allow me to clarify the meaning of savings in government. At home, don’t we see savings as something positive? For example, if you are able to buy meat at a discount, then you can get more ingredients.

In the case of government, savings has a much more complex meaning. At times, savings are welcome, such as in the case of DPWH, where, through correct and stringent measures for bidding and procurement, we were able to save over Php26 billion. There are instances, however, when savings spell something negative for our countrymen. Every year, the Executive branch submits to the Legislature a list of priority programs, activities, and projects that need funding. Once enacted into law, the budget must be spent within the year of allocation. And if funds for certain programs are not spent, as they should have been, clearly our countrymen did not gain what they should have. Did this not redound to a disadvantage for our countrymen? What this means is that every time there are savings such as this, every time funds remain unspent when they should have been spent, our Bosses are deprived of a benefit.

Without doubt, any good leader would want to implement projects that benefit the public at the soonest possible time. I do not see any reason to delay benefits for our countrymen, especially because we have the wherewithal to alleviate their plight. It is clear that if you delay the benefits due them, you prolong the suffering of the Filipino people.

Our strategy to meet our obligations: the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP. This is the second matter that I wish to discuss tonight.

DAP is not a project—it is an efficient way of spending the budget; it follows the law and adheres to the mandate granted to the Executive Branch. We did this to properly allocate funds, and by so doing maximize the benefits that the people may receive.

How did DAP start? Hours before delivering my SONA in 2011, I was given a progress report by all government departments. I was taken aback by certain information given to us.

For instance: According to DepEd, out of the 8,000 school buildings that they had targeted to build, they were only able to complete 18. To be honest, DepEd had tried its best, but they faced a number of concerns -- problems with land, assessment issues, as well as the complex processes in our bureaucracy. This is why, we asked them directly: Can you still meet your target in the remaining five months of the year? They responded to this candidly: 'We are doing all that we can, but we can only build three to four thousand classrooms until the year closes. We will have to build the remainder next year.' Thus was the story: Despite the many setbacks that the agency had to face, DepEd delivered. And now, we have eliminated what we inherited—a backlog of 66,800 classrooms.

The sitio electrification program is another project that was successfully implemented through the efficient use of savings. In 2012, our target was to energize 4,053 sitios. The budget had allotted Php3.87 billion for this. And because of the speedy and efficient implementation of this project, the National Electrification Administration requested more funds to light up an additional 2,110 sitios.

Through DAP, in 2012, Php1.264 billion were made available to electrify a total of 6,163 sitios -- out of the 36,000 that we need energize.

Is it not right that funds that had been otherwise left unused were utilized for programs that had proven effective, so that targets can be met and the benefits to the people can ensue at the soonest possible time? Another advantage of this system: Projects that were temporarily suspended for a given year would not have to compete for funding with the other finished projects in the following year. This is clearly a win-win situation.

Now, let’s talk about agencies such as the National Irrigation Authority or the NIA. When I spoke at their anniversary, they proudly stated that they had doubled their performance in meeting targets for rehabilitation and reconstruction. Looking at the numbers, however, we see that for the past ten years, they’ve performed well below target—targets that they set for themselves. We all know that it’s much easier to hide corruption through repairs, rather than through new projects, where the question simply becomes: Is it there, or isn’t it? For example: Can we see the new irrigation canals, or can’t we?

The NIA’s administrator back then also explained why, after achieving an 87 percent accomplishment rate for irrigation projects in 2011, the accomplishment rate dropped to 65 percent in 2012. Their excuse: 40 percent of the projects were in Mindanao, and was thus affected by Typhoon Pablo. Let me remind everyone: Typhoon Pablo hit Mindanao in the first week of December 2012. We asked, what reasons did they have to push the completion of Mindanao projects to the last three weeks of 2012? On top of this, remember that there are fewer workdays during Christmas and New Year’s. Incredible, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone would agree with this style of management, and we can’t let such attempts to fool us pass. We’ve since replaced the said NIA administrator.

Our aim is to not prolong the implementation of projects. The Cabinet agreed, regarding their respective funds: Use it or lose it. If you cannot use the funds allotted for this year, clearly, those are savings. We are given the chance to extend, at the soonest possible time, those benefits that have immediate impact to our Bosses. In this way, benefits that may have been delayed are replaced by other benefits. Let us also remember that the government is at a deficit: We have to borrow funds for our projects. If we allow funds to go unused, then we would be paying interest for nothing. The people clearly have nothing to gain from this setup.

The Supreme Court’s decision questions our use of savings, and raises concerns on when we can use unprogrammed funds. They want savings declared only at the 31st of December of each year. If that were the case, when would the government be free to utilize these funds? Following their logic on savings, projects that could have been funded in the middle of the current year would have to be delayed until the following year.

We also have a list of projects that would only be funded if government experiences a windfall in earnings, which are referred to as unprogrammed funds. With the Supreme Court’s decision, benefits would be delayed, because it would take until March of the following year to fulfill all the requirements regarding these funds; on top of this, it would all then have to go through another four to six months of bidding and procurement. If you file a report in March, it would be September of the following year by the time all of these processes are done. All in all, almost two years would have passed before the benefits of funds would redound to the people.

What are the implications of this? We have programs for the relocation of informal settlers to safer places. In the system the Supreme Court is ordering us to bring back, it might take two more rainy seasons before we are able to relocate our countrymen. Let us remember: about twenty typhoons come our way each year. Is it right to ask those living in hazardous areas to just leave everything to prayer?

