Thursday, July 31, 2014

Suspected rebel charged with arson

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jul 31): Suspected rebel charged with arson

THE suspected New People's Army (NPA) member who was previously charged for multiple crimes is facing charges anew, this time for burning down a truck owned by a farming company in Calinan, Davao City on January 24.

Facing syndicated arson charges before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Davao City Branch 16 is Roberto Castillote and other unidentified co-members of the NPA's. The Davao City Prosecution Office found probable cause to charge Castillote and the other NPA members based on the complaint filed by security guards of the Davao Agricultural Ventures Corporation identified as Arconcel Agton and Charlie Mandante.

The security guards, in their affidavit, said they saw suspects enter the area where the Game Boom Harvester truck was parked around 6:30 p.m. They tried to stop the three but they were hesitant as they saw around 20 more men including Castillote entering the compound. They then saw the suspects setting the truck ablaze.

The two then informed their supervisor Ricardo Baniquid and proceeded to Baguio police to report the incident. But when they returned, the heavy equipment was totally burned down. The estimated cost of the damage was around P15 million.

RTC Branch 16 Judge Emmanuel Carpio ordered the arrest of Castillote.
Castillote was earlier charged for slight illegal detention for briefly holding seven men and killing one of the captives at Baguio District on March 1, 2013. On the same year, he was accused of murdering a former village chief on September 29 and killing another man on September 5.

He was also accused of detaining three Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) personnel in 2012.

PNP, army on alert after killing of MILF official in N. Cotabato

Posted to the Manila Bulletin (Jul 31): PNP, army on alert after killing of MILF official in N. Cotabato

Midsayap, North Cotabato — Police and military forces in Midsayap, North Cotabato and its environs have been placed on heightened alert following the death of a barangay captain and official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a shootout with police last Tuesday.

Superintendent Reynante Delos Santos, Midsayap police chief, said armed followers of Ibrahim Simpal may launch retaliatory attacks against the police and the military over his death when he shot it out with a police Special Operations Group (SOG) team serving a warrant for his arrest.

Simpal, the elected village chief in Barangay Ulandang, Midsayap and known as “Commander Ibo” in the MILF, still has armed followers.

A police officer who asked to remain anonymous for lack of authority to speak to media said Simpal was one of North Cotabato’s most wanted men having three arrest warrants for illegal gun possession and involvement in the illegal drug trade.

16,000 applicants to take PMA entrance exams

From the Philippine Star (Aug 1): 16,000 applicants to take PMA entrance exams

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines   – Some 16,000 men and women will take the entrance examinations for the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Aug. 3 in various testing centers nationwide.

At least 37 testing centers from Laoag City in the north to Tawi-Tawi in the southernmost island of the country will be opened for these aspiring young men and women.

“The PMA – with its mission to instruct, train and develop cadets so each graduate will possess the character, the broad and basic military skills and the education essential to the pursuit of a military career – guarantees that the future officers will be coming from the brightest candidates,” said PMA spokesman Major Reynaldo Balido.

For those who have applied but have not received their testing permits or those who have pending applications due to lack of requirements are reminded to proceed to the testing centers and bring along with them their valid ID., Form 137 (transcript of records or high school report card), birth certificate and two 2x2 picture with white background.

Walk-in applicants should bring their application forms along with the other requirements for processing.

Balido said walk-in applicants maybe allowed to take the examination subject to availability of test booklets.

More foreigners expected to invest in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Jul 31): More foreigners expected to invest in Maguindanao

Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the Army's 6th Infantry Division plants an "organic" banana seedling, with the help of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, during Wednesday's launching of the vast environment-friendly agricultural plantation in the province, to symbolize the Philippine Army's support for the project. (John Unson)

Local entrepreneurs expect more foreigners to put up more organic plantations in the province following Wednesday’s launching of Asia’s first ever environment-friendly 1,500-hectare banana farm in Ampatuan town.

Bai Sandra Siang, chair of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kutawato, said the new all-organic Cavendish banana farm near the site of the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 “Maguindanao Massacre” sounded interesting to their contacts abroad, who learned about it via social media.

Siang said what is also fascinating about the banana venture is the involvement in its establishment of clerics belonging to its main operating entity, the Al-Mujahidun Agro Resources and Development, Inc. (AMARDI).

AMARDI officials told reporters, during the launching of the banana farm Wednesday morning, that they will also put up an Islamic school, a hospital, and a “halal” food processing plant in the area to help address poverty and underdevelopment in Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan town.

The term halal is an Arabic description for food that Muslims can eat, free from anything "haram" (forbidden) such as pork, alcohol and toxic ingredients.

“We in the local business community shall support this capital intensive project. This will benefit the Moro communities in the municipality of Ampatuan,” Siang said.

Businessman Pete Marquez, a senior official of various business clubs in Central Mindanao, said the introduction of large-scale organic banana farming in the province by the AMARDI and its two multinational benefactors, the Univex and the Delinanas of the Del Monte fruit firm, is one big stride for the environment-protection thrusts of local groups and the national government.

“Add to that the initial employment by that plantation of 2,000 Moro workers. That is good for the normalization and peace restoration efforts of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” Marquez pointed out.

Marquez said it is apparently for the fragile peace now in Maguindanao that Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu succeeded in convincing the capitalists of the 1,500-hectare banana plantation to invest in Ampatuan, tarnished by the politically motivated Maguindanao Massacre that left 58 people dead.

Mangudadatu had told reporters that it was for the curiosity of foreign traders on how they can help change the image of Ampatuan town that ushered them into the municipality.

Also present in last Wednesday's on-field launching rite was Costa Rican entrepreneur-technocrat, Gonzalo OrdeƱana, who is helping put up the banana farm, and his counterparts in the AMARDI, cleric Abdulwahid Sumauang, and Akmad Bullecer.

Siang, Marquez, and officials of the Regional Business Council of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said they are delighted with how the provincial government, the AMARDI, and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division are cooperating in securing the surroundings of the banana plantation.

Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, who was one of the special guests to Wednesday’s event at the project site, said the joint security efforts of Mangudadatu, the 6th ID and AMARDI will be coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the MILF.

Pangilinan said the 6th ID is obliged to help secure the project since most of the lands rented by AMARDI for banana growing are owned by either members, or supporters of the MILF.

