Friday, July 18, 2014

PhilHealth extends coverage to MILF fighters

From the Manila Times (Jul 18): PhilHealth extends coverage to MILF fighters

STATE-run health insurance firm Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Friday said a total of 11,000 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will be assured of health services as part of peace dividends.

Lawyer Alexander Padilla, PhilHealth president and chief executive officer, said the government will fully subsidize the premium contributions of returning MILF fighters.

Padilla added the government will spend more than P26 million to provide health insurance coverage for the Bangsamoro fighters, including their family members.

“Each family will receive P2, 400 per year,” he said.

“As part of the peace dividends, they returned to the fold of law as part of their complaints was lack of government concern or neglect. They were given PhilHealth benefits not because they are fighters but because they will now be productive civilians of a nation,” the PhilHealth chief explained.

Padilla said an initial 4,000 MILF fighters are now enjoying the comprehensive benefit packages of PhilHealth.

“As of this time, only 4,000 names have been submitted by the MILF to the government,” he added.

The PhilHealth chief noted that the corporation would also offer the same benefit packages to members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who will return to the fold of the law.

“As of now, there’s no agreement yet with the [the Communist Party of the Philippines and its NPA armed wing],” Padilla said.

Early this year, the Philippine government and the MILF signed a historic peace agreement to put an end to decades of rebellion in Mindanao and pave the way for economic development there.

In the agreement, the MILF agreed to drop its bid for a separate state and settle for parliamentary self-rule in areas to be called Bangsamoro autonomous region, which will be established by 2016.

The Bangsamoro replaces another Muslim autonomous region that was agreed upon with a former rebel group, Moro National Liberation Front, which was declared a failure by the Philippine government.

The 11,000-strong MILF, which used to be part of a larger secessionist group that signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, has been battling government troops in southern Philippines since 1969, in one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

Decades of conflict has claimed at least 120,000 lives, displaced thousands and brought massive destruction to property.

Meanwhile, Padilla said PhilHealth is also planning to expand social health insurance to inmates and orphans, as the corporation aims to enroll around 90 million PhilHealth beneficiaries by next year.

“We are still studying that [plan to enroll all prisoners]… because even though they already forfeited their rights [after they were convicted], they still have right to health,” he added.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona earlier said all Filipinos must be enrolled in PhilHealth, including persons with disabilities and street children.

Since 1995, around 79 million individuals have been PhilHealth members.
PhilHealth also extended its “No Balance Billing” policy to household helpers or kasambahays as defined in Republic Act 10361 or the Kasambahay Law.

As full-fledged PhilHealth members, household helpers are entitled to substantial coverage when seeking treatments in accredited hospitals, especially if they or any of their dependent get admitted in government facilities, where the “No Balance Billing” policy is implemented.

Under the case rate payment mechanism, if a kasambahay is confined in a government hospital due to high-risk pneumonia, the member may avail himself of a benefit package worth P32,000 for the treatment of the illness.

Philippines sees ruling on China case by 2016

From Rappler (Jul 19): Philippines sees ruling on China case by 2016

Despite China's refusal to join the case, members of the arbitral tribunal will 'familiarize themselves with China's claims,' the Philippines' lead counsel says

2 YEARS TO GO? The Philippines anticipates a ruling on its historic case against China by January 2016 at the earliest. 2012 file photo of Chinese surveillance ships off Scarborough Shoal by DFA/Philippine Navy/AFP

2 YEARS TO GO? The Philippines anticipates a ruling on its historic case against China by January 2016 at the earliest. 2012 file photo of Chinese surveillance ships off Scarborough Shoal by DFA/Philippine Navy/AFP

The Philippines sees a ruling on its historic case against China by 2016, the Philippines' lawyer in this arbitration said, as China refuses to participate in these proceedings.

The Philippines' lead counsel in the case, Washington-based Paul Reichler, said the Philippines is anticipating the final judgment of the arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration “in January 2016 or sometime between January and March 2016.”

Reichler disclosed this in a forum hosted by Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US-based think-tank, on July 11. (READ: Ratify UNCLOS, Philippines' lawyer says)

Reichler explained that China is unlikely to respond to Manila's nearly 4,000-page memorial or written pleading against Beijing, which was submitted to the tribunal on March 30.

The tribunal has ordered China to respond to the Philippines' memorial by December 15.

Experts have said it is unlikely China will submit its counter-memorial because it has consistently rejected the Philippines' case. China, in the first place, questions the tribunal's jurisdiction over the arbitration. (READ: PH faces major hurdle in China case)

Reichler said if China does not submit the counter-memorial – “and they cannot be persuaded to participate” – the tribunal “has an alternate procedure.”

This alternative is that, “on the following day, the tribunal will present a series of questions both on jurisdiction and merits to the Philippines, arising from the Philippines' memorial, and give the Philippines approximately 3 months to answer those questions.”

Nearly 2-week oral hearings

The Philippines' submission will be followed by oral hearings “between the 7th and 18th of July 2015,” Reichler said.

“Again we hope that China will participate. But if not, they will go forward anyway, with the Philippines appearing before the tribunal to make its arguments, and to respond to questions from the tribunal,” he said.

He noted that arbitral awards “are issued within 6 to 8 months of the conclusion of the oral hearings.”

In the absence of a Chinese representative in the tribunal, Reichler said: “I think it's very clear that the members of the tribunal will do everything possible to familiarize themselves with China's claims, and I think we assume they will be reading all of these law review articles and other articles that China has caused to be put into publication.”

“We're happy about that. We want all of China's claims to be out in the open so that they can be duly considered by the tribunal and of course responded to by the Philippines,” he added.

Earlier, Philippine Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the Philippines is forced to present China's arguments before the arbitral tribunal, “because we have to kind of anticipate what the arguments will be, and knock them down.” (READ: PH finds China case 'doubly difficult')

Even out of court, however, China has begun to subject the Philippines to trial by publicity, according to experts.

Philippines has new military chief

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 18): Philippines has new military chief

Lieutenant General Gregorio Catapang Jr. has formally assumed as the new Philippine military chief, replacing General Emmanuel Bautista who retired on Friday.

President Aquino led the ceremony held at Camp Aguinaldo and attended by senior military and police commanders, including government officials and foreign dignitaries.

Catapang, who graduated at the Philippine Military Academy in 1981, was the chief of the Northern Luzon Command, before he was named as the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The AFP described Catapang as a bemadalled officer who moved on with his career carrying an “excellent standard of performance, fine leadership, and a keen vision that resulted in accomplishments, both in garrison and field tours of duty.”

Catapang, who was born on July 11, 1959 in Manila, held various positions in the military in the past, mostly on the island of Luzon. “His achievements and his service have been duly recognized through the awards and commendations he has received, such as two Distinguished Service Star Awards; three Gold Cross Medals; five Outstanding Achievement Medals; one Bronze Cross Medal; sixteen Military Merit Medals and Military Commendation Medals; three Combat “Kagitingan” Badges; various Letters of Commendation and Badges,” the AFP said.

