Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Samar governor cites anti-insurgency gains

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 13): Samar governor cites anti-insurgency gains

After more than four decades of battling communist rebels in Samar, the governor of this impoverished province announced on Monday that the efforts had reached a step close to a complete rout.

Samar, once the bastion of insurgency in Eastern Visayas in the 1980s, is now “a manageable conflict and development-ready area,” Gov. Sharee Ann Tan said during a program to celebrate the province’s 174th founding anniversary on the Capitol grounds here.

“We can now say to the country and even to the whole world that we are now ready for development. That with the declaration, we can now (openly) invite them to come to (our province),” Tan said in an interview.

She, however, said that the declaration, which is the next step before the military declares an area “insurgency-free,” would not mean that soldiers were no longer needed in the province, which has two cities and 24 towns.

“They will not leave us; that’s the biggest point that we have stressed,” Tan said.

On Aug. 7, the provincial board approved Ordinance No. 14-012-14, which proclaimed Samar as a manageable conflict and development-ready area. The declaration will be further formalized once an agreement is signed between Tan and Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division which is based in this city.

Velarmino said the declaration would mean that New People’s Army (NPA) rebels could no longer launch any major attack.

“Their capability to launch a major attack is downgraded. They could no longer confront us head on except to use their old tactic of launching ambuscades,” he said.

He said the local government units were the ones that make such declarations, which the Army supports and validates.

In Eastern Visayas, only the provinces of Biliran and Southern Leyte have been declared insurgency-free, while Leyte has been categorized as manageable and development-ready.

Velarmino said the remaining provinces of Eastern Samar and Northern Samar would soon be declared manageable and development-ready before 2016, the timetable set by the government to end the country’s insurgency problem.

The presence of NPA rebels in the region still reeling from the devastation caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” has been cited often as one of the big factors for its slow development.


Palparan, the ‘weakling’ who wielded the iron fist

From the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) Blog (Aug 12): Palparan, the ‘weakling’ who wielded the iron fist (By Ed Lingao)

THE MAN WHO, by his own account, was once considered “a weakling” who would not survive in the real world, had thought of himself as the necessary iron fist that would clear the country, not just of the communist New People’s Army, but of all militant organizations.

Jovito Salvaña Palparan Jr. was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation in a dawn raid in Manila Tuesday morning, putting an end to a three-year manhunt for the man dubbed by militant groups as the Butcher of Central Luzon and Samar because of the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the jurisdictions he was assigned to. He was also perceived as the architect of the all-out war of the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo until his retirement as a Major General in September 2006.

CHECKMATE: General Jovito Palparan
CHECKMATE: General Jovito Palparan

Yet in separate interviews conducted with Palaparan at the height of the all-out war in 2006, Palparan painted himself as a curious study in contrasts, a man who was not afraid to be politically incorrect, and who was willing to put into words, in stark black and white, what some sectors in the military thought but would not dare say about the communist insurgency.

In those interviews, Palparan made no bones about his intention to “clear” his jurisdiction of all militant groups, “both armed and non-armed,” saying that these groups provided material and logistical support for an insurgency that has festered for more than four decades.

The man labelled by human rights groups as a butcher also said he is not even sure if he has personally killed any person in his 33 years in the military, even though many of those years were spent in some of the most bloody battlegrounds of the country. Palparan also claimed that he has never ordered the death of any specific person, although he acknowledges that his words provide the “guidance” that his men carry out.

“Kung ako lang ang masusunod, it should be a very decisive action against the movement,” Palaran said in an interview for the ABC-5 documentary State of War in 2006, when he was still commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon. “There should be no militant organization existing in an area if it is already cleared, because they have no place na maloko nila ang tao.”

[Video report: STATE OF WAR - a documentary on GMA's all-out war vs the communist rebels
A documentary on the all-out war of then President Gloria Arroyo against the communist rebels in 2006. ABC Channel 5 production]

(If I had my way, it should be a very decision action against the movement. There should be no militant organization existing in an area if it is already cleared, because they have no place to fool people.)

Asked if he was responsible for extrajudicial killings of militant leaders in his area, Palaparan said he has no “direct responsibility.”

“Hindi ko aaminin ang direct responsibility,” he said in that interview.
“Pero maari na because of my efforts and my aggressiveness and determination, at yung mga pronouncements ko, perhaps I could be responsible on that aspect.”

(I will not take direct responsibility. But perhaps because of my efforts and my aggressiveness and determination and my pronouncements, perhaps I could be responsible in that aspect.)

In another interview with Palparan by the defunct documentary show Frontlines on ABC-5 two months after his retirement in September 2006, Palparan expressed disappointment that he was not given a bigger role and a wider jurisdiction with which to practice what he preached.

“Kung nabigyan pa ako ng panahon na may command ako na malaki, sa tingin ko mas malaki pa ang magagawa ko,” he said. “I could have completely cleared Central Luzon. It took me six months to clear Samar.”
(If I had been given more time and a larger command, I think I could have done so much more. I could have completely cleared Central Luzon. It took me six months to clear Samar.)

[Video report: Frontlines: Jovito Palparan Part 1
A rare look at the man labelled as the butcher of Central Luzon. Aired on ABC5 in 2007 or 2008]

Palparan is an advocate of aggressive, unequivocal, and determined action against perceived enemies of the state and their supporters, saying that this was actually the only way to minimize deaths.

“When you give all-out effort, ang result niyan is lesser casualties and lesser resources spent,” he said. “Ganyan ako, paspasan, todo-todo. Mas marami kang nasasave.”

(When you give all-out effort, the result is lesser casualties and lesser resources spent. That is my style, rush in, go all the way. You get to save more.)

Palaparan longed for the days when Republic Act No. 1700, the Anti-SUbversion Law, was still in effect, saying it allowed the government to be more aggressive in going after both armed and non-armed groups.

“Kung desidido sila, lahat ng involved, lahat ng cadre, pinagkukuha talaga yun, kinasuhan. They are punished. Both armed and non-armed. Yung educator nila, propagandist, kasama iyun,” he said.

(If they are determined, everyone involved, all the cadre would be picked up and charged. They are punished. Both armed and non-armed. They educators and propagandists are also included.)

