Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Communist rebels release 4 policemen

From Rappler (Jul 29): Communist rebels release 4 policemen

(2nd UPDATE) The 4 showed no signs of being maltreated while in custody

RELEASED. The 4 policemen captured and declared "prisoners of war" are released by the NPA on July 29. Photo obtained by Rappler

RELEASED. The 4 policemen captured and declared "prisoners of war" are released by the NPA on July 29. Photo obtained by Rappler

After more than two weeks in captivity, 4 Surigao del Norte cops were released by members of the New People's Army (NPA) on Tuesday afternoon, July 29.

The 4 cops were captured when NPA guerrillas attacked a police station in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte, on July 10. Police Officer 3 Vic Calubag Concon, Police Officer 1 Rey O’niel Morales, Police Officer 1 Joen Zabala and Police Officer 1 Edito Roquino were on their way to respond to the besieged police station when they were caught by a rebel blocking force.

Days after the attack, the NPA declared the 4 "prisoners of war."

The 4 showed no signs of being maltreated while in custody, an NPA source said. Each underwent a medical check-up before being officially turned over to Philippine authorities at around 3:58 pm, according to the CARAGA Public Information Office.

The 4 were picked up from the NPA camp by Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr., Agusan del Norte Governor Angel Amante-Matba, and members of the media, among others. The group arrived in Kitcharao town past 5 pm Tuesday, according to one of Mayor Amante's aides.

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator Luis Jalandoni in a statement said the release was “a goodwill gesture to promote the peace talks” between the government and the NDFP.

In a statement Presidential Peace Adviser Ging Deles said the release of the 4 policemen was “a potential building block for the resumption of peace negotiations between the two parties.” In December last year, the Communist Party of the Philippines announced it was giving up on peace talks with the Aquino administration.

"We reiterate our openness and serious intent to pursue peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF on the basis of a time-bound and doable agenda… We invite the rebels to come to the table to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue, as Filipinos first and foremost," said Deles.

Reunited with family

Earlier in the day, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas met with the families of the 4 policemen.

Also there to greet the 4 policemen were Roxas, Deles and PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, the DILG said in a statement.

This is the first time in several years that officials from the national government went to the province to help in the release of the POWs. Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte has personally facilitated almost all releases of cops and soldiers captured by the NPA in Mindanao in the past few years.

As a condition for the release, a 5-day ceasefire in several Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte towns was declared by the military and the NPA. The ceasefire began July 27 and will end on August 1.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in Northern Mindanao earlier said the cops would be investigated and released if proven innocent of participating in any “anti-people and counterrevolutionary” activities.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/64715-npa-release-policemen

Barangay official tagged in Sulu ambush that killed women, kids

From Rappler (Jul 29): Barangay official tagged in Sulu ambush that killed women, kids

Sulu has been witness to recent bloody incidents involving the Abu Sayyaf, but the ambush shocked government officials and security forces especially since it happened while Muslims all over the world were observing Eid al-Fitr

SURVIVOR: A government health worker attends to a survivor of the July 28 ambush that killed at least 23 in Talipao, Sulu. Photo by Ben Hajan/EPA
SURVIVOR: A government health worker attends to a survivor of the July 28 ambush that killed at least 23 in Talipao, Sulu. Photo by Ben Hajan/EPA

The Sulu provincial government tagged an unnamed barangay official as a possible suspect in the Sulu ambush that killed 23 on Monday, July 28, an incident that now appears to be the result of rido or clan war.

The barangay official supposedly worked with the Abu Sayyaf, which the military said is behind the ambush.

Among the victims are women, children as young as 2, and the elderly, with one as old as 85.

"We condemn the barbaric act of the perpetrators, the suspects of which are some followers or supporters of a certain barangay official in cooperation with suspected Abu Sayyaf members, who ambushed and massacred and killed at least 23 passengers, mostly women and children," Governor Abdusakur "Totoh" Tan II and his father Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan said in a joint statement issued by the provincial Public Information Office.

Sulu has been witness to recent bloody incidents involving the Abu Sayyaf, but the ambush shocked government officials and security forces especially because it happened while Muslims all over the world were observing Eid al-Fitr. It also coincided with the State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.

The victims were aboard a Tamaraw vehicle when they were ambushed in Barangay Lower Talipao in Sulu's Talipao town. They were supposed to join festivities in neighboring Maimbong town.

"This is very un-Islamic and very satanic, after going through the holy month of Ramadan, even animals could hardly inflict damage of such magnitude," Tan added.

'Difficult to comprehend'

The military earlier tagged Abu Sayyaf leaders Indang Susukan and Sibih Pisih as behind the ambush. The assumption was they were after the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) that was with the convoy.

On the ground, however, there have been talks of rido or a clan war.

Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao also hinted of a rido. He said it's the first time it happened on Eid al-Fitr. "Kung meron kang kaaway, halimbawa lang, granting lang kaaway mo, hindi mo na maiwasan ang araw na yan? Kapag may bata, may babae? Ang point ko, talagang wala sa lugar at beyond sa comprehension ng normal na tao itong pangyayaring ito," Hataman said in an interview in Basilan.

"Napaka-signipikante ng araw. Tapos inosenteng babae. Kaya mahirap mo nang unawain na mayroon silang pinaglalaban dahil ang ganitong situwasyon ay mahirap mong i-comprehend. (It is a very significant day and they killed innocent children. It's difficult to understand that they are fighting for a cause. It's difficult to comprehend)," he added.

Pursuit operations against the identified Abu Sayyaf members are now a priority, according to the miltiary. The police also augmented its personnel in Talipao.

Victims

The victims include children as young as 2 and people as old as 85. The police identified 21 of the 23 fatalities as the following:

Padzma Hasan, 32

Misyaar Hassan, 14

Maida Hasan, 35

Jirmalyn Hasa, 15

Dadah Palahuddin, 85

Mura Ahadan, 60

Jainab Ajid, 50

Milina Ahadan, 15

Miriam Binhur, 19

Nurfaisa Gappar, 14

Dayang Ahadan, 19

Tata Isahac, 40

Risalyn Isahac, 7

Saik Ajid, 45

Said Palahuddin, 35

Abdul Julhari, 83

Baris Julhair, 19

Abdukahal Ahadan, 19

Abdulrahim Isahac Omar, 2

Termiji Tambrin, 3

Tambrin Ahadani, 45

Sulu has been witness to recent bloody incidents involving the Abu Sayyaf and government troops. Only last May, at least 11 were killed, including 7 Marines, in an encounter between the Abu Sayyaf and the Marines.

