Thursday, July 24, 2014

CPLA head seeks OPAPP dialogue

Sun Star-Baguio (Jul 24): CPLA head seeks OPAPP dialogue

AS FAR as Cordillera People's Liberation Army (CPLA) chairman Arsenio Humiding is concerned, projects under the government agreement is far from being completed.

Humiding is asking the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to sit down and talk about the status of the agreement and see where projects have progressed.

He said the four components of the agreement between the government is comprised of CPLA integration to the Armed forces of the Philippines, community development projects, livelihood and legacy documentation.

Humiding said there is roughly P264 million bankrolling all the components released by OPAPP for CPLA projects in 2011 and from which projects have yet to be completed.

The funding was sourced through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Humiding said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) integration program and the employment of forest guards is not 100 percent completed as there are about 13 CPLA members who were not included in the 168 who went to the AFP while 325 members will be employed as forest guards under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Humiding said there are forest guards who were employed only for two to three months depending on the local environment offices in the provinces.

"(As of now) we do not know the full status of the bantay gubat members," Humiding said.

For community development mostly comprised of infrastructure projects, Humiding said in Kalinga, there is a mere 50 percent completion, while projects in Ifugao are still ongoing.

Projects in Sagadanga are likewise ongoing while in Bontoc and Paracelis, all in Mountain Province, works were finished.

Abra, Apayao, and Benguet’s projects have also been completed as Humiding said these projects have been ongoi ng for three years but no reports on status of implementation.

Humiding said for the livelihood component, 70 percent has been implemented for Benguet, a 30 percent implementation for Ifugao, while Kalinga, Mountain Province and Abra has zero implementation.

Humiding, meanwhile, said the legacy-writing project, which aims to trace the history of the CPLA and its journey towards government, has not been submitted by Fernando Bahatan, although initial research has been completed.

Cordillera for peace and development
In a statement, the OPAPP said the Disburs
ement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds received by the agency supported peace and development initiatives in the Cordillera region—not rights abuses, contrary to media spins and allegations of certain groups.

"While it is true that OPAPP received DAP funds for peace and development initiatives in conflict-vulnerable and affected areas, it is malicious to say that it was used to fund lawlessness in the Cordilleras in the form of human rights abuses," OPAPP Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval said.

OPAPP reported nearly P208 million were disbursed, out of the P1.819 billion DAP funds allotted to the agency to support the implementation of the provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA)-CPLA in 2011, namely: the groups’ transformation into a unarmed, socio-economic organization; final disposition of arms and forces; economic reintegration of profiled CPLA members; community development; and inter-municipal and inter-barangay development projects.

The OPAPP said, "Since the CPLA entered into a peace pact with the government, it has then transformed itself into a legal, socio-economic entity—the Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development—contributing to peace and local development."

As part of the socio-economic reintegration component of the closure agreement, the fund covered for livelihood projects, employment as forest guards or as integree into AFP, farm-to-market roads, water systems, communal irrigation systems, and community infrastructures among others through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan program.

As to whether CBA-CPLA directly received funds for the said projects, Sandoval clarified "no part of the fund, in any amount, was directly given to any group."


"OPAPP is not an implementing agency. The funds were transferred to line agencies and local government units, who signed memoranda of agreements with OPAPP, to implement the projects."

Good and steady partners  
           
Members of the CBA-CPLA share that the projects have contributed to fulfilling their ancestors' dreams for better roads, improved irrigation, shorter routes to farmlands, steadier footbridges over rivers, and access to basic services, such as health and education among others.

The group has also actively participated in the process and contributed well in bringing the peace agreement and its commitments to a proper close.

"In the past three years of implementation, members of the CBA and the former CPLA have been good and steady partners in peace-building in the region," Sandoval said.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/baguio/local-news/2014/07/24/cpla-head-seeks-opapp-dialogue-355828

Troops, rebels clash in Davao City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 24): Troops, rebels clash in Davao City

Government troops and communist rebels clashed on Thursday in Davao City in the southern Philippines, but security officials said there were no reports of casualties on both sides.

Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Mandug in Buhangin District after civilians reported the presence of New People's Army rebels.

Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said members of the 72nd Infantry Battalion recovered improvised explosives and blasting caps, including assorted ammunition left behind by rebels.

Police forces also joined in the operation to track down the rebels, according to Caber.

He said regional police Wendy Rosario ordered police forces to stay alert and intensify intelligence gathering in Davao City.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, praised the villagers for their cooperation with the military. "The communist rebels continue to violated human rights and the rule of law. If they are really sincere about peace, why do they continue manufacturing improvised explosives? Our security forces will not stop its operations against those who threatened the peace in the community," he said.

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.com/news.php?news_id=20140724101830

NPA says suspects in Bukidnon mayor’s slay fall guys

From MindaNews (Jul 25): NPA says suspects in Bukidnon mayor’s slay fall guys

The New People’s Army on Friday said the police have filed “trumped-up charges” against three suspects in the killing of Mayor Mario Okinlay of Impasugong, Bukidnon.

In a statement sent by Ariel Inda Magbanuag, spokesperson of the NPA South Central Bukidnon Command, the rebel group identified the suspects as brothers Joven and Efren Yanggo and Ryan Daluniag.

“Instead of conducting a thorough investigation, the Regional Task Group-Okinlay headed by CIDG regional director P/Sr. Superintendent Pedro Austria, merely relied on guesswork and randomly pointed their fingers at the first likely scapegoats. After only two days of investigation, they effortlessly filed charges against the three,” the statement said.

“The AFP and PNP know that they have no genuine witnesses to prove their accusations. But they will not hesitate to make scapegoats out of civilians to fool the public into believing that they have not been idle in cases like this. In doing so, they are soiling their own image and alienating themselves all the more from the people,” it added.

Okinlay was ambushed last July 2 on his way home from a visit to Barangay Bontongon, Impasugong. The NPA had admitted responsibility for his death.

 
On July 10 MindaNews reported that the Yanggo brothers were former rebels who surrendered in 2011 and received financial assistance from government based on records from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

“It is important that we know how they were identified. We thought they already surrendered…. How do we know if they are not fall guys?” he added. “The communists may even laugh at us if that is so,” Vice Governor Alex Calingasan said during a hearing held by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on July 8.

Police officials said during the same hearing that the Yanggo brothers had indeed surrendered.

In the same statement, the NPA also said “the Police Public Safety Company arrested three youngsters in Sitio Maynaga, Brgy. Iba, Cabanglasan, following the NPA’s attack on Sumifru’s pineapple plantation in the area”.