Asked how government could possibly pick up and charge all militants, Palparan replied: “Then our coercive power of the state applies. We are the coercive power of the state. Kung loko-loko ka, matakot ka sa amin.” (If you are a troublemaker, be afraid of us.)

Palparan also expressed envy for other countries that have “complete control of the media,” saying it would have helped his cause.

“In other countries there is complete control of the media as far as terrorism and insurgency,” he said. “Bakit, nung time ni Marcos may complete control, It can happen.” (During the time of Marcos, there was complete control. It can happen.)

The man who redefined the image of the military in the Gloria Arroyo years was not even a graduate of the state’s military school, the Philippine Military Academy. Palaparan joined the military through the Reserved Officers Training Course or ROTC. Before that, Palparan relates, he was perceived by many as a weakling.

“Ang tingin kasi nila, parang weakling ako, parang hindi ako survivor,” Palparan says. (They saw me as a weakling, someone who is not a survivor.)

In his eyes, Palparan says the one event that truly defined his character and mindset was his experience in the battlefields of Mindanao.

[Video report: Frontlines Jovito Palparan Part 2  
A look at the man many call the butcher of central luzon. Part 2. Aired ABC5 2007 or 2008]

In 1973, fresh off his ROTC, Palparan was given command of the 24th Infantry Battalion, the Wildcats, in Jolo, Sulu. It was the height of the Moro rebellion, and Palaparan and his men would be scarred by the things they saw and did in the jungles of Sulu. It was a camaraderie forged in fire. In fact, whenever Palparan would visit the housing compound for his old men from Jolo in Taguig city, his old soldiers would all come out to greet him and recall those hairy days.

“Yung radio operator ko, namatay katabi ko,” Palparan recalls. “Sigaw ng sigaw, Nanaaayy! Hindi na umabot ng umaga.” (My radio operator died beside me. He was shouting for his mother. He died before dawn.)

Palparan recalls losing an entire platoon, more than 30 men, in an encounter. Sometimes, he would have to kick or beat his men who would refuse to fight because they were terrified. For every five men he commanded, two would go home in body bags. Palaparan would spend the next eight years fighting in Jolo and Basilan.

During one such visit, Palparan and his old men talked about some of the atrocities committed in that conflict, apparently forgetting the videocamera that was there to document their reunion.

“Tinatanggal namin ang tenga, tinutuhog namin iyan,” one of Palparan’s old soldiers volunteered during that reunion. “Meaning, number ng patay iyan. Pero hindi namin kinakain.” (We would remove the ears and string them up. That means the number of dead enemies. But we don’t eat that.)

Palparan said this was practiced because some commanders would cheat on the “body count” of enemy dead. He said the practice was eventually stopped. However, Palparan acknowledged that there was a time that they would even collect heads. “Kaya inaano ang tenga… pero hininto rin iyan! Dahil pag nagreport ng casualty, yung body count dinadaya. Pag may mga tenga kang dala… nung una nga ulo eh.” (The reason we take ears… but we eventually stopped it! The casualty reports, the body counts were being rigged. If you have ears… at first, we used heads.”)

In the end, Palparan said he was very conscious of the fact that there were many people after his head, especially from the New People’s Army. To this threat, Palparan displayed a mix of fatalism and bravado.

“Pag pumunta ako sa lugar, sigurado ako na walang papatay sa akin diyan,” he said. “Kasi siguro, ang papatay sa akin, patay na.” (If I go to a place, I am certain that no one there will kill me. Maybe that is because the man who will kill me is already dead.)


Gov’t, MILF panels reach substantial dev’t on BBL

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 12): Gov’t, MILF panels reach substantial dev’t on BBL

Government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer reiterated both peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had committed Aug. 18 to be their deadline to finalize the much delayed and diluted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as there remained nothing to submit to President Aquino.

“The only way to go is forward. So when we set a time frame, it means that we will try our best to be able to finish,” Coronel-Ferrer said.

Both parties are confident that they can complete the draft bill a week from now.
“The panels reiterated their commitment to finish an agreed draft Bangsamoro Basic Law by Aug. 18, 2014, in sha Allah, in order to allow the Office of the President to submit the same to Congress as soon as possible," Coronel-Ferrer said.

Coronel-Ferrer said that they “reached an agreement on substantial portions of the document, and have developed a shared understanding of the remaining challenges and unsettled issues, which they will bring back to their principals for further guidance.”

The chief negotiator said that aside from consulting their principals, other mechanisms will also be used by the parties to fast-track the completion of the BBL.

“We have several mechanisms that we can utilize to be able to solve the remaining portions for common languages,” she said.

In their joint statement, the parties claimed that they invited experts and organizations to help them hammer out the remaining issues in the draft BBL.

“Discussions took place in plenary as well as in small groups focused on addressing specific issues such as fiscal autonomy and administration of justice,” Coronel-Ferrer said.

She added the Aug. 18 deadline “expresses our common sense of urgency to finish the mutually acceptable draft.”

Coronel-Ferrer said there are "a few remaining items" that need to be settled.


Misuari-led MNLF marks first year of Bangsamoro Republik declaration

From the Daily Tribune (Aug 12): Misuari-led MNLF marks first year of Bangsamoro Republik declaration

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) yesterday silently celebrated the first anniversary of the declaration of independence by chairman Nur Misuari from the national government and the establishment of Bangsamoro Republik.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF spokesman, said that the front is continuously winning the support of Muslim and lumads in its pursuit for independence.

“This is the day Maas (Misuari’s nickname) declared independence. The quest for freedom will go on,” Fontanilla told The Tribune.

Fontanilla said that MNLF members observed the first anniversary of the declaration of Bangsamoro Republik with an assembly in an undisclosed area in Sulu.

“We will continue reaching out to our people,” Fontanilla said.

Exactly one year yesterday, Misuari declared independence from the Philippine government and announced the establishment of Bangsamoro Republik in Talipao, Sulu Aug. 12 last year.

Less than a month later, about 300 MNLF fighters, led by Misuari loyalist Ustadz habier Malik, laid siege on several barangays in Zamboanga City, sparking almost a month-long armed conflict.

More than 200 MNLF fighters and soldiers were killed during the conflict.
The MNLF said that the declaration of independence was made under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly 1514 granting independence to all colonized countries.