Catapang also finished his primary and secondary education in Claret School also Manila and then entered the military academy in Baguio City in northern Luzon.

President Benigno Aquino with Lieutenant General Gregorio Catapang Jr. (Photo by Gil Nartea)

Gov't embraces two reds

From Luzon Newsbits in the Manila Bulletin (Jul 19): Gov't embraces two reds

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La UnionTwo former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who surrendered to the La Union Police Provincial Office in Camp Diego Silang, here, last Monday was assured yesterday of livelihood and financial support from the government.

Senior Superintendent Ramon Rafael, La Union PPO director, said the rebels – identified only as “Ka Arnel” and “Ka Jumar,” have qualified for the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

DSWD worker escapes Sulu kidnapping - police

From InterAksyon (Jul 19): DSWD worker escapes Sulu kidnapping - police

A worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development escaped a kidnapping by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen who seized three colleagues in Talipao, Sulu Thursday afternoon, police confirmed.

Chief Superintendent Noel delos Reyes, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Lerma Jura slipped away during the commotion after the gunmen stopped them in Barangay Upper Sinumaan.

Jura was found by troops of the 2nd Marine Battalion and has been turned over to the DSWD.

Aside from Jura, municipal facilitator Norhate Pecangco, Robert Saputalo and another still unidentified DSWD worker were conducting a survey for the agency’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. They had no security escorts.

Meanwhile, the ARMM police also confirmed that a Japanese national kidnapped in Maguindanao in April had been freed from his captors last Sunday.

Yasuhiro Nakamura, 44, who is connected to the Asian Benefits Corp., was found walking alone somewhere in Guindulungan town.

The Japanese was abducted on April 25 by a still unidentified group.

Japan Outlines Constitution Change Impact

From Voice of America (Jul 17): Japan Outlines Constitution Change Impact

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe gestures as he answers questions from reporters after discussing Japan's new security policy during a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, July 17, 2014.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe gestures as he answers questions from reporters after discussing Japan's new security policy during a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, July 17, 2014.

Japan’s ambassador to the Philippines, Toshinao Urabe, says the proposed “reinterpretation” of Japan's pacifist constitution would allow it to help if a country it has a “close relationship” with is attacked.

This means it would help defend the U.S., which is its only mutual defense treaty ally.  Urabe said under the treaty, Japan is not obligated to use force in helping.  The reinterpretation would enable it to do so.
But Urabe told reporters at a forum in Manila Thursday that in the case of other countries like the Philippines, which he said Japan also has a close relationship with, it would “depend on the situation.”  He said Japan is most concerned with protecting its nationals if they are in vulnerable security situations.
“But basically this is a policy to defend ourselves in various situations which were not conceived before.  And I think it’s important to make necessary preparation to various security situations,” Urabe stated.

Urabe reiterated that Japan has no intention of building up troop presence around the world.

Territorial disputes

The Philippines and Japan are both having contentious territorial disputes with China over formations in the East China and South China Seas.

China said it has indisputable sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims there.

In the East China Sea, Japan and China have been at odds over islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. In the past two years both sides have accused each other of harassment at sea and in the airspace above the islands.

Both bodies of water have rich fishing grounds, potentially major oil and gas reserves and heavily traveled shipping lanes.  The East China Sea’s lanes are considered a strategic gateway to the region.

The Philippines has one of the smallest military budgets in Asia and it is looking for support as it contends with China’s growing assertiveness in the region.  It continues to strengthen military ties with the U.S.  And in the face of China’s admonition, it has vocally supported Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s relaxing his country’s defense policy.
Future security measures

Japan is supplying 10 new coast guard vessels to the Philippines, which are expected to arrive in 2016.  It is also looking at providing technology to help boost Philippine maritime surveillance.
Urabe does not directly name China as one of driving forces changing the security situation Japan faces.  And he said the shift in Japan’s security policy is heavily focused on coming to the United States’ aid.
Richard Heydarian is a Manila-based Asia geopolitical analyst.  He said the proposal is widely seen as a way to keep China in check.  “On one hand this will make it easier for Mr. Abe to have much more robust countermeasures against China’s territorial provocations in the Senkaku-Diaoyu,” he explained.

Heydarian said it is also a way for Japan to gain a foothold as a major security player in the region.  He points out that Japan is bolstering its image as a security counterbalance to China that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can depend on.

Urabe said the shifting defense policy has wide support from ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand and other nations in the region.

Troops capture 3 NPA rebels in Zamboanga del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Troops capture 3 NPA rebels in Zamboanga del Norte

Government forces have captured three New People’s Army (NPA) rebels following a clash in a remote village in Zamboanga del Norte, the police reported Friday.

Zamboanga del Norte police director James Mejia did not identify the captured NPA rebels except in saying two of the three are males and the other one is female.

Mejia said they were captured following a firefight with the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion around 3:55 p.m. Wednesday in the boundaries of Barangays Carupay and Fimagas in the municipality of Katipunan.

He said the firefight ensued as the troops spotted at least 18 NPAs while they were conducting security operation.

He said the captured NPA rebels were placed under investigation.

Military confirms death of top NPA leader in Agusan Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Military confirms death of top NPA leader in Agusan Del Sur
CAMP EVANGLISTA, Cagayan De Oro City –- The military on Friday confirmed the death of a ranking commander of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Agusan Del Sur. Army Maj. Christian Uy, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, identified the slain NPA commander as Joseph Tajora Cainong, a.k.a. “Ka Malik,” “Alas,” the Secretary of Guerilla Front 8, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Cainong was among the 12 NPA guerillas killed in a firefight with tribal warriors during a failed attack on Indigenous People’s Community led by Datu Calpit in Barangay Sta. Irene, Prosperidad, Agusan Del Sur last Tuesday morning.

Four IP warriors were killed while Datu Calpit was wounded during the two-hour firefight in the vicinity of Datu Calpit residence, Uy said.

He said that the relatives and other civilians in the area, including the former NPA guerillas who already returned to the mainstream society, identified Cainong.

Responding military and the police recovered eight high powered firearms and the bodies of the casualties at the scene, Uy added.

He said that Cainong and his composite group of the Guerilla Front 8 operates in the central part of Agusan Del Sur. The nearby unit of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 21B operates in the Northern Part of Agusan Del Sur.

With the death of Cainong, both NPA units became deadwoods because Julieto Canoy a.k.a “Ka Bom,” who led the Guerilla Front 21B, was captured in 2011.

Uy said that the other NPA guerrilla fronts: GF 34 (West) and GF 14 (South) have lost a number of combatants following the surrender of their comrades who responded to the government’s sustained “Pagbabalik Loob” campaign in Northern Mindanao.