“This is an opportunity for the military to show that it wants the cordiality between the government and the MILF nurtured and sustained, in support of the Mindanao peace process,” Pangilinan said.

AFP makes another logistics run amid coup talk

From GMA News (Jul 31): AFP makes another logistics run amid coup talk

Military arrives in Tondo for logistics run

A convoy of two Army and Marine armored personnel carriers and several military trucks carrying troops stops by the Parola area in Tondo, Manila on Thursday, July 31, during a logistics run at the Port Area. The convoy has returned to Camp Aguinaldo with its cargo. Roy Lozano

While talks of a possible coup attempt have yet to die down, the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday made another logistics run to Metro Manila.
AFP public affairs office head Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said military trucks escorted by armored vehicles brought the equipment from the pier in Manila to Camp Aguinaldo.
This came a day after the AFP delivered "mission-essential" equipment from Northern Luzon and Southern Luzon commands.
But Zagala declined to give details on the logistics transported for "security reasons."
"That's a logistics run. We brought in supplies from the pier. We cant give you details for security reason. That's fully coordinated and authorized. From the pier, they were brought to Camp Aguinaldo," he said.
On Wednesday, the military allayed fears of a destabilization attempt after a convoy with an armored personnel carrier and military trucks were seen on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue.
Zagala told radio dzBB Wednesday they had not monitored any development that could be connected to a destabilization plot as claimed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. 
He added the Armed Forces has a high level of professionalism and that soldiers' grievances had already been addressed through "various reforms."

Pentagon group member nabbed in Sultan Kudarat

From GMA News (Jul 31): Pentagon group member nabbed in Sultan Kudarat

The Philippine National Police on Thursday arrested a member of the notorious Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group in Sultan Kudarat.
Said Giad, alias Maestro, was nabbed in Barangay Sampao in Isulan town 5 a.m. Thursday, the police said in a report emailed to reporters. 
Giad was wanted for a string of kidnapping cases in Cotabato City
He was charged with the kidnapping of  five engineers working for the Philippine National Oil Company namely Jeffrey Estember, Eric Nonan, Ferdinand Bergonia, Rudilyn Felex, and Rodelo Pillen.

Giad is also facing charges for the kidnapping of a certain Wendell Wee.
He has a P175,000 bounty on his head. 
The Pentagon group is involved in kidnapping for ransom. It was headed by Tahir Alonto, who reportedly died in 2011. 
Alonto was also linked to  Al-Khobar Group, an extortionist group in Central Mindanao.  The group was notorious for calling in a bomb threat and then demanding a huge amount of money for the members to stop the attack. 
Giad had been under surveillance by the PNP Provincial Police, the Isulan Municipal Police, and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group prior to his arrest. 
The suspect was brought to Isulan Municipal Police State for booking.

Alleged kidnapper ‘Maestro’ captured

From the Business World (Jul 31): Alleged kidnapper ‘Maestro’ captured

A MEMBER of a dreaded kidnap-for-ransom group was arrested early morning Thursday in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, following a joint operation by government security forces in the area.
According to police reports, agents of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), the Isulan Municipal Police Station and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) arrested Said Giad, alias, Maestro, at around 5:00 a.m., Sampao Village, in said province.
Mr. Giad, who has a P175,000 cash reward on his head, is wanted for a string of kidnapping cases in Cotabato City including the kidnapping of five engineers working for the Philippine National Oil Company and a certain Wendell Wee.
Police intelligence said Mr. Giad has links to the organized crime group Pentagon, a kidnap-for-ransom group which was led by the late Tahir Alonto, a former commander of the Moro National Liberation Front.
The Pentagon group is believed to be involved in extortion, robbery, drug-trafficking and contract killing. It also has links to the Al-Khobar group, which is reportedly engaged in extortion and terror activities victimizing transport and business groups in central Mindanao.

Soldier dead in clash with NPA in Capiz

From the Philippine Star (Jul 31): Soldier dead in clash with NPA in Capiz

A soldier was killed in an encounter with communist rebels in Tapaz, Capiz Thursday, a military official said.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, spokesman of the Army’s 3rd division, said members of the 61st battalion were conducting development activities in Barangay Roosevelt when they were fired upon by about 10 rebels.

The insurgents are said to be members of a platoon under the New People’s Army Panay Regional Committee.

“Our troops were there to help the local government unit in assisting the people to resolve the issues in their community,” said Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan, commander of the 61st Infantry Battalion.

“We engaged the NPA bandits that resulted in the death of one of our soldiers,” he added.

The slain soldier was identified as Pfc. Lowel John Bravo, 31, a resident of Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Tiongson said blood stains were seen along the rebels’ route of withdrawal.

“The NPA continues to deprive the people of Tapaz to have a developed community. This will not hamper our initiatives to provide the necessary services and assistance to the people for them to have a peaceful and better life,” Llapitan said.

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, chief of Army’s 3rd division, instructed his troops to ensure the safety and security of the people in the area while adhering to International Humanitarian Law and the rule of law.

