Saturday, July 19, 2014

Negrenses to expect a stronger 79th IB after Luzon training

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 18): Negrenses to expect a stronger 79th IB after Luzon training

Expect a stronger and more capable soldiers of 79th Infantry Battalion (IB)when they return to the province after an approximate three months of re-training in Luzon.

This was the assurance of Brigadier General Francisco Patrimonio, Assistant Division Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army to Negrenses when he delivered his message during a send off ceremony for the troops of 79th IB at Dumaguete Airport today.

The soldiers of the 79th IB will temporary leave the province to undergo a Battalion of Excellence (BOE) in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

The training aims to strengthen and improve the battalion’s operational capability to make them more effective in performing their duties in the internal peace and security operations in their assigned areas.

“The 79th IB, being a consistent top performing battalion of the division was given the privilege to undergo the BOE training,” Patrimonio said. “This is an opportunity to upgrade the organizational and individual equipment and uniform of our personnel,” he added.

Before they left this morning, Negros Oriental Gov. Roel R. Degamo handed over a certificate of recognition to Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua, the commanding officer of 79th IB for the services they rendered in the province.

In his message, Gov. Degamo lauded the courageous men in uniform for their efforts in helping the province attain a conflict manageable and development ready province.

“As chief executive of the province, I have seen how these men worked in order to attain true peace for the development of the province,” Gov. Degamo said in local dialect.  

Gov. Degamo wishes well for these soldiers as they go through re-training outside Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, local leaders here assured that everything is in place to sustain the present security status of the province.

Patrimonio said the 20th IB from Samar will replace the 79th IB while they are on training in Nueva Ecija.

It can be recalled that these soldiers were deployed in Negros Oriental last May 28 after also completing BOE training.

The soldiers of the 79th IB are expected to come back in their areas of assignment in the latter part of the year.

“We will temporary leave for now to enhance our capabilities but we will return and when we get back you can expect a stronger 79th IB, ready to serve you and may we continue our partnership to attain true peace in Negros Oriental,” Lt. Col. Pascua said.

Two C-130 aircraft from the Philippine Air Force arrived at Dumaguete Port this morning to fetch the soldiers and take them to Manila, their first stop before going to Nueva Ecija.

Curfew in waters off Sabah

From the Star Online (Jul 20): Curfew in waters off Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: A dusk to dawn curfew has been imposed in the seas off six districts in Sabah’s east coast as Malaysian security forces tackle what they described as a threat to public order that is now real and continuous.

Sabah Police Commissioner Da­­tuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said the six districts are Sandakan, Ki­­nabatangan, Lahad Datu, Sem­porna, Kunak and Tawau.

The curfew hours are from 6pm to 6am every day from Saturday to Aug 2.

The curfew area involves the sea three nautical miles from shore until the international borders with the Philippines, encompassing an area of some 121,270 sq miles. The length of the curfew area was about 362 nautical miles from Tanjung Pundaras in San­dakan to part of Pulau Se­­batik near Tawau.
He said the curfew was being imposed under Section 3(1) of the Police Act 1967 following approval from Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

After Aug 2, Malaysian security forces would assess the situation in the east coast and use the Public Order (Preservation) Act or Sabah’s own Preservation of Public Order Ordinance to declare an indefinite curfew, if necessary.

Jalaluddin said those caught contravening the curfew could be liable to a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to RM500.

The respective district police chiefs could give exceptions to government services such as medical services and Civil Defence personnel.

He said district police chiefs would also consider applications for exemptions to the curfew order from those who need to go through the restricted areas to reach other places.

For example, deep-sea fishermen based in Sandakan could apply for exemption if they needed to sail to waters off Kudat district where there was no curfew, Jalaluddin added.

The curfew had been anticipated in the wake of the attack on a Marine Police unit at Pulau Mabul on July 12.

Marine Police Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, was shot dead and his colleague Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, was abducted when gunmen at­­tacked them at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort.

It was the latest security incident to hit Sabah’s east coast.

On Nov 15 last year, Taiwanese Chang An Wei, 58, was abducted and her husband Li Min Hsu, 57, killed at the Pom Pom island re­­sort.

Chang was freed after 36 days of captivity in the southern Philip­pines island of Jolo.

On April 2, China tourist Gao Huayun, 29, and Filipino hotel worker Marcy Dayawan, 40, were taken from the Singamata Reef Resort near Semporna and just over a month later on May 6 Chinese national Yang Zailin, 34, was abducted from the fish farm he was managing at Pulau Baik in Lahad Datu.

On June 16, gunmen once again struck at a fish farm at Kampung Sapang in Kunak and abducted its manager Chan Sai Chuin, 32.

Gao and Dayawan were released by their Abu Sayyaf gunmen captors on May 30 while Yang was freed on July 9, both in Jolo.

Chan, however, remains in the hands of his captors.

MILF: GPH, MILF ask Brunei's help in decommissioning of Moro Guerillas

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 20): GPH, MILF ask Brunei's help in decommissioning of Moro Guerillas

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) asked the Sultanate of Brunei to help in the decommissioning of Moro guerillas to further strengthen the normalization process as stipulated in the GPH-MILF Peace Agreement.
On July 10, 2014, MILF Chieftain Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met with Major General Dato Seri Pahlawan Mohammad Tawih Abdullah of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. In that meeting, Abdullah and Murad discussed the prospects of the Mindanao peace process. Al Haj Murad told reporters at the end of the meeting that Brunei was asked to join the International Decommissioning Body (IDB) that oversees the normalization process in the Bangsamoro. The GPH and MILF also invited Norway and Turkey to join the IDB.

Abdullah was quoted as saying that Brunei is honored with the invitation to join the IDB and the Royal Armed Forces is optimistic about the invitation. Murad on his part was elated on the visit of Abdullah to the Moro Front’s main camp of Darapanan.

Brunei has representatives to the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT), which is helping oversee the situation in flashpoint areas Mindanao that had minimized the occurrence of major conflict between government soldiers and guerillas.