My conscience cannot bear this. I cannot accept that our countrymen will be exposed to danger because I let the process of bringing them assistance be unduly extended. Let us remember: The National Treasury belongs to our citizens.

It is not only my conscience that dictates the efficient spending of funds; various provisions of the law that is our country’s Administrative Code clearly allow for the use of savings. For example, let us now read Book VI, Chapter 5, Section 39 of the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines:

'—Except as otherwise provided in the General Appropriations Act, any savings in the regular appropriations authorized in the General Appropriations Act for programs and projects of any department, office or agency, may, with the approval of the President, be used to cover a deficit in any other item of the regular appropriations…'

As you can see, this law openly gives the President the power to transfer savings to other projects. It does not limit the transfer to only one department or branch of government. In other words: We did not transgress the law when we implemented DAP. The Constitution and the Administrative Code are not at odds with each other.

In fact, we were surprised to find that the Supreme Court decision did not take into account our legal basis for DAP. How can they say that our spending methods are unconstitutional when they did not look into our basis? Even until now, Section 39 of the Administrative Code is in effect, along with its other sections.

This becomes even more worrisome when we take into account the 'operative fact doctrine,' which the Supreme Court also mentioned in its decision. This is simple. When a Supreme Court declares as unconstitutional any law or edict by the Executive, only those projects yet to be implemented under said law are deemed prohibited. The declaration does not include completed projects if this means stripping our citizens of benefits. This is only natural because it is not right to destroy bridges that have already been built, or to demolish houses that have already been bestowed to families of informal settlers.

Likewise, this doctrine also recognizes that implementors do not have to be held accountable as long as the edict was carried out 'in good faith.' But in their decision, the judges immediately presume the absence of good faith, which would then have to be proven through trial. What happened to the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty?'

There are also those who say that DAP and PDAF are the same thing. Excuse me. DAP is different from PDAF. With PDAF, the corrupt funneled government funds into fake NGOs, money then allegedly divided among themselves. It’s clear that with DAP the people’s money was never stolen -- the funds were used for the benefit of Filipinos. And not for later, not soon; but -- now: Programs that could be implemented immediately were implemented immediately.

And didn’t the Supreme Court itself, the World Bank -- even critics of DAP -- didn’t they all admit that DAP helped improve our economy?

It is clear that the Supreme Court has much to consider that they may better clarify their decision regarding DAP; perhaps they can even identify DAP’s negative effect on the country.

We will appeal the Supreme Court’s decision. We will do this by filing a Motion for Reconsideration, which will allow them to more fully and more conscientiously examine the law.

There are those who say that this decision might be a personal vendetta against me -- that I am being dared to act in the same vindictive manner against them. All I can say -- as the President, as the father of this country -- is that we need temperance and forbearance -- we must comply with due process.

Any lawyer we might speak to will caution against this move. The Supreme Court voted 13-0 against DAP; only one abstained. The mere hope that the decision will be overturned is a monumental one. We had also been warned that pushing through with this motion might put us in greater danger.

My message to the Supreme Court: We do not want two equal branches of government to go head to head, needing a third branch to step in to intervene. We find it difficult to understand your decision. You had done something similar in the past, and you tried to do it again; there are even those of the opinion that what you attempted to commit was far graver.

Abiding by the principle of 'presumption of regularity,' we assumed that you did the right thing; after all, you are the ones who should ostensibly have a better understanding of the law. And now, when we use the same mechanism -- which, you yourselves have admitted, benefit our countrymen -- why is it then that we are wrong?

We believe that the majority of you, like us, want only the best for the Filipino people. To the honorable justices of the Supreme Court: Help us help our countrymen. We ask that you review your decision, this time taking into consideration the points I have raised tonight. The nation hopes for your careful deliberation and response. And I hope that once you’ve examined the arguments I will submit, regarding the law and about our economy, solidarity will ensue -- thus strengthening the entire government’s capability to push for the interests of the nation.

Perhaps, no one will dare to doubt that we have pushed for reform these past four years. And I must ask: What is expected from those of us who are advancing reform?

We know that the system we inherited was one that did not help, or did not do enough to help, our countrymen. We are now righting the wrongs in the system, so that it may work towards this goal: To uphold the interests of the people, our Bosses who handed us our mandate. Thus, to the Supreme Court, our message: Do not bar us from doing what we swore to do. Shouldn’t you be siding with us in pushing for reform? Let us, therefore, end this vicious cycle that has taken our people hostage.

On this note, allow me to share a text message I received in the last week. It reads: 'The politicians are making fiesta regarding DAP; but to our simple non-legalistic mind, it is like a motorist who parked in a ‘no parking zone’ because he had to rush to save the life of an accident victim, which has more value. I’m praying hard that these people will see the good of the people rather than their own ambition.'

To this I replied: I think the situation now is similar to what you mentioned, and it might be even worse. I am after all being arrested for parking in an area that up to now hasn’t yet been declared a no-parking zone. Is this reasonable?

To my Bosses, in the coming days, I, along with my Cabinet as well as some beneficiaries of DAP, will be providing more information about this important topic. I encourage all of you to read the decision of the Supreme Court, as well as their concurring and dissenting opinions, so that you may better understand what I have said tonight. For those concerned regarding the programs that had received funding but have been put on hold because we need to follow the decision of the Supreme Court, do not worry. We will return to Congress to ask for a supplemental budget to ensure that all benefits are delivered.

