Saturday, August 9, 2014

More Filipino militants fight in Iraq

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 9): More Filipino militants fight in Iraq

Philippine authorities are on alert following an increase in the number of Filipinos going to Iraq and Syria to train and fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

In a report to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Felizardo Serapio Jr., head of the Law Enforcement and Security Integration Office under Ochoa and executive director of the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, said that Syria has grown to be an attractive destination for foreign fighters.

Among those lured are Muslim Filipinos.

Labeled confidential, the report has been shared with the Office of the President and other law enforcement organizations, including the Interpol. Ochoa also heads the Antiterrorism Council.

The report points to an emerging trend of Southeast Asians, including Filipinos, being recruited to fight in Syria and other conflict zones in the Middle East.

About 200

There is no exact figure on how many Filipinos have joined Isil in Syria and Iraq except that it may be close to 200.

A report from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) dated March 20 this year indicated some 100 Filipinos were monitored to have traveled to Iran and undergone military training before being deployed to Syria.

The DFA also reported that two Filipinos have died for supposedly participating in the conflict. No identities were mentioned in the DFA report dated last July 14 and sent to Ochoa.

An official in Serapio’s office told the Inquirer that one of the two Filipinos found dead with Syrian fighters was raised in Syria by his Filipino mother and a Syrian father (now deceased). The other was carrying a Filipino passport.

“The mother of one of them has been located but has no plans of going back to the Philippines because her husband had left her with a big piece of land,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Orphaned fighters

Other reports indicate the presence of other Filipinos in Syria and Iraq. One report was sent to the independently run Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR).

In that report, several “Anak-Ilu” were said to have left Sulu late last year to train and fight with Isil. “Anak-Ilu” is a Tausug word meaning orphans, according to retired Gen. Rodolfo Mendoza, president of PIPVTR.

“These are orphans of members of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro National Liberation Front whose ages are between 18 and 25,” Mendoza said.

He said members of the group reportedly trained under a Malaysian named Quayyim, an alleged member of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. They do not follow orders from Abu Sayyaf or MNLF commanders, according to Mendoza.

Tausug from Patikul

“They answer to no one and consider themselves one with the Islamic Caliphate,” he said. “There are no identities mentioned in the report except that one Ninok Sappari, a Tausug from Patikul, Sulu province, is believed to be one of those who was recruited late last year to join fighters in Syria.”

Filipinos who have fought with Isil in Syria and Iraq pose a serious danger to national security because of the possibility that upon returning to the Philippines, they will use their experience to apply what they learned from Isil, Mendoza said.

“To pledge alliance, which a lot of Filipino Muslims are doing now, including some commanders in the Abu Sayyaf, is one thing. To fight side by side with the Syrians and the Iraqis is another matter and it could be a real internal security problem,” Mendoza said.

The Antiterrorism Council has recommended to the executive secretary the creation of a technical working group to create a database for profiling foreign fighters from Southeast Asia, with focus on Filipino fighters.

Basilan Army commander seeks dialogue with Abu Sayyaf; shocks ARMM adviser

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 8): Basilan Army commander seeks dialogue with Abu Sayyaf; shocks ARMM adviser

The newly installed Army commander in Basilan said a dialogue with the Abu Sayyaf was among measures he is considering for peace to finally reign on the island-province.

The comment shocked an adviser to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao but was welcomed by the governor of the strife-torn province.

Colonel Rolando Bautista, who took command of the 104th Infantry Brigade on Thursday, said it was his priority to “promote dialogue with those who want to discuss peace with the government” even if they belonged to the Abu Sayyaf.

“I am open to waging peace with the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Bautista told the Inquirer in an interview after assuming his new command. He said he knew that the Abu Sayyaf also wanted peace.

Alvin Dans, a senior consultant to Governor Mujiv Hataman of the  Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Bautista’s proposal came as a shock. He noted that the Abu Sayyaf was a terrorist group.

But Basilan Governor Jum Jainuddin Akbar said that while the Abu Sayyaf was notorious, she understood Bautista’s line of thinking.

A dialogue with the extremist group, she said, might be a much better approach to the search for peace and progress in her province.

“There’s nothing wrong with it. Whatever it is that can help us achieve peace is most welcome. If we can achieve peace through non-violent means, then it would be better,” Akbar said.

Bautista said a dialogue with the Abu Sayyaf might be an unpopular move but he added that  the Bible teaches man to reach out.

“God said you reach out not only to your friends but to your enemies as well,” he said.

Bautista said a sincere search for peace entailed dialogue  and he would start reaching out to the Abu Sayyaf by tapping the help of Muslim religious leaders in Basilan.

“Whatever my intentions I will course it to their elders. It would be very challenging but we can always try. If we don’t try it, misunderstanding would prevail,” he said.

Bautista said he was not considering deadlines in his quest for a dialogue with the Abu Sayyaf.

“The search for peace has no timetable,” he added.

But he clarified that it did not mean the military would not pursue  those he labeled “spoilers.”

“For those who resist as we offer our left hand, we also have our right hand to deal with spoilers,” Bautista said.

Police, military, Maguindanao locals plant 3K 'trees of peace'

From the Philippine Star (Aug 9): Police, military, Maguindanao locals plant 3K 'trees of peace'

Former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema prepares a mahogany seedling to be planted on one spot at the Dimapatoy watershed in Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat town during Saturday’s planting of 3,000 “trees of peace” in the area, while Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, organizer of the event, looks on. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The police, military, and the local communities on Saturday renewed their commitment to the Mindanao peace process by planting 3,000 narra and mahogany seedlings on a protected watershed in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.

The activity, organized by Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), was participated by representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), led by former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema.

Sema is chair of the largest and most politically active faction in the MNLF, which signed a final peace deal with government on Sept. 2, 1996.

Sema and Pangilinan jointly led the symbolic planting of the “trees of peace” in the surroundings of the Dimapatoy protected watershed in the west of Datu Odin Sinsuat, about 3 kilometers away from Camp Gonzalo Siongco, the command center of 6th ID.

The Cotabato City Water District operates a pumping facility near the Dimapatoy watershed, which supplies water to all of the 37 barangays in nearby Cotabato City.

Pangilinan told reporters the tree planting event was part of the 6th ID’s environmental protection efforts.

He said the activity was also meant to strengthen the camaraderie among sectors helping push the Mindanao peace process forward.

