Sunday, July 27, 2014

Shafie: Curfew appropriate measure to ensure security

From the Star Online (Jul 27): Shafie: Curfew appropriate measure to ensure security

KOTA KINABALU: Despite inconveniencing some fishermen, the dusk-to-dawn curfew in Sabah’s eastern maritime area is a decisive action to stop cross-border criminal activities, said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal.

Shafie, who is also Semporna MP, said the curfew was an appropriate measure to beef up security.

Speaking during a visit to the forward security bases in Semporna to distribute Hari Raya goodies to the security personnel, Shafie said that the Govern­ment had its priorities correct by ensuring security first, although it was aware of the plight of the fishermen.

Shafie also said that he was in discussions with relevant ministries to promote fish farming and seaweed cultivation as an alternative livelihood.
he two-week curfew that came into force on July 19 is expected to be extended after Aug 2 to protect six east coast districts from possible intrusions by criminals or militants from southern Philip­pines.

The Eastern Sabah Security Command said that most villagers in the areas had observed the curfew order, though some were initially arrested for defying it.

Meanwhile, efforts are continuing to secure the release of police constable Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was abducted by Filipino gunmen from the Mabul Water Bungalow Resort on July 12 after they shot dead his colleague Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, during a raid.

Kons Zakiah is believed to be held by a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader, Al Habsi Misaya, in a jungle hideout on Jolo island.

Al Habsi is also believed to be holding fish breeder Chan Sai Chun, 32, hostage.

He was grabbed from his fish farm in Kunak on June 16 by Filipino gunmen.

Sources close to Chan’s family claimed that the gunmen were demanding up to RM3mil in ransom, though contact had not been made for nearly three weeks.

Kidnapped construction foreman freed in Southern RP

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 27): Kidnapped construction foreman freed in Southern RP

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar meets with freed kidnapped construction foreman Remigio Lingayan. (Photo by Joey Bautista)

Abu Sayyaf militants have freed Sunday a Filipino construction foreman after nearly two months in captivity in the southern Philippines, local government officials said.

Officials said Remigio Lingayan, a resident of Zamboanga City, was freed in the village of Bunot in Indanan town. Lingayan, accompanied by policemen, was immediately flown to Zamboanga City and welcomed by Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar at the Philippine Air Force base.

Lingayen, who was earlier reported beheaded by Anadolu Agency, was met by his anxious family in the military base. No other details were made available by authorities on the release of Lingayen or whether ransom had been paid to the kidnappers.

Lingayan was kidnapped along with his brother-in-law Joselito Gonzales on June 4 while working on a construction project in the province. They were travelling for Jolo town from Maimbung town on a vehicle when flagged down by gunmen. Gonzales was believed to have been killed by the Abu Sayyaf.

Quoting a Philippine military report, the Anadolu Agency, said Lingayan was hit by bullets when soldiers and policemen tried to rescue him during the fighting. There were no official report from either the police or military about the beheading of Lingayan, but the fighting had killed and wounded at least 40 soldiers and militants.

The militants, whose group is tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, originally demanded P7 million from the poor families of the two victims and threatened to decapitate them if ransom is not paid.

The Abu Sayyaf is also holding several foreigners kidnapped in Tawi-Tawi province and Sabah in Malaysia and brought to Sulu, where government officials and residents have repeatedly denounced and condemned the atrocities of the militant group.

Farmers, tribesmen protest outside military base in Davao City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 27): Farmers, tribesmen protest outside military base in Davao City

Some 3,000 mostly farmers and tribesmen held a rally Sunday outside a military base in Davao City in southern Philippines and protested alleged widespread militarization and human rights violation in Mindanao.

The protesters also demanded the resignation of President Benigno Aquino and accused him of being the brains behind the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program which was declared as unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court.

The rally outside the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters, although peaceful, was well-guarded by policemen. The rallyists carried streamer and placards denouncing human rights violations by the military.

The protesters vowed to hold more street rallies to bring to the attention of the public various issues from scandals in the government to abuses by troops on civilians.

Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, dismissed all accusations against the military and branded them as communist propaganda. He said the rallyists should protest the widespread human rights violations and killings of innocent civilians by the communist rebel group New People’s Army.

“They (protesters) are mistaken and the military and the police and the democratic government are protecting the people, the civilians like them and they should protest the abuses committed by the NPA rebels who kill innocent civilians, attack private enterprises, extort money from the poor and robbed our people of their precious freedom and democracy,” Caber said.

Farmers and tribesmen protest outside the Eastern Mindanao Command military headquarters in Davao City in southern Philippines. (Kilab Multimedia)

Soldier dead in clash

From Tempo (Jul 27): Soldier dead in clash

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – An Army soldier was killed while three others were wounded in an encounter with the New People’s Army (NPA) last Thursday in Lucat, Barangay Cawayan, Quezon, Bukidnon.

Reports from the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division identified the fatality as Private First Class Trevoc C. Lacar who died in a hospital. The wounded were Privates First Class Rolando M. Manumba and Reyson S. Ortega and Citizens’ Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (CAA) member Ronald Cabantaw.

“Villagers in Lucat area and neighboring barangays reported to pursuing government soldiers that they saw undetermined numbers of NPA casualties as they retreated after the fierce gunbattle,” Capt. Nesty Carolina, spokesman of the 10th Agila Division, said.

He said the rebels are believed to be members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA North-Central Mindanao Party Committee operating in the mountainous tri-boundary of Bukidnon, Agusan, and Davao.