Previous to this, 14 members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed in an encounter with the military.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/64703-sulu-ambush-barangay-official

Sulu security breakdown alarms AFP as dead from ASG ambush now 25

From InterAksyon (Jul 29): Sulu security breakdown alarms AFP as dead from ASG ambush now 25



The spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Tuesday the massacre by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)  of civilians - including women and children enroute to a celebration of the end of Ramadan - is of utmost concern in terms of security, as the number of fatalities rose to 25.

This developed even as Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto, Commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, on Tuesday belied speculations tending to point at an apparent failure of security intelligence regarding the massacre of 25 civilians and wounding of 13 others.

"This was the offshoot of a rido, or clan feud, involving the family of a certain Pisih," Pinto added. "The two sides were at loggerheads, including even brothers who happened to take opposing sides. I just can't go into the details right now."

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs head, said the AFP is closely monitoring the seeming breakdown of security in Sulu.

"This is truly very alarming because the last thing we [do not] want is that the community will lose confidence in the peace environment, especially what we're working hard for in Sulu for the past few decades," Zagala said.

He said that authorities “have stepped up operations and pursuit operations to ensure this is not repeated, and that our people’s  confidence [in their government’s ability to protect them] is not damaged by this incident. It’s very important we sustain these operations.”

His statement came amid talks that the military top brass is considering relieving Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto as commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade. Pinto also holds the title of commander of the Special Operations Task Force Sulu.

Earlier, Pinto reported that 21 people, mostly women and children, had died and 13 more children wounded when an ASG unit ambushed civilians in Barangay Upper Talipao about 8:30 a.m. Monday in Sulu.

But on Tuesday, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police director Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes said the number of dead rose to 25 after some of the wounded succumbed to their injuries. 

The victims along with 10 unarmed members of the Barangay Police Assistance Team (BPAT) were riding two vehicles enroute to a place where they will celebrate the end of Ramadan when ambushed by Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Pinto had said earlier that rido (bloody family/clan feud) could be behind the attack.

The Marine brigade had in past weeks pursued intelligence-driven operations against the ASG since almost a dozen soldiers were killed in an attack on a Marine detachment recently.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/92192/sulu-security-breakdown-alarms-afp-as-dead-from-asg-ambush-now-25

Death toll in terror attack in Philippines now at 21 (Graphic photos)

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 29): Death toll in terror attack in Philippines now at 21 (Graphic photos)



Philippine military officials said the death toll in Monday’s Abu Sayyaf attack in the southern Sulu province has risen to 21 as security forces continue to hunt down the terrorist group linked to Jemaah Islamiya.

“As of now, we have 21 people confirmed dead and eleven more wounded from the attack,” said Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

The attack occurred at a time Muslims were celebrating Eid’ul Fitr, which marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Muyuela said among the dead were 14 women and a two-year old boy. Seven children were also wounded in the attack that occurred in the town of Talipao where Abu Sayyaf militants led by Idang Susukan and Sibih Pisih opened fire on two vehicles carrying 50 Eid revelers, including ten members of the Barangay Police Action Team or BPAT, a  neighborhood volunteer police group escorting the civilians.

Provincial government officials and military commanders condemned the attack on innocent civilians. “We condemn this attack on innocent civilians, especially at this important time when Muslims are celebrating the Eid’ul Fitr,” Muyuela told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

She said Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, has ordered security forces to pursue the Abu Sayyaf ambushers. “There is an on-going operation against the Abu Sayyaf terrorists,” Myuela said.

“The motive behind the ambush is a retaliatory action against the BPAT who are supporting the military and police authorities in the conduct of law enforcement operations in the province, particularly against the Abu Sayyaf in Talipao,” she said.

The attack could trigger retaliation by families and relatives of the victims against kin of the Abu Sayyaf attackers.

Authorities blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the spate of attacks and ransom kidnappings in the southern Philippines and has been linked also by the military to the al-Qaeda terror network.









Photos released by the Western Mindanao Command to the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper show some of the victims of Abu Sayyaf attack in Talipao town in Sulu province on July 28, 2014. 

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.net/2014/07/death-toll-in-terror-attack-in.html

US official praises naval drill with China

Posted to the Manila Standard Today (Jul 29): US official praises naval drill with China

A top US commander has praised China’s participation in massive US-led drills seen as a step towards potentially thawing tensions between the two powers, saying it had gone “very, very well”.

Four ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with an estimated 1,000 sailors on board are participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises off Hawaii for the first time.

China’s participation in the June 26-August 1 drills -- the world’s largest international maritime exercise, featuring forces from 22 countries -- has been seen as a step forward at a time of heightened US-China tensions.

“My understanding is that it has gone very, very well,” US 7th Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Robert Thomas told reporters in Singapore, where he was attending separate bi-lateral drills.

The 7th Fleet is also taking part in RIMPAC, and Thomas said that from the fleet’s perspective, “our relationship with the PLAN ... is very collegial and very professional”.

China and the United States have found themselves increasingly at odds as Beijing seeks to assert its claim to disputed territories in the East and South China Seas at a time when Washington is seeking to shore up its influence in the region.

Last week, China dispatched a spy ship to the international waters off Hawaii, close to where RIMPAC was being carried out, in a reminder that relations remain fraught between the Asian giant and western superpower.

Thomas said Chinese military exercises in its southeast coastal areas and live firing drills in the East China Sea area from July 29 to August 2 are “expected”.

“Just as the PLAN is exercising with us out in RIMPAC and a bunch of other navies, one would expect that they keep up a steady drumbeat of exercises out here in the region,” he said.

Thomas was in Singapore for the CARAT exercise, an annual bilateral naval drill with the city-state, one of the US’ closest security partners in Asia.

http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/07/29/us-official-praises-naval-drill-with-china/

NPA rebels free 4 abducted cops in Agusan del Norte

From GMA News (Jul 29): NPA rebels free 4 abducted cops in Agusan del Norte

Communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels on Tuesday released four cops they had abducted following a raid at a police station in Surigao del Norte early this month, a report on GMA News TV's News TV Live said.

The kidnap victims, who were taken on July 10, were turned over to government authorities at a barangay in Agusan del Norte, the report said.

An initial medical checkup of the policemen indicated they were in good condition, it added.

The four were identified as:
  • PO3 Vic Calubag Concon
  • PO1 Rey O’niel Morales
  • PO1 Joen B. Zabala
  • PO1 Edito F. Roquino
View image on Twitter
GMA News                                                                 Follow   
NPA releases 4 captive policemen in Agusan del Norte. | via @chinogaston

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/372450/news/regions/npa-rebels-free-4-abducted-cops-in-agusan-del-norte

Ex-generals plotting vs. PNoy admin, Trillanes claims

From GMA News (Jul 29): Ex-generals plotting vs. PNoy admin, Trillanes claims

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday claimed that some retired associated with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are plotting against the Aquino administration. 

A report on GMA News TV's News TV Live quoted Trillanes, a former Navy officer, as alleging that these retired generals are meeting with active military officials and egging them to destabilize the government.