Misuari’s move was also in protest to the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the government of the Philippines and MNLF’s breakaway faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Oct. 15, 2012.

Misuari also protested the plan of the Aquino government to close the tri-partite review of the implementation of the Final Peace Agreement signed by the MNLF with the government in 1996.

2 of 7 defense contractors prequalify to bid for PAF’s P5.9-billion aircraft project

From the Business Mirror (Aug 12): 2 of 7 defense contractors prequalify to bid for PAF’s P5.9-billion aircraft project

Two Israeli defense companies have initially qualified to supply the two long-range patrol aircrafts that the Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring for the Philippines Air Force (PAF) under the military’s ongoing modernization program.
Elbit Systems Ltd. and Elta Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, breezed through the initial phase of the day-long bidding process on Monday at Camp Aguinaldo, according to the DND’s Special Bids and Awards Committee (SBAC).
Elbit Systems and Elta Systems are both leading Israeli defense contractors, with Elbit having already bagged earlier contracts for the deliveries of three defense radars and 28 upgraded armored personnel carriers (APCs).
The radars, which would be installed in Northern Luzon and in Palawan, should help the military monitor the country’s territorial airspace, while the APCs should boost the Army’s land-based firepower and combat support operations.
The delivery of the equipment for the twin projects, which form part of the capability upgrade program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are expected to commence,  by next year at the earliest.
During the whole day opening of bids on Monday, the two Israeli defense contractors passed the requirement for financial capability to support and provide for the two long-range patrol aircraft, whose contract price was put by the DND at P5.9 billion.
Elta Systems was even nearly disqualified in the initial stage after it submitted a 2012 financial statement, instead of 2013. But Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, head of the SBAC, had approved it as the financial statement still falls within the two-year period.
Seven companies have tendered bids for what is considered as one of the big ticket projects of the Air Force.
Aside from two Israeli companies, the other firms are EADS-CASA, SAAB-Asia Pacific, L-3 Mission Integrated, Indonesia Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, an American company considered as one of the world’s biggest defense contractor.
The five firms were, however, initially disqualified due to questions over their Net Financial Contracting Capacity Computation. But Manalo said they can file a motion for reconsideration within three days.
The initially disqualified companies said they would file for a reconsideration.

Tiamzons no shows in arraignment for illegal gun possession

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 12): Tiamzons no shows in arraignment for illegal gun possession

Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army chief Benito Tiamzon (left) and his wife, Wilma (right). INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
The lawyers of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon, the alleged top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), who were arrested months ago, has asked the court to drop the criminal charges against their clients, saying the firearms and explosives the military claimed to have found in their possession during their arrest were “planted.”

Lawyers Rachel Pastores, Ian Vincent Manticajon, Edre Olalia and Ian Sapayan appeared on Tuesday, before Judge Ruben Altubar of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 29 in Toledo City, to explain their motion for reconsideration on the indictment of their clients.

The motion was filed during what was supposed to be the arraignment of the couple —believed to be the CPP chairman and the CPP secretary general respectively—for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition under Section 1 of Republic Act 9516.  Three others who were with the Tiamzons at the time of their arrest—Joel Enano, Arlene Panea and Rex Villaflor—have been charged with the same offenses.

The arraignment did not push through as none of the accused showed up.

Two other companions Nona Castillo and Jeosi Nepa are charged with violating RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

Judge Altubar, the presiding judge for the case, asked the prosecution to submit a comment on the motion filed by the defense.

Pastores told the court that they submitted the motion through registered mail on Aug. 7.

The prosecution was given 15 days to file the comment after which the defense will also file their reply before the motion for reconsideration will be submitted for resolution.

Pastores told reporters in an interview that the arrest of the Tiamzon couple and five others were “unlawful.”

“We insisted in our motion for reconsideration that the court look at the affidavits of the accused. The (pieces of) evidence that led to the charging of illegal possession of firearms and explosives case are clearly planted,” she said.

Pastores added that they emphasized in their motion that the five other companions of the Tiamzons should not be arrested since they were only accompanying the couple in their activities.

Judge Altubar earlier denied the motion to dismiss the criminal cases against the accused, saying enough evidence has been presented to bring the accused to trial.

He issued a commitment order detaining the Tiamzons in the PNP detention center at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The Tiamzon couple, he said, should stay at Camp Crame for security reasons, considering their pending multiple murder cases before RTC Branch 13 in Hilongos, Leyte.

Altubar, however, issued a commitment order for the transfer of Enano, Panea, Villaflor, Castillo and Nepa from their detention in Camp Crame to the Cebu Provincial Detention Center (CPDRC) in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City.

Meanwhile, Pastores also said they filed a motion to reduce the bail for Castillo and Nepa from P120,000 to P60,000 each, since they were only charged of violating the RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The Tiamzons and their companions were arrested in Brgy. Zaragosa, Aloguinsan, Cebu, last March 2014.

The alleged communist officials had an arrest warrant for “crimes against humanity” including murder, multiple murder and frustrated murder cases in Northern Samar.


Military verifying 'proof of life' of ASG-held Germans in Sulu

From the Philippine Star (Aug 12): Military verifying 'proof of life' of ASG-held Germans in Sulu

Police and military intelligence  officials are verifying what could be a “proof of life” picture of two German nationals held by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu.

The picture was posted on the internet and was discovered by authorities, officials said.

Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), believes that the intelligence community has a copy of the picture that shows German nationals Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek, 74, and Henrite Dielen, 42, seated and holding a German flag with about 10 masked gunmen believed to be Abu Sayyaf members in an unknown location.

Muyuela said government troops have been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf group to rescue hostages, including the two German nationals who were initially declared missing after sailing aboard their yacht near Rio Tubataha off Palawan toward Sabah last April.

Muyuela declined to give further comment or details, saying that any operational information leak might pre-empt the safety of the victims and the military's pursuit.

“We can only say in general that efforts have been ongoing to recover the victims,” Muyuela said.

Senior Superintendent Abraham Orbita, Sulu provincial police director, also confirmed the presence of the two German hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf group in the province and a tracking operation is underway to locate the victims.

“Intelligence operatives are working to locate the victims,” Orbita said. He did not elaborate.