US fast attack submarine to arrive in PH

From ABS-CBN (Jul 27): US fast attack submarine to arrive in PH

The USS Columbus (SSN 762), a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, is no longer stopping by Subic Bay, the United States embassy said Sunday.

In a statement, the embassy said the submarine was supposed to arrive earlier Sunday but there was a change in schedule.

“The crew looks forward to another opportunity to visit the Philippines,” the embassy said.

The visit was supposed to allow the crew to replenish supplies as well as take the opportunity to rest and relax.

“While in Subic Bay the sailors of the USS Columbus are eager to enjoy Olongapo City and strengthen their understanding of a country with strong historical ties to the United States and the US Navy,” the embassy earlier announced.

The Philippines forged in April the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which will allow US soldiers to be stationed in the country on a rotational basis. The soldiers will be allowed access to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ bases.

The visit of the USS Columbus and other vehicles before it comes amid the growing aggression from China in the disputed seas.

The US embassy said the USS Columbus, named after the city of Columbus, Ohio, is part of the US Pacific Fleet and is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The Columbus is commanded by Commander David Youtt. It has a crew of approximately 140 sailors, two of whom are Filipino-Americans.

Gov’t troop deployment near MILF camps to foil BIFF attacks, says general

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 27): Gov’t troop deployment near MILF camps to foil BIFF attacks, says general

Government troops did not violate a ceasefire with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Mindanao as a top official said the recent movements in two Maguindanao towns were meant as a preemptive move against possible attacks from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, who leads the government side of the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, said the issue has been clarified with the MILF.

“It was a show of force against the BIFF. We have talked to the MILF and we said it was not intended for them,” the official said.

Galvez issued the statement after the MILF accused government troops of violating a ceasefire in parts of Mindanao by making “uncoordinated movements” in two Maguindanao towns, Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi.

In a post on its website on Saturday,, the MILF said the military made movements early morning in areas near MILF forces.

Citing reports from MILF commanders, Luwaran said “hundreds” of Philippine Army troops in full battle gear and backed with several tanks moved into Barangays Kitango, Tatapan, Kitapok, Maitem, and Pagatin.

Galvez clarified that the issue has been cleared up with the local commanders.

He said the area was near MILF-controlled areas and the movement might have been misconstrued as against the MILF.

“The intention was to reposition in case a BIFF attack should happen, and we don’t want that to happen with civilians getting involved. So what we did was a preemptive move,” Galvez said.

He added that the preemptive action was in light of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on Monday.

“In preparation for the SONA, we are having these preemptive movements,” he said, adding that the MILF has been informed and has come to understand the situation.

MILF slams military’s troop deployment as war posturing

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 27): MILF slams military’s troop deployment as war posturing


Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. AP FILE PHOTO
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) accused the military of war posturing and violating the existing ceasefire agreement by deploying troops “in full battle gear” near rebel-identified areas in Maguindanao.

“This nature of uncoordinated movement can trigger untoward incidents and worse, fierce encounter between the government and MILF forces,” Rasid Ladiasan, head of the MILF ceasefire secretariat, said in a media statement on Saturday.

Ladiasan said heavy troop movement on the side of the military was monitored near MILF camps in Datu Unsay, Datu Saudi and Datu Piangtowns in Maguindanao starting Saturday morning.

He said the “uncoordinated” massive movements, as reported by MILF field commanders, were monitored in the adjacent villages of Kitango, Tatapan, Kitapok, Maitumaig and Pagatin, which form part of the three towns. Even civilians plying the Cotabato-General Santos Highway also witnessed military trucks moving into the towns, he said.

Ladiasan pointed out that under the 1997 GPH (Government of the Philippines)-MILF ceasefire accord, massive troop movements in areas near MILF camps should be coordinated with the joint GPH-MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG).

“Clearly any major movement that is not normal administrative functions like this case constitute ceasefire violations when the CCCHs did not coordinate. The government forces know this very well but unfortunately they acted in contravention,” Ladiasan said.

Since the MILF was not informed before hand, it was treating the “uncoordinated” movements as “provocative,” he said.

“We do not want any tension or confrontational situation to grip in between MILF and government forces otherwise we are being remiss with our responsibility,” he said.

“The MILF CCCH is going to file a strong protest on this incident as the proper way to address this situation,” he added.

Ladiasan said the MILF has also appealed to the government ceasefire team, headed by Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., to enhance coordination – especially at this time when the government and MILF have been confronting major challenges on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) following the review and changes made by the government review team in the draft that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) had submitted to Malacañang.

Efforts to reach the military commander, who has jurisdiction over Maguindanao, have repeatedly failed.

But as early as last week, the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, Col. Dickson Hermoso, had made public the military’s intention to deploy more soldiers against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ gunmen responsible for a series of harassment against government troops in Maguindanao and the nearby province of North Cotabato.

At least 18 people, 17 BIFF men and one soldier, were killed in the violence that started July 21.

Aquino wants a Bangsamoro basic law he can endorse ‘with conviction’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 27): Aquino wants a Bangsamoro basic law he can endorse ‘with conviction’

Saying he wanted to push the Bangsamoro Basic Law “with conviction,” President Benigno Aquino III has made it clear that the document would have to be “consistent” with the historic peace agreement signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27.

In a meeting with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) last week, the President called for open-mindedness between members of both the Philippine government and MILF panels.