Trillanes, however, did not name the retired generals.

In the same television report, Trillanes believed that any destabilization efforts against the Aquino administration will fail. 
Incidentally, Trillanes was jailed during the Arroyo administration for his involvement in the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny. He was again charged in connection with the Manila Peninsula standoff in November 2007. Trillanes was later freed from detention in December 2010.

Reached for comments, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel of Mrs. Arroyo, dismissed Trillanes' claims.

“I think Senator Trillanes does not have any idea of what he is talking about. He does not know the first thing about coup d'etat. The so-called coup he planned and participated in were lousy and ended miserably for him with his tail behind his legs. He does not know whereof he speaks,” Topacio said in a text message as reported by GMA News TV's News Tv Live.

Just last week, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. 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 said. "We are focused on our job kasi may mas malaki tayong hinaharap."
 
[Video news report]
 
Meanwhile, Armed Forces public information chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala maintained that they have not monitored any destabilization efforts among active members of the military.
 
“There is no recruitment nor any move within the active service to do such (activities). On the retired (officers), as you know once you are member of the military, there are certain liberties that you've surrendered such as freedom of speech, freedom to assemble. However, the retired (officers) have regained that already so they may speak, they can attend rallies,” Zagala said during a press conference.
 
“But as far as destabilization within the ranks of the AFP, there is none. Now, if the retired (officers) wish to speak against the government or conduct rallies, that is inherent in our Bill of Rights. We have no control over them,” he added.
 
Zagala likewise said there is no restriction for active officers to meet with retired officers, although he cautioned those still in the service to be more 'discerning.'
 
“We advise our officers to be discerning and we are confident that the level of professionalism is very high that's why there are no news of any destablization plot within the active service,” he said.
 
On the retired officers allegedly critical of the Aquino administration, Zagala said: “As long as they don't instigate taking of arms, I don't think we will have a problem. I think it is but natural for our retired (officers) to speak on issues. The active (officers) they also have opinions, however they should keep it to themselves."
 

PHL to propose no action to raise tension in sea disputes

From GMA News (Jul 29): PHL to propose no action to raise tension in sea disputes

The Philippines will propose a freeze on all activity that raises tension in disputed waters in the South China Sea as part of a three-part plan at a regional security meeting next month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.

Southeast Asian foreign ministers will hold security talks with various counterparts including those from the US, China and the European Union in Myanmar next month, with escalating sea disputes in Asia likely to be a main issue.

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to contain oil and gas deposits and has rich fishery resources. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.

Relations between China and the Philippines have been tested recently by their dispute over part of the sea.

"We have this plan to submit a suggestion on a moratorium and that would be the immediate approach to the exacerbating problems in the South China Sea," del Rosario said after meeting Catherine Ashton, European Union foreign policy chief.

"It's constructive, it's positive and it's comprehensive. No one will quarrel with you on that right to get a moratorium on exacerbating situation there and ultimately to manage tension."

The United States, a close ally and former colonial power in the Philippines, has also called on all parties to halt all activity in the disputed sea to ease tension, and the Philippines supported that call.

But China responded by telling the US to stay out of disputes and leave countries in the region to resolve problems themselves.

Del Rosario said the other two elements of his "triple-action plan" were the implementation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea and arbitration to settle disputes.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration complaint against China, seeking clarification on its right to exploit resources in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.

Ashton, in Manila for a two-day visit to strengthen trade, aid and security relations, called on all parties to refrain from using force to resolve disputes. She also urged against unilateral attempts by any party to assert claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force.

Del Rosario accused China of violating an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea when it placed an oil rig in the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam in May. China removed the rig this month. He said China was also doing some reclamation work on at least three shoals in the Spratly Islands.

China says it has irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratlys, where most of the competing claims overlap, and it has demanded the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries "illegally occupying" China's islands.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/372473/news/nation/phl-to-propose-no-action-to-raise-tension-in-sea-disputes

NPA frees police hostages

From the Business World (Jul 29): NPA frees police hostages

FOUR policemen who have been held hostage by the New People’s Army (NPA) were released late Tuesday afternoon following negotiations between the government and the rebel group.
The negotiations took place also amid a ceasefire agreement.

A negotiating team composed of government representatives and members of the media was accompanied by one of the rebels to an undisclosed encampment in the mountains of Agusan del Norte, about an hour away from the municipality of Kitcharao.
 
The rebels read aloud a release order signed by Luis G. Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front.

The captive police officers, previously identified as PO3 Vic C. Concon, PO1 Rey O. Morales, PO1 Joen B. Zabala and PO1 Edito F. Roquino, were then released around 4:00 p.m. in Hinambangan village, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte.

The four were held hostage for more than two weeks, following an NPA raid at the Alegria municipal police station in Surigao del Norte on July 10. The attack left two police officers wounded and two of the rebels dead.

Prior to the release, the NPA said they will free the hostages in exchange for a five-day ceasefire agreement with the military.

The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command suspended military operations on July 27 in Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte, covering the municipalities of Placer, Bacuag, Tubod, Gigakit, Claver and Alegria.
 

Junior military officers watched following destabilization reports

From the Business Mirror (Jul 29): Junior military officers watched following destabilization reports

IF ever a coup were staged against President Aquino, it will not be led by senior military commanders, and instead it will be spearheaded by junior officers.
 
This possibility was cropping up as military officers continue to meet and discuss issues, including the Development Acceleration Program (DAP) that has been recently declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
 
In one of the meetings, the officers even talked about the possibility of a coup against the administration, including its pros and cons, and its possible support from senior commanders.
 
During the discussion, the officers agreed if a coup were initiated, its possibility of being led by the Armed Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, or the other senior commanders, including the chiefs of the major service commands, is nil.
 
The reason is that all of them are appointees of President Aquino, the military’s commander in chief.
 
While Catapang has admitted that he is or had been a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), the group of idealist officers who led several military uprisings against former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino, he assured that a coup will not happen during his watch.
 
During the past two weeks, Catapang visited military camps and conferred with soldiers. During his visits, Catapang explained the DAP issue and prodded the soldiers to just do their job and remain unaffected by political issues.
 
Since the senior commanders could not be counted upon to lead the coup, the officers agreed that if and when such is initiated, it would have to come from the ranks of junior officers, who would also lead it.
 
But a grim scenario was also raised by the officers during the meeting: If it will be headed by junior officers, then what will befall the country after the coup, and even after its success, granting that it will?
 
Those who attended the meeting agreed that junior officers are not still fully capable of leading the country, thus they need a leader and a complete government agenda in the event that they win.
 
Sen. Antonio Trillanes, who a former coup plotter, has disclosed that some retired generals were reportedly behind the latest destabilization move against the government.
 