Representatives from Central Mindanao’s top producer of Antipolo tree seedlings, the Minrico, Inc., a wood processing firm in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, also planted mahogany seedlings, alongside Pangilinan and Sema.

The Minrico, Inc. is a major benefactor of the “re-greening program” in Maguindanao of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DENR-ARMM).

The DENR-ARMM had earlier embarked on more than a dozen tree planting activities in Camp Abubakar, the former bastion of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the province, utilizing seedlings supplied by the Minrico, Inc.

ARMM employees, led by an emergency rescue group from the region’s Humanitarian Emergency Assistance and Response Team, planted some 300 tree seedlings at one side of the Dimapatoy watershed during the three-hour activity.

Sema and Pangilinan had agreed to cooperate in protecting watershed areas in Maguindanao where there are MNLF communities.

Pangilinan said he also plans to embark on another tree planting activity involving representatives of the MILF.

Pangilinan was the deputy commander for the peace process of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City prior to his assumption as 6th ID’s commander last May 2014.

NMCB 1 Sailors, Armed Forces of the Philippines Cut Ribbon on Science Building in Tacloban

From America's Navy (Aug 7): NMCB 1 Sailors, Armed Forces of the Philippines Cut Ribbon on Science Building in Tacloban

Steelworker 3rd Class Collin Welter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 and a native of Pepin, Wis., helps an Indonesian Marine install a window at the Tuadale School.

140607-N-NW827-017 WEST KUPANG, Indonesia (June 7, 2014) Steelworker 3rd Class Collin Welter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 and a native of Pepin, Wis., helps an Indonesian Marine install a window at the Tuadale School in West Kupang during Pacific Partnership 2014. Pacific Partnership is in its ninth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Stephen Oleksiak/Released)

TACLOBAN, Philippines (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, deployed as part of Pacific Partnership (PP) 2014, along with members of The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the San Fernando School, July 31.

Tacloban government officials, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and representatives from the Philippines Department of Education also attended the ceremony. The scope of the project included construction of a concrete masonry unit block, two-classroom school building. The building included a prefabricated metal truss roof and sheet metal roofing, interior lighting, fans and electrical outlets. 

"Tacloban has been through a lot, and it is very heart-warming and satisfying for us to finish here in an area that needs help so badly," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Guzzi, 30th Naval Construction Regiment operations officer. "After being here for a while I see the strength of this community and its resiliency. I know they will be back at full strength soon and have been amazed at the community's ability to continue business as usual even after the destruction that came from the super typhoon. The 'I love Tacloban' slogan now stands for strength to me, and I will never forget it."

During the ceremony, leaders reflected on the efforts put forth by all who participated in the mission and expressed thanks for their hard work. For two NMCB 1 engineers, not only will they remember the project, but will retain life-long memories from their experience.

"Pacific Partnership made me realize how good I have it back in the U.S.," said Utilitiesman 2nd Class Matthew Murfin, NMCB1 project supervisor for San Fernando Science Building. "I understand now what these countries have to deal with on a day to day basis and I was more than honored to help these folks. Reality really set in when we learned how many people perished in the old schoolhouse when the typhoon hit. I will look at this one day and tell my grandchildren how I helped build a schoolhouse for Tacloban City."

"During PP14, I felt honored and privileged to have the opportunity to help the community rebuild," said Steelworker 3rd Class Collin Welter, NMCB1 project crew leader for San Fernando Science Building. "During the mission, the thing that kept me going and kept me motivated was the thought of the children having a safe place to learn. I really began to understand what this [PP14] was all about when the plane touched down and I saw the difficulty that the people have to go through every day. It really makes you thankful for everything you have."

The PP14 engineering mission in the Philippines consisted of four engineering engagements, most of which were in the heart of Tacloban. The mission was staffed with three branches of service from the AFP and two construction battalions from the U.S. Naval Construction Force.

In addition to construction, the U.S. also participated in an engineering subject matter expert exchange with local civilians, military engineers and academic scholars on damage assessment, wind and seismic design, coastal protection and flood mitigation plans.

Pacific Partnership is in its ninth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.

DVIDS: U.S. Marines train AFP and PNP on Taser Techniques

From DVIDS (Aug 8): U.S. Marines train AFP and PNP on Taser Techniques

U.S. Marines train AFP and PNP on Taser Techniques

Staff Sgt. Teddy P. Blasi, with the Philippine Army, shoots an X26 Taser as part of Taser training, August 7, during Non-Lethal Weapons Executive Seminar (NOLES) 2014. NOLES is an annual field-training exercise and leadership seminar sponsored by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, and hosted by various nations throughout the Asia-Pacific. This is the 13th iteration of NOLES with members from the AFP, and Philippine National Police participating. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Erik Estrada)

Philippine Armed Forces and Philippine National Police trained with U.S. Marines from 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, on how to use the X26 Taser, at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, August 7, as part of Non-lethal Weapons Executive Seminar (NOLES) 2014.

This year marks the 13th iteration of this event, which is held annually by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and consists of a field-training exercise and a leadership seminar with participants from 19 nations. This year the Armed Forces of the Philippines are hosting NOLES, for the first time. The exercise promotes awareness and effective use of non-lethal weapons (NLW) to maintain order in low-intensity conflicts or civil unrest.

Training began with classroom instruction to prepare the service members on the proper use of the X26 Taser. The class covered the different types of cartridges, and the firing distances of each one.

"Taser training is very important. If you find yourself in a situation where you're needing to use this weapon, you need to know how it feels, how it functions, the good, the bad, the do's and the don'ts. That way you can employ it safely," said Sgt. Timothy Brown, a non-lethal weapons instructor with 3rd LEB, III MEF.

During the day the AFP and PNP service members practiced aiming on targets, before they could begin the portion of training where they would experience the feel of a Taser.

In the afternoon, the service members began making their initial contact with the Taser. Some started off by getting shot by the Taser, and some by receiving a "drive stun." Both are pain compliance techniques causing bodies to seize up, and comply with the orders given by their instructors.

“It’s my first time I’ve had pain like that,” said Police Officer 1st Class Francis N. Javellana, Philippine National Police. “Overall it was a very good learning experience for me.”

The training here is done to show members from the AFP and PNP the effectiveness of non-lethal weapon tactics.