“Let us approach this drafting of the proposed BBL with an open mind, see if everything is consistent with the CAB [Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro], and limit the potential challenges,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma quoted the President as saying on Sunday.

“Let us put ourselves in each other’s shoes. Mula sa ‘kayo’ at ‘kami’, ibalik natin sa ‘tayo. (From ‘you’ and ‘we’, let’s bring it back to ‘us’).’”

The meeting last Thursday was arranged amid differences over provisions of the draft BBL, which was prepared by the BTC and submitted for Malacañang’s review last April.

The Palace failed to meet its May 5 deadline to submit the draft BBL for congressional scrutiny and approval. Last week, chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said the draft would likely be still unavailable for submission on Monday (July 28), the resumption of Congress session.

“I want to be able to push this [Bangsamoro Basic Law] with conviction,” the President was quoted as saying in a Palace press statement.

Coloma said Aquino urged members of the BTC to “work together to reach an understanding and ensure that the BBL would be consistent with the contents” of the CAB.

Reading from a copy of MILF chairman Murad Ibrahim’s speech during the CAB signing last March, the President reminded the group: ““After all, the CAB is not only for the MILF, but also for the MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front], for all Muslim ethnic tribes, Christian settlers, and indigenous peoples.”

Once differences over the draft BBL are settled, the plan is for Aquino to certify a proposed bill as urgent. The BBL, which would have to pass in a plebiscite later on, would pave the way for a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

19IB and Bangon Mini-Farms Association eye nationwide market chain

Posted to the Samar News (Jul 21): 19IB and Bangon Mini-Farms Association eye nationwide market chain


Bangon vegetable farm

KANANGA, LeyteThe 19th Infantry (Commando) Battalion and Bangon Mini-Farms Association in Leyte are eyeing a nationwide market chain for their vegetable products.

This development was pushed during the Board of Trustees meeting for the Bangon Mini-Farms Association Alpha Sector Inc. held on Wednesday, July 16 at Headquarters 19th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte.

Director Domingo Diaz, member of LandBank Board of Trustees who pioneered the Bangon Mini Farm concept in Super Typhoon “Yolanda” affected areas in Samar and Leyte, said a memorandum of agreement is underway between Bangon and a market chain in Cebu.

With this significant progress, Mr. Gil Carandang, the Father of Philippine Organic Farming who also sits in the Board of Trustees for the Bangon Mini-Farms Alpha Sector Association Inc., is scheduled to conduct a weeklong field audit to assess 19 types of vegetables required by the would-be market. The vegetables requested by the market chain are currently on intensive field test at Bangon pilot farms.

Field audits will cover pilot farms at Ormoc City, Kananga, Capoocan, Carigara, San Isidro, Calubian and Jaro, all of Leyte province and will be assisted by the 19th Infantry Battalion.

During the meeting, Director Diaz handed over the Alpha Sector’s Certificate of Incorporation (COI) which was issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 18 this year. The COI contains Company Reg. Nr. CN201411778 and Company TIN 008-801-182 signed by Dir. Ferdinand B. Sales, of SEC’s Company Registration and Monitoring Department.

The membership of Bangon Mini-Farms Association Alpha Sector Inc. is now placed at 426, seven months after ST Yolanda.

Lt. Col. Nedy Espulgar, commanding officer of 19IB said, “The program is beneficial to farmers whose income is within the poverty threshold. With this program, a farmer with 1000 square meters of tillable land can earn up to P16,000.00 per month.”

Major General Año is new 10th ID commander

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 27): Major General Año is new 10th ID commander

DAVAO CITY– Major General Eduardo Año formally took over as the new commander of the 10th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Mindanao.

Año succeeded Major General Ariel Bernardo who bowed out from military service in a formal turn over ceremony at the Camp Manuel T. Yan headquarters in Mawab town, Compostela Valley.

Before assuming the top post at the 10th ID, Año served as the head of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) in Camp Aguinaldo.

In his message, Año said he will continue the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan or the Bayanihan campaign in the areas of jurisdiction of the 10th ID.

He also assured the local government units (LGUs) and the other peace and development stakeholders in the area of his support.

He said that the leadership of the 10th ID will give its full support to all the efforts to bring peace to residents and communities in the area.

Año also pointed out that the main responsibility of the Army is to pressure the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) to end their armed struggle.

He added that he will also help convince the rebels to go back to the negotiating table and end the continuing armed conflicts that have already affected communities and the lives of people.

The formal turn-over ceremony at the 10th ID headquarters was administered by Lt. General Hernando Delfin Iriberri, commanding general of the Philippine Army.

Valte: No pressure on MILF to accept gov’t version

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 27): Valte: No pressure on MILF to accept gov’t version

The government is not forcing the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to accept its version of  the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) draft.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government has always worked hand-in-hand with the MILF in pushing for a BBL.

The denial was prompted by an editorial posted on Luwaran, the official website of the MILF Central Committee on Information that stated: “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.”

“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,” it added.

A review of the BBL by the Palace legal team showed provisions that went against the Constitution.  This reportedly stalled the process of transmitting the draft to Congress, delaying further the implementation of the Bangsamoro peace agreement.

Valte stressed the BBL draft should pass scrutiny of anyone who will contest its constitutionality.


“Any bill we propose to Congress must be constitutional because our efforts will be put to naught if it will be challenged in the Supreme Court and deemed unconstitutional just because we were not able to execute due diligence properly,” Valte said.

“If it is true that we are forcing them to accept our version, we should have not engaged them in consultations and we could have just given them our version of the draft but clearly, we did not do that,” Valte added.