Philippines: Visions Of The Future

From the Strategy Page (Jul 29): Philippines: Visions Of The Future

July 29, 2014: MILF is accusing the army of violating the ceasefire in the south (Maguindanao province) by moving troops around a lot. The army replied that this was in an effort to deal with BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) rebels in the area. BIFF is a radical MILF faction that does not support the MILF peace negotiations. The main Filipino Moslem separatist group (MILF) has been fighting the BIFF since 2011. A 2012 peace deal with BIFF which was supposed to see the dissidents rejoin MILF and stop causing problems with their attacks on Christians in the south. This quickly fell apart and the BIFF violence had been getting worse ever since. BIFF went back to attacking Christians and the security forces and this resulted in heavy losses. BIFF contained about a thousand armed men in early 2013 and is believed to be down to a few hundred gunmen now. Those who do remain are hard core and many are willing to die rather than surrender. BIFF had become increasingly violent and outspoken about how MILF is selling out Moslems. MILF was reluctant to use force to deal with BIFF but now that the peace negotiations have created a Moslem homeland down south BIFF is being denounced as evil, hostile and deserving of a violent crackdown. But many MILF commanders are reluctant to cooperate with the army against BIFF and the army does not trust MILF commanders to keep secrets about operations against BIFF.
BIFF and Abu Sayyaf commanders occupy most of the top positions on the government’s “most wanted” list. The government offers cash rewards for information about any of the Islamic terrorists, rebels and criminals on this list. The government is also warning MILF to crack down on the growing number of its members who are engaged in importing and selling Shabu (slang for illegal methamphetamine pills, often smuggled in from Burma via Thailand). MILF members are going to run the government of the new autonomous state in the south and corruption (like cooperating with the shabu trade) is expected to be a major problem. 
Meanwhile the Chinese aggression in the South China Sea has created a widespread belief that war is not only possible but imminent. A recent opinion poll in the region found that over 60 percent of the people in nations bordering the South China Sea feared Chinese aggression and the war it might trigger. A similar percentage of Chinese agreed. China created this mindset, and the world wonders what China is going to do about it. Another interesting trend is that more people in the region, and worldwide, are agreeing that China is now a superpower. More Chinese have that attitude as well. 
The U.S. is reducing its counter-terrorism force in the Philippines (currently about 320 personnel) because the Islamic terrorist threat in the Philippines has been greatly reduced since the U.S. began assisting the Philippines in this area after September 11, 2001. These days the Philippines is more interested in getting naval, air and diplomatic support from the U.S. against China.
July 28, 2014: In the south (Sulu) several dozen Abu Sayyaf gunmen ambushed two vans carrying over 40 civilians and killed 21 of them (including women and six children). The civilians were on their way to festival celebrating the end of Ramadan. The Islamic terrorist group was feuding with the village the victims came from. This was believed to involve a clan feud as well, plus the village had a defense militia that caused the Islamic terrorists problems. In the south, these feuds tend to get brutal with lots of dead women and children. 
July 24, 2014: In the south (Basilan) troops found and attacked an Abu Sayyaf hideout. Three of the Islamic terrorists were killed as well as two local militiamen who were with the troops. The three dead Abu Sayyaf men were later identified as participants in a notorious 2011 kidnapping. Another five Islamic terrorists were wounded. 
July 21, 2014: In the south (Maguindanao province) BIFF rebels attacked troops guarding two towns. These attacks failed and 17 of the attackers died along with one soldier (three soldiers were wounded plus many more of the attackers.)
July 17, 2014: In the south (Sulu) Abu Sayyaf kidnapped four government employees who were surveying residents in preparation for a social welfare program. One of the four survey takers soon escaped but the other three are apparently being held for ransom. These ransoms have long been a major source of income for Islamic terrorists in the south. 
July 13, 2014: In the south (Lanao del Sur province) a local MILF commander and a soldier were killed when the MILF leader ordered some of his men to attack army troops who moved towards his base. Two soldiers and two MILF men were also wounded. This all turned out to be a misunderstanding. The soldiers were providing security (against local criminals) for a TV crew filming a documentary. The MILF commander apparently did not know that and assumed the troops were there to arrest him (because of a recently issued arrest warrant against him by a provincial court.) The troops alerted their headquarters when the shooting began and the army contacted local MILF authorities and after a few hours it was all sorted out. 
July 12, 2014: In the north (Quezon) two soldiers were wounded when their patrol clashed with twenty NPA gunmen. The rebels fled and it appears some were wounded. 
For the second time since April Filipino criminals (apparently Abu Sayyaf) crossed the Sulu Sea at night to nearby Malaysia (Sabah) and attacked a vacation resort. This time the gunmen encountered two policemen and in the following gun battle killed one of the police and kidnapped the other. Before this year the last time this sort of thing happened was in 2000, when Abu Sayyaf took 21 people from another Sabah resort. Most of those hostages were released within five months after the payment of ransoms. Since then security was increased on both sides of the Sulu Sea and foreign tourists began returning to the Malaysian resorts. Small speedboats can make it across the Sulu Sea to Sabah quickly because some of the smaller Filipino islands are less than 20 kilometers from Sabah. Filipino and Malaysian patrol boats monitor this patch of sea but not on a 24/7 basis and at night a couple of small speedboats are easy to miss. Security was increased after the April attack, and tourist business fell ten percent. Although this second attack failed to reach any tourists, it is not good for business and Malaysia is pressing the Philippines to do more to stop this sort of cross border crime.
July 10, 2014: An army investigation concluded that it was friendly fire (misdirected artillery fire) that killed six soldiers and wounded 13 others last June 19th during a clash with Abu Sayyaf on Sulu Island.  
July 8, 2014: In the south (Mindanao) an army patrol encountered about 30 NPA rebels and a gun battle ensured before the rebels fled. Six soldiers were wounded along with an undetermined number of the communist rebels.

Abducted cop safe, says ex-hostage

From the Star Online (Jul 31): Abducted cop safe, says ex-hostage

KOTA KINABALU: Abducted marine policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip (pic) is safe but kept under close guard by an Abu Sayyaf faction in the mountainous jungles of Indanan, in the southern Philippines island of Jolo.

“He is unharmed,” said Remigio Lingayan, a Filipino hostage who was freed on Sunday after 53 days in captivity.

“I heard some of the gunmen talking about another group holding a Malay policeman. “They said he was all right,” said Lingayan when contacted by the The Star by telephone in his hometown of Zamboanga City yesterday.
He said the group holding Kons Zakiah was moving about in the mountainous terrain of Indanan to avoid detection by Philippine security forces.

Kons Zakiah, 26, was abducted when gunmen attacked a marine police unit at the Mabul Water Bungalows Resort in Pulau Mabul on July 12.

His colleague Kpl Ab Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed in the incident.

Previous news reports had stated that an Abu Sayyaf faction headed by Alhabsi Misaya was holding Kons Zakiah captive.

Lingayan, 50, was a plumber in Maimbung town in Jolo for about four years when Abu Sayyaf gunmen took him captive on June 5.

The faction that held him was led by a gunman called Vario.

Lingaya said he was treated well though the kidnappers repeatedly warned him not to make any attempt to escape.

“I think Zakiah is being treated the same way, too,” he said, adding that the constant moving around in the mountainous area of Jolo was the toughest part of being held as a hostage.