Murad was reported telling Abdula and his delegation that the Moro Front is grateful to Sultan Hassannal Bolkiah for being supportive to the Mindanao peace process.

While in Cotabato City, Abdullah also met with IMT officials, who briefed him on the security situation in areas covered by the government-MILF ceasefire agreement. (Source: Philstar, July 17, 2014)

MILF: Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan hold s 8th Mindanao Youth Peace Camp

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 19): Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan hold s 8th Mindanao Youth Peace Camp

The Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan (AKMK) made another major achievement on June 20-23, 2014 when it conducted the 8th Mindanao Youth Peace Camp at LGU Beach Resort, Barangay Lower Bayao, Tukuran, Zamboanga Del Sur.
The 8th MYPC was participated by about two hundred fifty (250) tri-people youth delegates representing thirty-three (33) organizations from the seven (7) clusters of different communities in Mindanao.

The theme, “Advancing an Inclusive and Peaceful Mindanao: Our Generation’s Responsibility,” aims to firmly establish integration among the Tri-people youth towards building a comprehensive and inclusive peace in Mindanao and to inculcate awareness on their significant role in peacebuilding. It was a great triumph for us and especially to the Tri-people youth to be critical elements in this undertaking through taking part on issues which not only affect the sector but the entire humanity at large. It served as a platform to gather altogether the energies of the youths, to expose their sentiments, and to witness them commit once more to this difficult task.

The peace advocacy has never been an easy task. From the time since the 7th camp was organized by the alliance, there had been a sequence of events which had affected the alliance as well as the continuation of its peace initiatives. Philippines, mainly Mindanao, gained another milestone through the Government of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) peace process. The government and the MILF were said to have accomplished so much – having signed the four Annexes – and together with the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) paved the way for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). No matter how skyrocketing this development has been a large part of Mindanaoans were neglected particularly the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) whose agenda are not included in the talks. This puts inclusive peace in question.

Furthermore, Mindanao suffers because of tremendous floods, high profile kidnappings, spate bombings; and just recently Worthy to include in this web of unfolding events is the fact that the peoples of Mindanao, on a daily basis, continue to suffer from poverty. The occurrence of poverty in Mindanao is higher than in any other region in the Philippines.

But despite all these situations, the tri-people youths, together with other peace workers and movements, and peoples had not given up but instead had carried out their conviction for the pursuit of just peace. They widened their perspectives about the things that confront them and the society at large. And that very commendable conviction is worth more than celebrating!

The over-all design of the 8th MYPC was basically a mixture of lectures, thematic workshops, multimedia, and teambuilding games. All throughout the duration of the activity, lectures and thematic workshops revolved around issues on Sustainable Economic Alternatives, Labor Migration and the Youth, Globalization of Education, Gender and Cultures (Men, Women, LGBT), and The Future of Our Food and Agricultural System: Challenges to the Youth. Finding long-lasting solutions to the centuries-old problems of Mindanao is incomplete and would never be possible without discussing and confronting them. 

This victory is, of course, not only shared by the youth sector alone. We want to consider this as our humble contribution to all the peacebuilding efforts of the groups and individuals worldwide. May we continue to work hand in hand to empower the peoples, especially the marginalized masses.

CPP/NPA: NPA punishes two members of BULIF in Butuan City

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 14): NPA punishes two members of BULIF in Butuan City

Omar Ibarra
Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur Sub-Regional Command (Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur Sub-Regional Command)

The New People’s Army under the Western Agusan Norte-Agusan Sur (NPA-WANAS) Sub-regional Command launched two punitive actions in Butuan City in July 13, 2014. Loloy Odioma and Eddie Cagat, both notorious members of the paramilitary group, Bungkatol Liberation Front (BULIF).

Loloy Odioma, a resident of Stanpoler, Brgy. Manila de Bugabos, Butuan City, was a landgrabber, drug-smuggler and has perpetrated two murders. As a minion of Datu Bawang, the lider of BULIF, he trod without hesitation on three families whose lands he seized, depriving them of their livelihood. He also killed two defenseless civilians, one of whom a child of seven years, in Km. 1, Brgy. Tungao, Butuan City. Aware of his counterrevolutionary acts, Odioma all the more attached himself to BULIF which is being used by the reactionary armed forces against the NPA and the revolutionary people.

At the masses plea, and after a long and detailed investigation by representatives of the people’s revolutionary government, an NPA team punished Loloy Odioma in July 13.

Meanwhile, Eddie Cagat, a resident of Tul-od, Brgy. Tungao, has also committed great crimes against the revolutionary movement. Aside from being an active member of BULIF and organizing criminal elements in the village to counter the movement, he was also a landgrabber. He has violated the rights of two families whose lands he is interested in. Cagat is a purok leader in their area but only because of his neighbor’s fear of him. Cagat also spearheaded a raid against the NPA in Davao, which resulted in the death of a Red fighter.

Also on July 13, around 5:00 PM, Eddie Cagat was killed by an NPA team.

There are many more who, like Odioma and Cagat, have committed great crimes against the people. In fact, the greatest crime of all is that being committed against the whole Filipino nation by the plundering foreign capitalists and despotic landlords and unscrupulous compradors represented by the Pork Barrel king, Benigno Aquino, himself. But only the revolutionary movement will gradually serve justice to their victims. And social justice will only be obtained when we have defeated the AFP and PNP who defend the exploiters, when we have established the genuine democratic people’s government.