“This is the reason,” Valte explained, “President Aquino met with members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the government peace panel to explain that he wants to push for this law and to advocate for this law with full conviction.”

The meeting was held Thursday in Malacañang. The government and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014.

The President called on parties to “keep an open mind and limit potential challenges” to the proposed BBL.

The Aquino administration hopes to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law within President Aquino’s term in a bid to bring about a transition to the Bangsamoro political entity.

Cebu being groomed to house incoming assets of Philippine Navy

From AngMalaya (Jul 27): Cebu being groomed to house incoming assets of Philippine Navy

“Considering the strength of the area, this will be the official place and home for all our support and current floating assets and those that will be acquired in the future,” said Vice Admiral Jesus Millan, Philippine Navy’s Flag Officer in Command.

Navy chief Millan told the new Central Naval Forces Commodore Ronald Joseph Mercado to prepare Cebu’s Naval Base Rafael Ramos as the gateway for the all ground and sea assets of Philippine Fleet.

According to Millan, having Cebu as the country’s center for ship production and repair, it is appropriate to house the Philippine Fleet in Visayas.

“We need to be more prepared after what we have experienced and we already learned our lesson,” the new NAVFORCEN commander said. Mercado also vowed to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response in the Visayas territory.

On the other hand, outgoing NAVFORCEN Commander Reynaldo Yoma will be the new commander of Western Mindanao Naval Forces. “With the experiences he achieved in the Visayas, I am sure he will carry out his function in the other part of the country because he is competent,” Navy chief said.

China reclaiming in Paracel, Vietnam strongly oppose

From AngMalaya (Jul 27): China reclaiming in Paracel, Vietnam strongly oppose

Vietnam strongly opposes China’s dredging channels around Duy Mong (Drummond) Island, a part of the Southeast Asian country’s Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea said Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Le Hai Binh.

According to the Vietnamese spokesperson China’s activities within the Paracel archipelago are illegal, invalid and violates Vietnam’s sovereignty.

South China Morning Post reported earlier last week that “China is dredging navigation channels in a disputed area of the South China Sea in a move analysts say shows Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance over its claims to sovereignty in the region.”

Xinhua News Agency said the purpose of the said dredging or reclamation activity is to to ease the access for Chinese fishermen and supply boats in the waters near Paracel.

It added that piers for cruising ships and areas for garbage and supply ships will also be set up in the area in the future.

Justice is served to Abu victims — army official

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Jul 27): Justice is served to Abu victims — army official

“Surely, the victims will be happy that finally justice had been served and the death of Sulaiman Ajanti alias  Ulay will remind the remaining notorious ASGs’ that evil will not prevail.”

Thus said Brig. Gen. Carlito G Galvez Jr., commander of the Army’s 104th Brigade based in Basilan, on the death of Ulay, a subleader of the Abu Sayyaf of who was killed together two other militants in an encounter with Army soldiers and militiamen in Barangay Sungkayot, Ungkaya Pukan town Thursday afternoon.

Two militiamen of the civilian volunteer organization were killed in the same encounter.

“We extend our sincerest sympathies to the families and friends of those civilian volunteers who were killed. Rest assured that we will extend necessary assistance to the bereaved families and wounded civilian volunteers,” Galvez said.

He said the successful operation was made due to tedious surveillance carried out by the operating troops patiently waiting for the arrival of the ASG and lawless elements onboard three motorcycles along crossing Kurrelem in Tipo-Tipo.

“This operation was the sequel of a series of successful operations which neutralized a top leader of the BIFF member in Basilan and dreaded ASG assassins that conducted a number of atrocities in Lamitan and Isabela Cities. We will intensify our operations after Ramadan period so as not to disrupt the remaining solemn days before Eid’l Ftr.” Galvez said.

According to 1Lt. Sally Cristine Magno Philippine Army, 104th Brigade Public Affairs Officer,  a brieaf firefight ensued between the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and army troops led by Maj Muhaimin Ahmad and civilian volunteers which resulted in the death of Ulay; Botqong Aliman and Madie Umangkat

Magno said  seven other militants were wounded. Recovered by the soldiers from the slain Abu Sayyaf gunmen were an M16, M203 and M14 rifled

She said Ulay and Madee Umangkat were responsible for the series of ambushes against civilians in 2011 and 2012 which resulted in the death of 29 and the wounding of 59 rubber tappers/workers of Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (TARBIDC) in Tumahubong, Sumisip.”

She added:“This lawless group is also responsible for the kidnapping of DSWD social worker Jennelyn Luna in 2013 and the abduction of US Nationals Gerfa Yeats Lunsmann and son, Kevin Lunsmann, in 2012.”

MILF: Sarangani Province hosts 6th Grand Iftar

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 27): Sarangani Province hosts 6th Grand Iftar

Geared to promote harmony, understanding and strengthening of relationship among the people of the province, the Provincial Government of Sarangani hosted the 6th Grand Iftar, pooling together Muslim and non-Muslim development stakeholders, leaders and constituents.
With the theme “Discover the treasures of Ramadhan,” the event was held last Friday at the Provincial Gymnasium attended by provincial Muslim employees, Imams, Asatidz (Madrasah teachers), guests, and provincial officials led by Governor Steve C. Solon attended the event.

Members of the International Monitoring Team and officers from the Philippine National Police were also present.