Lingayan said the group that held him was also the same one that had kept Chinese national Yang Zai Lin, 34, who was snatched from a fish farm in Pulau Baik on May 6.

“There was this man from China who was kidnapped from Malaysia.
“He was freed in early July,” Lingayan said. (Yang was released on July 9.)

He said he did not hear anything about Chan Sai Chuin, 32, a Malaysian who was abducted from a fish farm at Kampung Sapang near Kunak on June 16.

According to Philippines media quoting authorities there, Lingayan was freed on Sunday after a 500,000 peso (RM36,633) ransom was paid.

Lingayan said the gunmen who held him also had a German couple and a Chinese mother and daughter as hostages.

The Philippines Anti-Kidnapping Group identified the other hostages as Henrike Dielen and Stefan Victor Okonek, who were snatched off Palawan in April, and Chinese nationals Dina Tan and her daughter Yahong, who were abducted in May in Basilan island.

Countermeasures must be fitted on CAS aircraft, DND tells prospective bidders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31): Countermeasures must be fitted on CAS aircraft, DND tells prospective bidders

To ensure the survivability of its (close-air support (CAS) aircraft and pilots, the Department of National Defense (DND) has informed its prospective bidders that their designs must feature countermeasures against enemy missiles and guns with radar tracking equipment.

In a supplemental bid bulletin posted at the DND website, the countermeasures being sought by the agency for its CAS planes include radar warning receivers, missile alert warning systems, flares and chaff dispensers.

"With the current threat environment and to ensure pilot and aircraft survivability, the aircraft must have radar warning receiver(s), missile alert warning system(s) and chaffs and flares," it added.

These countermeasures will allow pilots to evade or decoy missiles fired at them and fool radar systems trying to track their aircraft.

Bid opening for the CAS project is set for Aug. 11.

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

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

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

Bid submission and opening will be held at the DND Bidding and Awards Committee Conference Room, Basement Right Wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

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

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

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

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

Cops freed in NPA ceremony

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 31): Cops freed in NPA ceremony

KITCHARAO,  Agusan del Norte—About 200 communist rebels in military formation marched into a mountain barangay in this town with four policemen prisoners they turned over to church and provincial officials on Tuesday amid cheers of thousands of residents.

Rebel escort.  NPA rebel leader Ka Jared
(in black uniform with bandolier) escorts
the four policemen as they marched into
a mountain barangay in Kitcharao. ALVIN
New People’s Army (NPA) leader, Ka Jared, shook hands with Gov. Angel Amante-Matba and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Rhey Timbang and other officials before the start of a rare ceremony in an open barangay hall.

“We are glad the provincial officials led by Gov.  Amante-Matba are here. But Sec. (Manuel) Roxas missed the chance to see the bad roads, lack of rural health clinic, lack of classrooms, lack of livelihood opportunities, lack of potable water, and widespread poverty,” Ka Jared said during the ceremony.

Ka Joaquin (right, top photo) reading
the release order of the National
Democratic Front and the residents
scattered around the open hall. ALVIN
The turn-over ceremony was held at Barangay Hinimbangan but Local Government Secretary Roxas, peace process secretary Ding Deles and Police Director Alan Purisima were at the Kitcharao Elementary School at the Poblacion, about eight kms away.

They did not go up the mountain for security reasons, said a security aide.

The four policemen ---P03 Vic Concon, P01 Rey Morales, P01 Joen Zabala and P01 Edito Roquino --- were abducted during an NPA raid on Alegria in Surigao del Norte last July 10. The government accepted calls by the NPA for a five-day truce to facilitate release of the policemen.

Bishop Timbang, who helped negotiate the release of the policemen, said the rebels were sincere in their offer to release their prisoner without conditions and as a gesture of goodwill.

“Our four brothers (policemen) will now go home happy and join their families, who are waiting for them,” Timbang said.

Gov. Amante-Matba thanked the rebels and said she will support their offer to resume the peace talks between the National Democratic Front and the government, which was suspended a few years ago.

'Reds' torch equipment in ComVal plantation

From ABS-CBN (Jul 30): 'Reds' torch equipment in ComVal plantation

Suspected New People's Army (NPA) rebels torched the boom spray truck of Sumifru Corp. in Compostela, Compostela Valley on Tuesday morning.

Investigators said the truck was scheduled to spray medicine on the banana trees at the plantation in Barangay Siocon when four armed men on board motorcycles forced the truck driver and boom spray operator to go down from the vehicle.

The armed men then set the truck on fire.

The cost of damage from the blaze is estimated at more than P1 million.

Compostela Police are looking into the motives behind the attack, the second such incident in the area since last year.

DND chief to soldiers: Assist disaster-stricken countrymen

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31): DND chief to soldiers: Assist disaster-stricken countrymen

With the country concluding its observance of National Disaster Consciousness Month in July, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin urged all members of the military on Thursday to assist their disaster-stricken countrymen.

"Prepare to assist our people during calamities. As first responders, we must be able to appropriately respond and help our people," he said during his visit to the Northern Luzon Command headquarters in Camp Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City.

The DND chief's visit was part of his rounds in different military camps to check the preparedness of troops in responding to disasters.

The series of calamities, particularly typhoons, prompted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to step up its disaster response capability.

It maybe recalled that then Northern Luzon Command head and now AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. directed all military commanders in Central and Northern Luzon to designate an area inside military camps as evacuation center.

Gazmin specifically instructed line unit commanders to identify disaster rescue and relief operations (DRRO) equipment which the soldiers need in order to act appropriately in times of calamities.

The list will be forwarded to Higher Headquarters, then to the DND for procurement so that soldiers will be able to perform humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) immediately.

Several equipment, including vehicles, aircraft and water ships, have already been procured and the AFP is now acquiring more DRRO equipment as part of the continuing upgrade in the capabilities of line units in HADR as well as combat operations.

Some of the DRRO equipment are included in the big ticket items lined up in the list procured and still to be procured under the AFP Modernization Program.

Gazmin also apprised soldiers on the progress of the AFP Modernization Program, particularly on rifles, tanks, aircraft and watercraft which are to be procured.