CPP/NDF: Ibasura ang hungkag na CARP/ER at isulong ang rebolusyong agraryo

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 19): Ibasura ang hungkag na CARP/ER at isulong ang rebolusyong agraryo

Patnubay De Guia
NDFP Southern Tagalog Chapter
Walang ginawang mabuti ang CARP at CARPER sa buhay ng magbubukid. Pinanatili at pinalala lamang nito ang kawalan ng lupa sa hanay ng masang magsasaka. Sa Timog Katagalugan, tinatayang mayroong 1,391,000 magsasaka at 973,700 dito ang walang sariling lupa. Ibig sabihin nito, nananatiling pito sa bawat sampung magsasaka ang walang sariling lupang binubungkal. Laganap ang mga kaso ng pangangamkam ng lupa sa rehiyon. Ginagamit ng mga panginoong maylupa ang butas sa mga probisyon sa CARP/ER upang linlangin ang masang magsasaka at kamkamin ang mga produktibong lupain. Sa rehiyon, tinatayang may 394, 884 ektaryang lupain ang nasasangkot sa iba’t ibang kaso ng pangangamkam ng lupa sa siyam (9) na lalawigan. Sumasaklaw ito sa 76 na bayan at 168 na barangay.

Pagmamay-ari ng 67 panginoong maylupa at 49 real estate at development corporation na karamiha’y pag-aari din ng malalaking panginoong maylupa at burgesya-kumprador.

Malawakan ang kanselasyon ng Certificate of Land Transfer (CLT) at Certificate of Land Ownership and Acquisition (CLOA). Mistulang iniaabot ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno ang mga CLOA at CLT sa kanang kamay para pagkatapos bawiin naman ng kaliwang kamay. Noong Mayo 2004 kinansela ang mahigit sa 2,000 CLOA/EP na umaabot sa 380,000 ektaryang lupang sakahan. Kalakhan ng mga sertipikong kinansela ay matatagpuan sa Timog Katagalugan na sumasaklaw sa 20,000 ektaryang lupain. Mismong Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) ay walang maibigay na malinaw at kongkretong dahilan sa malawakang kanselasyon ng mga CLOA. Isang malaki at sistematikong panlilinlang ang isinasagawa ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno gamit ang CARP/ER upang mapaalis sa lupang sinasaka ang masang magsasaka at puspusang isulong ang liberalisasyon sa agrikultura.
Laganap din ang pagpapalit-gamit ng mga produktibong lupang agrikultural tungong industriyal at komersyal. Mula sa inisyal na tala ay tinatayang 172,967 ektaryang lupang agrikultural at publiko ang nakumbert na at balak ikumbert bilang residensyal, industriyal, komersyal at pang-turismo.

Nangunguna sa mga kaso ng pangangamkam ng lupa at lugar pangisdaan ang mga kilalang mayayamang pamilya kabilang sina Ayala-Zobel, Don Pedro Roxas, mga Yulo, Locsin, Enrile at Puyat na sila ring may kontrol sa mga estratehikong industriya sa bansa tulad ng pinansya, enerhiya, tubig at minahan.

Integral sa pag-unlad ng sektor ng agrikultura ang tunay na repormang agraryo. Ito ang hindi kailanman maibibigay ng huwad na CARP/ER, isang programang naglilingkod sa interes ng panginoong maylupa, malalaking debeloper at negosyante. Hindi nagawang tapusin ng CARP/ER ang multo ng monopolyo sa lupa sa kanayunan sapagkat wala ito sa mismong katangian ng huwad na programa. Bagkus, nakabalangkas ang CARP/ER upang panatilihin at patatagin ang pyudal at malapyudal na relasyon sa agrikultura.

Hubad na hubad ang pagiging anti-mamamayan at makapanginoong maylupa ng rehimeng BS Aquino sa pagpapatupad ng huwad na CARP/ER na mas lalo lamang nagbaon sa mga magbubukid sa kahirapan at kawalan ng lupa. Sapat na batayan ang kawalan ng lupa ng mayorya ng mamamayan upang patalsikin ang haciendero, reaksyunaryong at inutil na rehimeng BS Aquino. Ang uring magbubukid na nagpapakain at bumubuhay sa sambayanan ay mismong nagugutom, dinadahas at binubusabos ang dignidad sa ilang siglong kawalan ng sariling lupang binubungkal.

Sinusuportahan at itinataguyod ng National Democratic Front-Southern Tagalog (NDF-ST) ang dantaong kahilingan ng masang magsasaka para sa lupa. Sa saklaw ng mga larangang gerilya ng NPA, masiglang isinusulong ng organisadong hanay ng masang magsasaka ang minimum na layunin ng rebolusyong agraryo at sinisimulan na ang selektibong kumpiskasyon ng lupaing panginoong maylupa sa mga lokalidad na may sapat nang lakas ang rebolusyonaryong kilusang magsasaka at New People’s Army. Sa mga lugar na ito, mariing itinatakwil at tinututulan ng masang magsasaka ang inilalakong CARPER ng mga ispesyal na ahente ng reaksyunaryong gubyerno tulad ng Akbayan.

Sa maraming bahagi ng TK, libu-libong pamilyang magbubukid ang nagtatamasa ng biyaya ng rebolusyong agraryo mula sa minimum na programa na pagpapababa ng upa sa lupa, pagpapataas ng presyo ng produkto at pagpawi sa usura, hanggang sa maksimum na programa na libreng pamamahagi ng lupa sa magsasakang walang sariling lupang sinasaka. Mahigpit na niyayakap ng masang magsasaka ang bunga ng rebolusyong agraryo bilang matamis na simbolo ng tagumpay ng kanilang pakikibaka. Susi ang pag-igting ng armadong pakikibaka at paglakas hukbong bayan sa epektibong pagpapatupad ng rebolusyong agraryo na tunay na nagdadala ng demokratikong interes ng masang magsasaka. Ang demokratikong rebolusyong bayan lamang ang may tunay at busilak na programang naghahangad ng hustisyang panlipunan para sa masang magsasaka at naglalayong tapusin ang lahat ng pyudal at malapyudal na pagsasamantala.

The general they call ‘Napa-Catapang’

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 19): The general they call ‘Napa-Catapang’


Gen. Catapang

Soldiers have a way of “baptizing” their colleagues with snappy names, often a jargon of one’s surname.

The new Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. is not spared from such as many in his military circle call him “Napa,” a prefix to his surname to make it “Napa-Catapang.”

In Filipino language, it directly means “so brave.”

Friends in his early years as a cadet in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) used it amusingly to call him out.