Prior to the Iftar (the breaking of the fast), a Muhadhara was held where the social benefits of fasting was tackled. There was also short program where guests gave inspirational messages.

Two speakers were invited namely Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) Executive Director Dr. Mohammad S. Yacob and Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.

Yacob was not able to attend but his message was conveyed by BDA SouthMin Manager Mohalikin D. Piang.

“This bountiful gathering truly conveys the true essence of Ramadhan because through fasting, Muslims experiences hunger and thirst,” he said, “and sympathizes with those in the world who have little to eat and drink every day.”

Yacob pointed out that the essence of fasting is learning Taqwa, which I more than self-restraint. “It is God-consciousness which endows the person to be aware of the presence of Allah in every moment of his life,” he explained. He also thanked the governor for being invited.

In her keynote message, Busran-Lao said fasting is a healing clinic from bad deeds or diseases of the heart for those who observe. “One of the diseases of the hearts is greed,” she said.

The NCMF Secretary prodded everyone to try to look around and find those in needs.
She urged Muslims to share to others the blessings they have and pointed out that relationship must not only be horizontal (between man and God) but also vertical or between fellow human being. 

Busran-Lao, a prominent advocate of peace and women’s rights, said that true believers are those who also care for the welfare of others.

Solon cited he is honored to celebrate the Grand Iftar. He said that it is important that positive change will happen to fasting persons.

The governor announced that the provincial government will provide livelihood support to Asatidz. “Communities must be improved economically including the Asatidz,” he said.

After the Maghrib prayer, the attendees enjoyed food and drinks served. The activity is also a social gathering for Muslim employees of the province where they know one another better.

MILF: IMT Brunei distributes dates for Ramadhan

From the MILF Website (Jul 27): IMT Brunei distributes dates for Ramadhan

In pursuit of heightening faithful relationships amongst the Muslims and the Almighty Allah, the contingent of the Brunei Darussalam with the International Monitoring Team (IMT) distributed packs of dates courtesy of its Head Office in Brunei Darussalam few days ago.
Lt Col Khairil Ismail, Head of the Brunei Contingent with the IMT, led the distribution, which he said, as a “modest give for the Holy Month of Ramadhan” from the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) for the brothers and sisters in Islam.

The Brunei military and police officers distributed the gift to Masjids, orphanage, Bangsamoro people in the conflict-affected communities, ceasefire mechanisms of the GPH – MILF Peace Process, and MILF leadership.

Dates are recommended to be eaten for Iftar to break the everyday Fasting in Ramadhan due to its scientifically-proven nutritional and health values.

Scientific studies say dates are “useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders, heart conditions, cancer (due to its high magnesium and calcium content), anemia, allergies, and constipation… it also prevents cancer and heart disease.”

Since 2004, Brunei has been a member of the IMT which is being led by Malaysia and with members from the Government Norway, Indonesia, Japan and the Belgium-based Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP).

IMT is mandated to monitor foremost the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and MILF.

Earlier, His Excellency Pehin Pekerma Jaya Maj Gen Dato Seri Pahlawan Mohammad Tawih Bin Abdullah, Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), met MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and members of the Central Committee at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Chairman Murad, in that meeting, asked the RBAF commander to convey the appeal of the MILF in behalf of the Bangsamoro for a more comprehensive support from the Government of His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to the implementation of the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The Chairman also reiterated the invitation by both the government and MILF or Brunei to be part of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) for the Normalization Process of the GPH – MILF CAB. Also invited by the two parties were the Governments of Norway and Turkey.

CPP: Aquino using AFP/PNP to protect his DAP regime—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 27): Aquino using AFP/PNP to protect his DAP regime—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the Aquino regime is using the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to defend his regime amid widespread and groundswelling protests demanding his ouster over pervasive graft and corruption cases.

“Aquino’s military and police officials are frenziedly doing the rounds of their units to dissuade soldiers and police personnel from engaging in critical discussion over the issues of graft and corruption and diversion of public funds with the aim of keeping the AFP and PNP firmly defending the Aquino regime with arms,” pointed out the CPP.

“Aquino’s police officials are determined to demonstrate their firm support for the regime as they are set to deploy 10,000 police personnel to confront the mass demonstrations tomorrow with an iron fist to stifle the protests against the corrupt, puppet and brutal Aquino regime,” added the CPP.

“Rank and file soldiers and police grumble when the leaders of the government they are supposed to defend are exposed as rotten and involved in graft and corruption,” said the CPP. “Foot soldiers of the AFP are being used by top military officials as cannon fodder in a war to defend the rotten system of graft and corruption, of DAP and pork barrel.”

“They are ordered to occupy civilian communities, take away the people’s meager possessions and murder, maim or incarcerate those who defend the poeple.”

“Under the Aquino regime, graft and corruption pervade every unit of the AFP and PNP, in anomalous contracts and DAP-funded programs such as the Pamana program which are supposedly for community upliftment, but whose funds are pocketed by battalion officers,” said the CPP.

“AFP officials are also engaged in corruption, organizing fake mass surrenders and stealing funds intended for the balik-baril program. They have also resorted to arresting ordinary civilians and projecting them as leaders of the revolutionary movement in order to collect the bounty for the former’s capture.

“There is increasing discontent among the rank and file in the military and police as graft and corruption inside the AFP and PNP worsen under the Aquino regime,” said the CPP.