Hataman orders PNP, LGU to search, rescue abducted social workers in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Hataman orders PNP, LGU to search, rescue abducted social workers in Sulu

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman on Saturday ordered the Sulu police provincial office and Talipao town officials to help locate the four social workers seized by Abu Sayyaf bandits Thursday afternoon.

Hataman directed Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, ARMM police regional director, to ensure the safety of social workers Lerna Jura, Roberto Sabutano, Nurhani Sikangko and an unidentified employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-ARMM).

They were conducting survey in Barangay Upper Sinupaan, Talipao, Sulu for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) when seized by about 10 heavily armed men at about 4 p.m.

”Our report was that they were taken by Abu Sayyaf while doing their work,” Hataman told reporters.

”We maintain the government’s no ransom policy, we will negotiate for their release,” Hataman said, adding that the victims were helping the poor as social workers and that they are not moneyed to pay ransom, if ever.

Hataman said he has ordered the local officials of Talipao and Sulu to locate the victims and bring them back home safe.

Police authorities in Sulu have been coordinating with the local Muslim clerics to help rescue the victims who are all Tausugs, like the suspects.

Hataman who was leading ARMM employees to a prayer for the attainment of peace in Israel and Palestine and the plane crash in Ukraine that included three Filipinos as victims.

Governor commends 79th IB for job well done

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Governor commends 79th IB for job well done

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo on Friday lauded the 79th Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion for having done an excellent job in fighting the insurgency in Negros Oriental and helping the province in attaining real peace and order.

The governor was among those present Friday morning to send off the “Masaligan” battalion at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport for a three-month Battalion of Excellence re-training at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Speaking to about 500 men and women, led by the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, the Negros Oriental governor said he has seen how this active and dynamic group worked hard to achieve peace that has led to the declaration of the province as conflict manageable and development ready.

The declaration means that the insurgency problem in Negros Oriental has been reduced to an insignificant level such that the province is now more conducive for development and economic expansion.

Gov. Degamo handed a plaque of appreciation to Lt. Col. Pascua as the province’s way of showing appreciation for a job well done.

Bidding them farewell, the provincial chief executive said it is just a temporary good-bye as he believes that the a more capable and better-equipped 79th Infantry Battalion will be returning to Negros Oriental in three to four months’ time.

While away on training, the 79th IB shall be replaced by the 20th IB headed by Lt. Col. Miguel Ceballos.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Christopher Estella, deputy commander of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, expressed the unit’s sincere gratitude and appreciation to the officers and enlisted personnel of the 79th IB for all efforts and services that significantly contributed to a much improved peace and security operations in the area of operations in Negros Oriental.

Estella, speaking in behalf of Col. Allan Martin, the brigade commander, noted that because of determination and professionalism, and unmindful of the hardships and being away from their families, the “Masaligans” did their job well.

“You r played an important role along with the LGUs, NGOs and other stakeholders in the spirit of Bayanihan by transforming Negros Oriental as conflict manageable and development ready”, Estella said.

According to him, the battalion’s departure is just temporary but the re-training of Philippine Army units has a purpose, one of which is that battalions must undergo such to improve on its fighting capabilities.

For his part, Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio, deputy division commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in Jamindan, Capiz also congratulated the 79th IB for being a consistent, top performing battalion in the division.

Brig. Gen. Patrimonio assured the people of Negros Oriental to expect a stronger and more capable 79th Infantry Battalion when they return.

He also expressed the gratitude and appreciation of the 3rd Infantry Division to the battalion for untiringly performed their mandated tasks in winning the peace in the province with the highest standard of excellence and dedication.

Army: BIFF resorts to 'silly tactics' to justify attacks on civilians

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Army: BIFF resorts to 'silly tactics' to justify attacks on civilians

The military here has branded today as absurd and lousy propaganda the claim of a renegade Moro rebels that soldiers seized a father and son tandem in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao last week.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) spokesperson Abu Misry Mama earlier accused soldiers belonging to the 45th Infantry Battalion of abducting Mohamad “Madz” Abdulkarim and his son, Mehan Mohammad, 14, at an Army checkpoint in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.

Mama said the attack on a banana plantation in Tulunan, North Cotabato by BIFF members was triggered by the supposed abduction. Mama said the father was a BIFF member.

”This is plain and simple propaganda,” Hermoso told reporters. “Sadly, they are doing it during the fasting month of Ramadhan.”

Hermoso recalled that during last year’s Ramadhan, the BIFF carried simultaneous attacks against military and police installations in Maguindanao’s second district, killing civilians and soldiers.

”Now they did it again,” Hermoso said.

A BIFF member was killed in a clash with government forces after they attacked the Delinanas banana plantation in North Cotabato on July 13.

Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Tulunan police chief, said about 30 heavily armed BIFF stormed the packing house of Delinanas banana plantation in Barangay Dungos, Tulunan while another band of guerrillas torched about PHP30 million worth of equipment.

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

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

Mama said the father and the son, residents of Barangay Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, remained missing after they were last seen being accosted by soldiers at a highway checkpoint.

Hermoso said the military never abduct civilians and non-combatants in its area of operation.

He added that the BIFF, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is resorting to propaganda following successful military operations that led to the arrest of some of its members and death of BIFF in Army offensives in Maguindanao and Datu Shariff Saydona.

The military also seized high powered firearms in the house of Basit Usman, a suspected international terrorist, and his bomb-making factory in Barangay Gang, Shariff Saydona last month.

”The BIFF is using even the social media in its propaganda and the public know the real story,” he said, adding that the military continues to remain on alert during the fasting month and intensifying its intelligence operations.

Bid opening, submission for CAS project reset for Aug. 11

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Bid opening, submission for CAS project reset for Aug. 11
Bid opening and submission for the Department of National Defense (DND)'s Php4,968,000,000 million close-air support (CAS) project has been reset anew to Aug. 11

Bid submission was originally slated for June 11 but it was reset to July 2.

It was ordered rescheduled to July 11 before being reset again to July 23.

It was reset again for Aug. 11. No reasons were given for the fourth reset.

The DND is planning to acquire six CAS aircraft to replace or beef up the Air Force's existing Rockwell OV-10 "Bronco" turboprop attack planes.

CAS refers to capability to provide air support to infantry and naval units in contact with the enemy.

Funding for this weapon system will be sourced from the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program.

Bid submission and opening will still be held at the DND Bidding and Awards Committee conference room, basement right wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

DND undersecretary Fernando Manalo earlier said that the contract includes integrated logistic support system.

Winning bidders must be able to deliver the aircraft within 540 calendar days from contract effectivity.

Participants in the DND's CAS project must have completed a similar program within the last 10 years.

Manalo added that the CAS aircraft must be used by the countries offering and manufacturing them.