The statement cited that Insp. Joan Galvez, information officer of the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office admitted on air that they filed arson charges against Melvin Anggumao and Joefrrey Ganancia, of Maynaga, Barangay Iba, Cabanglasan town.

It said police refused to release the Anggumao and Ganancia even if neighbors and barangay officials had vouched for the innocence of the two suspects.

The NPA attacked Tuesday noon the pineapple plantation of Sumifro in Maynaga, destroying a boom spray and seized a KG9 machine pistol from the company guards.

Last week the NPA also attacked a plantation in Barangay San Jose, Quezon town that supplies pineapples to Del Monte.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/07/25/npa-says-suspects-in-bukidnon-mayors-slay-fall-guys/

Early Retirement Law Outflanks Philippines Military Chief

From the Wall Street Journal (Jul 24): Early Retirement Law Outflanks Philippines Military Chief

Rule Forces Leaders to Step Down at 56, Often Just Months After Taking Command



Newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., left, next to Philippine President Benigno Aquino during Lt. Gen. Catapang's Change of Command ceremony on July 18. Reuters

The newly appointed chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines must juggle counterinsurgency campaigns against communist and Islamist rebel groups, a sweeping modernization program and worsening territorial disputes with China.

But there is one obstacle Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, who became armed forces commander last week, won't overcome: early retirement.

Like all recent Philippine commanders, Gen Catapang, 55 years old, is constrained by a policy that forces military chiefs to retire at 56, often within months of taking the reins.

The result of the age cap is constant turnover. Gen Catapang becomes the 17th armed-forces chief since 2000.

Recent commanders have run the military for an average of just 10 months, and none has completed two full years in the top job. It isn't possible to appoint younger people since leading candidates are usually in their mid-50s by the time they become three-star generals.

While the role of chief of staff is akin to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the U.S., with authority over the Philippine army, navy and air force, the U.S. has appointed only four individuals to its top military post during the same period. The U.S. government hands chairmen two-year terms, but they usually are reappointed and serve four years in total.

Critics of the high rate of turnover in the Philippines say it undermines the new commander's ability to get things done at a critical juncture for the Philippine military.

"What can you do working for less than 365 days?Nothing really," said Clarita Carlos, a politics professor at the University of the Philippines and a former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines. "You're just warming the seat."

Spurred by its sovereignty disputes with China in the South China Sea, the Philippines is embarking on an ambitious program to expand and modernize its armed forces, efforts Gen. Catapang must now oversee.

Last year, President Benigno Aquino III said he would add 20,000 troops to the military's 124,000 force over the next three years and unveiled plans to spend $1.8 billion on weapons to reverse decades of low investment in the military.

Naval frigates and fighter aircraft are among the systems the military is now acquiring to address its lack of air-combat capability and restock its outmoded naval fleet.

The AFP is also engaged in the delicate process of ushering the U.S. military back into the Philippines after a 20-year absence, following the signing of a new defense pact in April that will see U.S. forces deploy to a maximum of five Philippine military facilities on a rotational basis.

On top of these new missions is the decades-old task of waging conflicts against the numerous militant groups that operate across large areas of the country.

Gen Catapang turns 56 on July 11, 2015; he was unavailable for an interview. With less than a year to make an impact, he has been given an impossible remit, Ms. Carlos, the politics professor, suggested. Even so, there is little appetite to fix the defects in the military appointments system, she said.

"Our military has a structure carried over from the American occupation," said Ms. Carlos. "There is a deeply entrenched bureaucracy there."

Ms. Carlos said the policy of appointing AFP chiefs with only months left before mandatory retirement was instituted by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Mr. Aquino's predecessor, to curb the political influence of the military and reduce the likelihood of a coup d'├ętat.

Upon taking office in 2010, Mr. Aquino pledged to remove the mandatory-retirement rule, but he has shied away from securing longer tenures for the top brass. In 2012, he vetoed a bill that would have introduced a fixed, three-year term for military chiefs, arguing that it would be unconstitutional to let soldiers serve beyond the mandatory retirement age.

The constitution prohibits the extension of military service beyond the age limit set by law, though it doesn't state that the retirement age must be 56.

As a result, what is referred to in the Philippines as "the revolving door" has kept on turning: Gen. Catapang is Mr. Aquino's fifth AFP chief as his presidency enters its fifth year.

Ms. Carlos said that deeply ingrained resistance to change and vested interests within the military establishment, rather than the constitution, were the real barriers to modernization.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the military had no choice but to discharge its most senior commanders once they reached the age limit. "That's the law, and yes, it's a big challenge for us," he said. "Definitely that law must be looked at again."

http://online.wsj.com/articles/early-retirement-law-outflanks-philippines-military-chief-1406198039

Infographic: Terrorism in Southeast Asia — Serious, Violent, and Unique

From War on the Rocks (Jul 23): Infographic: Terrorism in Southeast Asia — Serious, Violent, and Unique

[Editor’s note: We’ve partnered with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) to publish a series of infographics based on data from their Global Terrorism Database and related START projects.  Each week we’ll release a new set of graphics that depict trends in global terrorism activity.  Sign up for the War on the Rocks newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of them!]

These graphics were designed by Michael Jensen and William Kammerer.

Last week we published a series of graphics that combined to provide a picture of terrorism in Latin America. This week we look at another region that is often underrepresented in mainstream narratives about terrorism, but where terrorist violence represents a serious and pervasive challenge: Southeast Asia. Each of these five graphics portray a different aspect of terrorism in the region, and each is followed by a set of notes of particular interest. The first graphic is a snapshot of terrorism in Southeast Asia in 2013.

START infographic 7 1
Incidents of Terrorism in Southeast Asia, 2013 (click to enlarge)
  • Southeast Asia was the third most active region in the world in terms of terrorist attacks in 2013, with nearly 1200 attacks occurring in the region.
  • The vast majority of terrorist violence in the region in 2013 took place in two countries — Philippines and Thailand. Violence in those countries accounted for 95% of the attacks the occurred in the region for the year.
  • As the graphic shows, violence in Thailand was primarily isolated to the southern part of the country, where a number of groups have been waging a separatist war since the mid-2000s.
  • Violence in the Philippines was dispersed broadly across the country, and was driven by a number of groups with various goals. Some, like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), are separatist movements based on ethnicity and religion, while others, like the New People’s Army (NPA), are broader nationalist organizations driven by leftist ideologies.
The second graphic shows the ten most active groups in Southeast Asia since 1970.