"The Filipinos are extremely motivated, and now know what it feels like to be hit by a Taser," Brown said. "If I had to rate the way our day went on a scale from one to ten, this is an 11."

Draft Bangsamoro law 70% done – Palace

From the Manila Times (Aug 9): Draft Bangsamoro law 70% done – Palace

The government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have agreed on at least 70 percent of the contents of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Malacañang said on Saturday.

The two sides will conclude today their 10-day marathon negotiations aimed at ironing out kinks in the draft law that will be the basis for the putting up of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the two panels have finished discussions on “more or less” 70 percent of the provisions of the BBL. Negotiators will tackle next thorny issues that has delayed the submission of the draft law to Congress.

The government and MILF panels went back to the drawing board on August 1 to review the draft and thresh out disagreements since the MILF has complained that Malacañang lawyers had heavily revised the draft submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

The draft bill on the BBL is the fruit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) which was signed by the government and MILF in April. The CAB includes annexes on transitional modalities, power-sharing, wealth-sharing and normalization.

“The panels said that more or less, they are 70 percent [done discussing issues].

The hard issues are the ones that they’re saving for last, and hopefully, we’ll be able to thresh out those remaining issues,” Valte said in a radio interview.

“If you ask us, failure should not be on the horizon. This is not for the President personally but it’s for our brothers and sisters in the Bangsamoro,” she added.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Congress is primed for the BBL deliberations so that the measure can be passed by the end of the year.

“They should be transmitting it to us this month. For instance, we have sent legislators to Spain to study regional governments. We have been priming ourselves for this, but there is nothing we can do until we receive the Bangsamoro bill,” Belmonte said.

He noted though that Congress will not sacrifice the “quality” of the BBL even if lawmakers are determined to speed up passage of the measure.

“We will try to do it as expeditiously as we can, but if it cannot be done, we will not force it. But as of now, it [December] is still the target,” Belmonte said.

The Bangsamoro region will replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) headed by Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

This developed as MILF panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal denied accusing President Benigno Aquino 3rd of reneging on a promise that the government will be flexible in applying the Constitution on the BBL law.

In a statement sent to The Manila Times, the BTC Communication Group headed by Abdullah “Dong” Cusain said Iqbal was surprised by the report that quoted him as saying that the President broke his promise to be flexible.

“I have never said those words, nor will I ever say that about the President,” Iqbal said. Cusain quoted Iqbal as saying that he is “fully aware that making false accusations do not have any place in this process.”

Cusain said Iqbal reiterated his position that “peace is the only option right now” and that they are doing everything to realize it.

He said Iqbal appealed to “friends in the media to be more mindful of the reports being published…to be faithful to the truth and serve as a source of hope in this difficult time.” As to the progress of the ongoing negotiations between the government and MILF panels, Cusain said he is not privy to the proceedings and that the two panels may issue an official statement.

“Maybe tomorrow both panels will divulge what they have discussed so far,” he said.

China vows firm action to defend sea interests

From the Manila Times (Aug 9): China vows firm action to defend sea interests

China on Saturday vowed “clear and firm reactions” to defend its interests in the West  Philippine Sea (South China Sea) but rejected suggestions of aggression, as Beijing faces international pressure over maritime disputes with its neighbors.

A series of incidents between Beijing and rival claimants to the waters has sent regional tensions soaring and spurred Washington to call for an end to all “provocative” acts.

“The position of China to safeguard its own sovereignty, maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said following a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw.

Wang said the situation in the contested waters was currently “stable,” adding that Beijing always acted with “self restraint.”

“However, for those groundless provocative activities, the Chinese side is bound to make clear and firm reactions,” he said.

China also defended the building of lighthouses in Paracel and Spratly islands, calling them its “inherent territory” amid tensions with Vietnam and other nations that also claim parts of the region.

“China has long been building and maintaining lighthouses and other navigational aids on islands” in the Xisha and Nansha chains, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

“What China has done is beyond any reproach since it provides necessary measures to safeguard the navigational safety of vessels passing by and serves the public good in conformity with the requirement of relevant international rules,” Hua said.

She reiterated China’s position that the Paracels and the Spratlys, which Beijing calls Xisha and Nansha islands, “are inherent territory of China.”

Sites for five new lighthouses to be constructed in the Paracels have been chosen, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported Friday, citing China’s Navigation Guarantee Center of the South China Sea.

The report said lighthouse construction experts were dispatched to carry out research at the five sites.

Hua was responding to a written question seeking China’s comment on remarks made by a US State Department spokeswoman on Thursday.

At a briefing in Washington, the State Department’s Marie Harf said the US position has been “for a very long time that we believe territorial disputes should be managed and resolved peacefully, diplomatically, and in accordance with international law.”

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea, including waters, islands, reefs, shoals and rocky outcrops nearer to other countries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who arrived in the early hours of Saturday to attend a series of meetings with regional and international powers, is expected to underline Washington’s message for a freeze on any activities that could worsen regional maritime relations.

Animosity reigns

Animosity over the South China Sea, a crucial maritime route that is also believed to hold huge oil and gas deposits, is dominating Asean talks, which began Friday and are broadening to include key world powers ahead of security discussions on Sunday.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire sea including waters, islands, reefs, shoals and rocky outcrops nearer to other countries.

Asean states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea, while Taiwan is a sixth claimant.

Ties between China and Vietnam sunk to their lowest point in decades in May after Beijing moved a deep-sea oil rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands, triggering deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam.

Beijing has since removed the rig, in a move that analysts say was aimed at deflecting accusations of aggressive maritime behavior.

A draft statement from Asean foreign ministers, who met Friday, said the 10-member bloc had “serious concern” over recent developments in the disputed sea.

It also called for an end to “destabilizing actions.” That wording is likely to have proved contentious for China’s supporters in Asean and no final statement had been released by early Saturday.

The Philippines has been at the forefront of protest against China and has challenged Beijing’s claims before a UN tribunal.

It has also protested Chinese reclamation works in disputed reefs, including a suspected airstrip.

In March, China tried to block a resupplying mission by Manila to a shoal in the Spratlys, after also seizing another South China Sea shoal from the Philippines in 2012.

Manila wants a speedy conclusion of talks for a legally binding code of conduct, and the establishment of a dispute settlement mechanism anchored in international law.

Foreign Secretary del Rosario said he had received support for his proposals but said they would be referred to senior officials for further consideration.