While he did not identify them, Trillanes said the retired generals served in a previous administrations, referring to the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
 
An analysis by the Intelligence Service, Armed Forces during the initial months of the Aquino administration predicted that Mr. Aquino will not finish his term or that his administration will face destabilization moves, just like the administration of his late mother.
 
The military said it has not monitored any move against the government, contrary to reports about its existence, including Trillanes’s disclosure.
 
“There is no monitored destabilization [move] among active members of the Armed Forces. There is no recruitment nor any move within the active service to do such,” said the Armed Forces Public Affairs Office chief, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
 
“Once you join the Armed Forces, there are certain liberties that you surrendered... freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, however the retired personnel... they have regained that already since they are already retired so they may speak, they can attend rallies” he added.
 

Kons Zakiah will not believe he’s a hostage, says expert

From the Star Online (Jul 29): Kons Zakiah will not believe he’s a hostage, says expert

Zakiah, seen here in this file pic, with his wife, Sharifah, and their child

Zakiah, seen here in this file pic, with his wife, Sharifah, and their child

JOLO: Kidnapped marine policeman Zakiah Aleip will not believe that he is a hostage. That is what former Abu Sayyaf hostage Octavio A. Dinampo thinks is going on in the mind of Kons Zakiah, 26, who was abducted from Pulau Mabul on July 12.

“At first a hostage does not believe that he is in that situation,” said Dinampo, who was kidnapped together with well-known Filipino news anchor Ces Drillion and others on Jolo island on June 8, 2008.

“He will also not believe that his captors are his blood brothers – Mujahedeens,” he said.

According to Philippines security officials in Jolo and Zamboanga City, Zakiah is under heavy guard in a jungle hideout about 18km from Jolo in the southern Philippines.
The 26-year-old marine policeman is being held by the Abu Sayyaf group Alhabsi, led by Alhabsi Misaya, in an area dotted with fruit orchards and coconut plantations, and on the border of the Indanan and Parang municipalities.

After Zakiah accepts his fate as a hostage, however, according to Dinampo, he will start worry about his family.

“He will be very worried about his wife (Sharifah Erna Berson) and his child,” said the Mindanao State University lecturer.

He added that the hostage would also begin to entertain the idea of being rescued.

The last thing Zakiah would think about, according to Dinampo, was escaping.

“He wouldn’t know where to go. He would be worried what would happen to him if he attempted to escape,” he said.

Dinampo said Zakiah would most probably be made to wear a black jacket, like the kind that can be bought from second-hand clothing stores in Jolo town.

“The hostage and Abu Sayyaf members will be in black so that if there is a rescue operation, security forces will not be able to easily distinguish the hostage from the captors,” he said.

According to the expert, in most cases, hostages are usually fed instant noodles, cooked banana and cassava.

“Sometimes the hostage gets rice if (the captors) have it in their ration,” he said.

Alhabsi would be treating Zakiah well, Dinampo said.

However, if the captors become frustrated with the negotiation process, they would use psychological threats on the hostage.

“They will show a bolo (a parang) to the hostage and say‘this bolo was used to behead 12 people. If your family or government don’t pay, your head will be the 13th’,” he said.

The reason for the psychological threats, according to Dinampo, is so that a frightened hostage would ask his family via satellite phone or cellphone to accelerate the negotiation process.    
     
Zakiah, he added, would, however, not be harmed as he was a precious commodity.

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/07/29/Abu-Sayyaf-Kons-Zakiah/

Four bidders seen to join DND CAS aircraft acquisition project

From AngMalaya (Jul 29): Four bidders seen to join DND CAS aircraft acquisition project

In light of Department of National Defense close-air support (CAS) aircraft acquisition project, the DND Bidding and Awards Committee headed by USec Fernando I. Manalo releases supplemental bid bulletin answering questions from possible bidders.

From the said file DND-BAC clarified that six close-air support aircraft must have self sealing fuel cells. “During aircraft operations, the resulting damage from enemy ground fire is hardly noticeable. Self sealing fuel cells will ensure that the fuel loss is averted without any pilot’s corrective action.”

Moreover, “The aircraft must have radar warning receiver (RWR), missile alert warning system (MAWS) and chaffs and flares” to ensure pilot and aircraft survivability.

It was also learned that EADS-CASA, Beechcraft, Embraer, KAI, Elbit Systems, and IOMAX are interested to bid for the said project.

The DND-BAC could see T-6 Texan II from Beechcraft, Super Tucano from Embraer, L-39 from Elbit Systems, and KT-1 Woongbi from KAI in the bidding process. IOMAX with its Archangel, and EADS-CASA with PZL-130 Orlik ACS might not pursue with the bidding.

Bid opening for the CAS aircraft project is set on August 11.

Philippine Air Force will replace or complement its Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco” turboprop attack planes with the upcoming six brand new CAS aircraft. These aircraft are designed to provide air support to infantry and naval units in contact with the enemy.

http://www.angmalaya.net/nation/2014/07/29/2663-four-bidders-seen-to-join-dnd-cas-aircraft-acquisition-project

MILF: Impasse on diluted Basic Law may ignite war, political analyst says

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 28): Impasse on diluted Basic Law may ignite war, political analyst says

A political analyst warned on Thursday, July 24 that, “The impasse over alleged “alterations” in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) may trigger a fresh conflict that could leave the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at the losing end if their differences are not immediately settled, The Manila Times reported.
  
Ramon Casiple said the two sides should promptly agree on contents of the draft bill to avoid further misunderstanding that may lead to the weakening of the MILF’s position as representatives of Muslims in Southern Mindanao.

“The GPH [Government of the Philippines] and MILF have to agree on the concept of autonomy within the constitutional framework,” Casiple told The Manila Times.

He stressed that unless this is done, “both would lose.” But the MILF, he said, stands to lose more.

“The government will face a resurgent Moro rebellion. The MILF would lose more, their credibility and leadership of the Bangsamoro,” Casiple pointed out.

GPH Peace Panel chair Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer admitted in a previous statement, “That certain provisions in the draft measure may be unconstitutional and that is why members of the government and MILF peace panels are trying to fix these loopholes”.

Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, former ARMM Executive Secretary and member of the Technical Working Group for the MILF panel, said the problem could have been prevented if the contents of the mutually agreed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro [FAB] that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro [CAB] were simply adopted.

“The government has repeatedly said that it will not sign an agreement that it cannot implement and that both the FAB and CAB are constitutional. And so what is so unconstitutional in just copying the language and provisions of the CAB into the BBL?” Sinarimbo, also a senior adviser on political transitions at the United Nations, noted. (Source: The Manila Times, July 24, 2014)
http://www.luwaran.com/index.php/welcome/item/1110-impasse-on-diluted-basic-law-may-ignite-war-political-analyst-says

CPP: CPP denounces AFP for defense of EDCA

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 29): CPP denounces AFP for defense of EDCA

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Communist Party of the Philippines
 
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for its “defense of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which tramples on Philippine national sovereignty by paving the way for the reestablishment of US military bases and facilities in the country.”