The presence of the two captive Germans was initially confirmed by Octavio Dinampo, aprofessor at Mindanao State University (MSU) and an active peace advocate in Sulu,  sometime in May following tips by informants on the ground detailing how the victims were brought to the province.

Dinampo, also a former kidnap victim of the Abu Sayyaf, disclosed earlier that the two German captives arrived in the coastal village of Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul town with their captors led by Jihad Susukan alias Iddang  last Arpil 14 and brought to the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron.

He said  the two captives then joined the group of other captives, including  two European bird watchers -  Dutch Elwold Horn, and Swiss Lorenzo Vinceguerra, and  a Malaysian maritime police officer.


ISAFP chief denies soldiers coddled Palparan

From ABS-CBN (Aug 12): ISAFP chief denies soldiers coddled Palparan

The chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said military officers, both active and retired, did not give help to retired major general Jovito Palparan while he was in hiding.

Palparan was arrested on Tuesday after about three years in hiding. He is wanted for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

Speaking to reporters, Major General Eduardo Año said Palparan ''has many friends in the military because he was a very good officer, but nobody from the AFP is coddling him."

Año added that it would be impossible for even retired military officials to offer help to Palparan, as the latter had cut the lines of communication between him and his colleagues.

Palparan went into hiding in 2011 after a Bulacan Regional Trial Court judge issued a warrant arrest for him, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr., S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario.

Prior to his arrest inside a house in Sta. Mesa, Manila, Palparan was seen using an ATM using a card which belongs to another person, Año said.

Año said government agents have been looking for Palparan for over a year. Intelligence tips had led them to various sites in the Philippines such as Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and Cagayan de Oro.

However, Palparan eluded arrest because of his experience as a member of the military, Año said.

Año said upon his arrest, Palparan even joked to the operatives and said, ''Ang gagaling niyo, naisahan niyo ako kasi naging very lax ako."

''Kinausap ko siya. Chineck ko kung okay siya. He even congratulated me," Año said.

In a separate interview, Palparan admitted he had moved from place to place in order to avoid arrest, but he denied ever leaving the country or staying in Camp Aguinaldo while he was a fugitive.

He also denied employing a private army. He, however, admitted that many personalities offered him help but he said he turned these down.

''Hindi na ako gumamit ng maraming tao. Kasi unang-una 'yung maraming ma-involve, kawawa naman sila. But they are willing, marami,'' he said.

Palparan said he does not need to be given special treatment and that he will not ask for hospital arrest or house arrest.

He, however, has one concern: that he not be killed by communist rebels.

''Kahit saan ako makulong. Ang foremost concern ko lang is security. Ayaw ko lang naman na mapatay ako ng kalaban, malaking advantage sa movement iyon ng Communist Party. Kahit anong condition, I don’t need special treatment,'' he said.

Año said unlike some of his co-accused who are still active in the military, Palparan may not be taken into custody by the AFP since he is already a retired official.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the court will have the final say where Palparan will be detained. While waiting for a commitment order from the court, Palparan will have to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Manila.

De Lima said the DOJ and the NBI will work to ensure the safety of Palparan.

''In the meantime, habang wala pang commitment order, dito po muna siya. Bahala na siya at ang kanyang abugado na hilingin iyan sa korte kung dito siya,'' de Lima told reporters.

''Kung dito siya, NBI will make sure na maaalagaan siya ng maayos dito. No special treatment, just fair, just and humane treatment."

Moro rebels vow to win peace

Posted to ABS-CBN (Aug 12): Moro rebels vow to win peace

Moro rebels who have been waging a decades-long rebellion in the Philippines said Monday they would "do everything possible" to ensure a peace accord is implemented, as crucial talks made slow progress.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator for the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said it was determined to press ahead with negotiations despite the recent setbacks.

"The process is very hard and tough but that will not deter us from doing everything possible to make it happen," Iqbal told AFP after a 10-day session of talks ended on Sunday without agreement on key issues.

"Peace is at stake. No one wants to spoil it."

The MILF is the main rebel group that has been fighting since the 1970s for an independent or autonomous homeland in the southern Philippines for the nation's Muslim minority.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

The MILF and President Benigno Aquino's government signed an accord in March that laid out a roadmap for final peace by the middle of 2016.

Under the peace accord, the MILF would have control of a new southern autonomous region, and the rebels would lay down their arms.

However the peace process has since become bogged down in finalising the most sensitive issues in a draft law to create the autonomous region, such as who would be in control of security and budgets.

A commission made up of MILF and government representatives drafted a bill and submitted it to Aquino for review in April.

But the president's legal team ordered a series of changes that frustrated the MILF.

In a joint statement on Sunday at the end of their latest talks, the government and MILF negotiating panels said they aim to complete a new draft bill by August 18.

The deadline is seen as important to keep the roadmap on schedule, allowing time for Congress to pass the law by the end of this year and for other key measures in 2015.

The deadline of mid-2016 was set since Aquino must stand down by then after the single six-year term mandated by the constitution. There are no guarantees his successor will want to proceed with the peace plan.

Iqbal and chief government negotiator Miriam Ferrer told AFP on Monday the bill could be agreed upon by August 18, but said further delays were possible.

Senior Aquino aides have also said in recent days the law may not be passed this year, but insisted a final peace could still be achieved by 2016.

Chinese patrols expanded near Palawan shoal

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Aug 12): Chinese patrols expanded near Palawan shoal

Despite the arrest of 11 Chinese fishermen for engaging in illegal turtle trade at Half Moon Shoal last May, Beijing is not backing down from its encompassing claim in the West Philippine Sea.

China has expanded its maritime patrols toward the shoal to protect its fishing boats in contested waters.

Local fishermen from islets near Palawan noticed this development at the shoal, which the Philippines calls Hasa-Hasa, and in other rich fishing grounds in the region.

“Every time we went fishing at the shoal there was always a Chinese coast guard ship lurking around protecting their fishing vessels while hauling sea turtles being sold by their local contacts,” complained fishing boat skipper Hiya Saddalani of Barangay Bangkalaan, Balabac town.

A Chinese missile-firing frigate ran aground in the shoal in June 2012. The warship was immediately removed by Beijing while claiming it has sovereign rights over the shoal and its nearby waters to justify the presence of their warship in the area.