NPA landmine kills 2 Army men

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 30): NPA landmine kills 2 Army men

The improvised claymore mine, with battery and wires, was turned over by concerned citizens in Capiz to the military. Photo courtesy of the 3rd infantry division

Members of the New People’s Army killed two personnel of the Philippine Army in a landmine attack in Davao del Norte on Tuesday.

Captain Napoleon Gamos, 1003rd public affairs officer, said Wednesday that a section of the Charlie Company 60th Infantry Battalion was conducting a needs and assessment survey in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte when an undetermined number of NPA rebels attacked them.

Gamos added that apart from the two fatalities, six were also injured in the blast.

“The communists disruptive actions against our peace initiatives show their lack towards the welfare of the people,” Gamos said.

Of the six who were injured, two were immediately evacuated for treatment while the rest only suffered minor injuries.

“Despite this event, our unit will continue the Peace and Development Outreach Program in pursuit of a lasting peace in Davao del Norte,” Gamos said.

DILG chief commends Sultan Kudarat policemen for arresting member of dreaded Al-Khobar kidnap-for-ransom group

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31): DILG chief commends Sultan Kudarat policemen for arresting member of dreaded Al-Khobar kidnap-for-ransom group

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Thursday lauded the local police in Sultan Kudarat for arresting Said Giad alias "Maestro", member of the dreaded Al-Khobar Group, which is responsible for a series of kidnappings.

"Ang pagkakahuli kay Said Giad alyas Maestro na isang kilabot na myembro ng grupong Al-Khobar ay isa na namang tagumpay sa ating kampanya laban sa kriminalidad. Ito ay patunay na ang administrasyon ni Pangulong Aquino ay determinado sa pagsisikap nito na mahuli at mapanagot sa batas ang mga salot na naghahasik ng kaguluhan sa ating lipunan (The arrest of Said Giad also known as Maestro, notorious member of the Al-Khobar group, is a big success on our drive against crimes. This is a proof that the Aquino administration is determined to capture and prosecute all criminals spreading violence in our country)," Roxas said in a statement.

On Thursday dawn, Said Giad was nabbed in Barangay Sampao, municipality of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

He had been under surveillance by the PNP Provincial Police, the Isulan Municipal Police, and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

The suspect is charged with the kidnapping of five engineers working for the Philippine National Oil Company: Jeffrey Estember, Eric Nonan, Ferdinand Bergonia, Rudilyn Felex, and Rodelo Pillen. He is also facing charges for the kidnapping of a certain Wendell Wee.

Roxas said the people of Mindanao can feel a little more secure with his arrest. The police and other security forces are hot on the heels of other members of the kidnap for ransom gang.

"Ako ay naniniwala na sa tulong ng ating mga mamamayan ay magiging matagumpay ang pagtugis ng ating kapulisan sa iba pang grupong sangkot sa mga insidente ng pangingidnap sa Mindanao (I believe that with the help of the citizens, our police force will be successful in hunting down other groups involved in kidnapping incidents in Mindanao)," he added.

DND chief says there is no truth to coup rumors

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31): DND chief says there is no truth to coup rumors

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday said there is no truth to reports claiming that some elements of the military will be launching a coup.

He made this statement when asked what his assessments on whether coup rumors floating has basis.

"Nothing," Gazmin replied in Filipino.

And when asked whether his ongoing tour of various installations are meant to check or dispel coup rumors, Gazmin said his visit was meant to determine the capability and readiness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in responding to disasters and calamities

"I have been going around even before the coup came out. I am checking readiness of AFP as first responders during disasters and calamities," stressed.

Gazmin earlier paid a visit to Northern Luzon Command in Camp Servillano Aquino, Tarlac, to check on the disaster response readiness of the units stationed there.

Negrense soldier dies in clash with rebels in Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 31): Negrense soldier dies in clash with rebels in Capiz

A trooper of the Philippine Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion died during a clash with suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Tapaz, Capiz Thursday morning, the military said.

Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan, commanding officer of 61st IB, identified the fatality as Private First Class Lowel John Bravo, 31, a resident of Aguisan village in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

At around 6 a.m., Llapitan’s troops were conducting peace and development activities in Barangay Roosevelt when they encountered about 10 armed men believed to be members of Tugalbong Platoon of the NPA’s Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (CF, KR-P).

He said the 61st IB soldiers also saw blood stains along the NPA’s route of withdrawal.

“The NPA continues to deprive the people of Tapaz of a developed community. This will not hamper our initiatives to provide the necessary services and assistance to the people for them to have a peaceful and better life,” Llapitan said.

He added that they will intensify their follow-on operations as they have already identified the rebels’ lairs.

“We call on those rebels to lay down their arms peacefully and be given proper medical treatment. We ensure them that their rights will be respected,” Llapitan said.

National Defense gets 3rd largest pie in next year’s budget

From AngMalaya (Jul 31): National Defense gets 3rd largest pie in next year’s budget

The Aquino government proposed a PhP2.6 trillion budget for 2015 which is 15.1 percent higher from the current year’s PhP2.265 trillion budget. “Our proposed spending program is an expression of the President’s [Benigno S. Aquino III] unerring commitment to bring inclusive socio-economic development to the people,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

Social services gets the largest pie in the said 2015 budget which according to DBM chief, showing the current “administration’s continuing pursuit of its antipoverty goals.” This include provision for basic education and universal health care.

Economic services have also a major share with PhP700.2 billion allocated fund towards this sector aiming in the President’s inclusive growth campaign.

The top 10 agencies which has the biggest share in next year’s budget are the Department of Education (DepEd) with P364.958 billion, P300.519 billion for Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), P144.036 billion goes to Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with P141.423 billion, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with P108.970 billion, and P102.178 billion for Department of Health (DOH).

Other agencies like Department of Agriculture (DA) gets P88.818 billion, Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) with P59.463 billion, P21.290 billion Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Judiciary with P20.285 billion.

EADS Casa to supply Air Force with three C-295

From AngMalaya (Jul 31): EADS Casa to supply Air Force with three C-295

EADS Construcciones Aeronauticas SA, a Spanish firm, was confirmed by the Department of National Defense as the supplier for Philippine Air Force’s three medium lift fixed wing aircraft. DND issued a Notice to Proceed to EADS CASA signed by National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin. The said notice was received by EADS CASA last March 28, 2014.