The maritime row is set to loom large over discussions at the Asean Regional Forum on Sunday.

The forum is an annual security dialogue among foreign ministers of the 10-member Asean and key partners, including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the European Union.

3ID chief up for promotion

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 9): 3ID chief up for promotion

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, and a member of the Philippine Army Academy Class 1982, will assume the position of commander of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command, next month, DAILY STAR sources said yesterday.

Baladad will replace Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz, who retires on Sept. 6.
His post will be taken over by Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, now the Philippine Army chief of staff, as 3ID commander. Guerrero was the commanding officer of the 61st Infantry Battalion stationed in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, almost a decade ago.
Major Gen. Oscar Lactao, AFP deputy chief of staff for Operations, is also slated to take over the Army’s 4th Infantry Division command in Cagayan de Oro. He will replace Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, who survived the helicopter crash Thursday in Marawin City.
Lactao had served as commanding officer of 303rd Infantry Brigade in Negros Occidental.
Meanwhile, Visaya, a member of PMA Class, 1983, is being groomed to be the commanding general of the AFP Southern Luzon Command.
Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, AFP Central Command chief, is also slated to take over as AFP vice chief of staff, a position earlier occupied by Gen. Gregorio Catapang, who was recently appointed as AFP chief of staff.
Brig. Gen. Arnold Quiapo, 301st Infantry Brigade commander in Iloilo, is up for promotion to chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, replacing Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, who is slated to assume command of the 1st Infantry Division.

Region 6 soldiers getting M4 rifles

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 9): Region 6 soldiers getting M4 rifles

Members of the 4,000-strong 3rd Infantry Division of the Army deployed in Negros and Panay will soon be issued brand new M4 carbine rifles, Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, announced yesterday.
Baladad also said he expects the 3ID to receive its share of brand new assault rifles within this year.
The AFP purchased 63,000 brand-new M4 carbine rifles from the United States for issuance to Philippine military soldiers.
More than 27,000 brand new M4 carbine rifles have already been delivered to the Philippine Army.
All the 3ID soldiers, except those issued with Squad Automatic Weapons (SAW) and crew-served weapons, will be issued new rifles, he added.
The new weapons form part of the Philippine Army modernization program.

Baladad also dismissed as mere “talks” alleged destabilization plot against the administration of President Benigno Aquino III.
“These are just talks without basis”, he stressed.
Baladad,who is being groomed to be the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief, reiterated that the Philippine military, especially the 3ID, is solid behind with the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III.
But Malacañang and the AFP leadership have dismissed as false the supposed destabilization plot.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the AFP rank and file members are not interested in the rumored destabilization plot since they recognize the efforts of the Aquino administration for the welfare of soldiers.
The destabilization plot was allegedly being cooked up by retired generals identified with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, who was among those involved in previous failed military uprisings during the term of then President Arroyo, had earlier said that there is no reason for the military to be demoralized under the administration of President Aquino, as their morale is now very high.

Guv: Army did splendid job

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 9): Guv: Army did splendid job

Gov. Alfredo Marañon yesterday praised the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade for the splendid job it has done in Negros Occidental, especially in its peace and development campaign in the countryside.

Marañon, who spoke at the 28th founding anniversary celebration of the 303rd Infantry Brigade in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, said their accomplishments in the past years, were a result of their splendid job.
He cited, among others, the surrender of 114 rebels, who availed of financial and livelihood assistance from the provincial government of Negros Occidental.
Marañon is also actively involved in the Marching for Peace, Serving the Countrysides series of activities of the Provincial Peace Integration and Development Unit in conflict affected communities in the 1st and 5th districts of Negros Occidental, that benefitted more than 100,000 individuals, Pro-PIDU records show.
He vowed to continue the all-out support of the provincial government for the peace and development activities of the Philippine Army.
Marañon also reiterated his support for President Benigno Aquino against his detractors, stressing that the present administration has increased its budget for Negros Occidental by 15 percent.
At the same time, he also praised Aquino for allocating a big budget to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Marañon assisted Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division chief, in the distribution of citations to Army Bayanihan partners, for their support to the peace and development activities of the Philippine Army.
Honored were several local government chief executives, including EB Magalona Mayor David Albert Lacson, Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Maranon III, Himamaylan City Mayor Agustin Bascon, Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Board Members Renato Gustilo, Rolando Ponsica and Patrick Leonard Lacson, Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer, Provincial Planning and Development Officer Ma. Lina Sanogal, Public Affairs Division chief Ana Marie Lucasan, several priests assigned at the Dioceses of San Carlos, Bacolod and Kabankalan, and civil society groups.
Baladad, in his speech, said the 28th founding anniversary also celebrates the partnership between authorities and various stakeholders in the peace and development campaign.
He said the presence of local political leaders headed by Gov. Maranon and representatives of non-government organizations, people’s organizations, and the religious sector, contributes to the solution of the political factors, as well as addresses economic and social issues.
Baladad also cited Aying and his men for being “catalysts” for peace and development in so many ways, and exhibiting strong resolve and sincerity of efforts worth emulating.
He added that the unrelenting support extended by local government officials and various sectors of society to the Philippine Army in Negros Occidental made their tasks a lot easier to accomplish.
“Collective endeavor is a manifestation that Bayanihan is genuinely carried out in this part of the region, as we have our civilian partners to thank for it”, Baladad also said.

P2 billion allocated to enhance PNP capability

From AngMalaya (Aug 8): P2 billion allocated to enhance PNP capability

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday assured his administration’s continuous reforms to boost the capability of the Philippine National Police during the 113th police service anniversary in Camp Crame.

President Aquino cited for instance that under the proposed budget for 2015, the government earmarked Php2 billion for PNP’s Capability Enhancement Program and P100 million more for the construction of 18 police stations in the country.

The Chief Executive said the country aims to purchase more equipment like radio and patrol vehicle.

To boost police service, President Aquino said the government is looking to hire initially 7,439 from the target 30,000 non-uniformed personnel to perform administrative duties in police stations nationwide.

Further, President Aquino mentioned other programs and initiatives of the PNP.

The Chief Executive said the country is acquiring more pistols, bringing the police to pistol ratio now at 1:1.

“Batid din natin ang halaga ng agham at sistematikong pag-aaral sa pagsugpo ng krimen sa bansa. Kaya nakatutok tayo sa pag-upgrade sa ating science and forensic gathering capability,” he said.