Saddalani also said that Chinese coast guard ships seen near the Hasa-Hasa Shoal are all coming from Mischief Reef.

Mischief Reef is within Philippine territory but it has been under the de facto control of the Chinese since 1994 when they initially occupied the place as a fisherman’s shelter. The reef has been developed into a naval facility and is now serving as a forward naval station of China’s Southern Fleet.

If not at Hasa-Hasa Shoal, the Chinese vessels are seen guarding Ayungin Shoal where a contingent of Philippine Marines are stationed and taking shelter at the Philippine Navy’s grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre, Saddalani said.

Known as the Bangkalaan boys, Saddalani’s group and fishermen’s groups from Iloilo, Antique, Batangas, Zambales and General Santos City have been defying the Chinese ships’ imposing presence at Hasa-Hasa Shoal and in other rich fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea.

Fisherman Absari Hardon recounted that while his group was sailing back home last month after days at sea, a Chinese coast guard ship tailed their fishing boat coming from Lawak, another islet in disputed territory being occupied by Filipino troops.

But Hardon said local fishermen are not afraid of the intensified presence of Chinese patrol ships in most of the fishing grounds in West Philippine Sea because they know that they are fishing within Philippine territory.

What is disturbing, he said, is the apparent lack of support from the Philippine government to protect its fishermen from the continuing bullying of China.

“We just hope that Philippine authorities can protect us the way Chinese ships escort Chinese fishing boats. We want some support from our government,” Hardon added.

He also said that the Chinese fishermen are not really engaged in fishing at Hasa-Hasa Shoal but in buying sea turtles and other endangered sea species from their local contacts. Engaging in the sea turtle trade is more profitable than fishing because the Chinese traders are buying them at higher prices.


MILF: BLMI undertakes information drive on HRM in island Provinces

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 12): BLMI undertakes information drive on HRM in island Provinces

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in coordination with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) conducted information drive on Human Resource Mapping (HRM) for Bangsamoro professionals in clustered areas in mainland Mindanao and island provinces that started in June until August, this year.
On July 27, BLMI held information campaign in the island provinces of Mindanao II in clustered areas of Sulu and Tawi- Tawi. It was held at Buansa, Indanan, Sulu.  Moro professionals from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi participated in the activity. Another engagement took placed at the Multi-purpose hall at Panamao proper, Sulu on July 29 where more professionals also participated.

Hadji Nur Tingkasan, HRM documenter together with some volunteers from the communities involved facilitated the program. An officer from the BLMI lectured on the HRM-IDC main objectives and expounded on other details of the program. 

On August 5, the delegation flew to Tawi-Tawi province and held similar information drive at Beach side Inn Hotel, Barangay Simandakit, Bongao on August 6, 2014.

On August 8, the group proceeded to island municipalities in the southern part of the province. The activity was held at Multi -purpose Hall at Barangay Tup-tup, Bannaran, Sapa-Sapa Municipality. Professionals from nearby Municipalities of Tandubas, South Ubian and Languyan attended the program.

On August 10, 2014, similar program was carried out by Mindanao Alliance for Peace and Development (MAPAD), a Cotabato City-based non-government organization. The program was held at the Tawi-Tawi Provincial Capitol Building, Bongao. The provincial government employees, Tawi-Tawi LGU’s and employees of line agencies expressed their full support to the BTC-JICA Program. Members of the academe, CSO’s and other sectors joined the activity. 
This writer, BLMI Research Officer lectured on GPH-MILF Peace process and other related issues. The Sama and Tao Sug professionals that attended the program were happy to be included in the human resource mapping.

The BLMI and MAPAD officers expressed their gratitude to MILF Provincial Political committee and its line agencies, the Provincial Local Governments Units and the Bangsamoro professionals for their warm facilitation and responsiveness in the activity. The participants conveyed their heartfelt appreciation to Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for their joint program on human resource mapping for Bangsamoro Professionals.


MILF: OPAPP’s Secretary Deles urges stakeholders to continue supporting peace in Mindanao

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 12): OPAPP’s Secretary Deles urges stakeholders to continue supporting peace in Mindanao

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles have urged Mindanao stake holders to continue supporting the peace process after government and the MILF peace panels failed to agree on a compromise version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) draft in their 10-day workshops in Davao City from August 1-10.
Both panels agreed to extend for another week the finalization of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to be submitted to congress within this month. The meeting is scheduled to start on August 18 with no definite venue yet.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, both GPH and MILF panels said substantial differences have been resolved and agreed to extend until August 18 to complete the draft BBL for presentation to President Benigno Aquino III who  will have to submit it to the congress for the passage of the basic law.

“We really need to ask the assistance of as many other parties as possible to help explain [the issues],” Deles said as quoted by Philstar.

“It is important to have more voices, more informed voices helping to clarify... The call is really for everyone who thinks this is important. And I believe there are many of them and many of them have come forward.  The business sector, for example, has already said this is important and more of them are saying: ‘yes we want to be part of helping to clarify.’ And there are others, the religious, the civil society, and of course, the academe,” Deles added following questions on issues surrounding the delay of the draft BBL.

“We ask again everyone who wants to accompany the peace process to be ready for that (sustained campaign),” Deles said.
Deles also hoped the people have understood that government and both peace negotiating panels are on track to overcome the challenges in finalizing the draft Bangsamoro basic law.

“This will not be the last of it, but we will continue to pursue it in this way,” Deles said.
Deles added that the OPAPP will exhaust all efforts and assure the people that the BBL they are working on deserve the support of the Congress.

Meanwhile, GPH chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on Monday told Catholic station dxMS in Cotabato City that, “The two panels will present and discuss what had been accomplished in that meeting with their respective principals,” apparently referring to President Benigno Aquino III, and the MILF Chieftain Hadji Murad Ebrahim.(Source: Philstar, August 11, 2014)
The chairman of the MILF’s peace panel, Mohagher Iqbal, has described as “difficult and challenging” the 10-day meeting.
Iqbal said the MILF remains steadfast in pursuing peace to resolve the Mindanao Moro issue.

“The only option is a peaceful negotiation, one leading to lasting peace in our homeland,” he said.


CPP/NPA: Serye sg taktikal nga opensiba sg BHB sa guihulngan naghatag hustisya sa mga biktima!