3rd Infantry condemns NPA rebels for shooting up soldiers escorting civilian medical team

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): 3rd Infantry condemns NPA rebels for shooting up soldiers escorting civilian medical team

The Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division condemned on Friday the New People's Army (NPA) rebels for firing on a group of soldiers securing a civilian medical team in Barangay Mayang, Tubungan town, Iloilo Thursday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Aldwine Almase, 82nd Infantry Battalion commander, one of the field units of the 3rd Infantry Division, said that his troops were securing the convoy of a medical team from the 301st Brigade and civilian volunteers from Operation Blessing (an international humanitarian organization) who came from a medical and dental mission in Leon, Iloilo when the shooting incident occurred at around 3:45 p.m.

The soldiers retaliated and a 10-minute firefight ensued, which resulted in the death of an NPA fighter and recovery of a 12-gauge shotgun with live ammunition.

Blood stains were seen along the withdrawal route of the rebels who were believed to be members of the Southern Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay.

There was no casualty from the government troops.

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson, said that this latest atrocity violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHIHL).

Members of the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives conducted investigation in the scene of encounter and to identify the casualty.

“We join the local government officials, civil society organizations, and the peace-loving people of Panay in strongly condemning this treacherous act. We regret that despite our efforts to bring the necessary assistance to the people, the CPP-NPA answered it in a senseless way. This is a brazen disregard of the CARHIHL which the communist group is a signatory,” 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

Earlier, Army personnel and Operation Blessing conducted a four-day medical and dental civic action programs (MEDCAP and DENCAP) in the villages of Tigmarabo in Miag-ao, Mantangon in Igbaras, Igdampog Sur in Tubungan and Paga in Leon, all of Iloilo, which benefited over 1,500 residents. .

The group came from Barangay Paga, Leon, which was the last phase of the MEDCAP and DENCAP prior to the incident.

NPA IED cache seized in Surigao Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): NPA IED cache seized in Surigao Del Sur

Troopers from the 75th Infantry Battalion have successfully recovered a rebel improvised explosive device (IED) cache in the hinterlands of Sitio Mabog, Barangay San Roque, Bislig City, Surigao Del Sur last July 16.

Reports forwarded Friday by Major Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, said location of the IED cache was provided by a concerned civilian to Army units.

Recovered were 10 liters of super dyne explosives with blasting cap; one TV picture tube filled with super dyne explosive weighing six kilograms with blasting cap; a 12-inch long PVC pipe number 4 filled with super dyne explosives with concrete nails attached; 10 meters detonating cord; 20 meters electrical wire; and three disposable batteries.

2 troopers killed, 1 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): 2 troopers killed, 1 hurt in clash with rebels in Negros Occidental

Two soldiers of the 47th Infantry Battalion were killed and another one was wounded during an encounter with New People's Army (NPA) fighters in Sitio Madaha, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental Thursday afternoon.

Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes, 47th Infantry Battalion commander, said his troops were conducting peace and development activities in the area when they were fired upon by more or less 30 lawless armed elements believed to be members of the Central Negros Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros (CNF, KR-N).

“We encountered the NPA rebels for about 30 minutes which resulted to the death of our two soldiers and one was wounded. Our troops are there to help the local government unit in assisting the people to identify the issues in their community so that these can be resolved and to further improve the people’s lives,” he added.

Killed in action were Cpl. Napoleon Supresencia and Pfc. Henry Lumio Jr.

The wounded soldier was identified as Pfc. Leland Sucatre who sustained minor wounds in his back.

Two M-16 rifles were also carted away by the fleeing rebels after the encounter.

President Aquino to new Armed Forces chief: Continue reforms in the military

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): President Aquino to new Armed Forces chief: Continue reforms in the military

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday led the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the military’s general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In his message during the event, the President commended outgoing chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista for his good stewardship of the AFP, and called on new chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., to continue ongoing reforms in the military.

"Kay Lt. Gen. Catapang: Ngayon ngang nagbago na ang mukha ng Sandatahang Lakas, nawa’y sagarin mo ang bawat pagkakataon sa iyong liderato upang lalo pang tumibay at lumakas ang ating institusyon, sa ngalan ng makabuluhang paglilingkod sa ating kapwa at bandila," the President said.

Gen. Catapang is highly qualified to lead the AFP, he said.

Catapang, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, has been assigned in Mindanao, and has led the 7th Infantry Division and the Northern Luzon Command of the Philippines Marines, before his appointment as AFP vice chief-of-staff last May.

The President described him as an “all-around” official of the armed forces, who is responsible, reliable, and has extensive knowledge in running the military.

"Kay Lt. Gen. Pio Catapang: Hindi naman sa pine-pressure kita, pero bilang bagong tagapagtimon ng AFP, hindi lamang 125,000 sundalo natin ang nakasalalay sa iyong pamumuno; maging ang 98 milyon nating mga Boss ay umaasa sa tapat mong pagseserbisyo," he said.

With less than two years in office, the present administration has done a lot in fixing the country's bureaucracy, President Aquino said.

The government, he noted, was able to go after corrupt officials and hold them accountable, expanded social services, strengthened the economy, and started the process to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

And while there are individuals who will continue to oppose change, the government will always prevail so long as it serves the interest of the people, he added.

"Ito ang napatunayan ng mga tapat na lingkod-bayan na tulad ni Gen. Bautista, at ito ang inaasahan nating itutuloy ni Gen. Catapang sa mga susunod na panahon," he said.

"Gaano man kahirap ang mga pagsubok na ating pinagdaanan sa nakalipas na apat na taon, ipinamalas ng ating mga pinuno, ng mga kawal ng bayan, na nasa parehong panig sila ng sambayanan."

Government post awaits retired Armed Forces Chief Bautista -- Palace

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Government post awaits retired Armed Forces Chief Bautista -- Palace
President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday a government position is ready for Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, who has officially retired from his post as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff.

In his speech during the change of command at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, President Aquino said Bautista will take a one-month vacation, then assume a government position.

Bautista, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Sunday, was replaced by Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. The two belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Dimalupig Class of 1981.

While President Aquino did not identify the post, he commended Bautista for his stint as AFP chief, citing his humility, diligence and expertise.

The President mentioned the difficulties Bautista had gone through, including the Sabah crisis, the Zamboanga siege, the kidnapping of peacekeepers in Golan Heights, the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, and typhoon "Yolanda" in the Visayas.

“He has been weighed so many times. His skills and dedication have been put to the test… No one could say that he did not succeed,” the Commander in Chief said.

During the event, President Aquino conferred on Bautista the Presidential Legion of Honor with the degree of Chief Commander for his valuable and meritorious service to the country.

Newly-appointed AFP chief says PHL to continue resupply missions in WPS

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 18): Newly-appointed AFP chief says PHL to continue resupply missions in WPS

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Friday assured the public that the military will continue to bring supplies to its outposts in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) but stressed that nothing provocative will be done.

