Monday, September 1, 2014

Academic: Kahumbo’s death only temporary setback for Abu Sayyaf group

From the Star Online (Sep 1): Academic: Kahumbo’s death only temporary setback for Abu Sayyaf group

KOTA KINABALU: The death of a key Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) leader in southern Philippines should only be seen as a temporary setback to the militant group’s cross border kidnap operations, says an academic.

Mindanao State University lecturer Prof Octavio Dinampo said another leader would take the place of Apo Kahumbo (pic), 44, who was shot dead by Philippines police at Bongao in Tawi-Tawi province on Friday.
“It would usually be the person just below him in the local ASG hierarchy,” Dinampo said, adding that the militants were also likely be already planning a form of revenge against the police for Kahumbo’s death.

“They will try to stage an operation such as a kidnapping, and killing a policeman will be secondary to it,” said Dinampo who was once kidnapped by the gunmen and has since been researching their inner networks and operations.

He said the militant group would care for the wives and children of key ASG operatives and leaders like Kahumbo.

“When they are recruited, they are already presumed dead. So they will tell their wives under a practice called tahakkim that if they die, they should become the wife of such and such a person. That person would then marry the widow and adopt the children as his own.

“This way, the ASG is more like a family than just a mere militant group,” Dinampo added.

It was reported that Kahumbo was shot dead 72 hours after his arrest in what is suspected to be a “black operation” to silence him.

He was killed when he purportedly tried to escape while being escorted under heavy guard from a court appearance in Bongao.

Tawi-Tawi police chief Col Joey Salido said a probe was underway on the shooting of Kahumbo, who was arrested for illegally possessing a .45 Colt loaded with six bullets and an MK2 grenade at a mobile checkpoint at Sanga Sanga village in Tawi-Tawi province on Tuesday.

2 CAFGUs killed in Abu Sayyaf ambush

From the Philippine Star (Sep 1): 2 CAFGUs killed in Abu Sayyaf ambush

Two paramilitary troopers were killed in ambush staged by the Abu Sayyaf militants in the hinterland of Sumisip, Basilan, a military official said.

The military said the members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (CAA) assigned to guard the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Corporation were ambushed by the Abu Sayyaf group led Radzmil Jannatul alias Kubayb at the vicinity of Barangay Mahatalang about 8 a.m. Saturday.

Capt. Franco Salvador Suelto, spokesman of 1st Army Division, identified the slain pro-government militia as Haji Aldam and a certain Mused, both members of the CAA assigned to secure the plantation.

The military have deployed CAA paratroopers in the rubber and palm plantation which has been a subject of Abu Sayyaf attacks.

Suelto said the ambushed came hours before 14th Special Forces Company troops encountered 10 Abu Sayyaf militants across Lantawan town.

The firefight that erupted at Sitio Basak Tiki, Barangay Calugusan about 8:20 p.m. Saturday left Capt. Mark Zember Gamboa killed.

Suelto said the Abu Sayyaf militants led by Halang alias Commander Jeck also suffered an undetermined number casualties and have been pursued by the troops.

Philippine forces conduct airstrikes against Abu Sayyaf

From the World Bulletin (Sep 1): Philippine forces conduct airstrikes against Abu Sayyaf

Air Force helicopters provided support to ground forces after special forces captain killed in clash.

Philippine Air Force helicopters flew to the island province of Basilan in the country’s south Monday to carry out airstrikes on al-Qaeda-linked gunmen, after a clash killed a special forces captain over the weekend.

An air force soldier from the Edwin Andrews Air Base in southern Zamboanga City told the Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media that two MG-520 attack helicopters were on a mission to provide air support to ground security forces pursuing the Abu Sayyaf band responsible for the officer’s death.

Col. Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of the army's 104th Brigade based in Basilan, said Capt. Mark Gamboa of the 4th Special Forces Company was killed while several Abu Sayyaf gunmen were reported wounded in a clash that broke out late Saturday in the village of Calagadan in Lantawan town.

Bautista said that following reports from residents on the presence of an armed group believed to be responsible for extortion and kidnapping in Lantawan,

Gamboa led army commandos in a "security operation" when they encountered a band of Abu Sayyaf guerrillas led by Commander Halang Jeck.