NPA propaganda statement just posted to the CPP Website (Aug 1): Serye sg taktikal nga opensiba sg BHB sa guihulngan naghatag hustisya sa mga biktima!
JB Regalado
NPA Central Negros Front Operations Command (Leonardo Panaligan Command)
Ang LPC-BHB sa Central Negros lubos nagapanginbulahan sa yunit sg NPA nga naglunsar sg asun-asod nga taktikal nga opensiba sa Guihulngan, Negros Oriental para hatagan sg hustisya ang mga biktima. Ini nga mga aksyon militar sg BHB nagpaslaw sa deklarasyon sg 3rd Infantry Division Philippine Army (3IDPA) nga “Conflict-Manageable and Development Ready” sa Negros Oriental. Nagtamparos man ini sa *Marching for Peace *nga ginlunsar sg militar sa 5th District sa Negros Occidental.

MAYO 23, 2014. Ang pagsilot-kamatayon kay CAFGU Lanie Bustamante nga isa ka masupog nga CAFGU-Intel sg Villegas 12th IBPA detachment sa Guihulngan. Si Lanie Bustamante ginsilotan dira sa Crossing Mambog, Barangay Planas, Guihulngan City. Si Lanie direkta nga naggiya sa mga operasyon militar kag regular nga nagareport sa McKinley 11th IBPA Headquarters. Sa panahon sa pag-implementar sa pagsilot kay Bustamante upod niya si “certain Inoy”, *isa man ka Active CAFGU sa nasambit nga detachment. Apang muklat ang NPA nga maghilway kay *Inoy *bisan pa isa siya ka CAFGU bangud wala man ini sg nakomiter nga mga kaso sa pumuluyo kag wala man ini siya sg *Standing Order
*sa NPA.

HUNYO 12, 2014. Alas 8:00 sg gab-i, ginharas sg yunit sg NPA ang Barangay Sandayao 12th IBPA detachment. Nagresulta ini sg kamatayon sg 2 ka militar kag pagkasamad sg iban pa. Hungod nga gintago sg militar ang ila kaswalidad sa pumuluyo. Ginpabarakan sg NPA ang ini nga detachment bilang sabat sa madugay na nga gina-antus sg pumuluyo sa mga kahalitan nga ila nakomiter pareho sg pagpamahug, pagpangkastigo sa sibilyan, pagpalupok, nagdala sg kagamo kag perwisyo sa mga inosenteng sibilyan. Madugay naman nga nagademanda ang pumuluyo sa pagpahalin sini sa ila lugar kay malapit ini nga napahamtang sa mga puluy-an sg mga residente kag bulnerable ini sa pagpang-atake sg ila pangontra nga malamita ang mga sibilyan.

HUNYO 18, 2014. Mga alas 3:52 sg hapon gintigayon pagpatuman sg silot-kamatayon kay Jose Baquilta sg yunit sg NPA sa mando sg Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo. Ginpatuman ang pagsilot sa iya nakomiter nga kasaypanan sa pumuluyo nga amo ang iya pagpangulo sa pagpatay sa mag-asawa nga Escoba sa Sityo Punong, Baragnay Trinidad, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental sadtong 1987. Isa man siya sa mga katapuan sg Kadre nga grupo sg mga PANATIKO nga nag-upod sa pagsunog sa masobra 40 ka panimalay sa Sityo Kalubasa, Barangay Tacpao sadtong 1988 upod sa pasistang militar kag mga paramilitar nga mga CAFGU. Imbulbado man ini siya sa pagmasaker sa isa ka pamilya sa Barangay Trinidad paagi sa paglabo-labo kag pagtadtad sa kalawasan sg biktima kag pagkatapos ila pa ini ginpanglaswahan. Makasiligni kag wala kaluoy ang ila ginpanghimo sa mga biktima sa sini nga baryo kag kasikbit sini nga mga lugar nga ginakangil-aran sg mga pumuluyo.

HUNYO 23, 2014. Mga ala 1:15 sg hapon, ginsilotan-kamatayon si Aljin Mogello sa Sityo Butong, Barangay Kagawasan. Ginsilotan siya sg NPA sa mando sg Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo bangud isa ini siya sa mga nagtiro kg nagpatay kay City Councilor Cyrus Fat sadtong Pebrero 13, 2014. Katapu man ini siya sg mga sindikato sa patigayon sg illegal nga panahor sa sini man nga lugar sa pagpanguna ni PNP Fermin Jacobe sg PNP Guihulngan. Si Mogello isa ka ex-CAA kag masupog nga intel asset sg PNP kag AFP. Upod niya si Gary Villaester nga asset man sg kapulisan sa tion sg pagsilot kay Aljin Mogello apang ginhilway lang ini sg NPA bangud wala man ini sg mabug-at nga sayop nga nakomiter sa Rebong Kahublagan.

Wala na sg iban pa nga saligan ang pumuluyo sa Guihulngan kag Central Negros kundi sa NPA gid lamang. Kinahanglanon ang aton hugot pa nga paghiliusa nga mapaluntad ang tunay nga hustisya sa mga biktima.

Ginapanawagan man sa mga Bag-ong Hangaway sg Banwa nga ilunsar ang lapnagon nga taktikal nga opensiba. Arestohon ang mga utok sg kriminalidad nga nagaluntad sa sakop sg Larangan kag ipaatubang kag pasabton sa Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo. Silotan ang mga lider sg mga sindikato kaangay nila PNP Fermin Jacobe, PNP Meljin Bulandres kag mga druglords pareho ni Jovanni Lim kag isa pa ka Local Executive sa Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.