Finally, let me impress upon everyone: DAP is good. Our intentions, our processes, and the results were correct. Bosses, I promise you: I will not allow your suffering to be prolonged -- especially if we could do what we can as early as now.

Thank you, and it is my hope that you now better understand the situation."

Military kills lawless element who attacked North Cotabato banana plantation

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Military kills lawless element who attacked North Cotabato banana plantation

Responding troopers from the 39th Infantry Battalion have shot and killed a member of the lawless group who attacked the Delinanas Banana Plantation in Sitio Pedtad, Barangay Dugos, Tulunan, North Cotabato Sunday morning.

The incident took place around 10:30 a.m., said Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman.

He added that the attack was spearheaded by Sukarno Sultan and Lingguna Sultan.

The group succeeded in destroying two backhoes before troopers from the 39th Infantry Battalion arrived and succeeded in killing one of the bandits during an hour-long fire.

Also seized during the operation was an AK-47 automatic rifle.

Caber said civilians in the area revealed that extortion aggravated by a land dispute is the possible motive for the attack.

The Philippine National Police is now investigating the case.

The P659 million Delinanas Development Corp. is a subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce Philippines, Inc.

Asia fears China military conflict over sea claims – Pew study

From GMA News (Jul 15): Asia fears China military conflict over sea claims – Pew study

China's neighbors are increasingly anxious that Beijing's maritime disputes with countries like Vietnam and the Philippines will lead to military conflict, a US research group said in findings released Monday (Tuesday, PHL time).
Even in China itself, polling showed that 62 percent of the public worried that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors could lead to an armed conflict, according to a broad study conducted in 44 countries by the Pew Research Center.
"This year in all 11 Asian nations polled, roughly half or more say they are concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighbors will lead to a military conflict," the study found.
At 93 percent, Filipinos were most concerned, followed by the Japanese at 85 percent, Vietnamese at 84 percent and South Koreans at 83 percent, according to Pew.
Beijing and Hanoi in particular are embroiled in an increasingly heated territorial row, the latest chapter of which was sparked by China's positioning of a major oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.
But the Asian giant has also seen tensions rise with Japan and the Philippines, both of which claim Beijing has taken inappropriate steps in the East and South China Seas, where claims of several island chains are under dispute.
According to the report, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam see China as the greatest threat, while China as well as Malaysia and Pakistan list the United States as the biggest threat.
Every other Asian nation surveyed, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand, see the United States as their greatest ally – although Indonesia also sees America as its greatest threat.
Among citizens of the 44 nations surveyed, 40 percent said they believe the United States was the world's present-day super power, compared to 49 percent who said so in 2008.
The number who considered China the leading super power, meanwhile, rose from 19 percent six years ago to 31 percent today.
Fifty percent of respondents said China would eventually replace or has already replaced the United States in that role, compared to just 32 percent who said China would never do so.
Across the nations surveyed, excluding China, 49 percent of people expressed a favorable opinion of China, compared to 32 percent unfavorable.

Japan, US admirals say naval cooperation deepening

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 15): Japan, US admirals say naval cooperation deepening

A Chinese naval official, right, is given a tour by a Japanese naval official aboard the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force naval ship, JS Ise, Saturday, July 5, 2014, at Hawaii’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. AP FILE PHOTO

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Top U.S. and Japanese admirals say U.S-Japan naval cooperation is deepening as they meet on the sidelines of the world’s largest maritime exercises.

The head of Japan’s navy, Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, and U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris spoke to reporters before they met Monday in Pearl Harbor.

Harris says cooperation between the two navies keeps improving. He says a recent decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet to pursue a new law that would allow Japan to help defend its allies is an example of their close relationship.

Kawano noted people have long said the navies are at the core of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

He says the two navies have recently been sharing more information and doing more personnel exchanges.

State agencies asked to intervene in MNLF-MILF land feud

From the Philippine Star (Jul 14): State agencies asked to intervene in MNLF-MILF land feud

The military on Monday called for an intervention by government agencies in determining the real ownership of lands in Matalam town that are being contested by two heavily armed Moro factions.

Captain Tony Bulao, spokesman of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, said last week’s series of encounters in Barangay Manubuan, Matalam between forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were related to their squabbles for control of strategic patches of arable lands in the area.

Bulao said the 602nd Brigade can only secure the surroundings of Barangay Manubuan, to prevent the hostilities from spreading to other barangays, in keeping with security protocols set by the government and the MILF.

The MNLF had signed a final peace pact with government on Sept. 2, 1996. Agricultural enclaves in Barangay Manubuan, where there are former MNLF combatants, have long been declared as "peace zones" by the national government.

Bulao said the provincial peace and order council, chaired by North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, has been trying to address the land conflict with the help of Moro political leaders in the province.

Bulao said the commander of the 602nd Brigade, Col. Alan Arrojado, wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agrarian Reform to help resolve the land disputes in Barangay Manubuan.

Bulao said an Army peacekeeping contingent has been deployed to the conflict-stricken barangay to prevent the feuding groups from getting close to each other.

US forces pulling out of Zamboanga City

From the Philippine Star (Jul 14): US forces pulling out of Zamboanga City

A senior United States (US) military official confirmed to a local official here that American troops and their team under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) will be pulling out from the city after 12 years of assisting local counterparts in the war against terrorism in the south.