The President also cited as examples the procedure on the new Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) that contains information on all firearms in the country, and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) that can be used for fingerprint comparison crucial to criminal identification.

PAF pilots demonstrated skills in Sokol crash, prevented loss of lives

From AngMalaya (Aug 9): PAF pilots demonstrated skills in Sokol crash, prevented loss of lives

Philippine Air Force pilots’ skills were demonstrated in the recent incident involving the W-3A Sokol combat utility helicopter. “[In a]very low altitude, [it] takes a highly skilled pilot to maneuver the aircraft to prevent damage, or passengers to be hurt,” PAF spokesperson Lt. Col. Enrico Canaya on Friday.

“We consider what they have done is a demonstration of their skills, because very low altitude and they just took off and then they were able to maneuver the aircraft in such a manner that they were able to save themselves and their passengers,” Canaya said.

“The landing may not be perfect because of the surface they landed on but then again, the skills of the pilots was made apparent when they managed to land in a spot where it will not harm the passengers,” PAF spokesperson added.

“They are fully aware of what they are doing, they are very professional because they did not forget the basics of flying and they are conscious of different situations,” he added.

Air Force’s Sokol helicopters are all prevented to operate until full report of the recent crash is available. PAF also said the 2-year warranty of the crashed helicopter was exceeded.

PZL Swidnik S.A. of Poland got the award worth PhP 2.8 billion to deliver eight PZL W-3 Sokol helicopters for the Air Force in 2009 before the end of President Arroyo’s term. First batch was delivered February 2012 and the final batch last February 2013.

China asked SoKor to cancel Pohang-class corvette donation to PH – report

From AngMalaya (Aug 8): China asked SoKor to cancel Pohang-class corvette donation to PH – report

“China has strongly protested against the [South Korean] government’s decision to donate a 1,200-ton patrol boat and a landing vessel to the Philippines, it emerged Monday,” reported August 5 by The Chosun Ilbo, one of major news providers in South Korea.

“According to the Foreign Ministry, an official at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul visited the ministry on June 10 after the decision was reported by media and asked for it to be canceled,” it added.

On Philippine side, there is no report of cancellation.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwang-jin told Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin at a meeting in Seoul last May 30 that Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) will decommission a Pohang-class corvette (PCC) by year-end and will be donated to the Philippine Navy.

Minister Kim said South Korea’s gesture is a small token compared with the great contribution of Filipino troops during the Korean War.

Pohang-class corvettes, a class of general purpose vessels operated by the Republic of Korea Navy, are equipped with 4 Harpoon missiles, 2 OTO Melara(76mm)/62 compact cannon, 2 Breda 40mm/70 cannon, 6 Mark 46 torpedoes, 12 Mark 9 depth charges. Sensors and processing systems depend on whether it is an ASW or ASUW version.

The said ship is expected to be donated with intact armament and sensors.

303rd IB honors 'Bayanihan' partners

From the Sun Star-Bacolod (Aug 9): 303rd IB honors 'Bayanihan' partners

The Philippine Army's 303rd Infantry Brigade marked its 28th founding anniversary on Friday by recognizing its stakeholders or "Bayanihan" partners for their participation in the quest for peace in Negros Occidental.

The rites were held at the 303rd IB headquarters at Camp Major Gerona in Barangay Minoyan.

Colonel Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd IB, said the stakeholders were part of winning the peace in Negros Occidental through the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan "Bayanihan."

This year's anniversary theme is "303rd Brigade: Kaagapay ng mga Negrense sa Bayanihan Tungo sa Kapayapaan at Kaunlaran," with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Major General Aurelio Baladad, commander of 3rd Infantry Division, as guest speakers.

The activity was also attended by Board Member Patrick Lacson and some retired officers of Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Bayanihan partners, including different mayors in Negros Occidental, religious groups, Provincial Government employees, non-government organization, and the Negros Press Club, received plaques of recognition and "brown eagle" tokens given by Aying, Baladad, and Marañon.

Aying said the Philippine Army is working together with the stakeholders to address the insurgency problem in Negros Occidental, and to achieve a level of normalization or highly stable Negros Island by 2016.

Marañon said the insurgency continues because there is still huge number of Negrenses wallowing in poverty.

In order to address the insurgency problem, Marañon said the Negros First Program will work towards poverty alleviation and upliftment of the less privileged Negrenses.

For his part, Baladad said insurgency is multifaceted and the presence of non-government organizations and religious groups is needed to address the economic and socials issues.

He said the presence of political leaders will provide the directions and leadership for winning peace, and contribute in solving the political problems in Negros Occidental.

Baladad encouraged the public to get involved in "Bayanihan."

He said the success of the government's peace and security effort is dependent on the participation and support of the public.

Baladad also encouraged the 303rd IB to be more relevant to the needs of peace and development in Negros Occidental.

Gov’t troops to get new firearms

From Sun Star-Bacolod (Aug 9): Gov’t troops to get new firearms

ABOUT 10,000 Philippine Army soldiers in Western Visayas will receive from the National Government new M4 Carbine firearms to replace the M16-A1 rifles earlier issued to them.

Major General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said Friday that the National Government started the distribution of the M4 Carbine firearms last month.

He said the distribution will run until December, and he is hoping that all soldiers will receive new firearms.

"The Philippine Army should have a standard weapon. The M4 Carbine is also the standard weapon of the United States Army," Baladad said.

He said those who will receive new firearms will undergo training on how to use these.

The distribution of firearms is part of the continued modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that President Aquino highlighted during his State of the Nation Address last month.

Other equipment already acquired under his administration were eight W-3A "Sokol" combat utility helicopters, two Hamilton class cutters and one landing craft utility.

The Philippine government has also signed the P18-billion contract for the acquisition of 12 units of Korea Aerospace Industries F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle," which will act as the country's interim jet fighters while waiting for the proper funding and training which will allow it to procure multi-role combat aircraft.

A P4.8-billion contract with the Canadian government for eight Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters was signed as well.

Meanwhile, an officer of 62nd Infantry Battalion who was seriously injured in an encounter with suspected New People's Army rebels in Barangay Dian-ay, Escalante City, last week, is showing improvement in his condition.

Baladad said Friday that First Lieutenant John Rey Espinosa, 27, who was wounded on the head, is still in critical condition though.

"We hope and pray that he will fully recover soon," Baladad said.