He made this statement when asked on what the military will do to ensure that other Philippine-held territories will not be cordoned off like Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

"Our last resupply was very smooth, we hope that the next will be the same. We are continuously monitoring the situation. We will maintain our presence there, we will find ways and means to continue resupply missions," Catapang pointed out.

The AFP chief added they are still to detect any Chinese intentions to tow an oil rig to Recto (Reed) Bank off Palawan, like what happened in the waters off Vietnam.

Catapang stated that the Philippines will not lose Reed Bank and other Philippine-held territories, but vowed not to be "provocative."

"We will maintain our diplomacy. We will not be provocative so that there will be no unintentional shooting in the area," the new AFP chief stressed.

DSWD coordinating with ARMM leaders to ensure safety of 3 staff abducted in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): DSWD coordinating with ARMM leaders to ensure safety of 3 staff abducted in Sulu

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Saturday assured that they are currently closely coordinating with Autonomous Regions of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) leaders for appropriate actions to be taken to ensure the safety of its three staff abducted while validating families of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Sulu.

In a statement, DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said they are currently discussing with Gov. Mujiv Hataman, Sulu Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan and Talipao Mayor Sitti Raya Tulawie for possible steps to be taken.

“We are saddened by the abduction yesterday of our three staff who were validating families of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries and coordinating for the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program in Barangay Upper Sinumaan, Talipao, Sulu in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” Soliman said.

The staffs were abducted at around 2 p.m. while on their way to validate family-beneficiaries to be added to the list of 4Ps beneficiaries under the Listahanan (Listahan ng Mahihirap na Pamilya) formerly known as National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and to monitor the PAMANA project in the said community.

“We are praying earnestly in this holy month of Ramadan for compassion. Our colleagues from DSWD-ARMM are only doing their duty to help the poor people of Talipao -- their brothers and sisters in Islam,” Soliman added.

She also called for the families and loved ones of the staff who were abducted to continue praying for their safe release.

“Rest assured that the Department is ready to support and provide them the necessary assistance,” she added.

China, Asean to hold dialogue on conduct

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 18): China, Asean to hold dialogue on conduct

Senior officials of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will hold a dialogue in October to discuss the full implementation of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) and the conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC), Acting Thai Foreign Minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow said Friday.
Thai visitor. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del
Rosario receives Thailand’s acting foreign Minister
Sihasak Phuangketkeow. DANNY PATA
Phuangketkeow is in Manila to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to take up bilateral relations and the political situation in Bangkok.

During a press conference, Phuangketkeow confirmed that Thailand will continue to be a country coordinator for the Asean-China bilateral dialogue. The October meeting will be held in Thailand.

“We have done our best to move forward the relationship as well to contribute whatever it can with regard to the issues in the South China Sea. We think that these issues are important to peace and stability of the region as a whole,” he said.

“What is important is the need for self-restraint on the part of all parties, commitment to peaceful resolution and we see arbitration is as means of peaceful resolution and most importantly, we want to see the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.”

The DOC was signed by China and the Asean in 2002, and aimed to reduce political tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The COC, on the other hand, is a more binding edict that was enshrined in the DOC. It hopes to further promote peace and stability in the economically vital sea lane.

Last year, the 10-member bloc also met with China to discuss the implementation of the DOC and the conclusion of the COC.

Although the multilateral meeting was a first for China since the disputes began in 2012, no consensus was reached in terms of agreeing to the early conclusion of the COC and the easing of aggressive steps in claiming territories in the region.

New AFP chief bares plans

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 19): New AFP chief bares plans

LT. GEN. Gregorio Pio Catapang took command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday, replacing his Philippine Military Academy classmate Gen. Emmanuel Bautista who will reach the mandatory retirement age on Sunday.

But President Benigno Aquino III, who presided at the change of command rites at Camp Aguinaldo, said he already has a government post in mind for former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

Change of command. President Benigno Aquino III
attends the Change-of-Command ceremonies in
Camp Aguinaldo where outgoing Armed Forces Chief
Emmanuel Bautista (second from left) was replaced
by incoming Armed Force Chief Gregorio Pio
Catapang (fourth from left). With them  are Vice
President Jejomar Binay and Defense Secretary
Voltaire Gazmin. MalacaƱang Photo Bureau
“The term of Gen. Bautista reflected his desire to bring the Armed Forces closer to the people by directly talking to them, knowing their needs, and addressing these without hesitation. This is why he earned the moniker Manny Sundalo - a model Filipino soldier,” Aquino said.

“To those who regret his leaving the Armed Forces, do not worry: after his long vacation of about a month, he will return to public service,” the President said, but he did not identify the post he is eyeing for Bautista.

The President also expressed confidence that the new AFP head, Lt. Gen. Gregiorio Catapang Jr., will be able to carry on the reforms in the military initiated by his predecessor.

“Now that you are at the top post of the AFP, may you continue to improve the cooperation between our uniformed rank and ordinary Filipinos started by your predecessor,” Aquino said.

“Not to pressure you (Catapang), but as the new head of the AFP, not only 125,000 soldiers depend on your leadership but also our 98 million bosses,” he added.

Aquino acknowledged that there are still some individuals who want to challenge the governance reforms that he has tried to institutionalize.

“We all know that in pushing for reforms, we create a lot of enemies. And there are those who want to return to the old ways of abuses in government,” the President said.

“But we have also proven that for so long as we remain on the straight path, for as long as the interest of our bosses steer our agenda, we will not lose the support of our people,” Aquino added.

Catapang, for his part, promised to enhance the military’s anti-insurgency campaign, dubbed as Internal Peace and Security Plan.

“We shall ensure that we will not only win the peace but we will also help win progress and prosperity for our country and people,” he said.

“Furthermore, we shall institutionalize the AFP transformation road map so that our country will be prepared for the global challenges of the 21st century,” he added.

Catapang later admitted to reporters that he was frustrated when his appointment as chief of the Philippine Army was recalled because of the promotion of a younger officer  now Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Irriberi.