“The AFP is proving itself to be the bastion of indefatigable defenders of US imperialist intervention and dominance in the Philippines in asserting that the Philippines needs the EDCA,” said the CPP.

Over the weekend, newly-appointed AFP chief Gen. Pio Catapang defended the agreement after an impeachment complaint was filed against Benigno Aquino III for culpable violation of the 1987 constitution over the signing of the EDCA. The EDCA was signed last April between the Aquino and US governments.

The AFP chief insisted that the EDCA will enhance the capability of the armed forces in humanitarian operations.

The CPP condemned the AFP chief “for using the recent disasters in a desperate appeal to the emotions to justify the Aquino regime’s sellout and complete surrender of Philippine sovereignty to the US government”.

“It is utterly reprehensible how the US military and its apologists in the AFP and Aquino government are using humanitarian operations as a soft-sell tactic to entice the Filipino people into accepting the reestablishment of US military bases and the heightened presence and intervention of US military troops in the country,” added the CPP.

“Officials of the AFP, who have been indoctrinated with US-designed ideological training modules are blindly defending the EDCA in outright disregard of Philippine national sovereignty,” pointed out the CPP.

Under the EDCA, the AFP is set to allow US military forces to establish military bases and facilities within its camp in so-called “agreed locations” from where foreign troops can carry out any and all types of operations and gain access to Philippine roads, sea ports, airports and other facilities.

“Among a myriad of AFP camps, the US is especially interested in gaining access to naval camps in Palawan such as those in Oyster and Ulugan Bays. The US has even helped finance the upgrade of these bases in order to accomodate large US naval ships within its docks,” said the CPP.

“With the EDCA, not only can the US government carry out all-out military and political intervention in the Philippines, but also make use of the country as a platform for intervention and aggression against other countries, especially in Asia,” said the CPP.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140729_cpp-denounces-afp-for-defense-of-edca

CPP/NPA: AFP suffers 12 casualties in NPA offensives in MisOr-Bukidnon

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 29): AFP suffers 12 casualties in NPA offensives in MisOr-Bukidnon

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Lorena Mangahas
Spokesperson
NPA Eastern Misamis Oriental - North Eastern Bukidnon Sub-regional Operations Command
 
Six were killed while another six were wounded among the reactionary armed forces in seven offensive actions launched by the New People’s Army under the Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon (NPA-EMONEB) Sub-regional Command since July 1, 2014. The following are the details:

July 25, an NPA team harassed the 8th IB-CAA detachment in Km. 30, Brgy. Calabugao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, around 1:00 AM.

July 24, around 8:00 PM, an NPA team harassed another 8th IB-CAA detachment in Brgy. Hagpa, Impasug-ong.

July 23, around 10:00 AM, an NPA team harassed 8th IB troops on combat operation in Km. 30, Calabugao, Impasug-ong. Corporal Rosendo Sagun was killed in the action while another fascist soldier was wounded.

July 4, around 8:20 AM, one soldier was killed and three were wounded when an NPA team harassed 58th IB troops in Brgy. Kibanban, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. After almost 30 minutes of firefight, the demoralized soldiers indiscriminately strafed on the area until the afternoon. Even after they have recovered their casualties using a Huey helicopter, they still fired two howitzer shells on the place of incident.

July 4, around 5:00 Amm another harassment operation was launched by an NPA team against 58th IB troops launching a hot-pursuit operation in Sitio Kapatagan. Two reactionary soldiers were killed and another two were wounded.

July 3, around 3:00 PM, an NPA team harassed another column of 58th IB troops operating in Sitio Kapatagan, Brgy. Umagos, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. One reactionary soldier was confirmed killed.

July 1, around 10:00 AM, an NPA team harassed operating troops of the 8th IB in Sitio Pugahan, Brgy. Bunal, Salay, Misamis Oriental. Residents reported that a soldier was killed in the incident.

All guerilla units here in Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon firmly adhere to the national leadership’s directive to frustrate the AFP’s massive operations under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. At all times the NPA maintains an offensive posture while endeavoring, with wide and deep mass support, to advance the people’s war to the strategic stalemate stage.



Image caption: NPA Confiscated 17 firearms (six M16 rifle, three Carbine rifle, one Garand rifle, five shotguns, one .22 rifle long, one .38 revolver), nine VHF radio, 28 pairs of combat shoes, 14 pcs. vests and a laptop computer in its successful raid of an outgrower of Del Monte Plantation in Sitio Kiantig, San Jose, Quezon, Bukidnon last July 15, 2014.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140729_afp-suffers-12-casualties-in-npa-offensives-in-misor-bukidnon

CPP/NDF: Oust the Aquino regime for criminal abandonment of the Yolanda survivors and calamitous governance

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 29): Oust the Aquino regime for criminal abandonment of the Yolanda survivors and calamitous governance

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Fr. Santiago Salas (Ka Sanny)
Spokesperson
NDFP Eastern Visayas Chapter
 
The people of Eastern Visayas have one answer to the puppet president Aquino who delivers his fifth state of the nation address this July 28: You should leave your office or we will make you leave.

They are fed up with the loud and putrid talk of Aquino in glorifying the yellow stains of his corruption, treachery, puppetry, injustice and fascism on the national fabric. In the past year alone, Aquino’s calamitous presidency bore down on the people to unprecedented suffering in the region.

Remember the criminal negligence of the Aquino regime in the more than 8,000 people who died during Supertyphoon Yolanda last Nov. 8, 2013, most of them in Tacloban City, because the reactionary government remained sorely unprepared before and after the storm. Remember Maria Elisa Ocenar and her six children, who were all burned to death last May 28, 2014 in a tent city of Yolanda survivors in Tacloban. To date, almost one million families remain without decent housing, with thousands living in inhuman conditions in tent cities and the corruption-ridden bunkhouses constructed by the Aquino regime.

Remember the fascist mercilessness of the Aquino regime to the people in inflicting Oplan Bayanihan on them even while they recover from the supertyphoon’s aftermath and the extensive economic damage it caused. The Armed Forces of the Philippines commits rising human rights violations in carrying out “peace and development operations” in Eastern Visayas, especially in Northern Samar and Western Samar. In Northern Samar this year, troops of the 8th Infantry Division intimidate civilians and occupy civilian communities and structures in violation of international humanitarian law, such as in the barrios of Bangon, Calingnan, G.M. Osias, Lonoy, Luneta, Malidong, and Rizal in Gamay town, as well as in the barrios of San Jose, Quezon, and Siljagon in Mapanas town. Meanwhile, in Calbiga and Pinabacdao in Western Samar, the fascist soldiers harass the Yolanda survivors who are demanding relief and rehabilitation in the face of the Aquino regime’s criminal abandonment.