Bautista said the firefight lasted for ten minutes after, which the Abu Sayyaf gunmen withdrew toward the hinterland with army reinforcement in pursuit.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

Rajah Muda’s men seek return of trial to Bongao

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 1): Rajah Muda’s men seek return of trial to Bongao

The men of Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB) has asked for the return of their trial from General Santos City to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.

Abraham J. Idjirani, secretary general of the SSNB, told the Manila Bulletin yesterday that the pre-trial has been set for Thursday, September 4.

Rajah Muda Rajah Muda

He said that of the 37 Royal Security Force (RSF) members, only around eight may be able to travel to General Santos City for the trial because most have no money for transportation.

“They are very poor, they cannot afford the big cost they have to spend to travel to the venue,” Idjirani said.

He said the 38th accused, Hayber Jailani, 38, died before he could post bail. One of the 37 men who are all free on bail is “still in shock” and needs treatment, he added.

Idjirani was referring to a letter from the Violence Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on behalf of the accused for the change of venue from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in General Santos City to Bongao, or at least in Zamboanga City.

He said the accused have difficulty understanding why the trial is in General Santos City when they were arrested in Tawi-Tawi.

Idjirani said the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the trial to be held in General Santos City, citing security concerns.

The government has lodged the case against the followers of the late SSNB Sultan Jamalul Kiram III for allegedly “inciting to war and other charges” for their participation in the violent aftermath of the Sabah standoff during which they fought overwhelming Malaysian forces: jet fighters, helicopter gun ships, artillery, and thousands of ground troops.

A copy of the letter showed that VACC founding Chairman Dante LA. Jimenez wrote PAO chief Persida Rueda Acosta to help in the change of venue.

He said the VACC received the request for assistance from the accused, noting they are residents of either Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, or Zamboanga City.

“Extreme hardships both personal and more specially financial will afflict the 37 accused should they be made to face trial in a far away court in General Santos City,” Jimenez said.

Huge firearms cache seized in Caragara

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 1): Huge firearms cache seized in Caragara

Police seized a cache of firearms enough to arm a platoon of soldiers in a raid in Caragara town, Leyte, a police official said over the weekend.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) head, Director Benjamin Magalong, said the confiscated firearms, which are either locally-made or locally-assembled, were found in the house of Cleto Molo.

Magalong said a background check revealed that Molo is a local gunsmith who is popular with both criminals and locals who want a gun for a very cheap price.

“He was arrested during the operation. We are now trying to establish who his clients are,” said Magalong, adding that the operation was carried out in Molo’s house in Barangay Guindapunan West.

Seized, he said, were 39 long and short firearms.

He added that ammunition and magazine assemblies including a firearms marker, electric grinder and a drill believed to have been used to construct or assemble firearms and weapons were also confiscated.

“The size of the cache is exceptional and the danger that these weapons fall in the wrong hands cannot be underestimated,” said Magalong.

Police here, of late, have intensified the campaign against loose firearms as part of overall efforts to step up the drive against crime in the province.

Based on police records, over 90 percent of criminal cases involved the use of firearms.

Magalong said Molo was slapped with a case for violating the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act (Republic Act No. 10591).