Col. Erik Brown, who was recently installed as the US-JSOTF-P commander, said despite the pullout, they will leave a few contingents to continue assisting the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) in terms of their counter-terrorism activities.

Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar told newsmen during its Monday briefing about the the movement of the American forces which was revealed by Brown during their meeting last week at the city hall.

“Col. Brown reported to us that he is now here as part of the transition team because they will be pulling out from the city of Zamboanga,” Salazar said.

Since the JSOTF-P was established with its camp inside the Westmincom, the US military deployed about 600 officers and servicemen but on a six-month rotation basis.

However, following its pullout, it was not revealed as to how many of the US personnel will be left behind and what the levels of their participation will be in the coordination of security programs with their local military counterparts.

The US embassy recently reported that the Pacific Command has deactivated the JSOTF-P, a US military unit that was established in 2002 following the success of the 2001 RP-US Balikatan-01 aimed at training and equipping the Filipino troops in the war against terrorism.

It was not, however, elaborated as to whether the training and assisting program provided by the US military to the Filipino troops have already reached the peak of sustained capabilities.

But Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero admitted that training and upgrade of capabilities remained as important for the soldiers to win the battle against terror spawned by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah in southern Philippines.

Salazar, on the other hand, believed that the impact of pull out of the bigger US military contingent would mean lesser access to anti-terror activities.

“That is why from the very beginning they really have to strengthen our security and augment equipment for the police and military,” Salazar said.

Salazar also asked the national government to review the security gaps in Zamboanga City so that it can be addressed with the presence of Westmincom.

Three land mines found in Quezon

From the Manila Times (Jul 14): Three land mines found in Quezon

CAVINTI, Laguna: Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Batallion on Monday discovered three landmines during an encounter with the New People’s Army in Barangay Marcelino in General Nakar, Quezon.

Before the clash, the military received information that the landmines were set up by the rebels to destroy trucks and other heavy equipment used in the on-going construction of the road connecting General Nakar and Aurora province.

Col. Rodel Mauro Alarcon, commander of the 202nd Brigade, denounced the use of landmines as a violation of the Geneva Convention Law as stated in the Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by the NPA with the Philippine government in 1998.

PH proceeding with Reed Bank project

From the Manila Times (Jul 14): PH proceeding with Reed Bank project

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said oil drilling operations at Reed Bank will continue as planned despite China’s warning.

Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said in a news briefing that an arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China because of overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will not affect the project to be carried out by Forum Energy, which is controlled by business tycoon Manuel Pangilinan.

Reed Bank is about 85 nautical miles from the coast of Palawan province in western Philippines and 595 nautical miles from the coast of Hainan, China.

It forms part of the Philippine continental shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), according to Jose.

Although he said he was not certain if the Reed Bank was one of the features mentioned in the arbitration case, the official believed the department would not be handing out service contracts if the arbitration will impede the drilling activities.

His response came amid reports that the Department of Energy (DOE) allowed Forum Energy an extension of the second sub-phase of Service Contract (SC72) until August 15, 2016.

The first extension has not lapsed, and was due to end on August 14, 2015 as awarded in January last year.

SC72 covers 8,800 square kilometers, which could possibly contain as much as 16.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 416 million barrels of oil, according to Forum Energy consultant Weatherford Petroleum.

It was awarded to Forum Energy in 2010 as a way to assert the Philippines’ sovereignty and sovereign rights over Reed Bank.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei last week warned the Philippines against oil drilling activities in the Reed Bank.

“Without permission from China, oil and gas exploration by any foreign companies in waters under China’s jurisdiction is illegal and invalid,” she said.

Reed Bank falls inside China’s nine-dash line claim, which covers about 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea.

But Jose noted that Reed Bank “is not an island, or a low tide elevation.”
“Rather, Reed Bank is completely a submerged bank that is part of the continental margin of Palawan,” he said.

CPP: Defense of DAP further isolating Aquino from people—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 14): Defense of DAP further isolating Aquino from people—CPP
Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said Aquino “is further isolating himself from the Filipino people with his adamant, arrogant and mendacious defense of the presidential pork barrel fund under the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)”.

Last week, the Supreme Court declared the pooling and reallocation of funds under the DAP as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court decision, however, left legal loopholes to give Malacañang room for maneuver to sidestep criminal suit and impeachment proceedings.

“Still, the Supreme Court decision helped consolidate public opinion against Aquino’s discretionary use of public funds under the DAP and amplified the demand for complete accounting and auditing of nearly P140 billion of public funds disbursed by Aquino under the program,” pointed out the CPP.

“While impeachment proceedings in the Lower House of the Philippine Congress have little chance of prospering—precisely because Aquino has succeeded in using pork barrel funds to buy the loyalty of local officials and members of congress—initiatives by progressive representatives to impeach Aquino have gained traction and support outside congress especially among the toiling masses and middle class sectors who have been disillusioned by the pervasive corruption under the Aquino regime.”

The CPP said even the recent surveys of pro-Aquino Social Weather Stations could not hide the fact that Aquino is steadily becoming unpopular with only 45% satisfied with his performance in its 2014 1st quarter survey. The SWS surveys comes on the heels of an earlier survey by independent research outfit Ibon Foundation showing only 36% of the people satisfied with Aquino in April 2014.