The violence of Supertyphoon Yolanda causing mass suffering in Eastern Visayas was made possible because the people were already living in intolerable conditions beforehand under the Aquino regime. Aquino’s worsening of the semifeudal and semicolonial crisis made the people vulnerable. Since 2006, the region’s economic status steadily declined from being the seventh poorest to becoming the second poorest in 2012 under the Aquino regime. The poverty rate is at 60% with the average family earning ₱49 per day and thus unable to meet the minimum basic needs. About 55% are unemployed or underemployed. The people’s conditions are worse today because Supertyphoon Yolanda caused ₱64.5 billion damage to agriculture, the region’s economic backbone, with ₱41.96 billion to coconut alone, the major cash crop that will take seven to ten years to fully restore. In Leyte, Biliran and Eastern Samar, there was also 100% damage to abaca, banana and root crops and other alternative food.

The Aquino regime’s so-called rehabilitation program is meant to intensify the exploitation and oppression of the comprador-landlord ruling classes and US imperialism. Its Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda with a budget of ₱360.89 billion mainly meant for infrastructure is pro-imperialist and open to corruption, a bonanza for the regime’s comprador cronies and bureaucrat capitalists. The regime has also nothing new to offer but the same old reactionary programs such as conditional cash transfer and the privatization of state institutions and services. There is no significant assistance to the peasantry and the urban poor who suffered the most from the storm damage to agriculture and coastal communities. The urban and rural poor are being driven out of Tacloban and other areas on the pretext of their safety, but to pave the way in reality for big businesses.

Taking advantage also of the people’s suffering, US imperialism is using the signboard of humanitarian aid and disaster response on its Trojan horse of military intervention in Eastern Visayas, such as the Pacific Partnership 2014 naval exercises that began in June. US imperialism has already been given license by the Aquino regime to reoccupy the Philippines through the permanent presence of US troops granted by the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Thus the current burning issue of corruption under the Aquino regime makes emphatic that while the people have nothing, the Aquino regime is wallowing in the ill-gotten fruits of its exploitation and oppression under the ruling system. By whatever name, the trillion-peso corruption scandals involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the Disbursement Acceleration Program or the “bottom-up budgeting” of the Aquino regime are all essentially pork barrel – the anomalous use of massive public funds by the ruling Aquino clique to give favors to its political allies and ensure their loyalty.

The Yolanda survivors, the people of Eastern Visayas, are all enraged at the Aquino regime’s corruption, in the face of the landless and jobless, the low income of the masses despite the rising prices of basic commodities, the desperate situation of the afflicted by calamity, and the brutal human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan.

It is a matter of justice for the Yolanda survivors and the people to fight for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Only by doing so can they be assured of bringing the regime to account for its anti-people and anti-national crimes and pave the way for the discussion of fundamental changes. The people are only further inflamed by the Aquino regime’s brazen defense of its corruption, puppetry, injustice, treachery and fascism.

The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas is in solidarity with the anti-Aquino broad democratic forces. The prospect of regime change will strengthen the movement for genuine revolutionary change. The people must strive to agitate, organize and mobilize for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Meanwhile, the New People’s Army will intensify its tactical offensives in support of the people and to raise the level of warfare to the strategic stalemate from the strategic defensive. In time, the people will accumulate the necessary strength to overthrow the Aquino regime and its replacement with a transition council to discuss necessary reforms. The revolutionary armed struggle will continue until the reactionary ruling system is overthrown and the people’s democratic government can attain power.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140729_oust-the-aquino-regime-for-criminal-abandonment-of-the-yolanda-survivors-and-calamitous-governance

CPP/NDF: The socio-economic and political state of Mindanao is far worse than is being pictured by the reactionary US-Aquino Regime

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 28): The socio-economic and political state of Mindanao is far worse than is being pictured by the reactionary US-Aquino Regime

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Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
Spokesperson
NDFP Mindanao Chapter
 
Today, on his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Benigno Aquino III will again surely paint a rosy picture of the country, including particularly of Mindanao, but reality, however, will show that the socio-economic and political situation in Mindanao have plunged to levels far worse than previous regimes.

The economic development Aquino III promised in his first SONA has not materialized to favor the vast majority of the people in Mindanao. The Mindanao peasantry continues to wallow in abject poverty, majority whom are still dispossessed of land to till, exploited and oppressed by big landlords and plantation-owning foreign and local big bourgeois monopoly capitalists. The urban poor in all cities in the island continue to be displaced as houses are demolished in favor of big bourgeois comprador interests.

Mindanao workers are still among the top low wage earners in the country, while getting no reprieve from highly exploitative and repressive labor conditions. Now, even members of the so-called middle class are affected by the rising prices of basic commodities and social services that include water, energy, health, education.

Big landlords, big bourgeois comprador, and foreign monopoly capitalists who own and run imperialist agri-business plantations, such as DolePhil, Del Monte and Sumifru, and destructive mining companies, such as the Toronto Ventures Inc. in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Taganito-THPAL, SRMI in Caraga, have rapidly expanded to reap super profits in the name of so-called “development and economic growth.” Imperialist export crop plantations have monopolized arable lands across the island through aggressive expansion while giant mining companies have heavily exploited mineral-rich lands, to the detriment of the fundamental rights and welfare of peasants, farm and industrial workers and the environment as well.

While these insatiably profit-hungry monsters raze the fields and mountains of Mindanao, the reactionary government under the US-Aquino regime in the last four years, has brazenly plundered the people’s coffers non-stop. Despite Aquino III ‘s “daang matuwid” pitch, it is undeniable that corruption is deeply ingrained from the lower levels of the barangay up to the higher echelons of the Philippine Congress to the powerful Office of the President.

Recently, the issue of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fell flat on the face of Aquino III as it was declared unconstitutional by the reactionary government’s own Supreme Court, thus exposing Malacanang as the mastermind of grand malfeasance in the reactionary bureaucracy, to the tune of billions of pesos of people’s money used to control both his allies and enemies in Congress and for other anomalous deals.

The “SOP” cut of 10% to as much as 50 % in government projects as a standard modus in government transaction has not been eliminated. This and other corrupt acts thrive in such notoriously corrupt agencies as the Bureau of Customs, BIR, NIA, DENR, NFA, DPWH, the Department of Education and other government agencies, including the AFP and the PNP.

The political structure in Mindanao is the same as that throughout the country, wherein those who are on top of the power structure are either big landlord and big comprador bourgeois clans or simply bureaucrat capitalists who in enrich themselves in office to serve and protect the interest of the ruling classes and that of the imperialist. The masses have been continually disenfranchised effectively through bogus elections where money, goons and “hocus PCOS” machines to ensure the victory of the ruling classes.