Thirty-three years later, soldiers who talk of him and refer to him as “Napa” Catapang mean exactly what his name sounds in Filipino – “so brave.”

Proof of his activity in his battlefield assignments in the army is a collection of 16 military merit medals, including the three gold crosses – the highest and rarest medals given to a soldier for bravery.

Catapang is not one to shy away from his “so brave” tag. “I am furious in fighting against the enemy of the government. I am also mad at abusive soldiers,” he said. “But I am a good person especially to friends and colleagues who do the right thing and follow the dictates of the service.”

Taking the reigns of the AFP upon the retirement of his predecessor Gen. Emmanuel Bautista last Friday, Catapang promised to lead the military with strength, dignity and, of course, bravery.

Army General: Back off, NPA

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 19): Army General: Back off, NPA

Major General Aurelio Baladad, Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID), reiterated his plea for the New People’s Army to stop atrocities against both government troops and civilians in Negros and Panay Islands.

The NPA staged two attacks last July 17.

The first was in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, where members of the 47th Infantry Battalion were conducting peace and security operations, when an estimated 30 NPA rebels fired at them at around 2:15 in the afternoon.

The five-minute firefight left two government soldiers dead. They were Corporal Napoleon Supresencia and Private First Class Henry Lumio Jr.
The incident also wounded Private First Class Leland Sucatre.

At 3:45 p.m., the NPA attacked soldiers of 82nd Infantry Battalion (82 IB) in Tubungan, Iloilo.

Baladad said that the 82 IB troops were providing security for a medical team of the 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB) and Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines, who conducted medical and dental missions in Iloilo towns of Igbaras, Leon, Miag-ao, and Tubungan.

The Iloilo incident left an NPA rebel dead. No injury or casualty was reported among government troops.

Baladad added that the attack was a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, of which the NPA is a signatory.

Army, police join hands serving depressed communities for development

From Samar News (Jul 14): Army, police join hands serving depressed communities for development

police and army development work
CARIGARA, LeyteSoldiers and PNP are familiar sights today in rural areas and in conflict-affected communities, especially in Leyte and Samar. They cross rivers, climb mountains, reaching far-flung barangays with difficult terrain and accessibility, is undertaken to teach the farmers – the basic education, health, proper nutrition, values education, farming techniques, and income-generating projects, to help uplift them from the bondage of poverty and ignorance. And this, apart from their duties to help maintain peace and order.

In line with the Peace and Development Program of the Philippine Army, troops of the `Charlie’ company of the 19th Infantry battalion Phil Army and teams from Philippine National Police were warmly received by the barangay officials and residents of Brgy. Canlampay, Paglaum, Caghalo, San Isidro and Hiluctugan in Carigara, Leyte last July 2, 2014.

Barangay Chairman Narciso Llanza of Brgy. Hiluctugan said “I guess they are not here to bring war but to change the perception of my people what soldiers really are.”

And Brgy chairwoman Aurora Quebec of Brgy Caghalo, Carigara, Leyte said, “we should be thankful that this time, the Army and Police is now in Brgy Caghalo as our partner in implementing peace and order in our barangay.” She lauded as well the troops for their discipline and for showing genuine peace and development efforts to the people.

While Asterio Uribe, 57 yrs old, a farmer of Brgy San Isidro said “we feel safe and we thank the soldiers and the police for their care, compassion and understanding to us residents here in the village, it cannot be matched and we are proud to have them here in our barangay.”

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with 1Lt. Jaime B. Tuguic Jr., company commander of the 19th IB, Charlie Company, said that deployed troops focused not only on people’s safety, for territorial defense and securing the area, but also to unite and work hand in hand with the stakeholders, local executives and heads of agencies in order to solve the insurgency problem.

The Bayanihan Team of Charlie Company of the 19th IB together with the PNP jointly had to identify social issues and the team are known for their capabilities in bringing livelihood projects in communities in coordination with the local government agencies.

“Our goal is to cultivate synergy from stakeholders’ network for the benefit of the communities” Lt. Tuguic said.

Their efforts helped reduce illiteracy rate in far flung barangays and reduced poverty. It empowers the rural people with knowledge, skills and values that will help them be a better person.

The truth according to Lt. Tuguic is that there are a lot of noise out there drowning out quite voices, and many people have stopped listening to the cries of their neighbors. Lots of folks have put their hands over their ears to drown out the sufferings. Some institutions have distanced themselves from the disturbing cries. But one thing beautiful for now is folks in poverty are no longer just a missions project but become a genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream and struggle.

Fire hits Ilocos Army camp

From the Philippine Star (Jul 20): Fire hits Ilocos Army camp

Some P3 million worth of firearms and valuables went up in smoke in a fire that broke out at an Army camp in Currimao, Ilocos Norte Friday.

Reports said among the items that were destroyed were an M60 machine gun, two K3 rifles, nine M-16 Armalites, assorted bullets, eight hand held radios, a pair of binoculars, a digital camera and food supplies.

The fire reportedly broke out at around 10 p.m. in one of the camp’s bunkhouses, which was made up light materials.

No one was reported injured in the blaze.

Vietnam Ambassador opposes Chinese diplomat's view on East Sea issue

Posted to InterAksyon (Jul 20): Vietnam Ambassador opposes Chinese diplomat's view on East Sea issue

Vietnamese Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg Pham Sanh Chau, who is also the head of Viet Nam Mission to the European Union, has written an article refuting the wrongful arguments on the East Sea issue of Chinese Ambassador to Belgium and the EU Yang Yanyi published on The New Europe on June 28.

Following is the full text of the article titled "Clear evidence helps clear water of the East Sea" by Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau published on The New Europe website on July 17.

My colleague, Ambassador Yang Yanyi of China to the European Union, on 28 June 2014 introduced in The New Europe her narratives regarding the on-going "oil-rig" incident in the East Sea and the relevance of international law in finding a solution to the dispute. While I welcome Ambassador Yang Yandi's law-based approach, I would like to offer my response regarding major inaccuracies in the Ambassador's arguments and explain why these arguments will not stand the test of international law itself.