“Aquino has refused to heed the Supreme Court decision and is instead presenting himself as a bullheaded defender of the DAP and his self-claimed privilege of allocating funds ‘in good faith’,” said the CPP. “He has insisted on keeping his budget secretary and other officials responsible for the DAP and accused of involvement in the pork barrel kickback scam despite mounting calls for their removal.”

“Aquino is whipping up the illusion of ‘economic benefits’ under the DAP even if he cannot present any concrete proof of such claims,” said the CPP. “Economists have invariably exposed Aquino’s claims of DAP benefits as illusory, as these have not helped boost investment or raise productivity.”
“The Filipino people have not benefited from Aquino’s discretionary use of P140 billion under DAP,” said the CPP, pointing out how Aquino continues to cut back on social spending and push for the increasing commercialization and privatization of public schools and public hospitals.

“Neither has Aquino’s DAP helped ease the problem of widespread unemployment, low wages, landlessness, spiralling prices and rising costs of living and other outstanding problems of the people.”

“In defending the DAP, Aquino is defending the pork barrel system of disbursing funds according to his discretion and judgement,” said the CPP. “Since assuming power, Aquino has been using such privilege to exert political influence in the cacique-mode of landlord politics.”

He has made use of public funds to perpetuate patronage by disbursing special funds for the programs and projects sponsored by his party mates and political followers in exchange for their continuing loyalty and support.

MILF: BLMI conducts capability building program for MILF Potential Leaders

From the MILF Website (Jul 15): BLMI conducts capability building program for MILF Potential Leaders

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) conducted a 3-day capability building program for members of the Committee on Information of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) coming from various provinces in Mindanao Region with the theme: Empowering Bangsamoro Potential Leaders and Communities”.
The program was held at the BLMI Training Center, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on July 11-23, 2014.

The participants were heads or representatives of Provincial Committee on Information of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director welcomed the 43 participants and reminded them on the importance of seeking knowledge, that work etiquettes and protocol are not strangers to Islam since  it is being practiced by Muslims  many centuries ago..

Prof. Esmael Abdula, BLMI Training Unit head and Mr. Arman Armada, Secretary, Committee on Information-MILF and BLMI Staff facilitated the program.

Dr. Tahata S. Guiamalon , the first speaker talked on Work Ethics based on International  norms and standard  so that participants may become aware of them especially when dealing and interacting with diplomats inside and outside of Mindanao Region. She told her audience that such etiquettes are equally important to the Bangsamoro leaders once the new region is established.

On the second day session, the participants engaged in sharing of respective views on the topics discussed the previous day.

Mr. Cris  Yano, BTC Staff lectured on crucial aspects of Ideological, Political and Organizational (IPO) and its structure and mechanisms. He said that, the strength and weakness of certain organization is attributed to various factors found within its internal and external elements, Success and failure of such organization lies on its maneuverability of its operational policies. Consistency and flexibility in policy are two different things and one should know its specific parameter when things are put into application and must be always realistic when projecting the situation to the people as to avoid unfavorable consequential effect when things are not met.

Mr. Armada asked the participants to submit their annual report on advocacy activities conducted and major issues that arises in their respective province.

Brother Gabra Abdurahman from Tawi-Tawi was tasked to wrap up the last day activity. He shared some knowledge he acquired in the duration of the program. 
Dr. Guiamalon , also lectured on information security ,protection and manner of handling of organizations  and programs without compromising the organization itself. Acquiring appropriate knowledge and knowing its application are pivotal in peace and state-building efforts, she said.
In the closing program, participants expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the speakers, BLMI Management, The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Australian Agency for International Development (Aus-Aid) for their support to the program.

MILF: MILF lobbies for swift passage of BBL

From the MILF Website (Jul 14): MILF lobbies for swift passage of BBL

As a revolutionary movement and now a consistent government partner in seeking for an end to decades-old Mindanao Question, the Moro Front started to lobby for the swift and immediate passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by seeking the support of members of Congress as early as last week of June this year. 
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles and Chair of the House Committee on Labor admitted that MILF Vice-Chair Ghadzali Jaafar sought personally his support for the swift passage of the BBL. Malacañang will submit the draft to the House of Representatives which opens its Second Regular Session by July 28 if schedule does not change.

In their meeting, Jaafar gave his assurance that the BBL will benefit not only the Bangsamoro people but the entire nation as well “because it will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for Mindanao and the Philippines.”

Nograles said that he made his personal guarantee to Jaafar that he is definitely for the immediate passage of the BBL and even made his commitment that he would help in convincing his peers to also support the measure.

Nograles, an ardent advocate of federalism, said that the BBL could set the stage for a stronger national movement in the pursuit for a Federal and Parliamentary form of government.

“I expressed my support for the BBL because if this is made possible, then such will be a precursor to a shift towards a Federal and Parliamentary form of government for our country which I as a Mindanawon fully support and advocate. What is good for the Bangsamoro people must be good for all Filipinos, equally, without distinction,” Nograles pointed out.

“I added that as people from Mindanao, we all share the concern that more development and more services must be poured into Mindanao, and because we are an island rich with resources then whatever we reap as a people must be poured back first for the development of our people; that is only fair and just; and that can only be achieved under a federal parliamentary form of government,” he added.

The BBL is a “test case” for a federalized government and a probing ground for the Bangsamoro people in their ability to take the lead in bringing peace and progress in Mindanao, Nograles further said.