The said firm, EADS CASA, will be providing the Air Force with three C295 planes for PhP 5,288,609,983.99. C295 is a smaller aircraft compared to C130. 

“The Airbus Military C295 is a new generation, very robust and reliable, highly versatile tactical airlifter able to carry up to nine tonnes of payload or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260 kt /480 km/h,” the plane’s manufacturer described.

“The aircraft performs any type of mission: from personnel, troop and bulky/palletised cargo transportation to casualty evacuation, communication and logistic duties, search and rescue, surveillance and control, homeland security, or certified air-dropping,” it added.

US, India, Japan conducts naval drill, China hopes for stability

From AngMalaya (Jul 31): US, India, Japan conducts naval drill, China hopes for stability

“It’s very significant that we can do this drill with the U.S. and India, not only with a view to the Pacific Ocean but also the Indian Ocean, where our sea lanes stretch,” Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force chief during a news conference at Exercise Malabar opening day.
Exercise Malabar was originally a bilateral naval drill between United States and India that started in 1992. Later it was opened to other countries like Japan, Australia and Singapore.

This year Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval drill between Japan, U.S. and India. Activities include Carrier strike group operations, Maritime patrol and Reconnaissance operations, anti piracy operations and Visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations, Search and rescue exercises, helicopter cross-deck landings, Underway replenishment, gunnery and anti-submarine warfare exercises, and Liaison officer exchange and embarkation.

INS Ranvijay (guided missile destroyer), INS Shivalik (stealth frigate) and INS Shakti (fleet tanker) represents India. US sent submarine (SSN), two destroyers, one tanker along with one Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft. From Japan, Two destroyers along with a P3C Orion and a ShinMaywa US-2.

China said, “we hope defence cooperation among relevant countries can be conducive to peace and stability in the region.”

Commies invited to negotiating table as NPA releases 4 cops

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Jul 31): Commies invited to negotiating table as NPA releases 4 cops

Secretary Teresita Deles, President Benigno Aquino’s presidential adviser on the government peace process, on Wednesday invite the communist rebels to come to the negotiating table “to find common solutions to our problems in peaceful dialogue as Filipinos first and foremost.”
Deles’ invitation came after guerrillas of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), released on Tuesday afternoon four policemen whom they seized following an attack on a police station in Alegria town, Surigao del Norte on July 10.
Two other policemen were killed and three wounded in the same attack.
“After 12 days of intense negotiations initiated by the (National Democratic Front) NDF-Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos and marked by goodwill and a spirit of compromise between the governmnet and the NDF, the New People’s Army safely released this (Tuesday) afternoon the four captive policemen they had abducted when they attacked a police outpost in a remote area in Surigao del Norte earlier this month.  The four policemen were picked up in a mountainous village in the adjacent Agusan del Norte province by a group of multi-religious leaders who served as third-party negotiators for the release of the captives. They were joined by AGov. Angel Amante of Agusan del Norte and other local government executives,” said Deles in a press statement.
She revealed that for the purpose of the release, the Philippine military and the NPA agreed to separately issue a Suspension of Military Offensives (SOMO) to their respective forces for a period of five days starting at noon on July 27, and ending at noon on August 1.
The released policemen were received by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who immediately escorted them to their waiting families.
“We are grateful to all the local leaders and sectors without whose goodwill and cooperation the success of this important undertaking would not have been possible.  The outburst of intense relief and joy at the reunion of the freed young officers with their families, all with very young children, was the immediate and heartfelt reward for everyone’s efforts,” Deles said.
In releasing the captive policemen, the NPA announced that they had taken this action as a goodwill gesture to promote the peace negotiations.
“In the face of the difficult challenges that have confronted this particular peace table, the government has remained firm in its commitment to pursue a peaceful resolution to this long drawn-out armed conflict.  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 believe that our people deserve nothing less from the two parties than that they resume peace talks which can offer a clear roadmap to a just and doable political settlement,” said the peace adviser.
Since March 1969, the NPA has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies in the country, which - according to the military - has claimed more than 3,000 lives over the past eight years. It has been involved in killings involving personalities participating in counter insurgency activities.
After some 10 years of relative silence, the communist group in the Philippines resurfaced in the middle of 2000 staging deadly ambushes against army soldiers and policemen, and resuming its fund raising campaign by collecting “revolutionary tax” on businessmen and politicians.
On late May this year , the Philippine National Police headquarters released a report that it is investigating  its Firearms and Explosives (FEO)  regarding 1,004 unaccounted for AK-47 assault rifles  that were supposedly acquired by mining firms and security agencies, but found their way in the hands of communist rebels in Mindanao island.
Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) had said that they are investigating and preparing to file a case against seven retired and incumbent police generals over the missing firearms.
The CIDG’s probe revealed the rifles ended up in the hands of guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA).  Magalong said 5 of the rifles have since been recovered, following encounters between the Philippine Army and the NPA. Other firearms seized after the encounter could not be traced back to the missing AK-47s since they had already been tampered with.
Aside from six provinces in Mindanao island, the NPA’s other strongholds are in Philippine north and in Panay island and Masbate province in Central Philippines.

MILF: MILF cite cooperation of Western Mindanao Command for Eid Fitre

From the MILF Website (Jul 30): MILF cite cooperation of Western Mindanao Command for Eid Fitre


The leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front hailed the statement of cooperation and unity of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for the commemoration of the Eid Fitre.
This as the MILF received yesterday the official response letter of the Western Mindanao Command through BGen Carlito Galvez Jr, Chairman of the Government Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (GPH – CCCH) to the request of the MILF for the Eidl Fitre

The General Staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF – MILF) through the MILF CCCH requested the coordination for the movements of the MILF forces for the 3 –days period beginning June 28 – 30 in relation to the observance of congregational prayers, family and clan celebration and brotherhood meeting during the observance of Eid’l Fitre, or the Islamic festival celebrating the end of the Holy Month Ramadhan.

AFP Western Mindanao Command also assured the cooperation of the AFP troops on the ground in ensuring peaceful and meaningful celebration of the Eid Fitre.