START infographic 7 2
Ten Most Active Groups in Southeast Asia, 1970-2013 (click to enlarge)
  • Five of the ten most active groups are primarily active in the Philippines. With that said, it is important to note that attacks in Thailand are rarely claimed by, or attributed to, specific groups. Thus, the prevalence of Philippines based groups on the list is driven in part by a lack of information about the activities of particular groups in Thailand.
  • The New People’s Army stands out on the list as the most active group in the region. In fact, in 2013, the NPA committed more than three times the number of attacks as the next most active group in the region — BIFM.
  • In addition, the NPA has been active longer than any other group on the list. The organization formed in 1969.
  • The majority of the most active groups in the region, including the NPA, have experienced the peak of their activity since 2000.
Given the how active the NPA is in the region, the next three graphics are devoted to shedding more light on the group and its behaviors. The third graphic is a comparison of the ten most active groups worldwide since 2010.

START infographic 7 3
Ten Most Active Groups since 2010 by Attacks and Average Fatalities (click to enlarge)
  • The graphic charts both the raw number of attacks for each group during this period, as well as the average number of fatalities that were caused in each of those attacks.
  • The NPA ranks as the eighth most active group in terms of number of attacks since 2010. However, NPA attacks caused fewer fatalities on average (.83 per attack) than any other group on the list. This trend is driven in part by the group’s preferred attack methods, which are charted in the next graphic.
Graphic four compares the global breakdown of attack types since 1970 to the breakdown of NPA attack methods during the same period.

START infographic 7 4
Attack Methods since 1970, Global Average Versus NPA (click to enlarge)
  • One of the reasons why NPA attacks tend to cause fewer casualties than other active groups is the group’s relatively small reliance on bombings and its avoidance of suicide attacks as attack methods. As we mentioned in an earlier infographic series, suicide attacks kill far more people on average than any other attack type.
  • In fact, the three groups with the lowest fatalities per attack — NPA, the Communist Party of India-Maoist and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — all avoid the use of suicide attacks in their campaigns.
  • The NPA has instead committed an unusually high number of armed assaults, many of which have been non-lethal.
Graphic five compares the global breakdown of target selection since 1970 to the target selection of the NPA during the same period.

START infographic 7 5
Target Selections since 1970, Global Average Versus NPA (click to enlarge)
  • As you can see, the NPA tends to target the military more and private citizens less than the global average.
  • In this regard, the NPA’s behavior seems to reflect the finding that leftist groups target civilians less than other types of organizations, especially Islamist groups. This is an idea that we will examine in more detail in an upcoming infographic set.

Notes:
This graphic is based on preliminary data that is subject to change.  2013 GTD data is not yet available for public download or distribution.  It will be released via the GTD website later this summer.

Beginning with 2012 data collection, START made several important changes to the GTD collection methodology, improving the efficiency and comprehensiveness of the process. In general, comparisons of aggregate statistics over time and between locations should be interpreted with caution due to these methodological improvements, as well as the considerable variation in the availability of source materials.

[Michael Jensen is the data collection manager for the Global Terrorism Database at START.]

http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/infographic-terrorism-in-southeast-asia-serious-violent-and-unique/

New AFP chief denies coup rumors

From GMA News (Jul 24): New AFP chief denies coup rumors

Newly installed military chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. on Thursday denied rumors of a coup after the Supreme Court voted unanimously to strike down as unconstitutional specific acts under the Aquino administration's Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

"Walang coup," Catapang told reporters. "We are focused on our job kasi may mas malaki tayong hinaharap."

He also stressed that while he is known to have been a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) — a group of military officers that launched coup attempts against Aquino's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino — he sees no reason for a coup against the country's current commander-in-chief.

"I was a reformist, ako ang nagpangalan ng RAM," he said, adding RAM was created to "restore ethics, fairmindedness, orderliness and morale."

"Ang tingin ko na-restore na lahat 'yon, nabalik na 'yung ethics sa atin, righteousness... matuwid na daan na tayo," Catapang said.

"Na-experience na  natin yan nung mga panahon ng 1980s so tapos na tayo dyan, we have a more, bigger problems, yun nga sinasabi ko panay global poblems na hinahanap natin," he added.

A source from the Armed Forces of the Philippines told GMA News Online that Catapang participated in the 1986 coup attempt against then-President Ferdinand Marcos that eventually led to the People Power revolt that catapulted Mrs. Aquino to the presidency.

The source, however, said Catapang was also among the RAM members who participated in one of the two coup attempts against Mrs. Aquino in 1987.

Catapang has earlier ordered troops to steer clear of politics amid coup rumors.

"We should be reminded that as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we should remain professional and non-partisan," he said.

The Supreme Court ruling on DAP has resulted in two impeachment complaints against Aquino. The first suit, filed Monday, was endorsed by Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares, and Anakapawis Rep. Fernando Hicap. The second was filed the next day and it was endorsed by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon.

The DAP is a discretionary fund that came under fire last year after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada revealed that several senators received P50 million to P100 million each after the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Senate impeachment court in 2012.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/371833/news/nation/new-afp-chief-denies-coup-rumors

AFP is in good hands, P18 billion from DAP helped modernize the military

From AngMalaya (Jul 24): AFP is in good hands, P18 billion from DAP helped modernize the military

“We are in good hands, our President is taking good care of us, let’s help him, let’s pray for him,” newly assigned AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gregorio Pio Catapang said during his visit to Clark Air Base.

The AFP chief also urged the force to remain professional and non-partisan amid the DAP controversy. “We should allow the democratic process to take its course and let the judicial, the executive, and the legislative branches of the government deal with this.”

“After all these things have been said and done these things would probably reconcile, so let us not meddle in the affairs and let’s just do our job.”

“That is the ruling and we can’t do anything about it. But this is part of the dynamics of democracy. Let the legal experts share their ideas and opinions while the executive branch awaits the decision on its motion for reconsideration.”

Catapang also confirmed the AFP was benefited with the said mechanism to accelerate services to the people. “Of course we are also a beneficiary of this DAP, in fact we have been a beneficiary way back.”

According to Catapang, Php18 billion helped in the modernization program of the AFP.

http://www.angmalaya.net/nation/2014/07/24/2515-afp-is-in-good-hands-p18-billion-from-dap-helped-modernize-the-military

US to give PAF two planes, Lockheed interested to turn PAF C-130s into maritime patrols

From AngMalaya (Jul 24): US to give PAF two planes, Lockheed interested to turn PAF C-130s into maritime patrols

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The C-130—the latest C-130J Super Hercules in particular—is the airplane of choice for the Air Force Reserve Command’s weather reconnaissance squadron, known as the Hurricane Hunters. Photo by Lockheed Martin
 
One week old Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff disclosed United Stated will be giving the Philippine Air Force two Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” planes.

“I just talked to our US counterparts, they told us they are making available another two C-130s to address our humanitarian assistance disaster relief concerns,” the AFP Chief said.