A year later, justice still eludes CDO blast victims

From MindaNews (Jul 26): A year later, justice still eludes CDO blast victims

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – One year after a bomb ripped through an upscale restaurant just outside the Lim Ket Kai Mall, no suspect has been arrested for the incident that killed eight persons and injured 46 others.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma who led an interfaith prayer rally on the steps of the mall Saturday morning, said there can be no closure for the families “unless the suspects are brought to justice”.

“Where has the investigation proceeded? When can the victims get justice,” demanded Robert de la Serna, an employee of Xavier University who survived the bombing at Kyla’s Bistro on July 26 last year.

Only a small crowd came to the prayer rally at the Lim Ket Kai Mall this morning to mark the first anniversary of the bombing incident that has traumatized this city.

Days after the incident, the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges against six suspects including a woman who left the bomb on a chair at Kylas’s Bistro.

The CIDG was only able to identify one of the suspects, Usman Hapids alias Mam-man. The Regional Prosecutor’s Office later issued arrest warrants against Hapids and the other suspects.

MGen Ricardo Visaya, commanding general of the Army 4th Infantry Division later identified the group as members of the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao, a shadowy group linked to to Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The Philippine Army raided the group’s training camp in Lumbatan, Lanao del Sur in November last year but found the suspects already gone.

“We also raided several of their safe houses in Lanao del Sur but they were already gone. We believed they have transferred their operations in Central Mindanao or Maguindanao province,” said Col. Glen Macasero, chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade.

In cooperation with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Macasero also led army teams in inspecting the camps of MILF commander Abdurahman Macapaar or Kumander Bravo in Balindong, Lanao del Sur.

Bravo assured Macasero and the government he would never allow any terror groups to hide in his camps.

With none of its members arrested, the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao is considered the top terror threat in the island.

Last month, President Aquino, acting on an intelligence tip, alerted mayors of the key Mindanao cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Koronadal of terrorist attacks.

The Cagayan de Oro Police Office has only two “poor” video images from a CCTV camera at the Candy’s Restaurant of one of the suspects walking around and of the actual blast.

In the post-blast investigation report by the city police a copy of which was obtained by MindaNews, investigators found evidence that the bomb was triggered by a mobile phone, not a radio transceiver as earlier announced to the media last year.

The report said the explosive used was an 81mm mortar shell, a type of ammunition commonly used by the Philippine military and rebels.

Prof. Rommel Banlaoi, executive director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism said leaders of the Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao including Reneer Lou Donggong alias Rolly Unting have set up major links with the BIFF in Maguindanao.

(SONA) PHL military gets much needed boost with delivery of 14 big-ticket items this 2014

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): (SONA) PHL military gets much needed boost with delivery of 14 big-ticket items this 2014

With 14 big-ticket items scheduled for completion this year, the Philippine military is now on its way to attaining its goal of having a "minimum credible defense posture."

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said these 14 big-ticket items include the delivery of assault rifles for the Army and Marines, additional UH-1H helicopters for the Air Force, close combat optics, and explosive ordnance disposal equipment.

"We are getting closer to our desired state in terms of capability and readiness with our recent acquisitions, and those we are expecting to be delivered in the next few months," Gazmin said.

Military projects slated for completion for 2014 are worth Php6.2-billion.

A total of 37 projects have already been completed under the Aquino administration, amounting to Php9.2-billion.

As of July 8, another 10 projects worth another Php17.3- billion are expected to be delivered in 2015.

The major equipment to be delivered include armored vehicles for the Army, attack helicopters, combat utility helicopters, light lift and medium lift aircrafts for the Air Force, and naval helicopters for the Navy.

Gazmin said that the first two units of the 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter/trainers worth Php18.9- billion from South Korea are also expected to arrive next year.

The term “minimum credible defense posture” pertains to the establishment of an effective force presence inside the Philippines and its exclusive economic zone with exhibited competence to defend the country and protect its national interests if and when the need arises.

"This includes the ability to conduct wide surveillance and monitoring of developments within the country’s territory, and have an extensive command and control as well as the capacity to provide an expedient and efficient response to untoward incidents," Gazmin said.

He emphasized that most of the equipment and assets acquired can be used in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The remaining projects in the modernization program are also in the advanced stages of procurement or are nearing completion.

These include the additional rifles for the Army, frigates and amphibious assault vehicle for the Navy, and air defense surveillance radar for the Air Force.

The revised AFP modernization program for 2013-2017 has a budget of Php85.3- billion which will be spread out over a five-year period.

From 2013-2017, Php8.6- billion will be allocated to the Army, Php43.3- billion to the Air Force, Php28.2- billion to the Navy and Php52- billion to AFP general headquarters.

Decorated general assumes office as gov’t ceasefire chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Decorated general assumes office as gov’t ceasefire chief

DATU ODIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO -- “I accept the challenge, your guidance and also your advice in pursuing the gains of the more than 14 years of legacy of the CCCH [Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities] for serving lasting peace for Mindanao,” Brigadier General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. told his predecessor Brigadier General Edmundo Pangilinan.

Galvez assumed last Monday the chairmanship of the government ceasefire mechanism. Pangilinan is now the commanding general of the 6th Infantry Kampilan Division based in Awang, Datu Odin Sinusat, Maguindanao.

In a simple ceremony witnessed by counterparts from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a contingent from the International Monitoring Team (IMT)-M9 headed by its Head of Mission Major Gen Dato’ Abd Samad Bin Hj Yaakub, military officials and nongovernment organizations, Pangilinan officially turned-over the reins of the Government of the Philippines (Government of the Philippines)-CCCH to Galvez.