CPP: Palparan arrest amid widespread Palparan-style human rights violations—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Aug 12): Palparan arrest amid widespread Palparan-style human rights violations—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines 
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the long overdue arrest of former Philippine Army general Jovito Palparan this morning was carried out by the agents of the Aquino government amid continuing widespread military and police abuses and grave violations of human rights, especially against peasant masses and minority peoples.
“Thousands of victims of General Palparan’s campaign of terror have long demanded justice for the crimes and abuses perpetrated by the fascist troops of the AFP under his command,” said the CPP.
The CPP said Palparan’s campaign of terror was directed against unarmed activists among the ranks of peasants, workers, students and other oppressed sectors who helped organize the downtrodden masses to enable them to defend their rights and advance their democratic interests.
“For all of General Palparan’s acerbic rhetoric against the New People’s Army (NPA), his battlefield record against the NPA was unremarkable,” pointed out the CPP. “He gained his notoriety in employing AFP terrorism against civilians and activists whom he invariably regarded and treated as armed combatants.”
Wherever he was assigned, General Palparan maintained and directly commanded a death squad which carried out abductions, torture and extrajudicial killings against activists and suspected supporters of the revolutionary movement.
He and his men were directly responsible for the 2006 abduction, torture and disappearance of UP activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño and their companion, peasant activist Manuel Meriño in Hagonoy, Bulacan; the 2006 abduction and torture of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, in San Ildefonso, Bulacan; the 2003 killing of human rights activist Eden Marcellana and peasant activist Eddie Gumanoy in Mindoro; and numerous other crimes.
“The AFP has officially endorsed, supported and perpetrated the terror tactics employed by Palparan against the people,” said the CPP. “He was assigned as head of several Army battalions and divisions in Ilocos, Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon during which he unleashed a reign of terror, abuses, abductions, torture, enforced disappearances, food and economic blockades and martial law restrictions against entire communities.”
The CPP pointed out that the Aquino regime has yet to firmly condemn the grave abuses of human rights committed by the AFP under its Oplan Bantay Laya I and II campaigns of suppression. “Not a single military official has been put to account for more than a thousand cases of extrajudicial killing and countless cases of human rights abuses perpetrated by the AFP.”
“The AFP’s official human rights rhetoric is a mere facade to conceal the brutalities perpetrated by its commanders and troops in conducting its Oplan Bayanihan was of suppression, mostly directed against the civilian population, drawing from the methods employed by the fascist general Palparan,” said the CPP.
“The crimes perpetrated then by Palparan continue to this day, despite all the loud peace and human rights rhetoric of Aquino and his military and security officials,” added the CPP. It pointed out to the killing by armed state agents of peasant activist Gregorio Galacio last July 19. For many years, Galacio was actively seeking justice for his daughter Grecil, a 9-year old schoolgirl killed by elements of the 28th IB in 2007 who claimed that she was a child soldier of the NPA to conceal their crime.
In Iloilo, elements of the AFP’s 82nd IB killed 38-year old peasant Gerardo Larbo last July 17 while he was harvesting their family’s corn plot. He was branded by the AFP as an NPA combatant.
“Abuses of human rights against the people are worst in areas where the AFP conducts its Oplan Bayanihan operations, mostly in rural hinterlands, where foreign big mining, logging and plantation operations seek to rob and plunder the land from the peasants and minority peoples,” added the CPP.
“From the Mountain Province in the Cordilleras to the Pantaron range of the Talaingods in Mindanao, the AFP drops bombs and fire artillery against farming communities, entire combat units swoop down on residential areas, occupy the people’s homes, accusing them of supporting the New People’s Army, turning schools, day care centers and barangay halls into barracks, endangering the people’s lives, violating their civil and political rights with impunity and traumatizing children and elderly people.”
“Indeed, the arrest of General Palparan has been effected, but his fascist legacy of extrajudicial killings and military terrorism continues to thrive under the Aquino regime.”

PH brand new frigates’ armaments will be procured separately

From AngMalaya (Aug 12): PH brand new frigates’ armaments will be procured separately

“There will be two [projects]. The acquisition of armaments will be treated as a separate project,” Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said to philstar.com. According to Velez the the armaments of two brand new frigates the government is acquiring will be procured separately.

This means that the Philippine government will be able to choose what armaments will be fitted to these two warships as per what the country needs.

Many are afraid that this latest development on frigate acquisition project may cause delay. But, this may also fast track the project. We must take note that not all shipbuilders are weapon specialist or arms dealer.

The DND is expected to start the procurement process for the said armaments before the year ends. The DND may enter into a negotiated procurement or opt for a 2 stage bidding process.

As reported last month by Philippine News Agency, the state-of-art frigate specification is already forwarded to Philippine Navy’s leadership to get their comments and approval. The report added that these warships will be fitted with variety of weapon systems capable of dealing with surface, sub-surface and air threats.

Approximately PhP2.5 billion will be allocated for the armaments and PhP15.5 billion for two frigates.

Six firms including Navantia Sepi of Spain, STX Offshore & Shipbuilding of South Korea, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. of South Kores, Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc. of South Korea, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. of India, and STX France SA are bidding for the said project.


More high-profile fugitives to be arrested --DND chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): More high-profile fugitives to be arrested --DND chief

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Tuesday that with the arrest of wanted retired Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, more high-profile fugitives are expected to fall into the government's dragnet within the coming days.

"We will get them one by one," Gazmin said in Filipino but declined to mention specific names for security reasons.

Palparan, who was arrested early Tuesday, was part of the so-called "Big 5" which includes Delfin Lee, owner of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp.; former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and his brother, Coron Mayor Mario Reyes; and Dinagat Island Rep. Ruben Ecleo Jr., the leader of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association.

Palparan is charged with the kidnapping and illegal detention of University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006.

Lee, who was arrested last March 6, is facing syndicated estafa charges for defrauding Pag-IBIG Fund members of about PHP 7 billion by using fake borrowers and fake documents.

The Reyes siblings are wanted for the murder of broadcaster Gerry Ortega while Ecleo has been convicted of parricide.

The DND chief also disclosed a decision to create a task force to arrest these high-profile fugitives so that these people can be brought to the bars of justice.


Government peace panel welcomes arrest of Palparan

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): Government peace panel welcomes arrest of Palparan

The government peace panel for the negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) welcomed on Tuesday the arrest of retired Major Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., coinciding with the observance of the "International Humanitarian Law Day."

In a statement, the government peace panel said the arrest of Palparan, who was wanted for the disappearance of two University of the Philippines (UP) students and had been in hiding for almost three years now, "is a triumph of law enforcement and the Philippine justice system."

"Although it has taken eight years to capture him, the apprehension of Palparan demonstrates the determination of the State to enforce the rule of law and negate any assertion that this administration tolerates impunity," it said.