Currently, the Air Force has three operational C-130s that are being used heavily during relief operations.

On the other news, the Department of National Defense is looking to procure two long-range patrol aircraft. Lockheed Martin, is offering to turn Philippine Air Force’s C-130s into maritime patrol aircraft by fitting them with surveillance systems. If this contract pushes through, only half of DND’s allocated budget will be spent.

“Now is the time to get these sales—to make sure you get those future sales over the next 15 years,” a representative from Lockheed said. “If we don’t get in now, then a Korea or an Israel certainly will.”

http://www.angmalaya.net/nation/2014/07/24/2508-us-to-give-paf-two-planes-lockheed-interested-to-turn-paf-c-130s-into-maritime-patrols

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video -- Intensify people's war nationwide!

Posted to the CPP Website (Jul 22): Ang Bayan Video: Intensify people's war nationwide!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y4gsIxnwVM&list=UUIdJcoTlC5Q5jrKCOh4dJeA

The New People's Army (NPA) in Mindanao launched a series of resounding tactical offensives this July. According to initial reports, it launched six tactical offensives in three regions in a week (July 7-15), seizing 58 firearms of various caliber and inflicting at least 30 enemy casualties.

Simultaneously, Red fighters in Luzon, the Visayas and other parts of Mindanao were also able to launch big and small tactical offensives. The more frequent tactical offensives of the NPA demonstrate that it continues to possess the initiative in the battlefield. This is especially striking in Mindanao, which has been pummeled by more enemy battalions since January in the AFP's effort to lay siege to a number of guerrilla fronts. By keeping the initiative, the NPA is continually able to enjoy the advantages of guerrilla warfare in maneuvering, launching small and big tactical offensives and mobilizing the armed masses.

Through the Party and the corresponding NPA regional, subregional and front command's firm leadership, the NPA has been able to continually intensify guerrilla warfare, thwarting the enemy's attempts to encircle and besiege NPA units. The vast majority of armed encounters in Mindanao have been initiated by the NPA.

The NPA's continuing initiative in the battlefield in most parts of Mindanao is a lesson that must be grasped by all NPA commands nationwide. They must plan at the regional level how to seize and maintain the initiative and implement this unerringly and without exception up to the most basic NPA units.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/

CPP/NPA: NPA launches punitive action against SUMIFRU; hits AFP troops in Bukidnon

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 23): NPA launches punitive action against SUMIFRU; hits AFP troops in Bukidnon
Logo.bhb
Ariel Magbanwag (Inda)
Spokesperson
NPA South Central Bukidnon Sub Regional Command
 
In one day, units of the New People’s Army under the South-Central Bukidnon Sub-regional command launched two offensive actions in the towns of Cabanglasan and Quezon, Bukidnon. The NPA first harassed reactionary troops, then launched a punitive action against SUMIFRU.

The Red fighters paralyzed a boom spray in SUMIFRU’s pineapple plantation in Brgy. Maynaga, Cabanglasan in July 22, 2014, around 11:40 AM. They seized a KG9 machine pistol from the company guards. The 8th IB responded too late after the NPA unit safely withdrew. This is the third NPA punitive action against this company this year.

Meanwhile, around 11:30 AM of the same day, another unit of the NPA harassed a column of more than 50 troops under the 104th Division Reconnaissance Company. The guerrillas first employed a command detonated explosive then engaged a short exchange of fire before they safely withdrew. The attacked troops are headed by a certain 1st Lt. Gamad and are part of the hot-pursuit operation being launched presently against NPA operatives who successfully launched an attack against an outgrower of Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, Brgy. San Jose, Quezon last week.

Casualties among the fascist troops of 104th DRC after the offensive are yet to be confirmed. Residents of the area are forbidden from going to the place of incident to cover their failure, which serves to belie their oft-repeated rants that the NPA is weakening after three batches of fake surenderees this year.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140723_npa-launches-punitive-action-against-sumifru-hits-afp-troops-in-bukidnon

CPP/NPA: CAFGU killed in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 23): CAFGU killed in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon
Logo.bhb
Ariel Magbanwag (Inda)
Spokesperson
NPA South Central Bukidnon Sub Regional Command
 
A unit of the New People’s Army-South-Central Bukidnon Sub-regional Command killed an active element of the CAFGU in Brgy. Canangahan, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon last July 18, 2014, around 11:20 AM.

The CAFGU member killed was Roger Guinombay, more known as"King", 38 years old, a resident of Brgy. Canangahan. A .38 revolver, cellphone and a list of surrenderees were confiscated from his person.

Guinombay has committed crimes against the revolutionary movement and the people. He surrendered two M-16 rifles entrusted to him by the NPA in 2009. Thereafter, he joined the CAFGU and has been actively witch-hunting revolutionaries ever since. Aside from ardently wishing to inflict harm on the NPA, he continually threatened residents in the area so they will stop supporting the NPA.

More recently, Guinombay was among the group of Emboy Kasalgayao who were used by 4th ID officials. They lured several poor peasants to surrender, promising money, rice and seeds from the corrupt and reactionary AFP. These 54 were then paraded as NPA surrenderees last July 9 in Malaybalay City.

Like the majority of AFP soldiers, Guinombay also came from poverty and would have been part of the masses the revolution will liberate. He, however, chose to betray the poor people aspiring for a genuine people’s government and genuine land reform. They let themselves be used by the AFP as an instrument of the ruling classes, represented by Aquino. Thus, as the saying has it, his death is lighter than a feather for he served his life for those who exploit and oppress the people.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140723_cafgu-killed-in-cabanglasan-bukidnon

CPP/NDF: It is definite, the release of the 4 POW is cancelled

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 23): It is definite, the release of the 4 POW is cancelled

69_ko
Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
Spokesperson
NDFP Mindanao Chapter
 
After a series of negotiations, we have come to a conclusion that the position of the NDFP-Mindanao and that of the “crisis” committee of the local government on the issue of the length of time and the areas covered by the local ceasefire is irreconcilable, which, therefore, makes the supposed release of the 4 POW impossible. Thus, we are cancelling the release of the 4 POW set on July 25.

The NDFP-Mindanao made several adjustments to its original request, if only to accommodate the different proposals put forward by the “crisis” committee and other officials of the GPH. We started with a proposal for a 10-day ceasefire, which we adjusted to 8 days, and then readjusted to 7. Finally, we brought down our proposal to implement a 6-day local ceasefire that shall start at 1700h of July 23, 2014 until 2359h midnight of July 29. A timeframe much shorter than this would seriously compromise the release. The NPA custodial force needs 2 to 3 days to transfer with no risk of enemy encounter the 4 POWs from its current location to the actual venue for the release. After the release, the same NPA unit will need another 3 days to relocate and reach a relatively safe area.