“But the same must also be made equally available, beneficial and functional for the entire country,” Nograles stressed. ( Source-PNA)

Commentary: Whose mine is it?

From Rappler (Jul 14): Whose mine is it? (by RR Rañeses)

Communist NPA insurgents in the Philippines these days are not just detonating landmines, they are also operating small-scale mines

New People’s Army (NPA) rebels ambushed and killed last week Mario Okinlay, Mayor of Impasug-ong town in Bukidnon province, accusing him of land grabbing and using violence to force civilians to surrender as communist guerillas.

As mayor of Impasug-ong, Okinlay had pushed for the declaration of 2,000 hectares of land as a “People’s Mines” (Minahan ng Bayan) site. Although a ban on large-scale mining is being implemented in Bukidnon province, small-scale mining is allowed as long as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Mining and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) have declared the exploration area a “People’s Mines” site.

Both the DENR and MGB admit that small-scale mining is an environmental and labor hazard (READ: Small-scale mining: A 3-decade industry that kills). Steps to curb its operations continue to fail, however. Figures from the DENR show that around 80% of small-scale mines around the Philippines operate without permits. These illegally operated small-scale mines bleed the coffers of the national government with lost revenues and damage rivers and mountain ridges with unsophisticated and irresponsible mining techniques.

Okinlay’s assassination by NPA rebels last week points however to a largely unexamined threat that also comes from small-scale mining: across Northern Mindanao and the Caraga region, NPA rebels are either operating small-scale mines of their own or receiving extortion money (in the form of so-called “revolutionary taxes”) from both legal and illegal small-scale mining operators.

Mining for Maoists

In areas where government security forces are weak or absent, even local government units such as towns and villages that have been able to acquire small-scale mining permits have no choice but to pay up. Those who refuse or those who take opportunities to operate small-scale mines away from the NPA, such as Mayor Okinlay, are for the rebels, fair targets of liquidation.

But before Okinlay was Carlito Pentecostes Jr., who was mayor of Gonzaga town in Cagayan province in Northern Luzon when NPA rebels assassinated him during a flag raising ceremony on April 21. Police authorities indicated that an illegal black sand mining deal that turned sour between Pentecostes and the rebels motivated the assassination.

For those who pay up and pay their dues consistently, the NPA guarantees not only attack-free operations but also protection from government security forces and officials pursuing illegally operated small-scale mines.

The tactic is typical of communist rebels in the Philippines who also use it to intimidate other businesses operating in remote areas. In May this year, NPA rebels burned the heavy equipment and raided the weapons of the private security in two separate attacks that targeted large-scale mining operations in Davao del Sur and Sultan Kudarat provinces. The companies have repeatedly rejected extortion demands by the NPA rebels.

But small-scale mining operations are not just potential extortion targets for the NPA. They are also a rich field for: one, cultivating and harvesting rebel recruits; and two, providing employment opportunities for NPA rebels.

NPA forces across Mindanao are known to shuttle their rebels from one province to another transporting them to small-scale mines operated by willing or coerced supporters. Agitated and indoctrinated small-scale miners are also typically deployed as warm bodies for mass protests organized by NPA legal front civil society groups that regularly denounce large scale mining operations.

While NPA rebels are making it hard for responsible and legitimate large-scale explorations to mine the country’s mineral rich mountains, it seems that it is much harder to mine precious gems of idealism and a sense of justice among NPA rebels these days.

Revisiting the ban on large-scale mining

The vociferous war waged by environmentalists, nationalists, and religious groups such as the influential Catholic Church against large-scale (especially foreign) mining mutes, however, the security threat sneaking from the NPA’s implication in small-scale mining operations.

If the intent of those who oppose large-scale mining – including provincial governments with ordinances against large scale mining that run contrary to a national government policy supporting it – is to protect the environment and the national interest, then clearly, support for or at least, blindness to the adverse effects of small-scale mining is not helping them reach their lofty goals.

If at all, provincial wide bans on large-scale mining are abetting Asia’s longest running communist insurgency.

Meanwhile, investors that have already poured money in exploration, infrastructure, and corporate social responsibility initiatives are packing up or downsizing their operations.

Last week, the government announced a new tax regime that large-scale mining investors have said they would oppose. Industry leaders complain that policymaking on mining under the present administration has been less consultative.

Until authorities are able to resolve disputes on who prevails between national and provincial policy making bodies in the issuance of mining permits, or until the national government wields a more decisive and unequivocal support for industry, investor interest may decline. And so will sources of government revenues and mass employment.

Groups opposed to large scale mining, including President Benigno Aquino III who has only weakly endorsed the sector should be careful: if qualified investors leave, NPA rebels sure wouldn’t mind calling those estimated US$1.4 trillion in mineral reserves, "mine."

[RR Rañeses is an Instructor at the Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University. On academic leave this semester, he is presently a Senior Research Analyst for an Asia-wide business intelligence and risk reduction company. He blogs at]

Rebel killed in clash with gov’t troops in North Cotabato

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14): Rebel killed in clash with gov’t troops in North Cotabato


Members of the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). AFP FILE PHOTO

A member of the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was killed in a clash with government forces after an attack on a banana plantation in North Cotabato, on Sunday, police said.
Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police chief, said some 30 BIFF rebels stormed the packing house of the Delinanas banana plantation in Barangay (village) Dungos, Tulunan, North Cotabato, early Sunday.