"This should encourage us to trust that our democratic institutions are working vigorously and conscientiously to uphold human rights and protect every Filipino from the abuse of power and authority," it added.

Palparan was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division in a rented house in Sta. Mesa, Manila at around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.

He is facing kidnapping with serious illegal detention charges before the regional trial court in Malolos, Bulacan for the abduction and subsequent disappearance of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in a press conference at the NBI headquarters where the retired army general is temporarily detained, said Palparan would be arraigned on Aug. 18, when he will also be presented to the court trying his case.

His two co-accused -- Army Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio -- were earlier denied bail by the court. Another co-accused, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, is still at large.


Grenade blast rocks office of mining firm in Sarangani

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): Grenade blast rocks office of mining firm in Sarangani

Police authorities are eyeing extortion behind a grenade explosion on Monday evening in front of an office of a mining firm based in Kiamba town in Sarangani Province.

Senior Inspector Luis Pedrio, Kiamba police chief, said Tuesday the explosion occurred at around 7 p.m. inside the compound of the Kiamba Mining Corporation (KMC) located along Mondragon Street in Barangay Poblacion.

Citing accounts from several witnesses, he said the grenade was hurled by one of two unidentified motorcycle-riding suspects who passed by the area.

Pedrio said investigators recovered from the scene the pin of the hand grenade that was lobbed by the suspects.

He said no one was hurt and no major damages were reported as a result of the attack, which came about two weeks after the company received an extortion letter from an undisclosed group.

He said they are currently digging deeper into the extortion angle but said they are not also discounting other possible motives.

Several local groups have been opposing the operations of KMC and moves for the conversion of portions of the area’s public forest/ancestral lands/watershed” into mining areas.

In June 2010, the government issued a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) to the Cebu City-based Hard Rock Mineral Trading Inc. for a mining area covering 8,331 hectares in Kiamba towm.

MPSA-350-10-XII, which will expire in 2035, specifically noted deposits of gold, silver and iron within the identified tenement area.

The Coalition of Organizations to Save Kiamba Rainforest and the Natives Organization Worldwide opposed the proposed mining operations in the area, stressing it would eventually destroy the area’s rainforests and watersheds.


DILG adopts Sarangani’s rebel integration program as model for other LGUs

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 12): DILG adopts Sarangani’s rebel integration program as model for other LGUs

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has adopted Sarangani Province’s experiences in the handling of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) for former rebels as model for other local government units (LGUs) in the country.

Lizette Lopez, CLIP-Sarangani program head, said Tuesday the DILG central office has been specifically sharing the province’s strategies and initiatives in connection with the program’s implementation to other LGUs.

She said they were tapped by the agency for its recent series of replication seminars for various cities and provinces in the country.

“We’ve been receiving good remarks about the handling and implementation of CLIP in our area,” Lopez said.

CLIP is being implemented by the provincial government under the Sulong Kapayapaan component of the flagship Sulong Sarangani program of Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon.

The program mainly aims to reintegrate former rebels in the social mainstream and uplift their socio-economic conditions to become active partners in development.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process initially spearheaded the program’s implementation but later turned it over to the DILG.

The DILG has provided the national policy direction, developed its implementing guidelines, leads the coordination with different agencies and assists the monitoring and evaluation of the development of its recipients.

Lopez said the DILG provides assistance to qualified rebel returnees for mobilization expenses, medical check-up and livelihood.

Additional cash assistance is granted for rebels who surrender their firearms and ammunition, she said.

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

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

For this year, the provincial government has allocated additional funds through its Annual Investment Plan for the provision of livelihood assistance, food assistance, health insurance and other skills training for qualified rebel returnees.

Bidding for PAF's P5.9-B long-range patrol aircraft fails

From Rappler (Aug 11): Bidding for PAF's P5.9-B long-range patrol aircraft fails

Seven companies can file motions for reconsideration to supply the Philippine Air Force with 2 aircraft units that will help boost maritime surveillance

REGAINING CAPABILITIES: The Philippine Air Force's Fokker planes used to be capable of long range flights. Rappler file photo
REGAINING CAPABILITIES: The Philippine Air Force's Fokker planes used to be capable of long range flights. Rappler file photo

The first stage of bidding for a P5.9-billion ($133.6 million)* contract for 2 long-range patrol aircraft for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) failed on Monday, August 11.

Seven of the 10 companies that bought bid documents joined the bidding Monday, but – after 12 hours of the bidding session and a series of executive meetings – they were declared "ineligible." They were, however, given 3 days to file motions for reconsideration, according to defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.

Long-range patrol aircraft were no longer in the inventory of the air force, but the acquisition project was conceived to boost the country's maritime domain awareness as tensions grow in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) among claimant countries.

Two Israeli companies – Elta Systems and Elbit Systems – passed the initial documentary requirements, but they eventually failed to meet the technical specifications or performance parameters required by the defense department.

The other 5 companies were declared non-compliant because of documentary deficiencies. They are Saab Asia Pacific Co Ltd (Swiss), L3 Mission Integration (US), PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Persero), Indonesia Aerospace, and Lockheed Martin (US). They were also given 3 days to submit motions for reconsideration.

The defense department's bids and awards committee did not reach the stage where they would check the types and the brands of aircrafts the bidders were offering.

For maritime surveillance

The air force's Fokker aircraft used to be capable of long-range flights, but they are utilized for different purposes.

Long-range patrol aircraft are "very important," Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez told reporters, because "they will provide the eyes and ears in the areas of our maritime domain awareness and plug the gaps in the air surveillance capacity."

The aircraft will be funded under the revised modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Delivery is expected after the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

BIDDERS: Seven of 10 foreign companies  who bought bid documents pursue bids for the Philippine Air Force's Long Range Patrol Aircraft. Rappler photo
BIDDERS: Seven of 10 foreign companies who bought bid documents pursue bids for the Philippine Air Force's Long Range Patrol Aircraft. Rappler photo

But the aircraft are not only for the West Philippine Sea, said Velez. "It's not necessarily the West Philippine Sea. It could be utilized also for areas of interest in Benham Rise," he said.

A total of 10 companies bought bid documents. Arinc AeroSpace and Field Aviation did not pursue their bids, while Raytheon Company has opted to become the subcontractor of PT PT Dirgantara Indonesia.