“We convey to our partners with the AFP and the GPH CCCH our heartfelt gratitude and assurances of cooperation for their noble cooperation for the celebration of the Eid’l Fitre,” the Office of the General Staff conveyed.

However, the GPH CCCH reminded of the policy of no bringing of firearms, wearing of full BIAF uniforms and bringing / displaying of unnecessary slogans and placards.

The BIAF Chief of Staff has an standing Order to all BIAF officers and men not to bring firearms outside the MILF areas and when not related to official undertakings in relation with the ongoing GPH – MILF Peace Process.

MILF: Moro CSOs Call on PNoy to Respect the Bangsamoro Basic Law

From the MILF Website (Jul 30): Moro CSOs Call on PNoy to Respect the Bangsamoro Basic Law

“In the name of peace, Mr President, we appeal to Government of the Philippines to implement faithfully its commitment embodied in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” this is among other appeals of the more or less one thousand members of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from different parts of Central Mindanao that staged Peace Rally at the Cotabato City Plaza on July 28, 2014.
The said activity was organized by the Sulong Bangsamoro Movement (SBM), a coalition of different CSOs operating in Central Mindanao established to have a more organized response to the present development of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace process that brought deep frustration among Bangsamoro people who have been longing for peace and justice for so long a time.

“This is just a first of many actions we will do in the future to help and push especially the government to be faithful in its commitment in the peace process,” Mahdie Amella, SBN Chairman.

“Mr President, fulfil the dream of your father to establish a Meaningful Autonomy for the Bangsamoro. We love you, Mr President, please don’t betray us,” he emotionally called on President Aquino.

Mahdie, also an Executive Director of the Mindanao Action for Peace and Development Initiative (MAPAD), opined that watered-down and diluted Bangsamoro Basic Law will not be acceptable to the Bangsamoro. He also appealed to all Bangsamoro to be firm in fighting for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“This is our right to have our own constitution, it should not be made for us,” he said.

He explained that the very reason why government failed to resolve the Bangsamoro question is that it has never given democratic space for the Bangsamoro to exercise its right to self-determination. He added that all political solutions designed by the government to address the political problem were all imposed upon the Bangsamoro.

Jehan Usop, representative of the Moro Women Development and Cultural Center (MWDECC), appealed to President Aquino and his legal team to respect the BTC BBL draft.

“Mr President, BBL is a result of the many consultations conducted by the BTC and CSOs, and it is copy-pasted from the agreement, therefore, your legal team has no authority to mangle it, and diluting it, Mr President, is anti-peace,” she said.

“Mr President, the Bangsamoro is also your boss, and please listen to us: Amend the Philippine constitution to accommodate the BBL rather than mangling it. Don’t let agreement adjust to the constitution; it should be the constitution to adjust to the agreement for the sake of peace. Submit and defend it to congress,” she appealed.

She added that rallyists are supposed to be enjoying the Eid al-Fitr festival with their families but it did not happen because of what the Office of the President and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) did on BBL.

MILF: Bangsamoro Basic Law contains provisions culled from public consultations

From the MILF Website (Jul 31): Bangsamoro Basic Law contains provisions culled from public consultations

ibrahim lai

A member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) clarified that at least 10-15 percent or even more of the provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) were inputs culled from its own public consultation and from those conducted by civil society organizations.

“The people need to be informed and engaged and their views or recommendations reflected in the BBL. We also consulted international experts especially on governance and fiscal matters.”

This was the statement of Commissioner Ibrahim Ali released to Luwaran, which is obviously in response to those who claimed that the BBL crafted by the BTC contained provisions not directly expressed in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes.

He also disclosed that most of the recommendations concerned women, indigenous peoples, children, and labor and they appeared on the Article on Basic Rights.

He also said that Executive Order No. 120 signed for the President by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., which legally created the BTC had made public consultation as one of its functions

The Mindanao Civil Society Organization Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) had held about 700 consultations throughout Mindanao and other parts of the country. The Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) and Conciliation Resources (CR), which have entered into memoranda of agreement with the BTC, also contributed a lot to make these public consultations truly deliberative and genuine.

The CR has ten partner organizations which operated on the ground in relation to public consultations.

Other international bodies, which also invested heavily on peace especially in public engagements, included The Asia Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the United Nations-World Bank through their new technical assistance program called Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC).

FASTRAC will assist the MILF and the Government of the Philippines in building capacity to address key issues for the Bangsamoro such as governance, justice, combatant transition and security. Priority areas of support will be determined by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, MILF, and the Philippine government. FASTRAC will provide on-demand access to a pool of experts, training, policy advice, research and international exchanges.

Ali also explained that the BTC was mandated by the government and MILF Peace Panels through the FAB and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) to provide details to many issues that were not addressed in either of the two documents.

He cited, among other things, the issues of the block grant, transportation and communication, special development fund, electoral system in the Bangsamoro, and composition of the Bangsamoro Transition

MILF: GPH- MILF Peace panels to resume “workshops” on heavily diluted BBL draft in Davao City

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 31): GPH- MILF Peace panels to resume “workshops” on heavily diluted BBL draft in Davao City

Having failed to agree on a mutually-accepted version of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during their workshops in Kuala Lumpur and Manila, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels will resume their workshops in Davao City from August 1 to 10.
The draft BBL submitted to MalacaƱang Palace early May this year took two months for the palace legal team to review and came out with “heavily diluted version”, according to BTC Chairman and MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal.

The 10-day meeting is one of the longest working sessions in the peace process, stressing the necessity to complete the task as soon as possible. The panels met the weekend before President Aquino’s penultimate State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday, July 28 and declared a break for the MILF to observe Eid al-Fitr Tuesday that marked the end of Ramadan, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported (PDI).

“What is important is there is a movement forward but the task is really very tough,” MILF chief negotiator Iqbal told the Inquirer after the President’s SONA on Monday.

After putting together an agreed version of the draft bill, the panels will go to Kuala Lumpur “to formalize the decision,” Iqbal said.
Malaysia is acting as 3rd party facilitator in the peace process.

Negotiating peace in Mindanao is among the cornerstones of the Aquino administration, as the long-drawn-out war with the Moro secessionist group has left a high death toll, thousands of displaced families, and stunted economic and human development, PDI also said.