An Army checkpoint nearby engaged the attackers in an hour-long firefight until the rebels fled back to the Liguasan marshland.

The BIFF rebels fired rocket propelled grenades toward the packing house.
In an ensuing firefight, one BIFF member was killed and an AK-47 rifle was recovered by government forces.

Cordero said it was the second time the BIFF harassed the banana firm. The first attack happened in February.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, confirmed they attacked the plantation and admitted one of its men was killed.

He said they were after the military unit stationed in the plantation because one of the BIFF members and his son were abducted by the military in nearby Datu Unsay, Maguindanao over the weekend.

Mama claimed that Mohamad “Madz” Abdulkarim and his son, Mehan Mohammad, 14, were on board a motorcycle heading for home after selling agricultural products in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, when they were flagged down by the 45th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay town, also in Maguindanao.

“It was a retaliatory attack, expect for more,” Mama said in Filipino.
He said the father and son, residents of Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, remained missing to date.

The Army denied they abducted Madz and Mohammad, telling relatives that they were released after a brief inspection.

Mama said Madz was a member of the BIFF.

He said the BIFF would stage more attacks against military installations in Maguindanao and North Cotabato to press for the release of the Abdulkarims.

The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which recently signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Philippine government.

Army hunts down BIFF in NorCot banana plantation attacks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Army hunts down BIFF in NorCot banana plantation attacks

The military has launched manhunt against a band of renegade Moro guerrillas who attacked a banana plantation Sunday dawn that left one attacker dead, police here said Monday.

About 30 heavily armed members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) stormed the packing house of Delinanas banana plantation in Barangay Dungos, Tulunan, North Cotabato on Sunday dawn, according to Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police director, said.

An Army Special Forces checkpoint nearby engaged the attackers in an hour-long sporadic firefight until the rebels fled back to the Liguasan marshland.

Police reports said the BIFF members, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), fired rocket propelled grenades toward the packing house.

In an ensuing firefight, one BIFF member was killed and an AK-47 rifle was recovered by government forces.

Cordero said it was the second time the BIFF harassed the banana firm. In February, the same group harassed Delinanas banana firm.

Colonel Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the military, said pursuit operations are still on going against the BIFF even as he expressed sadness that it happened during the fasting month of Ramadhan.

Muslims, including BIFF, fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadhan.

Abu Misry Mama, speaking for the BIFF, confirmed they attacked the plantation and admitted one of its men was killed.

He said they were actually after the military unit stationed in the plantation because a BIFF member and his son were abducted by the military in nearby Datu Unsay, Maguindanao over the weekend.

Mama claimed that Mohamad “Madz” Abdulkarim and his son, Mehan Mohammad, 14, were on board a motorcycle heading for home after selling agricultural products in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao were flagged down by the 45th Infantry Battalion soldiers in Barangay Meta, Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao.

The Army dismissed Mama’s claim as propaganda after they lost one BIFF member in a clash with government forces in North Cotabato.

Mabul attack: Abducted cop is alive

From the Star Online (Jul 14): Mabul attack: Abducted cop is alive

SEMPORNA: Police Kons Zakiah Aleip who was kidnapped by Filipino gunmen, phoned his wife Sunday night to say he was alive.

“He called his wife (Sharifah Erna Berson) last night saying that he is ok except that he is with some people,” Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (pic) told the Star.

When asked where Zakiah could be held, Khalid said that they were not sure and that they were waiting for further calls.

He also said the police roughly knew the identity of some of those involved in the attack on Pulau Mabul on Saturday night.
Zakiah, 26, was kidnapped after his colleague Kpl Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, was shot dead in the attack.

Rajah was buried Monday with full honours.

Eight Filipino masked gunmen were involved in the attack, and they fled to southern Philippines

8 in Sabah shootout flee to southern PHL — report

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): 8 in Sabah shootout flee to southern PHL — report

Eight gunmen involved in a new attack on Sabah island and who engaged police in a shootout last weekend have fled to southern Philippines, a Malaysian news site reported Monday.
A report on The Star Online also said a police officer abducted by the armed men was still alive and managed to contact his wife Sunday night.
The report described the eight gunmen as "masked" and "Filipino," who "fled to southern Philippines."  (
On Sunday, Malaysian media reported the gunmen wearing army fatigues killed one policeman and kidnapped another after a shootout at Pulau Mabul off Semporna in Sabah.
The report said the gunmen abducted Zakiah Aleip and killed Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32. Rajah was buried Monday with full honors.
Zakiah "called his wife (Sharifah Erna Berson) last (Sunday) night saying that he is ok except that he is with some people,” Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar told the Star.
But Khalid said they were not sure where Zakiah was being held, adding police was waiting for further calls.
He also said the police roughly knew the identities of some of those in the attack.

Retiring AFP chief turns down testimonial parades

From ABS-CBN (Jul 14): Retiring AFP chief turns down testimonial parades

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has shunned testimonial parades ahead of his retirement this week.

Instead, Bautista decided to just go around and meet with the officers and men of the three major services under his care.

AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said it is the option of the retiring chief to turn down testimonial parades offered by his men.

Only the customary parade will be done on Friday, which will be led by President Benigno Aquino III.

Bautista is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Sunday, but will already relinquish his post on Friday.