The proposed areas to be covered by the ceasefire have been reduced from all of the towns in mainland Surigao del Norte to only six (6), namely: Claver, Gigaquit, Bacuag, Placer,Tubod and Alegria. Meanwhile, the three municipalities of Agusan del Norte, namely Kitcharao, Jabonga and Santiago, have been maintained.

Within the last few days, at least 9 armed skirmishes between NPA and AFP units took place in the general location of the above-mentioned municipalities. We have not declared a definite place among these mentioned municipalities to ensure the safety of the release.

The local “crisis” committee amended their original 1-day ceasefire proposal to two days, and then, finally, to only three days of ceasefire and to cover only limited areas. Clearly, this cannot guarantee the safe release of the POWs as well as the safe withdrawal of the NPA custodial force.

The “crisis” committee doubts our sincere intent to release the POW as a gesture of peace and of humanitarian consideration, which is encouraged by the reckless prodding of military and police committee members to suspect that the NPA will only use the weeklong ceasefire to regroup and launch another attack similar to the Alegria PNP station incident.

Committee members have also been led to believe that the AFP’s military operations have “pressured” the NPA to release the POW, as if they have gained anything in their nearly two weeks offensive operations in the area.

In fact the AFP and the PNP have sustained a number of casualties while the NPA units remain safe. Further, their current operations have led to the violent displacement of the civilian populace and exacerbated human rights abuses in the area. This only exposes their desperation, insincerity and callous disregard of the welfare of their men in the field and the families of the POWs.

This issue has already been brought to the doorstep of Malaca├▒ang by the family and the Third Party facilitators though the OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Assistance for the Peace Process) to intercede and grant their request for a safe release of the 4 POW, yet, nothing came out positive. In spite of the pleas of the families of the POW and the Third Party facilitators and the NDFP’s skipping of the normal procedure as a gesture of goodwill, Malacanang simply chose to ignore these, thereby, endangering the lives of the POW and sidestep the interest of just and lasting peace.

With the refusal of the government to issue the needed ceasefire, the NDFP-Mindanao is now definitely cancelling the release of the 4 Prisoners of War. They will be moved to a safer place where the process of investigation and possible trial may be conducted.

To the family, the Third Party facilitators and to all concerned, we assure you that the 4 POW will be treated humanely and shall be accorded their basic rights in the course of the investigation and possible trial in accordance with the revolutionary justice system.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140723_it-is-definite-the-release-of-the-4-pow-is-cancelled

MILF: Editorial -- MILF's position on BBL's delay

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jul 23): MILF's position on BBL's delay

The submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress is slowed down by many intervening obstructions. First, the review of the Office of the President (OP) took sixty one days, to be exact on June 23, before the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) finally received a copy of the BBL bearing the comments of the OP. (The BBL was formally submitted to the OP last April 22).

Second, the four-tiered BTC-OP never took place, except the fourth and highest engagement when President Benigno Aquino III and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Hiroshima, Japan last June 24.

Third, the OP’s comments on the BBL, which is essentially the position pursued by the GPH peace panel, dilutes the BTC’s text and have in many instances  departed from the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes, which is the basis of the crafting of the BBL.

Moreover, the OP adopted a very conservative interpretation of the Constitution, which is a radical departure from what the government has been saying --- and promised --- that the flexibility of the Constitution would enable them to implement the FAB and its Annexes.

Fourth, many of the delays are caused by issues that were already settled in the FAB and its Annexes but are kept coming back and forth at the instance of the GPH; e.g., ancestral domain to ancestral domains, central to national, Bangsamoro people to Bangsamoro peoples, etc. And fifth, in view of the wide disparity between the two positions of the two parties, finding an agreed version takes some time. “Haste makes waste.”

Like the GPH, the MILF is working on the timeline that the BBL be submitted to Congress immediately after the State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) of the President on July 28. This is the reason that even if we are fasting, the MILF had agreed to resume the discussion in Kuala Lumpur on July 8-11 and the meeting in Manila from July 18-21 even without the presence of the Malaysian facilitator. The MILF is stretching the protocols of the engagement in order to catch up with commitment and come up with agreed version of the BBL.

But the difference lies in the approach. Obviously, the government peace panel line is to let the MILF accept a version of the BBL that may be constitutional but will not solve the Bangsamoro Question. On the other hand, the MILF overall objective is “to end tyranny, restore dignity and secure a bright and prosperous future for all in the Bangsamoro Homeland. The current government proposals will not restore dignity to a people who suffered tyranny and will not secure a peaceful and prosperous future.”

The MILF position on the current discussion of the BBL, which it officially registered during the special meeting in KL and is repeated here, are as follows:

1.      All those issues that are settled in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation; and
2.      Settled language in the FAB and its Annexes will not be subject for renegotiation.


If both Parties only abide by these commitments, the process would really move forward faster and save them from some irritating moments in their current engagement. More importantly, the MILF will never renegotiate these settled issues. This is the reason that the current status of engagement is no longer negotiation but discussion and the GPH and MILF are not only partners but are engaged in problem-solving mode.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/editorial/item/1100-milf-position-on-bbl’s-delay

MILF: No BBL draft bill before President Aquino’s SONA

From the MILF Website (Jul 24): No BBL draft bill before President Aquino’s SONA

With the continuing efforts by GPH-MILF Peace Panels in threshing out differences over the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the proposed law will not be submitted to Congress when its joint session opens on Monday, July 28, said Professor Miriam Ferrer, Chair of the GPH Peace Panel.
  
The proposed law, when enacted by Congress would create a new autonomous government called Bangsamoro will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). 

In two previous workshops held in Kuala Lumpur on July 8-11 and Manila on July 18-21 where the two panels discussed differences over their respective drafts, there were major issues not settled. GPH Peace panel members reportedly walked-out from the meeting in Manila when they did not return after the short break in the morning of July 21.

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel Ferrer said in an interview that after the Manila meeting both panels went back to their respective principals for consultation.

The government peace panel met with President Aquino Monday afternoon for two hours to discuss the BBL’s current status.

"At this point, hindi pa talaga namin masasabi that we have come up with a mutually acceptable draft that we can jointly endorse to the President together with the BTC (Bangsamoro Transition Commission)," Ferrer said, as quoted by ABS-CBN news on July 22.

“At this point parang hindi na natin makikita na maibibigay ito next week when Congress opens for the session.”

A meeting between President Aquino and MILF Chieftain Al Haj Murad Ebrahim before the SONA is not being ruled out to discuss the differences.