The Ambassador was trying to justify the operation of the Chinese oil rig by two main assertions of China's "indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands" and China's "undisputed waters of the Xisha Islands". I would respectfully argue that the Ambassador was wrong on both accounts.

First, according to the international law on territorial acquisition, discovery by individuals was insufficient to establish a country's ownership over a territory. Even discovery on behalf of a state will only create inchoate title, which must be followed by subsequent continuous and effective acts of occupation and management by the State concerned. The so-called Xisha Islands are actually the Paracels (Hoang Sa archipelago in Vietnamese) of Viet Nam over which the Vietnamese State has shown keen interests and made determined efforts in establishing jurisdiction since at least the 17th century. Evidence is abundant in official historical documents of Viet Nam and records of other countries. Ambassador Yang might wish to take a look at the collection of maps prepared by Philippe Vandermaelen, the famous Belgian geographer, in his World Atlases. In the 1827 edition, he showed the map of Cochinchine with the Paracels belonged to the Annam Empire (Viet Nam).

On the contrary, the Chinese State showed no evidence of its interests in the islands, still least its efforts to take them into possession throughout the course of history. No official Chinese historical book or map recorded the Paracels or the Spratlys as Chinese territory up until the mid 20th century. In all Chinese official documents and maps, the southernmost point of China's territory never exceeded Hainan Island. This is also recorded internationally as in Philippe Vandermaelen's World Atlases.

The Chinese State's lack of interests in acquiring territories at sea is evidenced in China's own history and culture. For thousands of years, China always viewed the sea as a source of piracy and insecurity. Hence, many dynasties in China, as late as the Ming and the Qing, continued to ban maritime activities in the well-known Haijin (or maritime ban) policy that prohibited maritime shipping, required citizen to move 30 - 40 miles inland, and charged the ones who dared to venture out to the sea with treason against the Kingdom and capital punishment. Under such conditions, how could China assert that the Paracels were integral parts of China for more than 1000 years when international laws require countries to undertake activities to "continuously and effectively" occupy territories in order to establish title over them?

Ambassador Yang's statement that Viet Nam prior to 1974 never questioned what she called "Chinese sovereignty" over the Paracels, and that official Vietnamese statements reaffirmed Viet Nam's recognition that the Paracels were part of Chinese territory is simply unfounded and is a deliberate misinterpretation of history.

At the San Francisco Conference in 1951, the Head of the Vietnamese Delegation, Prime Minister of the State of Viet Nam Tran Van Huu reaffirmed Vietnamese sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spratlys. The reaffirmation met no objections from any of the participating countries at the Conference. On the contrary, the Soviet proposal to recognize the People Republic of China's sovereignty over the Paracels and the Spartlys was turned down by the 46 out of the 51 participants.

Three years later, the 1954 Geneva Accords on Indochina placed all the territories of Viet Nam bellow the 17th parallel under the administration of the Republic of Vietnam and the Paracels and the Spratlys had remained so until the country became united in 1975. As an active contributor to the Accord, China must have been well of that fact. What evidence does China have to claim that prior to 1974 the Republic of Vietnam recognized the Paracels and the Spratlys were part of Chinese territory?

The clear fact was that China used armed forces two times, in 1956 and in 1974, to seize the Paracels from the Republic of Viet Nam, killing several Vietnamese servicemen in the later battle. The use of force for territory annexation is against the fundamental principle of international law since the end of World War II, therefore such illegal acts cannot render China's sovereignty over the Paracels. It is China that has infringed the territorial integrity of Viet Nam by its illegal claim of sovereignty over and occupation of the Paracels by the use of force.

Second, China's Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig was deployed to locations approximately 130-150 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast, which lies deep inside the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Viet Nam established under the UNCLOS 1982. Being a State Party to the UNCLOS 1982, China is under the obligation to establish its maritime zones in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and to respect other coastal states' right to establish their maritime zones under the same Convention. In the area where the Chinese oil rig has been operating, whether China is claiming its maritime zones from the coast of Hainan Islands or the coast of any feature in the Paracels (setting aside the sovereignty questions over the islands), there is no way to say the area is "undisputed waters" of China.

Third, the Ambassador wrongly accused Viet Nam of violating international laws and harming freedom and safety of navigation in the area where the oil rig operates.

It was China that deployed the oil rig for oil exploration and an unusually large escort which included even military vessels, such as missile frigates, fast attack missile crafts, anti-submarine crafts, landing crafts and jet fighters that gave rise to protests from Viet Nam and concern of many other countries. The internationally watched daily footages of China's oversized vessels deliberately ramming and water-cannoning Vietnamese much smaller law enforcement boats, especially the incident on 26 May 2014 when a Chinese vessel intentionally chassed and rammed the Vietnamese fishing boat DNa-90152-TS until it capsized while Chinese forces prevented Vietnamese vessels from rescuing the 10 fishermen on board, are completely contrary to the Ambassador's claim that China does not bully smaller countries, and are unequivocally conclusive evidence that China was the aggressor who has seriously impeded freedom of navigation in violation of the 1982 UNCLOS and 1972 COLREGs. The deliberate destruction of Vietnamese boats' navigation and communication equipment, injuring Vietnamese servicemen constitutes the very criminal acts that should be punished under the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation.

China's accusation that Viet Nam's vessels rammed Chinese government ships a total of 1,547 times, ironically, could not be backed up by single convincing evidence.

Ambassador Yang said that more than 30 communications with Viet Nam have gone unanswered. But an important fact was concealed. In these communications, what left unanswered was Vietnam's request that China remove the oil rig from Viet Nam's water, thus creating conducive environment for talks between the two sides aimed at resolving the problem. China's attitude in the communications, together with its behavior at sea, was unhelpful for reducing tensions, and was clear evidence of the lack of goodwill from China to peacefully resolve the dispute.