“He said goodbye, he is thankful for the support they gave him as chief of staff. He thanked them for the support in all his endeavors like the implementation of IPSP (Internal Peace and Security Plan) Bayanihan,” he said.

The IPSP Bayanihan is the brainchild of Bautista. It is the military’s campaign plan to achieve peace on or before the end of President Aquino’s term.

Bautista led the AFP for more than 18 months.

Earlier in the day, Bautista visited troops of the AFP’s Southern Luzon Command based in Lucena City.

He then went to the Bonifacio Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City and then went to the Air Force headquarters in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

His last stop was at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

“What’s important to him is to be able to talk with the troops and that’s what he did – for him to speak with the men themselves,” Zagala said.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, and AFP vice chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang are said to be the frontrunners to succeed him.

Military, media encounter in 1st AFP-PNP Press Corps bowling tourney in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Military, media encounter in 1st AFP-PNP Press Corps bowling tourney in Davao City 

The AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao held its first bowling tournament last Saturday attended by media practitioners and teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC).

The 1st AFP-PNP Press Corps 11 bowling tournament was held at the NCCC Mall B3 with six teams participating -- Boko Haram, NPA, NDF, ASG, CPP and Isis.

Team Boko Haram composed of players from the media, the Army and DLPC grabbed the first prize with a total score of 1,340 points and P7,500 in cash.

Second place goes to Team NPA with 1,158 points and P5,000 cash. Third prize goes to Team NDF with 1,129 points and P3,500 cash.

Special prizes of P1,500 each were also awarded to the highest individual scores for male and female categories. Highest scorers were Edith Isidro of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-11) with 134 points and Ben Jason Tesiorna of Solar News with 212 points.

The last three teams -- Isis, ASG and CPP each received P1,000 worth of gift certificates. The names of the teams were selected by the secretariat for fun and have nothing to do with any ideologies.

The AFP-PNP Press Corps Southern Mindanao, one of the longest existing media organization in the Davao Region, thanked the sponsors who include Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, North Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza, SMART Communications Inc., White House Fusion Cuisine and Wine Lounge, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Davao Light and Power Company, Eastern Mindanao Command, Task Force Davao, Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon, the Police Regional Office 11, and San Miguel Corporation.

AFP chief bids farewell to SOLCOM

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): AFP chief bids farewell to SOLCOM 

Gen Emmanuel Bautista, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, on Monday bid farewell to military personnel of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) during a visit at their headquarters in Camp Guillermo Nakar here.

“As I bid goodbye, let me thank all of you for the support and accomplishment of this Command,” Bautista said during his early morning visit.

Bautista said he “saved the best for last,” because SOLCOM has the most accomplishment that resulted to a stronger Oplan Bayanihan campaign.

”We still have much to accomplish, problems to overcome such as calamities, and territorial defense,” Bautista emphasized.

He added that the transformation road map the Army has adopted is clear and ultimately, the Philippine Armed Forces will gain the world-class standard and will be the national source of pride.

SOLCOM chief, Lt. Gen. Caesar Ronnie Ordoyo, lauded Bautista’s “tapat na pamumuno at tuwid na pamamalakad,” that effectively earned the trust of the troops, resulting to enthusiastic support of the Oplan Bayanihan.

Bautista, who was given a memento by SOLCOM, will be retiring after celebrating his birthday on July 20.

Army joins coastal cleanup in CDO

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Army joins coastal cleanup in CDO

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan De Oro City -- The army’s 4th Infantry Division here joined the local government units in the coastal cleanup along the shorelines of Macajalar Bay, an army official said on Monday.

Army Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the 4th ID, said they joined the coastal cleanup along the shorelines of Lapasan in Cagayan De Oro City as part of the military’s commitment to support the government’s campaign to preserve the environment.

He said the clean up is part of the celebration of the National Disaster Consciousness Month at the Macajalar Bay area, in Barangay Lapasan that kicked off Wednesday last week.

He said the activity was also a pro-active measure in inculcating to the residents in flood-prone areas the proper attitude and importance of protecting the environment.

Uy said that the army’s Disaster Risk Reduction Team is tasked with extending operational readiness to respond in any calamity, provide manpower and equipment to support, rescue, and protect and serve the people in affected communities.

Army, PNP condemns BIFF atrocities in North Cotabatao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 14): Army, PNP condemns BIFF atrocities in North Cotabatao

Police and military authorities here condemned the atrocities carried out by outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who attacked a banana plantation in North Cotabato Sunday dawn and torched P35 million worth of equipment.

Senior Inspector Jojit Nicolas, speaking for the provincial police office, said the BIFF torched two diesel engine trucks, two backhoes, and a mechanized boom sprayer truck then carted away valuables of Delinanas plantation in Barangay Dungos, Tulunan, North Cotabato.

According to Nicolas, the BIFF had been mulcting the Delinanas company, a subsidiary of Del Monte Fruit firm, but the company ignored and sought security from the military.

At about 2:00 a.m., the firm’s security guards backed by Army Special Forces engaged the attackers in gun battle that lasted until 5 a.m.

One BIFF member was killed while a Russian made AK-47 rifle was recovered from him.

While the security guards and soldiers were battling the BIFF, another BIFF band came from a different direction and set off the equipment on fire.

The BIFF hurriedly fled as Army and police reinforcement arrived.

About two hours later, another group of BIFF members shot at a team of militiamen in nearby Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat, about 15 kilometers from Tulunan town. No one was reported injured.