"It’s not farfetched that they will meet as soon as possible depending on the need kasi ngayon all the lines are open, may communication ‘yung panels, may communication with the BTC [and the] Office of the President," Ferrer said.

http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/1103-no-bbl-draft-bill-before-presidents-aquino’s-sona

PN regains heavy weather patrol capability with Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): PN regains heavy weather patrol capability with Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates

With the arrival of the two Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates, the Philippine Navy (PN) has required its heavy weather patrol capability which was lost with the decommissioning of the four Andres Bonifacio class frigates some 30 years ago.

These ships were retired during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PN public affairs office chief, said.

Heavy weather patrol capability means that these ships are capable of carrying on their missions even in rough sea conditions.

Fabic also said that the Andres Bonifacio class is a ship class of four frigates that served with the Philippine Navy from 1976 to the mid-1990s.

These ships were formerly used by the US Navy as Barnegat-class small seaplane tenders and by the US Coast Guard as Casco class weather heavy endurance cutters.

These vessels were formerly operated by South Vietnam.

They landed in Philippine services after their officers and crew fled to Subic Bay, Zambales in April 1975 as their government was then collapsing under the attacks of communist North Vietnam.

While in PN service, the four vessels have undergone upgrades and modification, and were categorized as frigates.

During their time, they were considered as the largest PN surface combatants.

"With the arrival of our two Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates, the PN has regained its capability to patrol our territorial waters even during rough weather," Fabic said in Filipino.p>Both ships are former Hamilton-class cutters serving the US Coast Guard.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), the lead ship of the class, was commissioned in December 2011 while the BRP Ramoon Alcaraz (PF-16) was activated in November 2013.

The two frigates are now the largest combatants of the Philippine Navy and are the mother ships of the AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" helicopters commissioned last December 2013.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=665678

PA looking to acquire new 'SDM rifles'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): PA looking to acquire new 'SDM rifles'

In line with its efforts to make it a force to reckon with, plans are now afoot to replace the "SDM" (squad designated marksman) rifles being used by the Philippine Army (PA).

This was disclosed by Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato in a text message to the PNA.

"(Acquisition of) a new SDM rifle is part of our future upgrades," he said.

At the moment, troopers tasked to SDM work in the Army's squads are armed with the M-14 automatic rifles, a reliable albeit dated weapon.

Although accurate and still usable, Detoyato said that there will come a time when the M-14s need to be replaced.

Earlier, the PA acquired 63,000 units of Remington M-4 automatic rifles, of which 27,000 will be delivered on August 2.

The weapons will replace the M-16 automatic rifle in front-line use.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=665777

Newly-appointed AFP chief to build 'peace' infrastructures

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Newly-appointed AFP chief to build 'peace' infrastructures

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, on Thursday underscored the importance of winning the peace to ensure progress and development particularly in the countryside.

In a bid to know his command better, the newly-appointed AFP chief visited the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Thursday morning.

Catapang was welcomed by Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, together with other ranking officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian employees.

In his talk with the force, Catapang emphasized the AFP's major thrusts under his leadership and his priorities as the 45th AFP chief-of-staff.

He urged the troops to strictly adhere to the AFP's slogan of "Kawal DISIPLINADO, bawal ABUSADO, dapat ASINTADO".

These three key words are acronyms that spell out the dos and don'ts to be followed by every AFP personnel for them "to become proficient in fire and maneuver and be able to avoid collateral damage; be respectful of human rights, and adhere to international humanitarian law and rule of law, as well as the rules of engagement of ‘Bayanihan’.”

Catapang said that the soldiers will closely coordinate with the local governments to help build "bridges for peace", "schools for peace", "hospitals for peace", and "roads for peace".

He added that brigade commanders shall identify projects in their respective localities that will benefit the populace, and the AFP will help the local government unit carry out the program.

Also of paramount consideration under his leadership is enhancing humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities of the armed forces.

Earlier in his command guidance, Catapang laid emphasis on strengthening territorial defense, implementation of the AFP Modernization Program, and pursuing the AFP Transformation Roadmap.

Prior his appointment as AFP chief, Catapang was the 42nd vice-chief-of-staff of the military.

He also commanded the AFP's Northern Luzon Command, and was designated as commander of the 7th Infantry Division. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy "Dimalupig" Class of 1981.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=665737

Additional 2 U.S. C-130s to be available by 2015 --AFP chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Additional 2 U.S. C-130s to be available by 2015 --AFP chief

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang has said that the two United States Lockheed "Hercules" C-130 cargo aircraft, earlier offered to the country by the Americans, will be made available by 2015.

"They (US officials) said that the planes will be available next year. We are just finalizing the (transfer) documents," he added.

Catapang said that the C-130s are from the U.S. stocks which will be refurbished before entering Philippine service.

He added that these planes are still in operational condition.

The AFP chief said they were originally looking at the possibility of acquiring Australian C-130s but were forced to look elsewhere after Indonesia managed to acquire these planes much earlier.

The C-130s will be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and cargo-carrying missions.

The Philippines only has three operational C-130s at its aircraft fleet when in reality it needs 10 to efficiently carry out these missions.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=665794

31 U.S. Peace Corps trainees start 3-month activity in Bataan town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): 31 U.S. Peace Corps trainees start 3-month activity in Bataan town

Thirty-one trainees of the United States Peace Corps started on Wednesday the first day of their three-month activity in Bagac, Bataan.

Municipal Mayor Ramildel Rosario welcomed and officially opened the gates of the town to the trainees who were divided into three groups.

They were assigned in barangay Atilano, Tabing-Ilog and Ibaba. Some 31 foster families were selected to accommodate a trainee each during the duration of their stay in the respective village.

The mayor assured the Americans of their safety. “We are very grateful to all of you. I sincerely believe that your brief stay here will be fruitful and a significant one,” del Rosario said.

In a short program, the trainees tried to introduce themselves one by one in Filipino the best way they could. They enjoyed later a snack of turon and cashew nuts.

“I joined the training to be of help and to serve and learn from the cultural exchange,” Emilee Smith said. They will mingle with local folk and assist in community undertaking.

She said that they will be training for three months and then serve as volunteers for two years.

No age requirement is needed to enter the American Peace Corps but applicants have to possess a college degree, Marissa and Stephanie said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=665660

3 NPA rebels yield in Sarangani

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): 3 NPA rebels yield in Sarangani

Three more members of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of Sarangani and Davao Occidental provinces surrendered on Wednesday to government troops in the area.

Capt. Rey Balibagoso, spokesperson of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said Thursday the rebels yielded to members of the peace and development team of the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) during an outreach activity in Barangay Tamban in Malungon, Sarangani.