Genabe forms team to retrieve missing guns

From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Aug 9): Genabe forms team to retrieve missing guns

POLICE regional director Chief Supt. Isagani Genabe has ordered the immediate recovery of 135 assorted firearms that were discovered unaccounted in CampAlagar.

CampAlagar spokesman Supt. Michael Pareja said Genabe created a team to locate and retrieve the firearms.

Pareja said it was Genabe who directed his staff to cause the immediate filing of charges against a police officer who supposed to have taken care of the weapons.

Facing criminal and admnistrative cases is PO3 Cindy Daaca, a unit supply accounting officer at CampAlagar. Daaca was charged with 135 counts malversation of government property, and with violation of Republic Act 10591 or the comprehensive law on firearms and ammunition before the local prosecutor’s office.

The complaints against Daaca were filed by two non-commissioned police officers and a CampAlagar employee identified as PO3 Arvin Yorong, PO3 Juben Rosales and Jonor Caranzo.

The two officers alleged that Daaca issued to them pistols with tampered serial numbers.

Caranzo, the officer in charge of CampAlagar’s Regional Supply Accountable Office (RSAO), also filed a complaint against Daaca after 135 assorted firearms were discovered unaccounted in CampAlagar’s stock room.

Pareja said Caranzo was responsible in accepting supplies coming from CampCrame, including firearms and ammunition. The weapons, he said, were turned over to the regional supply office under Daaca.

“Si Daaca dayun ang mag-issue sa firearms and ammunition sa atong kapolisan,” he said.

Genabe has also ordered an examination of all memoranda-requests issued to all provincial, municipal and police stations in northern Mindanao.

“We are still also verifying the types of firearms that were declared missing,” Pareja said.

Pareja said Daaca’s attention was called during an accounting conducted on July 15, 2014 by a group composed of Insp. Romeo Tolentino, SPO2 Julious Rabongque, PO2 Jaquelyn Excelise, PO2 Ruselle Mutia and Judith Mottoomull.

“Daaca failed to answer. This resulted in the filing of criminal charges. She was given due process nga matubag niya ang kaso,” he said.

He said even if all the guns are retrieved, Daaca would still need to answer adminstratuve charges for negligence.

MILF: Peace deal in jeopardy as Moro rebels cry foul

Posted to Guest Article section of the MILF Website (Aug 8): Peace deal in jeopardy as Moro rebels cry foul (by Manuel Mogato/Reuters)

The two sides, who signed the deal in March to end nearly five decades of conflict, are holding urgent talks this week to try to iron out the unexpected obstacles to what had been seen as one of President Benigno Aquino's landmark successes.

A breakdown would risk a return to violence and a blow to hopes for an economic revival for resource-rich Mindanao island as potential investors in sectors such as agriculture and mining wait on the sidelines for the peace deal to be implemented.

Large companies such as food processor Del Monte Pacific Limited, which has a pineapple plantation in Mindanao, had said they were considering expanding operations after the deal. But most major foreign companies have held back pending evidence of a lasting settlement.

Under the pact the main rebel group - the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - agreed to disband its guerrilla force and rebuild communities in exchange for wider powers to control the region's economy and society. A joint government-MILF panel agreed details of the region's powers and relations with the central government this year, submitting a draft law for approval by Congress.

But the hitherto smooth progress has stalled after Aquino's legal team made surprise, sweeping changes to the draft law which the MILF says contravene the earlier agreement and would place unacceptable limits on their autonomy.

"We cannot accept this proposed law as it is," Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF's chief negotiator, told Reuters.

"We will lose face if we agree to this. Their version clearly departed from the letter and spirit of the peace agreement, which was the basis in crafting the proposed law."

Iqbal's comments to Reuters are the first public indication that the agreement is close to collapse.

Iqbal said about 70 percent of the nearly 100-page draft "Bangsamoro" law was either deleted or revised by Aquino's lawyers, who reviewed the document for two months after it was submitted in late April for vetting. A copy of the revised legislation seen by Reuters showed entire sections of articles on territory, resources, and government structure had been deleted or revised.


The peace deal - including provisions on revenue-sharing between the new region and the national government - was the product of more than 17 years of negotiations, brokered by Malaysia since 2001.

Analysts say the law appears to have fallen victim to recent legal and political setbacks suffered by Aquino, whose approval ratings have dropped after his flagship economic stimulus fund was declared illegal by the Supreme Court last month. He faces three impeachment complaints in Congress.

That has made Aquino, whose presidency has two years to run, wary of a new battle with the top court that could arise if the self-rule law contravenes the constitution.

"The president could have easily persuaded Congress to approve the Bangsamoro law if he still enjoyed a high popular rating. But he is facing a serious credibility problem because of his economic stimulus package," said Julkipli Wadi, a professor at the University of the Philippines.

The government's chief negotiator, Miriam Coronel Ferrer, denied the government had reneged on key pledges but said the proposed law had to be in line with the constitution.

"Let's not point fingers at each other," she said. "There were difficulties in the drafting of the law but the president is not afraid to gamble his political capital for this issue."

The revisions by Aquino's team seek to bring crucial elements such as resource sharing and taxation in line with the constitution, making the proposed new autonomous region more dependent on the central government for economic policy and law making. A higher degree of autonomy for the region could require Aquino to push for amendments to the constitution, which he is unwilling to do despite having large enough majorities in Congress.

Aquino has promised the autonomous region would be in place by January 2015. Following that, a referendum on whether to accept the new law will be held in Muslim Mindanao.

"The president should agree to amend the constitution and grant full fiscal autonomy, otherwise the rebels will reject this arrangement," said an independent lawyer who is involved in discussions to resolve the problem.

"The talks are getting harder. I am afraid the rebels will go back to war if this process fails."


There have been no clashes between the MILF and the army since 2011, but tension remains high in a region that is rife with poverty, guns and extremist Muslim splinter groups that have resisted joining the peace settlement.

"Challenges on the ground are very real," Rommel Banlaoi, director at the Centre for Intelligence and National Security Studies, told Reuters, saying some MILF commanders are getting impatient and unhappy with the delay.

More than 120,000 people have been killed and two million displaced by the conflict in western Mindanao, a Muslim majority area in the mostly Roman Catholic Asian nation.

Renewed violence would wipe out the goodwill and increased business confidence since the March peace deal, said ATTY. Ishak Mastura, Head of the Regional Board of Investments.