I would like to fully agree with Mr. Arif Havas Oegroseno, the Indonesia's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, and President of the 20th Meeting of the States Parties of UNCLOS 1982, who in his RSIS commentary recently stated that China as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, carries the moral, political, and legal responsibility of creating peace and stability in the world. I also welcome Ambassador Yang's statement that China will abide by the principle of seeking peaceful resolutions to any disputes through consultation and negotiation between parties on an equal footing, and that China will continue its effort "to ease tensions with Viet Nam" and "to strengthen our bilateral relations". This is a hopeful sign of China's goodwill and responsibility to peace and stability of the Asia – Pacific and the rest of the world.

To show evidence of its goodwill to "clear the water" of the East Sea, and to show the world that China's words are matched with deeds, China should immediately stop all infringement activities, abide by international law, especially the UNCLOS 1982, and never again attempt to send the oil rig and its escort to operate inside Viet Nam's water.

Rebels burn mining company’s buses in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 19): Rebels burn mining company’s buses in Compostela Valley

TAGUM CITY, Philippines—Communist rebels burned two buses owned by a mining company in Maco, Compostela Valley, on Friday, police said.

The newly acquired vehicles, used to ferry employees and workers of Apex Mining Co., were seized by an undetermined number of New People’s Army gunmen on a road in Purok  8 in Barangay Elizalde around 1:50 p.m., according to Senior Superintendent  Abraham Rojas, Compostela Valley police chief.

Rojas said the gunmen  ordered the bus drivers to disembark before dousing the vehicles with gasoline and setting them on fire.

Friday’s attack was the latest against the publicly listed gold-and-copper mining company operating in the minerals-rich but insurgency-plagued province.

Last March, dozens of rebels stormed the company’s compound in Masara village, destroying millions of pesos’ worth of vehicles and mining equipment.

The company holds a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) of 2, 237 hectares covering the villages of Masara, Teresa, Tagbaros and Mainit and employs some 1, 400 workers, according to the company website.

Local miner Mapula Creek Gold Corp. holds a 42.96 percent stake in the company, while Mindanao Gold Ltd. of Malaysian investor ASVI acquired the shareholdings of Mapula’s former partner, London-listed Crew Gold Corp., with 30.11 percent.

“It was a form of harassment as the firm refused to give in to the rebels’ (extortion) demands,” Rojas told the Inquirer by text message, adding no one was hurt in the incident.

Abu Sayyaf releases DSWD personnel kidnapped in Sulu

From GMA News (Jul 19): Abu Sayyaf releases DSWD personnel kidnapped in Sulu

The Abu Sayyaf has released the last two Department of Social Welfare and Development personnel its members abducted in Sulu on Thursday.

According to Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, head of the Philippine National Police task force against kidnapping in Sulu, DSWD municipal coordinator Norhati Sicangco and her husband were released in a barangay in Patikul just before 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Cruz said no ransom was paid and the release was negotiated through local government and PNP officials. The victims were fetched from the area by their relatives.

Citing an earlier police report, Cruz said the four were abducted around 3 p.m. on Thursday while conducting a survey of beneficiaries of the government's Pantawid ng Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

He said one of the victims was released within hours, adding this may have been to relay the kidnappers' demands. Another victim was also released after negotiations, he said.

Asked why the Abu Sayyaf released the kidnapped DSWD personnel without ransom being paid, Cruz replied: "Siguro, mga tagaroon lang kasi [ang] mga ito, eh kaya, in a way, magkakilala [sila]."

Islamic State's support spreads into Asia

From Aljazeerah (Jul 19): Islamic State's support spreads into Asia

The Islamic State's growing popularity in the Far East could pose a long-term threat, experts warn.

A jailed Indonesian preacher has reportedly urged his followers to fight with the Islamic State group [EPA]

As the Islamic State group, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, continues its armed campaign in Iraq and Syria, its notoriety is drawing fans and fighters from as far as Asia and the Pacific.

Authorities and experts have warned that the growing popularity of the armed group in the Far East, driven in part by social media, could pose a long-term security threat to a region that has already been battling home-grown armed groups for decades.

"The security threat from Muslims travelling to fight in the Levant is already with us," said Rodger Shanahan, national security and Middle East expert at the Australian National University.

"The longer term threat will come from the linkages that these fighters establish with disparate groups," he told Al Jazeera. "In the future, we may see the existence of another global jihadist network of people who made connections in Syria and Iraq."

Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), told Al Jazeera that there are already some 500 fighters from the Asia Pacific region in the Middle East.

On July 11, Philippine and Australian police arrested Robert "Musa" Cerantonio, a former Catholic of Irish-Italian background who converted to Islam at 17. The Melbourne native is accused of trying to incite Muslim men in the Philippines to fight in the Middle East. 

The 29-year-old man reportedly visited the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where most of the country's 10.3 million Muslim population live. Mindanao is home to the al-Qaeda affiliate Abu Sayyaf Group, which has been involved in bloody attacks and kidnappings in the Philippines and Malaysia.

'New skills and extremist outlooks'

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appeared to dismiss Cerantonio, calling him a "fraud" for claiming on Twitter that he had arrived in Syria, when he was in fact holed up in the Philippines.

Cerantonio has over 6,700 followers on Twitter, and several videos on YouTube [Video screen grab/Al Jazeera]

But his tweets were enough for Australian authorities to pursue him in the central Philippine island of Cebu. In one tweet posted in June he declared, "May we be loyal soldiers of the Islamic State until we return to our Lord."
Following Cerantonio’s arrest, Bishop vowed to stop her countrymen from fighting abroad, becoming "radicalised" and then returning home with "new skills and extremist outlooks".

What is worrying for authorities is that Cerantonio's arrest may have, for some, burnished his "credibility" on social media.

Described by the Guardian as the third most "liked" person online among "western jihadists in Syria", Cerantonio's Twitter account, emblazoned with an Islamic State banner, has thousands of followers. A Facebook page created after his arrest has already gained almost 3,000 "likes"; his previous page was shut down by Facebook for allegedly abetting violence.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera has discovered video clips posted to YouTube of armed men, their faces covered, speaking in Filipino and Arabic pledging allegiance before a flag used by the Islamic State group. So far, no known local armed rebel has been identified as their leader.