He said the three, whose identities are withheld for security reasons, gave up an M-16 Armalite rifle with magazine and 27 bullets that was reportedly issued by the rebel group.

“They came forward during a peace building seminar being conducted by our troops and signified their desire to surrender,” he said.

Baligoso said the 73rd IB led by its commanding officer Lt. Col. Patricio Ruben Amata and local government officials present during the activity immediately processed the surrender of the three rebels.

During their debriefing, the official said the surrenderees claimed to be members of the Platoon 2 of the NPA’s Front 75.

He said the three, who came from the B’laan tribe, were earlier recruited by the NPA to become a part of its “yunit militia” in the area.

The rebel unit had reportedly participated in NPA operations in the past months in the mountainous boundaries of Malungon, Sarangani and Malita in Davao Occidental.

Balibagoso said the rebels decided to surrender after becoming enlightened with the programs and projects of the local and national governments for the poor and the tribal residents of the area.

“They were also victims of various empty promises offered by NPA leaders during their recruitment,” he said.

Citing revelations by the previous surrenderees, he said NPA leaders usually offer their recruits with regular salaries and other benefits that never materialize.

Balibagoso said they will assist the enlistment of the three surrenderees into the national government’s flagship Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

In the last three years, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the provincial government of Sarangani Province already assisted a total of 379 former NPA rebels through the CLIP.

The former rebels received various livelihood assistance ranging from PHP5,000 to PHP50,000 each.

CLIP reintegrates former rebels into the social mainstream and uplifts their socio-economic conditions to enable them to become active partners in the local development.

The program also seeks to contribute towards the achievement of the goal of permanent peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=665693

Conflict areas in Negros benefit from gov’t projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Conflict areas in Negros benefit from gov’t projects

Conflict-affected communities in Negros identified by Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara Paduano Group) availed of various projects even before the closure of their peace agreement with the national government.

Records of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) headed by Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles show the rebel group availed of the Disbursement Acceleration Program through the implementation of PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) programs and projects.

PAMANA is the national government’s program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach, and conflict-affected and vulnerable communities, ensuring that they are not left behind.

The amount of P37 million has been allocated by OPAPP for a farm-to-market road project in Barangay Locotan, Kabankalan City, under the PAMANA program.

Under the program, more than 100 RPA-ABB members were also hired and deputized as forest guards by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Negros Island.

The provision of livelihood for former rebels is part of the strategy of PAMANA to support former and current rebels who desire to integrate into communities and be transformed into productive citizens and group.

As a complementary track to the peace process being pursued with the RPM-P/RPA/ABB - TPG, PAMANA interventions are determined based on the profiling of needs of the members matched with available and feasible options in the area, OPAPP records also show.

Because of DAP, Deles said, people are feeling the consequences of "reforms that are now happening in most difficult areas," such as conflict-affected and vulnerable communities.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=665787

Cebuano assumes post as Navforcen chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Cebuano assumes post as Navforcen chief

A Cebuano has assumed as the new chief of the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) of the Philippine Navy based in Lapu-Lapu City.

Commodore Ronald Joseph Mercado replaced Commodore Reynaldo Yoma who will now head the Naval Forces Western Command in Zamboanga City.

"For the past years, we have experienced natural calamities. The focus right now is on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, particularly on this part of the year. We know this is the typhoon season. We should be prepared for it," Mercado said.

"Let's not have the same suffering and the sad experience in the past. We need to be more prepared since we have experiences from which to learn our lessons," he said.

He said the primary mandate of Navforcen is to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (Centcom) in maintaining security, peace and order, as well as to help provide a good business and tourism environment in the Visayas.

Mercado said he expects the men and women in Navforcen to be more responsive during calamities.

He said they will also continue to collaborate with civilian and military stakeholders "to ensure that the Philippine Navy's presence in this part of the country will embody the honorable service, such as maritime security in the operational areas."

Mercado, who hails from Banawa, Cebu City, entered the Philippine Navy in 1983.

He said he had always wanted to be assigned in his hometown.

The closest assignment he had within the Visayas area was in Iloilo City on board a ship for only six months before he was transferred to Guinsaugon, Leyte for another assignment.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=665819

2 killed in fresh fighting between rebels and the military in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): 2 killed in fresh fighting between rebels and the military in Bukidnon

An unidentified rebel and a government trooper were killed as fresh fighting between communist guerillas and the military took place Wednesday in the hinterlands of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

Pol. Inspector Joan Galvez, of the Bukidnon Provincial Police Comand, on Thursday identified the casualty from the military as Cpl. Rosendo Sagun, of the army’s 23rd Infantry Batallion of the army’s 403 Brigade based in Bukidnon.

He said that the armed encounter occurred in Kilometer 30, a hinterland village of Calabugao, part of the municipal town of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

The military was in hot pursuit of the armed communist rebels who attacked the SUMIFRU Pineapple Plantation in the village of Maynaga in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon Tuesday morning.

Galvez said that the rebels seized 1 K69 radio and damaged the company’s Boom Spray during the attack.

He said the withdrawing rebels also threw a grenade at the elite 104th Reconnaissance Division of the military in Sta.Felomina, Quezon, Bukidnon Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement, the South-Central Bukidnon Sub-regional Command of New People’s Army (NPA) owned the two separate attacks in Cabanglasan and Sta. Filomena, Quezon, Bukidnon on Tuesday.

Ariel Magbanuag, the NPA SCB Sub-regional Command spokesperson, said the attack was the third after the rebels carried out an attack on the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, Brgy. San Jose, Quezon last week.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=665837

Mindanao peace process 'in great peril' - Ucan News

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 24): Mindanao peace process 'in great peril' - Ucan News

The Philippine government is "putting the whole peace process [in Mindanao] in great peril" with a scheduled meeting between President Benigno Aquino and rebel chief Murad Ebrahim this week, peace advocates say.

Jesus Dureza, a former government peace negotiator with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said it is "futile to expect the two principals to negotiate with each other and expect a magical result from that meeting".

The presidential palace has announced that Aquino is meeting Murad prior to the president's State of the Nation address on Monday.  "Such a no-result meeting is dangerous because it will give wrong signals to the stakeholders. And it will deprive negotiators the flexibility they need to continue seeking mutually acceptable arrangements," Dureza said.

Representative Silvestre Bello, a former government negotiator in peace talks with the communist National Democratic Front, also warned that the peace process will be "jeopardized".

"The president and Murad should find ways of breaking the impasse, otherwise the talks, which have moved smoothly, will be derailed," said Bello in an interview.