About 2.5 billion pesos ($57 million) in investments were registered in Muslim Mindanao in the first half of 2014, the highest in its history, Mastura said. Investments rose to nearly 1.5 billion pesos in 2013 from 569 million pesos in 2012.

Mindanao's mineral reserves include gold, copper, nickel, iron, chromite and manganese and account for about two-fifths of total reserves in the country. The Sulu Sea and Cotabato Basin, both within the conflict zone, have combined reserves of 411 million barrels of crude oil, equivalent to more than three times the country's annual consumption, and 2.3 billion cubic feet of gas.

"As long as there's no shooting on both sides we're still OK but if fighting resumes that's an entirely new ball game," Mastura said. (Posted on ABS-CBN-News, August 7, 2014)

MILF: Iqbal denies accusing the President of breaking promise

From the MILF Website (Aug 9): Iqbal denies accusing the President of breaking promise

MILF Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal categorically denied as baseless and unfounded a Manila Times news (7 August 2014) misquoting him as having accused President Benigno Aquino III of reneging on a “promise the government that will be flexible in its application of the Constitution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).”
In his letter to the editor of said newspaper, Iqbal expressed surprise over said article since he “(does) not recall having been interviewed by any of the reporters of the Manila Times ..”

Iqbal, who also sits as chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, found “disturbing” the misrepresentation made against him by reporters William Depasupil, Catherine Valente and Jefferson Antiporda.

“I have never said those words, nor will I ever say that about the President,” Iqbal wrote in his letter. Further, he stressed that he is “fully aware that making false accusations do not have any place in this process.”

Iqbal also reiterated his clear position that “peace is the only option right now” and that they are doing everything to realize it.

The MILF and GPH are now on the 9th day of their meeting in this city.

Iqbal appealed to The Manila Times and “friends in the media to be more mindful of the reports being published…to be faithful to the truth and serve as a source of hope in this difficult time."

MILF: GPH-MILF panels convene to thresh out differences on watered-down draft BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 9): GPH-MILF panels convene to thresh out differences on watered-down draft BBL

Starting August 1, the peace panels of the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (GPH-MILF) gathered in Davao City to thresh-out their differences on watered-downed draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and submitted to Malacañang last week of April.
When enacted the BBL shall be the governing law of the future Bangsamoro government. The panels will wind up their workshops on August 10 unless extended by both parties. A Pool of Independent Lawyers (PIL) is assisting the peace panels.

The discussions on the draft law prompted Mr. Salic Ibrahim, Executive Director of Maranao Peoples Development Center (MARADECA) to call on both panels to iron out differences and come up with a mutually-agreed version.

MARADECA said that by expediting the discussions, it can be submitted to Congress by President Benigno Aquino III in early possible time so that the two chambers of congress shall have enough time to tackle and enact the bill into a law for the proposed Bangsamoro new political entity. After the law is ratified in a plebiscite the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) shall replace the ARMM in July 2015.

The ongoing discussions need the support, not only by the civil society groups but also other stakeholders in Mindanao. The Mindanao Peace Weavers expressed its support to the workshops in Davao City and stressed the need for immediate and compromise agreement on the draft BBL.

 Salic Ibrahim added that it is also equally important for the principals of the two panels to exercise authority by urging them to come-up with a mutually-agreed draft BBL. Previous meeting in Japan between President Aquino and MILF Chieftain Al Haj Murad Ebrahim helped fast track the completion of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four annexes.  

MARADECA called on President Aquino to act expeditiously on the draft BBL when both panels are through with their discussions and come up with a compromise version. A draft bill or law acceptable to the Bangsamoro people and the establishment of Bangsamoro Region will finally end the decades of violence in Mindanao.

Frustrations and anxiety arose from various sectors in Mindanao mostly peace advocates, civil society organizations, religious sectors and from MILF ground commanders who were dismayed and irritated after the Office of the President (OP) legal team diluted the draft BBL that almost 70% of the original contents were deleted and replaced with other versions.

MILF: Thousands of Zamboanga City residents to march for peace in Mindanao

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 9): Thousands of Zamboanga City residents to march for peace in Mindanao

Philstar reported on August 7 that more than 12,000 residents of Zamboanga City will march on August 11 to proclaim their advocacy for peace amid the conflict between Muslim and Christian groups in Mindanao. 

Students estimated at 5,500 from Western Mindanao State University and Ateneo de Zamboanga University will join the peaceful march.

Man Lee, chair of the international non-profit organization Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and Restoration of Light (HWPL) which organized the event said that, “Peace does not belong to one person, but is everyone’s responsibility to become a messenger of peace. If one truly cares for their nation, they would together to establish an international law for the cessation of war and violence”. The walk is in response to recent clashed between the Moro National Liberation Front and the local government in Basilan and Sulu.

Prominent religious leaders, such as Archbishop Romulo Dela Cruz and Deputy Mufti for Western Mindanao Sheikh Abdulwakil Tanjilil, as well as government officials, such as Mayor of Zamboanga Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, Governor of Basilan Jum Jainudin Akbar, Vice Governor of Sulu Abdusakur Tan II, Governor of Tawi-Tawi Sadikul A. Sahali, lawyer Paulino Ersando, and Chairman of the Indigenous People Council of Leaders Dr. Pendatun Laja.

HWPL will host next month a landmark World Alliance of Religions: Peace Summit 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. The summit will bring together top religious and government leaders, as well as the youths from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States, the report further said. (Source: Philstar, August 7, 2014)

MILF: UNYAPAD Ranao Region Holds Forum on Human Resource Mapping

From the MILF Website (Aug 8): UNYAPAD Ranao Region Holds Forum on Human Resource Mapping

The Ranao Chapter of the United Youth for Peace and Development, Inc. (UNYPAD) conducted a forum on Human Resource Mapping (HRM) on August 2 and 3 at the Ayala Resort Hotel, Marawi City.
Ansary Diamaodin, UNYPAD Regional Cluster Chairman of Ranao, disclosed that the activity is part of the ongoing Human Resource Inventory of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in partnership with the Japan Technical Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“The UNYPAD is one of the service providers in the BTC-JICA partnership in conducting human resource inventory in preparation to the upcoming establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA),” he said.