In another video, dozens of Filipino prisoners, also speaking in the local language and Arabic, gathered in a jail hall, shouting slogans in front of a black flag with white lettering and vowing loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group.

It is not known how many Filipinos have joined the fight in Iraq and Syria. Filipinos fought alongside other Southeast Asian fighters in the 1979-89 Afghan war against Russia - and when that war ended, they returned home to organise the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao. Their Indonesian counterparts founded the Jemaah Islamiyah, which was later linked to the Bali bombing in 2002.

Studying the tactics used by the new generation of armed fighters, TRAC security expert Veryan Khan said that they are trying to "consolidate" their support using social media.

In its latest report published on July 16, the TRAC research organisation concluded that the Islamic State group "seems to have won the vote of the young jihadists, the generation that will determine the future of jihadist terrorist organisations".  

Southeast Asian fighters

Southeast Asian men are already fighting in the Middle East, according to Nor Asizan Bin Idris, a professor on national security at the National University of Malaysia.

"For now, they are focused on fighting in the Middle East, but in the future they could target Asia," he told Al Jazeera.

Channel News Asia has identified one Islamic Group recruit as 26-year-old Malaysian Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, who reportedly drove a military vehicle carrying explosives into Iraq's special forces headquarters in Anbar province, killing 25 soldiers and himself on May 26.

In recent months, the Malaysia Royal Police have arrested 15 men for their alleged links to the Islamic State group. One of the suspects was a 30-year-old naval officer who had been in service for 10 years.

In Singapore, the country’s deputy prime minister, Teo Chee Hean, told parliament just last week that a handful of Singaporeans had gone to fight in Syria, adding: "The presence of former foreign fighters in our region - whether they originate from Southeast Asia or elsewhere - is a security threat to us." 

One was identified as Haja Fakkurudeen Usman Ali, a naturalised citizen, who left his wife and three children for Syria. Another is a Singaporean woman who joined her husband and two teenage children. Several others were stopped before leaving.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, a prominent preacher serving a 15-year prison sentence at a maximum security facility near Java has also reportedly urged his followers to fight alongside the Islamic State group.

According to the Jakarta Post, Abu Bakar Bashir sent his message of support through the leader of the Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid, a group designated a terrorist organisation by the US. His group has reportedly continued to raise funds to send fighters abroad.  

There are at least 50 known Indonesian armed men who have joined the Islamic State group. One 19-year-old fighter identified by Jakarta Post as Wildan Mukahallad, who previously fought in Syria, died in a suicide attack in Baghdad. 

"The seeds of quite a few security issues are being sown in Syria and Iraq at the moment," Shanahan, of Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy,said.

Back in the Philippines, the Australian national, Cerantonio, will reportedly be deported in the coming days.

Since his arrest, Cerantonio has refused to speak to authorities. But his Filipino girlfriend, who had been living with him, told local reporters that he is innocent, adding he "can’t even kill an ant".

Troops search for seized Germans

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 19): Troops search for seized Germans

Two German tourists who have been missing for three months had been abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants and were being held “unharmed” by the al-Qaida-linked gunmen in the jungle in Sulu, security officials said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, commander of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the government has ordered troops to locate the Germans in Sulu province and ensure their safe recovery, but he declined to say what the military intends to do.

“The latest is that they’re unharmed,” Guerrero told the Associated Press (AP).

German officials have declined to comment on the reported abductions.

Stefan Okonek and his female companion, Henrike Dielen, were taken at gunpoint from a yacht between Sabah and Palawan in April and then taken by boat to Sulu, where the Abu Sayyaf has held other hostages, four military and police officials separately told AP.

A police general said the Germans were seen once by some villagers while washing up in a mountain stream, guarded by their captors.

Troops capture 3 NPA rebels

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jul 18): Troops capture 3 NPA rebels

GOVERNMENT troops 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 identities of the captured rebels except in saying they are two males and a female.

Mejia said the rebels 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 Katipunan municipality.

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

He said the captured rebels were placed under investigation while appropriate charges are set to be filed against them.

Video: Change-of-Command Ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, July 18, 2014

From the Official Gazette from the Office of the President of the Philippines (Jul 18): Video: Change-of-Command Ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

[Video: Retirement Ceremony of CSAFP and AFP Change of Command - PTV Special Coverage]

(Update) Body of slain rebel recovered in Iloilo ambush site

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): (Update) Body of slain rebel recovered in Iloilo ambush site

The body of a slain rebel has been recovered by soldiers in the ambush site in Brgy. Mayang, Tubungan, Iloilo.

Major Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army based at Camp Macario Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz, said army authorities are presently in the process of identifying the cadaver of the rebel insurgent who was killed late Thursday afternoon in a brief firefight between government forces and the enemy in the hinterland town of Tubungan.

It can be recalled that soldiers of the 82nd Infantry Battalion was ambushed by a group of armed men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at 4:00 Thursday afternoon somewhere in Brgy. Mayang, Tubungan.

Tiongson said the convoy of army soldiers along with members of an international humanitarian organization came from a medical mission in barangays of the neighboring Leon, Iloilo and on their way back to the army headquarters in Camp Monteclaro, Miag-ao when waylaid and fired upon by the armed rebels.

Luckily, the enemy bullets missed their targets, forcing the government forces to engage the rebel ambushers in a brief exchange of gun fires that lasted for five minutes before the enemy was forced to withdraw.

The army soldiers gave chase but pursuing government forces failed to catch up with the fleeing enemy.

Meanwhile, soldiers who scoured the vicinity of the encounter scene later stumbled on the body of the slain rebel. They also recovered a 12-gauge shotgun and empty shells of M16 armalite rifle in the ambush site.