In the same report, PDI quoted President Benigno Aquino III or PNoy saying during his EidFitr message to the Filipino Muslims onTuesday, that“The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the government and the MILF showed that both parties were bound by the desire to have peace”.

“We continue to build a more harmonious, more just country as we begin to ease the disquiet that has long shaken our lands… Let us sustain the gains of positive reform and be steadfast stewards of unity and development in our society,” President Aquino said.

Earlier, Chairman Iqbal was quoted saying that he is attending the SONA to hear what the president will say about the BBL. After the SONA, Iqbal said he was happy with the President’s mention of the Bangsamoro in his SONA. “What is good, on the positive note, is that we saw that the peace process is still on the optic lens of the President and the administration,” Iqbal said. (Source: PDI, July 30, 2014)“workshops”-on-heavily-diluted-bbl-draft-in-davao-city

CPP: Expose and repudiate Aquino’s SONA lies—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 30): Expose and repudiate Aquino’s SONA lies—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today called on the Filipino people to expose and repudiate the lies and illusions churned out by Benigno Aquino III during his state of the nation address last Monday.

“Aquino’s state of the nation address was built on a foundation of lies,” said the CPP. “It painted a picture of progress and hope to conceal the reality of rapidly deteriorating conditions that impose heavier socio-economic burdens on the broad masses of the Filipino people,” said the CPP.

“Amid the worsening crisis of the ruling system, Aquino has resorted to spewing outright lies in a vain attempt to hoodwink the Filipino people,” added the CPP. “He has, however, succeeded only in further stoking the people’s dissatisfaction as he made claims which the Filipino people know are out-and-out false boasts.”

“Among the starkest lies in Aquino’s SONA was his claim of delivering emergency aid to Yolanda victims within 24 hours. It is common knowledge that his entire government was Noynoying for at least 36 hours, that is until video footages started to be broadcast showing the extent of damage caused by the typhoon,” pointed the CPP. “He further claimed to have restored electricity in all typhoon-hit areas by Christmas Day 2013, when, in fact, even large parts of Tacloban City were still in the dark until mid-March 2014.”

“Aquino also lied about the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of families displaced by the armed siege and aerial bombing by the armed forces last September 2013 which resulted in the intentional destruction of entire communities of urban poor and ordinary income earners,” added the CPP. “Contrary to Aquino’s claims, tens of thousands remain in evacuation centers as they are fenced off from land where their houses once stood and forced to relocate to other places away from their livelihood.”

“The Filipino people, who suffer daily from rising prices, low wages, high unemployment and landlessness, are fully aware that there is nothing but empty bluster behind Aquino’s claims of addressing unemployment, homelessness, rising costs of education and health, spiralling prices, corruption and criminality,” said the CPP. “Aquino has resorted to anecdotes to support his assertions of change and progress in a slick publicity trick of airbushing a thin slice of reality and present it as an image of the entirety.”

The CPP pointed out that Aquino’s claims of reducing the number of people below the poverty line by 2.5 million (from figures in early 2013) does not reflect the actual state of the people, but was attained only through statistical manipulation of revising standards of poverty in 2012. Aquino’s claims of having an additional 1.6 million employed over the past year is not an achievement, rather, a failure to substantially make a dent on the problem of nearly 30 million unemployed and underemployed Filipinos.

The use of deception and violence in the Aquino-Cojuangco’s Hacienda Luisita to prevent genuine land reform is repeated all over the country.
“The picture of Philippine society was drawn by Aquino for his audience of big landlords, big bourgeois compradors, foreign big business and foreign banks, who are all largely satisfied with the implementation of neoliberal policies set forth by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, as well as with the all-out war of suppression of the people and Aquino’s close compliance with US foreign policy and military dictates,” said the CPP.

“In a desperate effort to downplay the real state of the people, Aquino’s police forces barricaded the streets leading to the congress to prevent tens of thousands of protesters from exposing the real conditions of the toiling masses of workers and peasants,” added the CPP. “The image of the police barricades and the overwhelming use of force is representative of the state of widespread abuses of human rights in the country.”

“After four years of rule, Aquino has proven himself to be no different from past presidents in terms of serving the interests of foreign big business, landlords, compradors and big bureaucrat capitalists,” said the CPP. “Over the last two years of his term, he is bound to face the Filipino people’s growing wrath and the mounting demands for his ouster.”

5 Marine battalions hunt down gunmen responsible for Sulu massacre

From InterAksyon (Jul 31): 5 Marine battalions hunt down gunmen responsible for Sulu massacre

Five Marine battalions have joined pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf gunmen who staged an ambush that left 23 people, including women and children, dead in Talipao, Sulu Monday.

"We are supporting the Philippine National Police in its ongoing operations. As of the moment, we have five Marine battalions helping in the pursuit operations," Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said.

Aside from the Marines, Zagala said there are also support units that can be tapped if needed.

At the same time, he said there are no plans to send reinforcements to Sulu.
Earlier, Brigadier General Martin Pinto, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, assured the victims’ families they would do everything they can to bring the perpetrators to justice.

At the same time, he brushed off insinuations that lapses by the military allowed the attack.

Earlier, authorities said the target of the ambush were members of a barangay police force engaged in a “rido,” or blood feud, with relatives of Abu Sayyaf members and who happened to be escorting two jeeploads of Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan.

NPA amazon arrested in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jul 31): NPA amazon arrested in Southern Philippines

Philippines authorities are holding a female member of the communist rebel group New People’s Army following her arrest in the southern province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The rebel, Luzviminda Elopre who also goes by the name Minda Elopre, alias Nanay, was arrested by police and military forces in the village of Sicayab in Dipolog City on July 27.

Police confirmed the capture of Elopre after she was tracked down at her hideout in the village and officials said the rebel is currently being interrogated to exact information about her organization and other members of the group.

It said Elopre is facing murder charges in connection with her group’s violent campaign aimed at putting up a separate state in the country.

No other details were made available by either the police or the army, but the arrest of Elopre was carried out by the Zamboanga del Norte Public Safety Company, Dipolog City Police Station, Regional Intelligence Division, Provincial Intelligence Branch, Regional Highway Patrol Unit 9, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency 9, Military Intelligence Group 9, and Military Intelligence Battalion.