“I will see myself now doing a very critical job of preserving peace,” Galvez said during the turnover rites.

Galvez served as Battalion Commander of the AFP’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion in Basilan and Sulu and managed his unit to become the best battalion for two consecutive years. At the age of 47, he became the country's youngest brigade commander when he was appointed commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade in Basilan.

He has been awarded four Gold Cross medals, the Distinguished Service Star (the third highest military award of the AFP), and other military merit medals. Galvez also holds a Master’s Degree in Project Management, which he earned from the University of South Wales in Australia.

Created in 2003, the CCCH is mandated to monitor the implementation of the GPH-MILF Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and settle complaints on ceasefire violations to contain and prevent conflicts from escalating.

‎It is one of the ceasefire mechanisms established under the GPH - MILF‎ peace negotiations which has contributed to the success of the peace process. Since 2012, the CCCH has reported zero skirmishes between government and MILF forces.

The new CCCH chairman challenged his partners and counterparts from the MILF to “really expand our tasks not only to have a ceasefire mechanism that works, but to explore things proactively to prevent hostilities.”

“We can bring peace to Mindanao," Galvez said. "From now on we will have a progressive Mindanao because we will work together for lasting peace,” Galvez said.

No security threat detected for SONA - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): No security threat detected for SONA - AFP

With President Benigno S. Aquino III poised to give his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) Monday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced that it is still to detect any security threats for the annual event.

This was revealed by AFP Joint Task Force-National Region Region (JTF-NCR) commander Brig. Gen. Manuel Gonzales Sunday.

"Our office is still to detect any security threats. So far, the only word we are getting is that there will be protest actions but these things are normal and we do not classify them as threats. We expect the SONA to conclude peacefully," he said in Filipino.

JTF-NCR is the AFP unit augmenting the Philippine National Police (PNP) security efforts for the SONA.

Gonzales said that they will be supporting the PNP as the latter agency is the lead unit in peace and security operations for Monday's activities.

He added that all of their personnel (around three companies or more than 300 soldiers and officers), tasked to do SONA duty, are now on stand-by and awaiting for word or request from the PNP regarding their deployment or activation.

These soldiers include explosive and disposal experts, paramedics and group control specialists, Gonzales stressed.

Military movement in Maguindanao aimed at BIFF --CCCH chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): Military movement in Maguindanao aimed at BIFF --CCCH chief
Brig. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Government of the Republic-Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), clarified on Sunday that the movement of military units in Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi towns, Maguindanao late this week was not aimed at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He said that this move was aimed at preventing members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) from harassing and attacking civilians in the two areas.

"The movement of troops (helicopter flights) was done as a show of strength against the BIFF so that they will not create trouble in those areas. The MILF misconstrued it (as a possible truce violation) as those areas are near their positions," Galvez said in Filipino.

He added that the troop movements in the above-mentioned towns were done "pre-emptively" so that the BIFF will have second thoughts about attacking, especially during President Benigno S. Aquino III's fifth State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

Galvez clarified that the area where the military positioned themselves is not under MILF control, hence the slight delay in relaying this information to the latter.

He also said that the commander of the military units have already visited the MILF positions and explained to the latter's leaders their reason for the movement.

MILF officials accepted the reason for the move, Galvez added.

Release of 4 cops held by NPA in Mindanao set - DILG Chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): Release of 4 cops held by NPA in Mindanao set - DILG Chief

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas announced on Sunday that four policemen held by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Northeastern Mindanao will be released this week after he secured the commitment of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to free them once the military and police agree to a five-day ceasefire in six towns of Surigao del Norte.

In a statement, Roxas said he won the commitment of the NDF to release the policemen taken into custody by the NPA after a raid on the municipal hall of Alegria town on July 10 and notified Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas about it.

He revealed that he took the initiative of seeking the release of PO3 Vic Calubag Concon, PO1 Rey O’niel Morales, PO1 Joen B. Zabala and PO1 Edito F. Roquino from the NDF leadership in Mindanao under Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos.

“We have talked with the NDF about the release of the four policemen since the NDF scrubbed the turnover scheduled for June 25,” said Roxas, adding that “the NDF in North Eastern Mindanao Region (NDF-NEMR) has decided to reduce substantially their conditions for the safe release of the four police officers.”

Roxas said the NDFP-NEMR asked for a 10 day-ceasefire of military and police opetrations in Surigao City and 14 municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte before the policemen are released.

Eventually, he noted, the NDF reduced the ceasefire period to six days covering only six municipalities in the mainland of Surigao del Norte.

“On Saturday, July 26, the NDF-NEMR informed Secretary Roxas through an emissary that the NPA units holding the four policemen are amenable in releasing their captives if government security forces will agree on a five-day ceasefire covering six towns in Surigao del Norte, namely Placer, Bacuag, Tubod, Gigaquit, Alegria and Claver,” said Matugas.

“Given these developments and in utmost regard of the overriding and paramount consideration on the life and security of the four captured policemen and the welfare of their respective families, the Provincial Crisis Management Committee (PCMC) poses no objection to a temporary ceasefire between government security forces and NPA units for five days covering the above-mentioned municipalities of Surigao del Norte,” she added.

“I am grateful that the timely intervention of Sec. Roxas, who has closely coordinated with the PCMC, has largely contributed to the resolution of the crisis situation in ensuring that the four police officers will be freed safely and reunited with their families the soonest time possible,” Matugas stressed.