PNoy to new AFP chief: Bring military closer to the people

From GMA News (Jul 18): PNoy to new AFP chief: Bring military closer to the people

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday challenged newly installed military chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. to bring the  Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) closer to the people.
In a speech during the AFP change of command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Aquino, the military's commander-in-chief, recalled how he first met Catapang as a junior military officer during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
Catapang was a former member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), a group instrumental in the popular mass uprising which toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Aquino's late mother, Corazon, to the presidency.
"Nandoon ka, nakibahagi, at tiwala akong hindi pa nawawala ang maalab na ideyalismong nakita ko sa iyo noon. Ngayong ikaw na ang nasa pinakamataas na posisyon sa AFP, mapaigting mo pa sana ang ugnayang napasimulan na sa pagitan ng ating mga unipormadong hanay at ng ating mga mamamayan," Aquino told the new military chief.
The President urged Catapang to continue reforming the AFP through honest leadership.
"Ngayon ngang nagbago na ang mukha ng Sandatahang Lakas, nawa’y sagarin mo ang bawat pagkakataon sa iyong liderato upang lalo pang tumibay at lumakas ang ating institusyon, sa ngalan ng makabuluhang paglilingkod sa ating kapwa at bandila," Aquino said.
Aquino also enumerated his administration's efforts to improve the military, such as the P40-billion AFP modernization program, the provision of housing and financial assistance to soldiers, and reforms in the military pension scheme.
Strengthen the AFP
The President likewise committed to further strengthening the military, in the face of regional tensions and the threat of climate change.
"Patibayin pa natin ang puwersa ng Sandatahang Lakas, at ang ating pagkakaisa sa tuwid na landas. Itutok lang natin ang serbisyo sa mas nakakarami, at pihadong makikinabang sa benepisyo nito maging ang susunod na henerasyon ng Pilipino," he said.
"Gaano man kahirap ang mga pagsubok na ating pinagdaanan sa nakalipas na apat na taon, ipinamalas ng ating mga pinuno, ng mga kawal ng bayan, na nasa parehong panig sila ng sambayanan," he added
On Thursday, Aquino said the Philippines is not shifting to a more militaristic position in its territorial dispute with China over portions of the South China Sea, which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines has already brought its territorial dispute with China before the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration. Beijing, however, has rejected the arbitration proceedings, repeatedly insisting on bilateral talks to settle to issue.

AFP thumbs down CPP-NPA swap deal for release of 4 cops

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 18): AFP thumbs down CPP-NPA swap deal for release of 4 cops

The military yesterday rejected a call by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) for the Army to stop operations in exchange for the release of four policemen being held as captives by the Reds.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID), said the communist group can free the cops without any condition if they are sincere.

“There will be no stop in our operations. We will continue with our operations without letup,” Visaya said.

“If they want to release the policemen, they can do it without condition,” he added.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said that the CPP/NPA’s Northeastern Mindanao Regional Party Committee is calling for the stoppage of security operations in Surigao for the freedom of the four policemen.

Visaya theorized that the NPAs are currently feeling the pressure from the government security forces in the provinces of Surigao and Agusan.

“They are being pinned down and they don’t want to be caught by our operating troops. For us, they committed very serious criminal act,” Visaya said.

Presently, Visaya said that three military battalions are operating against the NPAs in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte provinces.

The NPA last week attacked the Alegria Municipal Police Station, carting away high-powered firearms and took as captives PO3 Vic Concon, PO1 Rey Morales, PO1 Joen Zabala and PO1 Edito Roqueno.

Subsequent pursuit operations launched by combined police and military forces resulted in the killing of two NPA rebels.

Only on Tuesday, a high-ranking NPA leader was killed, along with 12 of his fighters, during an encounter in Agusan del Sur. The slain communist commander was Joseph Tajora Cainong, also known as Malik and Alas, Secretary of Guerilla Front 8.

Cainong was the leader of the 70-man NPA band that attacked the residence of Datu Calpito Egua in Barangay Sta Irine in Prosperidad last Friday. The attack resulted in the death of 12 NPA rebels and four tribesmen who also serves as security of Datu Calpit.

A series of encounter ensued when fleeing rebels encountered a blocking force from the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Battalion in nearby Barangay Hamugaway. One NPA was killed and one high-powered firearm was recovered from the encounter.

PH urges Asean unity in China sea dispute

Posted to ABS-CBN (Jul 18): PH urges Asean unity in China sea dispute

The Philippines is pushing for a meeting among four Southeast Asian nations with conflicting claims to waters in the South China Sea so that they can hammer out a common stand in dealings with China, Manila's foreign minister said on Friday.

Manila is waging a territorial dispute with China over the Spratlys and the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas deposits as well as fisheries resources.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, which is traversed each year by ship-borne trade worth about $5 trillion.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines wanted to hold talks with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam before foreign ministers from regional grouping the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet for an annual conference in Myanmar next month.

"We are working towards having a possibility of claimants meeting before the ASEAN ministerial meetings," Del Rosario told reporters after talks with Thailand's acting foreign minister, Sihasak Phuangketkeow.

"We don't have any dates yet and it's a work in progress."

Del Rosario also visited Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam early this month to drum up support for the meeting. Jakarta had a separate proposal for an ASEAN-China dialogue to defuse tension after Beijing placed an oil rig in a disputed waters in May.

China's May 2 deployment of the rig in waters claimed by Vietnam set off deadly anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam, followed by numerous ship collisions after scores of vessels from both countries regularly squared off around the platform.

China removed the oil rig this week after completing three months of exploration work. The rig's departure was welcomed by Washington, which had decried its initial deployment as a "provocative" act.

"We are certainly concerned with the situation," Thailand's Sihasak told reporters.

"We do want to see a de-escalation of tension. We have to see all sides engaging in confidence-building measures, more cooperation, whenever possible, and the need for self-restraint on the part of all parties."

Thailand is helping to coordinate between ASEAN and China, Sihasak said, adding it has done its best to move the dialogue forward, particularly in efforts to agree on a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

Efforts since December 2012 to launch talks among the four Southeast Asian nations with claims on the South China Sea have been unable to reach consensus.

In February, Manila hosted a meeting of claimant states but Brunei failed to attend, and also skipped a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in late March, saying it was not in its national interest to do so. Manila is trying to revive the talks.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China before the U.N. tribunal in the Hague, seeking clarification of its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea. Manila expects the court to rule in its favor within a year after China ignored the arbitration case.

MNLF denies Misuari is behind Sabah kidnappings

From ABS-CBN (Jul 18): MNLF denies Misuari is behind Sabah kidnappings

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) spokesperson Absalom Cerveza denied that the group's founding chairman, Nur Misuari, is behind the spate of abductions in Malaysia.

Cerveza was responding to an accusation by Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that Misuari ordered the abductions in order to gather funds for the revival of the MNLF's military wing.

''That is hallunication on the part of Malaysia. It does not deserve our response because we know they are not telling the truth. They are speculating, inventing stories,'' Cerveza told dzMM.

''First of all, the military contingent of the MNLF is very much alive."

The Malaysian minister was also quoted as saying in reports that Misuari and the MNLF is working with members of the Sulu Sultanate in recapturing Sabah.

Cerveza said that while Misuari and the MNLF support the sultanate's cause, the MNLF is not involved in the recent abductions in Sabah.

Malaysia's former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor was also quoted in a Bernama report as saying that Misuari is exacting revenge against Malaysia for supporting the peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Misuari, who once served as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is currently wanted for his alleged role in the bloody Zamboanga siege.