On the other hand, the government forces suffered two casualties and another wounded in Thursday afternoon's encounter with NPA rebels in Sitio Madaja, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City across Negros Occidental.

The Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) has identified the casualties as Cpl. Napoleon Surpresencia and Pfc. Henry Lumio Jr. while the wounded trooper Pfc Leland Sucarte, all assigned at the 47th Infantry Battalion based in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental.

NOPPO report said a team of 47th IB soldiers was conducting bayanihan outreach activities in the said area when they encountered the group of heavily armed rebels that saw a 30-minute fierce gunbattle resulting to death of two troopers and wounding of another.

Augmentation forces from the 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental also dispatched augmentation forces to track down the fleeing rebels who carted away two M16 armalite rifles and bandoleers of slain troopers.

NorCot peace and order councils find means to end MILF, MNLF land dispute

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): NorCot peace and order councils find means to end MILF, MNLF land dispute

The joint town councils of two adjoining North Cotabato towns have taken steps to put a stop to bickerings of Moro rebels triggered by long standing land dispute.

In a joint meeting of Municipal Peace and Order Councils of Matalam and Kabacan, three resolutions were passed hoping to address the armed conflict involving families of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces in Barangay Malamote which is shared by two towns.

North Cotabato Board Member Joemar Cerebo who represented Gov. Emmylou Mendoza in the meeting said the joint councils approved a resolution asking Gov. Mendoza to create an inter-agency task force on land dispute to specifically focused on armed conflict triggered by land ownership in the province.

Cerebo said the councils also passed a resolution address to the top leadership of the MNLF to help address the land conflict in Barangay Malamote and another resolution asking MILF leadership to intervene and help find lasting solution to the skirmishes.

Both the MILF and MNLF members claimed ownership and control of large patch of lands in Malamote, a remote village inhabited by both Muslims and non-Muslims.

One farmer was killed while about 50 families fled homes when farmers identified with either side traded bullets.

While both camps claimed ownership of about 50 hectares of farmlands neither of them could produce legal documents to prove their claims.

Army arrests armed farmer in Agusan del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Army arrests armed farmer in Agusan del Norte

An Army team while on combat patrol at the hinterlands of a lakeside municipality of a northern province, arrested an armed farmer standing by his shanty on Thursday evening.

Reports from Agusan del Norte police said that a team from the 29th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, led by 1Lt. Geoffrey Gordon Barrios, were conducting a combat patrol operations at the hinterlands of Brgy. San Isidro, Kitcharao town in Agusan del Norte at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, when they sighted an isolated shanty. The Army team saw a person standing up in its front bearing a long firearm. The team maneuvered closer at a five meter distance and accordingly, Corporals Britchel Lingatong and Melper John Peralta Yabo saw some more long firearms inside the shanty placed at a corner.

The Army team accordingly approached the armed person and as he was holding a long firearm, they arrested him. The team with the farmer's consent proceeded to enter the farmer's hut and found more long firearms inside. They were able to confiscate from the farmer: an air gun, a homemade shotgun, a Caliber .38 Revolver, another improvised long firearm, 9 pieces of ammunitions, 3 for shotgun and 6 for Caliber .38, a Nokia Cellular and a long sharp bolo with a scabard. The farmer was later identified as Regino Cuadra Bernales,50; a resident of the said place. And since he cannot show any documents which will show the legality of possessing such firearms, he was informed of his rights under the law by the Army team and was brought to Kitcharao Municipal Police Station for proper disposition.

Bernales and the confiscated items were now at the custody of Kitcharao police as appropriate case is being prepared against him.

Army and police personnel in the area were constantly on alert and were conducting combat patrol operations after the series of incidents of harassments perpetrated by the rebels recently in the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.

Catapang vows to repair, upgrade damaged barracks, other facilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Catapang vows to repair, upgrade damaged barracks, other facilities

Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang vowed to repair and upgrade barracks and other facilities damaged by typhoons and other natural calamities.

"It will be repaired and upgraded as soon as possible," he added.

He said that having modernized, habitable and usable soldiers' facilities will be one of his priorities as AFP chief.

Catapang was appointed as the 45th AFP chief-of-staff last Friday replacing Gen. Emmanuel Bautista who retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Newly-appointed AFP chief says BOI for 'friendly fire' incident investigation now constituted

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Newly-appointed AFP chief says BOI for 'friendly fire' incident investigation now constituted

The board of inquiry (BOI) which will look into the "friendly fire" incident which killed six troopers in Sulu last month has been finally constituted, newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said.

"The BOI has been already constituted, we will present its findings once our investigation is complete," he said in Filipino.

His predecessor, Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, earlier announced of the plan to form a BOI which will investigate the incident.

Six troopers of the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) were killed after their command post was accidentally hit by a 105mm shell.

The JSOG troopers were supposed to reinforce the Marine Force Reconnaissance that was attacked by Abu Sayyaf Group brigands last June 19 in Barangay Kagay, in Patikul town.

The ambush killed one Marine officer and wounded 11 others.

This prompted survivors to call for fire support from a nearby Marine 105mm battery.

The consequent shelling hit the position of the JSOG operatives, killing six troopers immediately.

Army units encounter rebel forces in Negros Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 19): Army units encounter rebel forces in Negros Oriental

Troopers from the 303rd Infantry Brigade have encountered and traded shots with five New People's Army (NPA) fighters while on routine security patrol in Barangay Ili in Negros Oriental Saturday morning.

The encounter took place around 8: 20 a.m.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade is a field unit of the Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division.

Major Ray Tiongson, unit spokesperson, said the soldiers were reacting to reports of rebel elements in the area when they spotted the five rebels which triggered a five-minute firefight.

No casualties were reported on the government side.

Tiongson said it is possible that the rebels may have sustained some casualties as blood trails were seen along the latter's withdrawal route.

Meanwhile, 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad instructed his men in the field to strictly follow the rule of law while conducting follow-on operations in the area.

“Our persistent call for peace with the people shall continue. We are likewise sending upon them (NPA) to listen to this call of the people,” he added.