The sheer puppetry of the Aquino III regime to US intervention reared its ugly head with the enforcement of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a pact which virtually opens any land, air and water port facilities in the country to the entry of US military troops, aircraft and sea vessels. This is no less than a treasonous act not only against its own Constitution but, more so, against national sovereignty and patrimony, which out rightly repudiates the very integrity of the Aquino III regime to safeguard and uphold the interests of the Filipino people.

The increasing deployment of 45 – 50% of the AFP forces in Mindanao has militarized the countryside including urban centers of Mindanao, which clearly undermines the so-called civilian supremacy in most of the local governments throughout the island. This has resulted in ever-increasing human rights violations such as extra-judicial killings of activists and media, bombings, Howitzer shelling of communities and the strafing of innocent civilians, resulting in the enforced evacuations of Lumad, Moro and non-Moro communities.

The US-Aquino regime’s peace efforts have resulted in the exacerbation of disorder in the whole island. It has succeeded in pacifying the MILF, only to rekindle the fire of armed struggle by the BIFF and other armed Moro groups, which has spread among the Moro people in their pursuit for a genuine right to self-determination.

The Aquino government has yet to prove its sincerity in the effort to revive talks with the NDFP. It has even failed to tame the enemies of peace both in the military and civilian officials in Mindanao in the case of the NDFP-Mindanao offer for the safe release of the four (4) Prisoners of War (POW) under the custody of the NPA in the North East Mindanao Region as a gesture for peace, with a week-long ceasefire as the only pre-condition resulting in the failure to release the 4 POWs before the SONA.

On the other hand, the revolutionary movement has advanced in spite of the deployment of an overwhelming number of troops in Mindanao. Of the 10 AFP divisions nationwide, around 5 divisions or about 50% are deployed in Mindanao. It has focused its blood thirsty Oplan Bayanihan in the regions of Southern Mindanao, North East Mindanao and North Central Mindanao, even as it deployed sizable troops to contain the growth of Far South Mindanao and Western Mindanao.

We have sustained the initiative in the revolutionary armed struggle in the whole island against the AFP-PNP-CAFGU. All the five regions have shown their increased capacity in armed struggle such as the successful raid in Kibawi, Bukidnon, the ambush against AFP forces in Quezon, also of Bukidnon, the daring raids in Alegria, Surigao del Norte and against private armies in Agusan del Sur, and the NPA military actions in Matan-ao, Davao del Sur and Don Victoriano, Zamboanga del Norte.

We have continued to expand and deepen our mass base in the whole island and established barrio and municipal level Revolutionary people’s government. We have also broadened and heightened the participation of the masses in agrarian reform, and in the campaigns for education, cultural and other social services.

Currently, while the US-Aquino regime is being pounded by and is reeling from the intensifying chronic economic and political crisis, and with the looming bubble burst of the imperialist financial crisis, the revolutionary movement is gaining momentum in its effort to complete the requisites for its advance to the strategic stalemate stage. More and more people from the different sectors are now demanding for Aquino to step down. With this development, the US-Aquino regime will hardly be able to finish the next less than two remaining years of its term.

http://www.philippinerevolution.net/statements/20140728_the-socio-economic-and-political-state-of-mindanao-is-far-worse-than-is-being-pictured-by-the-reactionary-us-aquino-regime

President Aquino says he will not sacrifice quality over speed in drafting Bangsamoro Law

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): President Aquino says he will not sacrifice quality over speed in drafting Bangsamoro Law

President Benigno S. Aquino III has addressed the concerns of some sectors over the delay in the submission of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying the government does not want to sacrifice quality over speed in drafting the legislation.

In his fifth State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Aquino said they are still in the process of fine-tuning certain provisions that would make the bill “reasonable, just, and acceptable” to all, hoping to complete it as soon as possible.

“Humihingi po tayo ng pang-unawa sa ating Kongreso ukol rito. Mahalaga pong maging masusi ang paghimay natin ng bawat probisyong ilalatag,” President Aquino told members of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa.Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government’s negotiating panel with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), earlier said that delaying the submission of the BBL is better than rushing it because there are issues that still have to be discussed.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which is tasked to draft the bill, met last week with the MILF and members of the government peace panel to work on the details of the BBL, bearing in mind President Aquino’s intention to have it passed into law within the year.

President Aquino said he would certify the bill as urgent, once it is submitted to Congress so the government could finally conduct a plebiscite that would pave the way for a Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

“Kung maisasabatas nga po ang Bangsamoro Basic Law bago matapos ang taon at maisasagawa ang kinakailangang plebesito, mabibigyan ng isa’t kalahating taon ang Bangsamoro Transition Authority para ipakita ang positibong pagbabago. Kung maaantala naman ito, natural pong iikli rin ang panahon para mapatunayan na tama nga ang landas ng kapayapaang tinatahak natin,” he said.

Drafting the BBL is the next step the Aquino administration is trying to accomplish after signing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the MILF last March, en route to a peaceful Mindanao.

President Aquino said it has taken his administration a long way to bring back the trust of Muslims in the government, and he has no plan to squander it.

“Napakarami na nga po nating nararating dahil sa tiwala—at wala tayong balak basagin ang tiwalang ito. Ang gobyerno ninyo ngayon ay mayroong isang salita,” he said.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bansamoro is just the start of better things to come for Mindanao, the President said, as the government has also earmarked a P5.17-billion budget for the Department of Public Works and Highways next year to fund infrastructure projects in the south.

"Gusto po nating bigyan ng pantay na pagkakataon ang lahat ng Pilipino, kaya nga dapat may boost up, para naman maka-catch up ang ating mga kababayang nasa laylayan," he said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=&sid=&nid=&rid=667305

AFP suspends operations in Surigao, Agusan to facilitate release of 4 cops

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): AFP suspends operations in Surigao, Agusan to facilitate release of 4 cops

The Eastern Mindanao Command on Tuesday announced that it is implementing a five-day SOMO (suspension of military offensive) in Surigao Del Norte and Agusan Del Norte which started last Sunday.

This is to facilitate the release of four police officers earlier abducted by the rebels during their attack at the Alegria Municipal Police Station last July 10.

Areas now under SOMO include the municipalities of Placer, Bacuag, Tubod, Gigakit, Claver and Alegria all of Surigao Del Norte and in Santiago, Kitcharao and Jabonga all of Agusan Del Norte.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the SOMO directive is issued by Armed Forces of the Philippines' headquarters.

The five-day ceasefire temporarily prevents the Armed Forces of the Philippines from the conduct of deliberate offensive operations against the New People's Army (NPA) except on movements or activities aimed to support the civil authorities, government instrumentalities and other agencies in promoting peace, development and humanitarian assistance programs.