MILF: ACBWD holds Nadwah Islami’yyah with advocacy

From the MILF Website (Jul 18): ACBWD holds Nadwah Islami’yyah with advocacy

The Alliance of Concern Bangsamoro Women for Development (ACBWD) in partnership with the Institute of Middle East and Arabic Studies of the University of Southern Mindanao.
Kabacan, North Cotabato held a one-day Nadwah Islamie (forum) with Advocacy on the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Theme: “Strengthening Aquidah Isla’miyyah” on July 13, 2014 at the IMIEAS’ Salipada K. Pendatun Hall.

The gathering was attended by about 200 participants both men and women comprising faculty, staff and students of IMEAS. Some local residents also participated.

The program started with a recital of some verses of the Holy Quran by Dr. Ali Delengalen, followed by a welcome address by Prof. Badrodin S. Abdulkadir, Dean of IMEAS. Bai Norma D. Pasandalan, Al-hadja, President of ACBWD delivered the opening remarks.

Professor Esmael A. Abdula delved on the peace process; expounded on the highlights of CAB and the FAB four annexes and the current status of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).  Abdula is currently the Chairman of the Campaign and Mass Mobilization, Sub Committee on Information, Committee on Information and member of the Steering Committee of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) at the same time the institute’s training officer.

Abdula pointed out that the root cause of the Mindanao conflict were foreign and local colonization of the Moro homeland that marginalized our people and devastated the region. “This isn’t a conflict between Muslims and Non-Muslims; it’s a fight against oppression,” Abdula said further.

Abdula encouraged the participant especially the academe to be active and vigilant in supporting the peace process to be able to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao Region.

With Abdula were Datuan Magon of UNYPAD, Ustadza Aida M. Said, Sheik Adbulgani T. Tumalaw and Sheik Abdulfatah Delna Sheikh Delna explained the significance of Ramadan but focused mainly on the Theme: “Strengthening Aquidah Isla’miyyah”

After the closing program, some participants were overheard saying that they hope to participate similar forum in the future.’yyah-with-advocacy

CPP/NDF: The New People’s Army in NEMR simultaneously attacks three private armies

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 16): The New People’s Army in NEMR simultaneously attacks three private armies

Maria Malaya
NDFP Northeast Mindanao Chapter
Within only a day, the New People’s Army in the North East Mindanao Region simultaneously attacked on July 15 three private armed groups to dismantle and stop it from continuing its brutal and anti-people criminal activities. First is the armed Lumad group of Calpet Egua based in Sta. Irene, Posperidad, Agusan del Sur; second is another armed Lumad group based in Sitio Inagawan, La Purisima, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, also armed by Calpet himself; and third, the bandit group in Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.

Calpet’s private army was formed with the aid of the army, PNP and LGU officials so that he can control the profit from the mining operations in the Manhulayan area. When Calpet rose to power as a warlord, he grabbed the lands of other Lumads as well as that of businessmen who owned mining concessions in the area. This allowed him to accumulate wealth and gave him the leverage to expand and strengthen his private army up to more than 60 armed elements, widening and solidifying his control over the mining and logging area in the boundary of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.

Calpet’s private army has committed vile criminal acts of massacre, summary executions, rape and ambush even of his Lumad relatives. His “handlers” in the military have not only used this to make a profit but also for counter-revolutionary activities. The attack against Calpet is a revolutionary exaction of justice.

According to partial reports, at around 5:50AM, an NPA platoon staged an attack on Calpet’s compound, which also serves as the base for his private army. This NPA-initiated attack, as stated by initial reports from the field, did not, however, succeed and resulted in the demise of 10 Red fighters and the wounding of a few others. On the part of the enemy, four elements of Calpet’s dreaded private army were killed-in-action, including his brother who is armed and is as ruthless as he is. A civilian driver was also killed during the battle.

Another NPA Red fighter was martyred when military forces attacked the NPA blocking force in Brgy. Hamugaway, Bayugan City. The military also attacked the blocking force of the NPA in San Salvador, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, but there were no casualties among the Red fighters. According to the AFP, one of their personnel died and another was wounded in the course of this incident.

In yet another daring tactical offensive, during the same time in the dawn of July the 15th, another NPA unit raided another Calpet-sponsored Lumad private armed group based in Sitio Inagwan, La Purisima, Prospersida, Agusan del Sur, which has in their possession more or less 20 firearms. The raid was a success, allowing the NPA to confiscate 7 M16s, 1 M14 and 2 handguns. While a few other armed elements fled, one was able to gun down and kill a Red fighter.

On the same day, yet another NPA platoon attacked another private army of bandits based in Brgy. Bitan-agan, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. According to reports, the leader of the bandits, Renato Villaverde, was killed and, from him, a carbine rifle, a .45 calibre pistol and a 9mm KG were confiscated. The battle resulted in the wounding of a Red fighter. The other members of the bandit group bolted. This group is responsible for the sale and distribution of illegal drugs in the area, robbery, gun-for-hire and a host of other criminal acts. This notorious bandit group is also responsible for numerous armed robberies along the highway and in nearby towns.

These simultaneous attacks against three private armed groups in Agusan del Sur form part of the NPA’s firm resolve to dismantle brutal private armies in order to defend the interests of the broad masses. We are well aware that the reactionary government encourages the existence of these private armies to cater to their interests and for use in counter-revolutionary activities. Fourteen Red fighters have courageously offered up their lives, including a civilian driver, to carry out this latest effort of the NPA to destroy fascist private armed groups. Their passing, though unfortunate, shall never weaken the unflinching determination of the NPA to crush private armies that have become a threat to the interest of the people.

The foremost task of the NPA is to smash all armed apparatus of the reactionary state, which are used to protect the interests of big landlords, big bourgeois comprador and US imperialism. Private armies are part of these armed apparatus that serve the interest of the ruling classes.

The call of PNP and military officials to end the armed conflict is nothing but a devious call for peace because they have taken no sincere steps in dismantling private armies that are the very threats to peace itself. Above all, as long as the AFP-PNP-Cafgu exist as the very apparatus of the ruling classes to oppress and exploit the people, to smash it completely is only right and to have the real people’s army rise in its stead is the only way to liberate the people totally from its fascist grip.

We are grateful for the offer to have our wounded brought to you for medical treatment however, we know that behind this seeming act of benevolence is a trap ready to spring on our Red fighters to surrender. Once under your custody, your courts and prisons will never release them. Instead of accepting your offer, we will try our very best with whatever medical resources we have within our revolutionary medical team’s reach to treat our wounded and get them out of harm’s way.

We ask the responsible government agencies to ensure that the process of embalming should take, at the minimum, a week in order to allow us to reach and inform the families of the Red fighters who have heroically offered their lives in the service of the people. We will defray funeral costs. We are in debt of gratitude should you consider our request.

To the family of the driver who unfortunately perished in this incident, we only ask for your understanding and pardon; we shall exert every effort to provide financial help.