“Preparing human resources who will be voluntarily taking part in the would-be Bangsamoro Government is indispensable considering the fact that running a government requires different fields of expertise, skills and knowledge, otherwise the Bangsamoro will fail,” he added.

Rahib Kudto, UNYPAD President, explained thoroughly that HRM is not a job-hiring activity but it is to identify individuals or professionals that are willing to voluntarily serve the Bangsamoro future government.

“There was an overwhelming response of the professionals in Lanao; they exceeded from expectation,” Rahib, also a member of the Third Party Monitoring Team, said.

Asked about the development of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiations, he said, “It is moving despite difficulties they have been encountering after the comments made on Bangsamoro Basic Law by the Office of the President through it legal team, which made some frustrations among MILF leaders.”

“...but what’s important the parties are still talking peace and finding ways to come up with an agreed version of the BBL,” he added.

Responding to the question whether war will still be an option should peace panels will fail to arrive at an agreed version of the BBL, Rahib said, “I have never heard from both Government and MILF that war is an option.”

“No one will agree that war will still be a best option as it will only beget another round of displacements, and will  claim lives of both Filipino and Bangsamoro peoples,” he pointed out.

“I am just afraid that it is the situation that will dictate them that war will still be an option at which both parties can’t control considering the fact that the MILF is still a revolutionary organization that is still having capability to engage in battle, and there is this information that there are MILF commanders in the ground that have already been getting restive after having known that the Office of the President diluted the BBL,” Nasser Binasing, National Secretary of the UNYPAD on Rehabilitation and Development Committee, said.

“I think academics, CSOs and Local Government Units (LGUs) have a very important role to play in pushing the two parties to really conclude this already more than 15 years old negotiation and to call on government to comply faithfully with its commitments, and also on MILF to be more patient amidst these difficulties confronting them along the way,” he added.

One of the participants said that the ball is now at the hands of the government as the peace panels have been able to forge a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamaoro (CAB) and the BTC has already been done with drafting the BBL.

Nasser said that UNYPAD has already been done with conducting forums in Central Mindanao region that covers Cotabato City, Maguindanao and North Cotabato. He discoursed that Mindanao Action for Peace and Development Initiatives (MAPAD) and the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) are presently in Island Provinces conducting the same activity.

“UNYPAD and MAPAD have been assigned to conduct information drive with Bangsamoro CSOs  and  LGUs while BLMI has been targeting MILF political committees and military commands in Central, Northern and Western Mindanao regions,” he disclosed.

CPP/Ang Bayan: People’s militia in SMR grows stronger and broader

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Aug 7): People’s militia in SMR grows stronger and broader

In the first half of 2014, Red fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) were able to launch many successful military actions in the face of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) intensified military campaigns. Behind each victorious military action was mass support and most of all, the participation of their armed forces in the locality—the people’s militia.

In a shaded area in the middle of a meadow ensconced in a mountainous area of SMR, farmers, mostly men, began trickling in one morning. They were sweaty but greeted others with smiles, and they brought with them food packed in lunch boxes and banana leaves. They were villagers who had come to organize the second people’s militia platoon in their barrio.

They continue to build the people’s militia even if their area is surrounded by sections and platoons of the butcher AFP conducting a Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) under Oplan Bayanihan (OPB). This prompted an NPA member from another guerrilla front to ask the locals whether the venue was secure. They answered “yes,” and the visitor did notice that the gathered villagers didn’t mind the presence of many enemy soldiers around them because they relied on the masses. The area’s mass base is solid, even if the fascist enemy was encamped nearby because the latter remained blind and deaf to the presence of the revolutionary mass movement.

The soldiers’ objective is to destroy the villagers’ unity, so the barriofolk continually plan how to defend and fight for their interests. One way is to build the people’s militia. This is the usual course in the NPA’s areas of operation where it is common to have a battalion-size militia in every municipality. Should the military chance upon them while having a meeting, they would be ready for any kind and manner of fighting based on their capabilities and concrete conditions. This is how important the people’s militia is nationwide.

In-depth discussions were held in the process of organizing the militia. This is usually the time to rectify longstanding misconceptions that the people’s militia is not part of the NPA. The gathered villagers were happy to learn that the militia is part of the NPA. The organizers explained that there were four basic types of NPA: the regular mobile forces, the armed propaganda units, the partisan units and the people’s militia. The only difference between the militia and the first three types is that the militias are part-time fighters. Militia members become even more enthusiastic when they are provided military training and are able to join military actions.

The meeting was over before dark and met no problems despite enemy movements nearby. It was noticeable how the militia members became even more trusting of each other and developed tighter bonds with the full-time NPA members after the militia platoon was established and the various points clarified. They were proud to be called the center of gravity among the masses and the backbone of the revolutionary mass movement.

(Excerpted from the May 2014 issue of Pasa Bilis, the revolutionary mass paper in Southern Mindanao Region)

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]

CPP/Ang Bayan: AFP suffers 11 casualties in EV

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Aug 7): AFP suffers 11 casualties in EV

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suffered 11 casualties in military actions by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Eastern Visayas from June 17 to August 2.

On August 1, an NPA special operations group meted punishment on Jojo “Jerson” Rafales in Calbiga town, Samar. Aside from being a CAFGU element, Rafales organized intelligence networks in the towns of Calbiga, Pinabacdao and Basey. He was involved in the killing of activist leader Rodolfo Dagumay Basada in Pinabacdao on June 29 and the attempted murder of Ariel Dacallos in Calbiga on July 31. Seized from Rafales was a cal .45 pistol.

Meanwhile, five soldiers were killed when Red fighters harassed 21 soldiers under the 87th IB conducting combat operations in the guise of “peace and development” in Barangay Magdawat, Pinabacdao on August 2. Earlier, on July 11, a soldier from the 87th IB had also been killed after being sniped by the NPA while the troops were in the middle of military operations in the same barangay.

In Leyte province, five soldiers were killed and six others wounded when a platoon under the Mt. Amandewin Command thwarted an attempt by the 19th IB to encircle it on June 17. The NPA was then temporarily encamped at Barangay Hugpa, Ormoc City. The Red fighters suffered zero casualties during the 50-minute firefight.

[Ang Bayan is the official news organ of the Communist Party of the Philippines and is issued by the CPP Central Committee. It provides news about the work of the Party as well as its analysis of and views on current issues. Ang Bayan comes out fortnightly and is published in Pilipino, Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Hiligaynon and English.]