Caber said that continuous joint Army and PNP pursuit operations in the above-mentioned provinces resulted to 13 encounters with several NPA members killed in the course of the firefight while the wounded rebels were brought to different places as they scampered for safety and evade our forces.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=667178

Modern search radars included in DND's LRPA project package

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): Modern search radars included in DND's LRPA project package

The Department of National Defense (DND), in a supplemental bid bulletin, announced that modern search radars is a must on its P5.9 billion long-range patrol aircraft project.

It is planning to acquire units of such planes to boost the country's patrol and monitoring capabilities.

Radar systems that must be installed in the planned LRPAs must include an inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) mode, wide area surveillance/ground (WAS) mode and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mode.

This feature is necessary as it provides small target/multiple target surface detection, classification and surveillance capability.

The radar shall be integrated with the automatic identified system (AIS) and shall correlate AIS and radar tracks for display.

The radar antenna shall sweep 360 degrees, with the radome designed for minimum drag, consistent with good radar transmissivity.

The DND said the antenna and its gimbal pedestal shall be installed on the bottom of the fuselage enclosed in a radome.

The pedestal must be recessed in a pressure box in the lower fuselage in order to provide sufficient ground clearance, and eliminate the need to pressurize the radome.

The radar receiver and transmitters must be located at floor level inside the auxiliary avionics rack.

The auxiliary avionics rack must be equipped with service panels for access to the radar and other system components.

It should have ISO 9001:2008 Certification.

DND undersecretary Fernando Manalo, Special Bids and Awards Committee-1 chair, earlier said bid opening and submission is slated for Aug. 3.

It will be held at the bidding awards committee conference room at basement, right wing, DND building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City around 10 a.m.

Money for the long-range patrol aircraft project will be sourced from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act Trust Fund.

The contract includes sensors, sensor integration, mission support facilities and integrated logistic support, Manalo said.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the aircraft within 1,035 calendar days upon receipt of the notice to proceed.

Manalo added that participants must have completed a similar project within the last 10 years.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=667218

Each congressional district to get one slot in the PMA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): Each congressional district to get one slot in the PMA

Lawmakers have filed a bill mandating the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to reserve a slot for one cadet each for every congressional district in the country every year to comprise its incoming class.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) filed House Bill 4169, which provides the selection of at least one incoming cadet from every congressional district every year.

“This will give aspiring cadets from far-flung areas a chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” Rodriguez said.

Majority of the cadets entering the PMA come from areas near the location of the camp which is in Baguio. It is high time that we ensure a more balanced composition of every class that graduates from the PMA,” Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez said the PMA was established in order to instruct, train and develop cadets that each graduate shall possess the character and military skills essential to the successful pursuit of a progressive military career as a values-centered leader in the selfless services to the AFP and the nation.

“The PMA is the training ground of cadets and it is where they can realize their dream of becoming part of the AFP and fight for and defend the country,” Rodriguez said.

Under the bill, each cadet will still have to pass and comply with all the current admission requirements of the PMA.

“Only upon determination that there is no qualified applicant from a certain legislative district will said slot be given to another qualified applicant irrespective of their domicile,” Rodriguez said.

The bill also mandates the PMA in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the proposed act.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=667191

Soldiers repel rebel force in Zamboanga del Sur clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): Soldiers repel rebel force in Zamboanga del Sur clash

A New People's Army (NPA) force suffered an undetermined number of casualties during an encounter with troopers of the 14th Division Reconnaissance Company in Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur Monday afternoon.

The engagement took place at 3 p.m. at the vicinity of Sitio Camansi, Barangay New Tuburan, Tigbao town, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Franco Suelto said.

The firefight with the undetermined number of NPA fighters lasted for 30 minutes. There was no casualty on the government side.

Suelto said the rebel force quickly retreated after sustaining an undetermined number of casualties.

He also said that NPA forces are constantly on the run in Zamboanga del Sur due to massive deployment of "Bayanihan" teams and relentless military pursuit operations.

“The NPA rebels are now tired and facing hardship on continuous evasion of military troops. They go near populated areas so they can easily blend with the civilians, buy foods and sow fear and terror to the people. It is unfortunate and sad that the NPA continues to take arms against the legitimate government just to pursue an irrelevant ideology,” Suelto said.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=667238

(Update) Sulu ASG attack death toll now at 23, pursuit operations ongoing -- AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): (Update) Sulu ASG attack death toll now at 23, pursuit operations ongoing -- AFP

The death toll in the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) attack against 50 civilians on Monday in Lower Talipao, Sulu is now at 23, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala announced on Tuesday.

Zagala said hot pursuit operations continue to bring the bandits to justice, adding this is part of the efforts to defuse tension and maintain law and order in Sulu.

However, Zagala did not give specifics on the additional two fatalities.

Western Mindanao Command figures Monday night placed the number of dead at 21 with eight critically wounded.

"(The AFP) with the Philippine National Police (PNP) will conduct continuous security operations, for one, we will continue our pursuit operations against the perpetrators and at the same time, we will conduct law enforcement operations to maintain the peace and to avoid further civilian deaths," he added.

Zagala also declined to comment on whether there is failure on part of security forces covering Sulu.

"Actually, we have been continuously operating in Sulu for over a month now and that the security environment in Sulu remains a challenge not only for the AFP but for the PNP and for the community as well. We have very complex problems there that we need to address and we are doing our best," he pointed out.

But despite successive gains in the peace and order front, Zagala said the military and the police still have a long way to go in changing the mindset of the community.

"We want to continuously work with the community so that we can prevent similar incidents in the future, however like I said earlier there are complexities in the conflict in the area so we cannot totally say that this incident is, results in failure of what we are doing but definitely this will not hamper our peace and developments efforts in the Province of Sulu," he pointed out.

Capt. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, earlier said the incident took place around 8:30 a.m. Monday as 40 civilians and 10 members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) were on their way to celebrate Hari Raya.

She added that the group were aboard two "Tamaraw" vans which was fired upon by a force of 50 ASG terrorists headed by Idang Susukan and Sibih Pisih.

Muyuela said that 16 persons were immediately killed and 13 others were wounded before the ASG fled.

The wounded civilians were immediately brought to IPHO Jolo for prompt medical attention after being initially given first aid by responding Marines.

Unfortunately, five more wounded victims died bringing the total number of killed to 21 Monday night, seven of which are males including a two-year-old boy and 14 females.

There were eight seriously wounded (two toddlers, five minors and one senior citizen) and three slightly wounded.

The Western Mindanao Command spokesperson said the motive for the ambush is a retaliatory action against the BPAT who is supporting the military and police in law enforcement operations in the province particularly against the ASG in Talipao. Earlier, reports said "rido," or clan war, instigated the incident.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=667280