To the owner of the vehicle the NPA rented for this operation, we deeply regret the inconvenience it has brought you. We shall find ways to pay for the damages.

To the public, we humbly ask for your kind consideration with whatever inconvenience this NPA-initiated operation has brought you. We are in the middle of a civil war where the people’s army – the NPA – is launching tactical offensives in order to smash the armed apparatus of exploitation and oppression, and is gradually strengthening itself to gain greater capability to totally destroy the armed forces of the ruling classes. We strive, now and in the future, to make sure that no civilians ever get caught in the cross fire and that we bring to a minimum any inconvenience or delay brought on by these legitimate operations of the NPA.

To the martyred Red fighters in these simultaneous operations, their deaths deserve praise as heroes because they willingly offered their lives for the liberation of the long suffering people from exploitation and oppression. To their relatives, friends and comrade Red fighters, the entire people joins you in your mourning. Let us transform our collective grief into revolutionary courage in order to continue the cause begun and left for us to carry forward by our Revolutionary Martyrs.

Long live the inspiration of the Revolutionary Martyrs!
Social Justice for the people!
Advance the People’s War!

CPP: CPP commiserates with typhoon victims

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 17): CPP commiserates with typhoon victims

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines commiserates with the broad masses of workers, peasants, fisherfolk, minority people, ordinary income earners and other toiling people, who bore the brunt of typhoon Glenda over the past several days. The typhoon dealt widespread destruction especially in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions, as well as parts of the Eastern Visayas, Central Luzon and the National Capital Region.

Strong winds and torrential rain damaged thousands upon thousands of small peasant houses and urban poor shanties, as well as rice fields, vegetable farms, coconut trees, fish ponds as well as other sources of livelihood.

As a matter of revolutionary duty, all branches of the CPP, units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and local revolutionary mass organizations in the affected areas, have been mobilized to shoulder all the necessary tasks to help those needing assistance to repair their houses and resume their livelihood.

Revolutionary authorities are exerting all efforts to mobilize volunteers and coordinate with local and international aid agencies to ensure that emergency services and relief materials reach the intended people the soonest.

The CPP calls on the people in the affected areas to stand alert against the continuing offensive and surveillance operations being carries out by the Aquino regime and its armed forces. These operations aim to impede NPA units as well as people’s organizations from carrying-out their duty to assist the people.

Recall that after typhoon Yolanda, AFP units launched massive offensive operations in Eastern Visayas, Panay and Negros, against NPA units doing rehabilitation work. The Aquino regime’s policy of intensifying offensive military operations in calamity-stricken areas is a manifestation of its deep contempt of the people.

It is the broad masses of the oppressed and exploited classes who are always vulnerable to storms and other natural calamities. The disasters they experience, however, are invariably man-made as the reactionary government is completely negligent of the welfare of the toiling people.

CPP/NPA: NPA seizes 17 firearms in raid against Del Monte plantation in Quezon, Bukidnon

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 18): NPA seizes 17 firearms in raid against Del Monte plantation in Quezon, Bukidnon

Alan Juanito
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Julito Tiro Command)
The New People’s Army under the South-Central Bukidnon (NPA-SCB) Sub-Regional Command successfully raided the compound of Del Monte Phils. Pineapple Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, Brgy. San Jose, Quezon, Bukidnon, July 15, 2014, around 10:30 AM. The NPA unit seized 17 firearms in the tactical offensive.

The NPA confiscated from the security guards of Del Monte’s satellite plant 10 high power rifles, including six M16 rifles, three carbines and a Garand rifle. They also seized six shotguns, one pistol, five VHF Radios and some live ammunition. Meanwhile, the Red fighters also destroyed their chemical warehouse, security bunker and plant machineries including a tractor, four motorcycles and others.

Riding a forward truck and a ten-wheeler, an NPA company raided Del Monte compound despite its proximity to the battalion headquarters of the 23rd IB in Maramag, the police station in Quezon town and the command post of the 1st Special Forces in Salawagan, Quezon. The reactionary armed forces and police failed to respond to the quick, secret and surprise NPA operation.

During the attack, a few of the company guards resisted, resulting in a few minutes of firefight during which two guards, Rey Balon and Reynald Pangkat, were killed. On the other hand, the NPA suffered no casualties and safely withdrew after the raid. Nevertheless, we offer our condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed in the incident. We reiterate that punishing such companies and seizing their firearms are the NPA’s only aim. We do not intend to hurt their security guards as long as they offer no resistance.

Del Monte is being punished for its massive criminal culpability. Firstly, its outgrower, Poling Lorenzo, who aggressively seeks to expand the plantation, is a landgrabber. Using his armed guards, he harassed the legitimate claimants of the land he targets for expansion. Even nuns, students and supporters of the peasant claimants had a taste of strafing from Lorenzo’s rabid guards.

Secondly, its violations of labor regulations. Almost all of its workers are not regular owing to the labor cooperative scheme under the Kiantig Services Multi-purpose Cooperative (KISMUCO) under Poling Lorenzo’s control. With Lorenzo’s control on the workers cooperative, wages remain low and workers are subjected to oppressive quota and piece-rate systems before being paid; they receive no benefits, suffer from countless deductions, and their SSS and Philhealth funds are not regularly remitted. In 2011, the company also fired workers on protest without even addressing their complaints.

And thirdly, ever since the Del Monte plantation started to operate in the area, San Jose and its adjacent barrios have experienced more frequent flooding which have inundated several houses. Chemicals from the company also poison Luwan-luwan Spring, which serves as the town’s freshwater source.

Once more, we warn multinational companies like Del Monte, Dole and Sumifru to cease their aggressive and destructive expansion. They should stop landrabbing and pay those already dispossessed of their land. They should also respect the rights of the workers who have given them their billions worth of superprofit. The revolutionary movement will continue to launch punitive actions such as this for as long as the concerned companies do not heed these demands.

79th IB leaving NegOr today

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 18): 79th IB leaving NegOr today

The 500-plus men of the 79th  Infantry “Masaligan” Battalion of the Philippine Army will leave Negros Oriental today for a three-month Battalion of Excellence training in Nueva Ecija.

Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, 79th  IB commander, said yesterday that the battalion will pull out from its headquarters in Siaton, Negros Oriental, and board a C-130 cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force from the Dumaguete-Sibulan Airport.

The 79th  IB, that arrived in Negros Oriental in February 2008 from Bohol, will undergo the training that aims to improve the fighting capability of the 79th  IB at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

The battalion's “move, shoot and communicate” capabilities will be enhanced, to include the provision of more vehicles, firearms, radio communications equipment and the like, Pascua said.

The 20th  IB will replace the 79th  IB in all its vacated posts and take over responsibilities of areas it had controlled or occupied, he also said.

He assured there shall be no vacuum left with the pullout of the 79th  IB, that is expected to return to Negros Oriental in October.