“I expect the NDF to abide by their commitment to release the four policemen immediately after government security forces reciprocated the proposed temporary ceasefire,” she concluded.

Roxas and Matugas also appealed to the NDF to be committed to the pursuit of genuine peace and holistic development through a participative process and coordinated efforts.

They also reiterated they are committed to the peaceful means of resolving the issues that had hindered the negotiations between the NDF and the Aquino administration.

Anniversary of terror attack in CDO recalled

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 26): Anniversary of terror attack in CDO recalled

People in this premier capital of Northern Mindanao on Saturday commemorate the first anniversary of the bombing last year of a commercial hub that killed 9 people and wounded 48 others here.

Monsignor Elmer Abacahin, a Roman Catholic priest, who officiated an interfaith mass at the site of the bombing in Limketkai’s Commercial Complex, said in his homily that the Cagayanons were saddened of the bombing that shocked the entire country as well.

“Today, we commemorate one of the darkest history of terrors that shook the island of Mindanao with an optimism that justice be delivered to the victims and an ardent prayer that such inhumanity would never take place again,” Abacahin said.

The bombing that ripped through a crowd of professionals and visitors who were attending a national convention of doctors killed a medical practitioner and a member of the provincial board of Misamis Oriental.

Dan Lagbas, the eldest son of Misamis Oriental provincial board member Roldan Lagbas who died in the bomb explosion, said that his family is still craving for justice that led to the death of his father.

“There are times of the day that my mother cry for no reason at all. We know that she and us, the children, the excruciating pain of losing a husband and a father,” the young Lagbas said.

He said that the Lagbas family no longer heard updates of the bombing since the last time – two months after the bombing incident – that the family heard that the military and the police already identified the alleged suspects and perpetrators of the dastardly act.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have filed multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder against a certain “Usman Hapids” and five others in connection with the Limketkai bombing. However, the suspects have remained at large to this day.

The Limketkai bombing here occurred just as the city government was in the thick of preparing for the annual fiesta celebration in August.

City Councilor Ramon Tabor, chair of the city council committee on police, fire and public safety, on Monday expressed the concern on the city’s peace and order.

Tabor told the city council that prior to the bombing incident, there was a big event, which was the signing of the peace agreement between the MILF and the national government at that time.

He said that the bombing incidents also took place in Zamboanga, Cotabato and Maguindanao.

Tabor warned the local police to be vigilant for fear that some groups might also want their presence felt at times when people are busy for a big event.

Tacurong City hosts PMA entrance exam for SOCCSKSARGEN region on August 3

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): Tacurong City hosts PMA entrance exam for SOCCSKSARGEN region on August 3

All is set for the entrance examination of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for examinees coming from the SOCCSKSARGEN region on August 3.

Major Raul Verceles, PMA acting director of the Office of Cadet Admission, said the examinees will come from the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal and Gen. Santos.

Mayor Lina Montilla lauded the PMA leadership for choosing her city as examination center for the region along with 29 other PMA examination centers in the country.

Montilla said the event would showcase Tacurong City as possible tourist destination from local tourists. It will also show the country that Tacurong is peaceful and progressive, emerging as the region’s economic hub.

Montilla said this is the third time that Tacurong City is hosting the annual entrance examination for the country’s premier military academy.

She expressed confidence a good number of examinees from Tacurong City and the region will make it to the country’s premier education institution for future military leaders.

In a statement, Verceles said the PMA entrance examination will measure the aspirants’ mental ability in the areas of Math, including algebra and geometry, English grammar, English composition, and Reading and Comprehension and their abstract reasoning ability, to include verbal, numerical reasoning and pattern analysis.

Army’s CMOs undergo training on news writing, broadcasting, social media utilization

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 23): Army’s CMOs undergo training on news writing, broadcasting, social media utilization

Pagadian City -- Civil Military Operations (CMO) officers from the 1st and 6th infantry battalions of the Philippine Army (PA) have attended the Public Affairs Seminar-Workshop held on July 16-18 at Farmer’s Haven in Dao, this city.

The training sought to develop the skills of CMO officers in handling public affairs programs in their respective areas of responsibility.

In his message, Colonel Thomas Sedano Jr., executive officer of the Ofice of the Assistant Chief of Staff for CMO-Manila, said the higher command sees the need for the CMOs to be trained in public affairs, as they play a very important role in the community.  

Sedano added the CMOs were taught how to write press releases , utilize social media, conduct media interview/press conferences with invited lecturers from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-9 and the private media.

“This kind of training has been conducted for the first time in the different brigades and battalions in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.  For Luzon-based units, the training was held in June at Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila, followed by the EastMincom in Davao City and WesternMindanao in Pagadian City, this July. While for the Visayas-based units, it will be held on last week of this month,” he added.

Lt. Leo Baloja, CMO of 55th Infantry Battalion, said he learned from the training the techniques in newswriting and proper procedures in conducting media interview. “With the knowledge that I’ve learned during the seminar, I will impart it to my fellow CMOs in the lower units for them also to effectively perform their duties,” stressed Baloja.

“I hope that this activity will be held annually to ehance our skills in public affairs,” Baloja suggested.

Lt. Mayven Prima, CMO of 53rd Infantry battalion, thanked the higher headquarters for implementing the program saying, “we have learned the proper techniques in writing news.”

“The training helped us develop our our skills in performing our tasks and duties. We need to keep our stakeholders informed of the programs and activities of Philippine Army through our good press releases,” Prima concluded.