The rebels, however, said in a statement that the meeting "is necessary in threshing out issues confronting both sides on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law".

The law is an enabling act that must be passed by congress for the establishment of a Bangsamoro autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.

"The purpose of the proposed meeting is to save the peace process in the light of major alterations made by [the presidential palace] team on the draft law," the rebel statement said.

Miriam Ferrer, chief government peace negotiator, last week said the government remains "consistent in its commitment for a Bangsamoro Basic Law that conforms to what has been agreed upon in the signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro".

She admitted, however, that "significant points of differences" between government and rebel negotiators have been encountered.

Ferrer said the draft law will be scrutinized by congress and the review seeks to make sure that it "must fall within the parameters of the constitution".

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr said in an interview that he anticipates the president's meeting with Murad will settle the differing issues hounding the draft peace measure. "I hope that they can find common ground for the sake of all of us. I am confident that the deadlock would be solved," Belmonte said.

Aquino met with Murad in Japan last month to discuss the delay in the submission of the draft basic law to congress. The rebels have been battling for independence or autonomy in the southern islands of the mainly Catholic Philippines since the 1970s, with the conflict claiming tens of thousands of lives. 

The MILF, with 10,000 armed followers, is the biggest rebel group and its signing of the accord early this year has raised hopes of an enduring peace in the south, despite other breakaway groups still vowing to fight on.

The pact made the rebels and the government partners in a plan to create the autonomous region by mid-2016, when Aquino is required by the constitution to step down. 

A commission composed of rebel and government nominees drafted a "basic law" for the autonomous region, and it was submitted to Aquino in April as part of a time frame to have congress pass it supposedly last month. (Ucan News)

[Ref: http://www.ucanews.com/news/mindanao-peace-process-in-great-peril/71494]

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.net/2014/07/mindanao-peace-process-in-great-peril.html

'Govt pushing a BBL that won't solve Bangsamoro Question' - MILF

From InterAksyon (Jul 24): 'Govt pushing a BBL that won't solve Bangsamoro Question' - MILF

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has accused the government of attempting to force its acceptance of a version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law “that may be constitutional but will not solve the Bangsamoro Question.”

In an editorial on its website, Luwaran, the MILF maintained that it would not renegotiate “all those issues that are settled in the” Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and its annexes, including all “settled language.”

“The MILF will never renegotiate these settled issues. This is the reason that the current status of engagement is no longer negotiation but discussion and the GPH and MILF are not only partners but are engaged in problem-solving mode,” it added.

The MILF stressed that its objective is “to end tyranny, restore dignity and secure a bright and prosperous future all in the Bangsamoro Homeland.”

“The current government proposals will not restore dignity to a people who suffered tyranny and will not secure a peaceful and prosperous future,” it added.

The MILF position followed the admission by government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer that "there continue to be significant points of differences" over the draft BBL, whose enactment would pave the way for the creation of the new Bangsamoro entity.

The disclosures by both parties could indicate the differences over the draft BBL are more serious than they have seemed.

The draft law, drawn up by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, was originally supposed to be submitted to Congress before it adjourned last month.

However, this was delayed by the review conducted by a legal team created by the Office of the President.

Although a new target to submit the draft BBL to Congress has been set to immediately after President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address on Monday, the MILF has raised serious objections to the OP’s comments on the draft law, which it said “dilutes the BTC’s text and … in many instances departed from the letter and spirit” of the FAB and its annexes, “which is the basis of the crafting of the BBL.”

This objection, which was first raised publicly by chief MILF negotiator and BTC chairman Mohagher Iqbal, prompted Coronel to offer assurances the government was “not throwing in the towel.”

Both parties also met for four days in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month but achieved only “modest progress.”

In the editorial, the MILF said the OP gave the BTC a copy of the draft BBL with its comments only on June 23, or 61 days after it received a copy of the proposed law on April 22.

It added that a four-tiered series of meetings between the BTC and OP “never took place, except the fourth and highest engagement” when Aquino met MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Hiroshima on June 24.

The editorial also faulted the government by continuing to resurrect “issues that were already settled in the FAB and its Annexes,” including differences in specific phrases such as “ancestral domain to ancestral domains, central to national, Bangsamoro people to Bangsamoro peoples, etc.”

But the most serious issue, said the MILF, is the OP’s adoption of what it called “a very conservative interpretation of the Constitution, which is a radical departure from what the government has been saying --- and promised --- that the flexibility of the Constitution would enable them to implement the FAB and its Annexes.”

Because of “the wide disparity between the two positions of the two parties, finding an agreed version takes some time,” it said.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/91873/govt-pushing-a-bbl-that-wont-solve-bangsamoro-question---milf

3 NPA rebs surrender in Sarangani

From MindaNews (Jul 24): 3 NPA rebs surrender in Sarangani

Three more alleged members of a New People’s Army (NPA) unit operating in the hinterlands of Sarangani and Davao Occidental provinces surrendered on Wednesday to government troops in the area.

Capt. Rey Balibagoso, spokesperson of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said Thursday the rebels yielded to members of the peace and development team of the 73rd Infantry Battalion (IB) during an outreach activity in Barangay Tamban in Malungon, Sarangani.

He said the three, whose identities were withheld for security reasons, gave up an M-16 Armalite rifle with a magazine and 27 bullet rounds that was reportedly issued by the rebel group.

“They came forward during a peace building seminar being conducted by our troops and signified to surrender,” he said in a radio interview.

Baligoso said the 73IB, led by its commanding officer Lt. Col. Patricio Ruben Amata, and local government officials present during the activity immediately processed the surrender of the three rebels.

 
During their debriefing, the official said the surrenderees claimed to be members of the Platoon 2 of the NPA’s Front 75.

He said the three, who came from the B’laan tribe, were earlier recruited by the NPA to become a part of its “yunit militia” in the area.

The rebel unit had reportedly participated in NPA operations in the past months in the mountainous boundaries of Malungon, Sarangani and Malita in Davao Occidental.

Balibagoso said the rebels decided to surrender after becoming enlightened with the programs and projects of the local and national governments for the poor and the tribal residents of the area.

He said they will enlist the three surrenderees into the national government’s flagship Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

In the last three years, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the provincial government of Sarangani Province already assisted a total of 379 former NPA rebels through the CLIP.

The former rebels received various livelihood assistance ranging from P5,000 to P50,000 each.

CLIP reintegrates former rebels into the social mainstream and uplifts their socio-economic conditions to enable them to become active partners in the local development.

The program also seeks to contribute towards the achievement of the goal of permanent peaceful closure of all armed conflicts with non-state armed groups.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2014/07/24/3-npa-rebs-surrender-in-sarangani/