Gov’t wants AFPSLAI to produce Ligot accounts

From Malaya (Sep 1): Gov’t wants AFPSLAI to produce Ligot accounts

GOVERMMENT prosecutors have asked the Sandiganbayan First Division to compel the Armed Forces and Police Savings and Loan Association Inc. (AFPSLAI) to produce in court documents pertaining to investment accounts of retired Lt. Gen. Jacinto C. Ligot, former comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
In a rejoinder filed last week, prosecutors Ma. Hazelina T. Militante and Frederick C. Apsay moved for the dismissal of Ligot’s motion seeking to limit the prosecution’s inquiry only to bank accounts allegedly containing his undeclared assets.
Militante and Apsay said the bank accounts are being maintained with Bank of the Philippine Islands, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Metrobank, and Citibank.
Ligot’s lawyers said any judicial affidavit not coming from a regular bank should be considered unauthorized and barred admission in court.
Graft investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman said Ligot concealed assets by omitting them from his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) from 1993 to 2003.
Based on the indictment, Ligot’s undeclared properties include a residential lot in Susana IV, Muntinlupa City; condominium units at the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Essensa East Forbes, both in Taguig City; a condominium unit at Paseo Parkview Tower 2 in Makati City; and a condominium unit in Burgundy Plaza along Katipunan in Quezon City.
Prosecutors said his family also owns a house in Anaheim, California; a parcel of land in Tanay, Rizal; a farm in Malaybalay, Bukidnon; and investments with AFPSLAI.
There were also several motor vehicles reportedly owned by the accused, including a Honda Accord, two Subaru Forresters, an Isuzu Elf truck, and a Toyota Highlander.
Prosecutors said Ligot cannot bar their access to records of AFPSLAI even if the latter previously refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the Office of the Ombudsman. AFPSLAI said it would divulge such information only if there is a valid subpoena from a court.
In a second forfeiture case filed by the government on June 3, 2013, the Ombudsman asked the court to order seizure in favor of the state sums held in seven investment accounts in AFPSLAI in the names of Ligot, his wife Erlinda, and children Paulo, Riza, and Miguel with a combined value of P1.2 million.
The Ombudsman identified various bank deposits and investment of the Ligots totaling P55.6 million.
Ligot retired in 2004 but prosecutors said just a year before he left the military service, the military comptroller declared a net worth of only P3.24 million.

Australia leans toward buying Japan subs to upgrade fleet: sources

From InterAksyon (Sep 2): Australia leans toward buying Japan subs to upgrade fleet: sources

Japan and Australia are leaning towards a multibillion-dollar sale by Tokyo of a fleet of stealth submarines to Canberra's military in a move that could rile an increasingly assertive China, people familiar with the talks said.

An agreement is still some months away, three people said, but the unprecedented sale of off-the-shelf vessels based on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's Soryu class sub is emerging as the likeliest option.

Such a deal would signal a major expansion of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial drive for a more active military after decades of pacifism. Rival China regularly accuses Abe of reviving Japan's wartime militarism.

Australia is eager to get the quiet-running diesel-engine subs from Japan, despite the political backlash that would follow from abandoning a government pledge to build the vessels at home, said a person with knowledge of Canberra's thinking.

"It is the best option out there," said the source.

Abe and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott agreed in July to "enhance our security and defense cooperation", including the transfer of military equipment and technology.

Discussions have since moved rapidly from engine-technology transfer to a full build in Japan, with the goal of replacing by the 2030s Australia's six outdated Collins-class boats with 12 scaled-down versions of the 4,000-ton Soryu, the world's biggest non-nuclear subs.

"Discussions between Japan and Australia are gathering pace," one source said.
For Abe a deal, which could come as soon as January, would send a strong signal that Japan will be less constrained by its pacifist Constitution. He has already this year loosened curbs on arms exports, ended a ban on defending friendly nations and reversed a decade of military-spending cuts.

Selling a fleet of subs would mark the first time since at least the end of World War Two that Japan had sold a complete weapons platform overseas.

Shifting debate

Bulk orders for Japanese arms makers would help bring down weapons-procurement costs for Tokyo, which has the biggest debt burden in the industrial world.

For Canberra, the sale would avoid the costs and risks of developing a homegrown champion from scratch, after the locally made Collins-class subs were panned for being noisy and easily detected.

A state-owned shipyard in the South Australian capital of Adelaide would handle maintenance and overhaul, which can cost as much as the purchase price over the life of the fleet.

Options under discussion run from working jointly to develop the technology, to Australia importing the engines and building the rest, to building the fleet in South Australia under license from Japan, to - most controversially - Canberra buying finished subs designed and built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd, the sources said.

A visit last week by representatives of the two Japanese companies to the Adelaide shipyards of government-owned ASC Pty Ltd - formerly Australian Submarine Corp. - sparked fierce media speculation in Australia.

A spokeswoman for ASC referred all questions to Australia's defense ministry.
"No decisions have yet been made on the design and build of the next generation of Australian submarines," a spokeswoman for Defense Minister David Johnston said. "It is entirely proper and prudent for the government to consider these strategic decisions through the Defense White Paper process."

Spokesmen for Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki Heavy said they were not in a position to comment on the government-led talks.

Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman Hirofumi Takeda declined comment, saying only that "Japan and Australia are conducting various exchanges of opinion, including on equipment and technology transfer, as we move toward strengthening bilateral defense cooperation".

Australia acknowledged in July for the first time it might allow the subs to be built overseas.

Domestic blowback

Cost is an issue for Canberra. Defense Minister Johnston told Reuters in June that he was "very disturbed" by the A$40 billion estimate for the homegrown option.

Twelve top-of-the-line Soryu subs at $500 million each, plus maintenance and overhaul, would work out cheaper for Australia as it grapples with austerity.

Abbott's government is to make a final decision on the type and number of submarines it wants in a broad defense review expected early next year. But already there is strong opposition in Australia to building the subs overseas.

South Australia's defense and trade minister, Martin Hamilton-Smith, said there was alarm within the state administration that the federal government was about to do a "backflip" and reverse its policy.

He warned that any decision to build the submarine overseas would have a broader impact on the economy than the recent decisions by Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. to cease manufacturing in Australia.

South Australia is home to 27,000 defense jobs, 3,000 of them in shipbuilding, and Hamilton-Smith said the submarine project would generate industry activity worth A$250 billion over 30 years.

"I think a number of state governments, a large segment of the defense industry and the shipbuilding and defense workforce would be shattered, absolutely shattered and devastated by such an announcement," he told Reuters.

The United States, which has strong military ties with both Japan and Australia, would welcome the improvement to Canberra's naval capabilities, which could help Washington monitor China's underwater activity as its own fleet shrinks.

"The Japanese have got the (technological) lead right now," said Admiral Stuart Munsch, the chief US undersea naval officer in Asia.

Cooperation on subs "is a national decision for them to make with each other, but we would certainly be welcoming of that partnership," Munsch told reporters aboard a US submarine during a visit to the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo last month.

(1 US dollar = 104.0500 Japanese yen) (1 Australian dollar = 97.1411 Japanese yen)

NBI: Foiled ‘bombers’ have anti-Sino gripes

From the Daily Tribune (Sep 2): NBI: Foiled ‘bombers’ have anti-Sino gripes


The string of bizarre events that seems to have started after President Aquino indicated his leaning toward charter change (cha-cha) to remove the one-term limit on the presidency and to clip the powers of the Supreme Court took an even absurd twist yesterday after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said that its agents arrested four people supposedly in a car bomb attempt at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The Palace through a supposed slip of Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also floated the possibility of a no election scenario.

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) and NBI Counter-Terrorism Division (NBI-CTD) said they have seized a van parked at Manila’s international airport loaded with bomb-making materials.

The supposed improvised explosive devices (IEDs)found in the van were crudely made out of firecrackers and bottles of gasoline.

A report from the state-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA) quoted initial police reports saying that the suspects were arrested while their vehicle, a white Toyota Revo with plate number WMK129, was parked at the terminal’s parking area B.

The suspects were arrested while in the act of assembling the explosives inside their vehicle with the use of several gallons of gasoline and explosive materials, the report added.

MalacaƱang immediately seized on the issue saying that it ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the NBI to submit an incident report on the “foiled attempt to bomb the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 3.”

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma said President Aquino has called for intense security measures to assure the safety of people in the airport.

“”[The] President has been informed of the incident at NAIA this morning. Authorities (DOJ and NBI) were directed to submit a report,” Coloma said.

Just last month, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) caught a woman carrying a gun who supposedly intends to assassinate President Aquino complaining about the widespread poverty under his term.

The supposed motives of the apprehended car bombing suspects were equally unusual which according to NBI agents were their disappointment over the government’s actions in confronting China over the maritime conflict.

The NBI supposedly obtained a manifesto showing the SM Mall of Asia, DMCI main office, the Chinese Embassy and buildings of Chinese firms in the country.

NBI agents said the crude “improvised explosive device” were made from locally manufactured firecrackers wrapped around bottles filled with gasoline.

Other sources said the suspects have links with international terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

The NBI said it received a tip about the planned attack about a month ago before being finally informed about the presence of the suspects at the NAIA 3 parking lot on Sunday evening.

The NBI said the suspects appeared to be targeting to bomb NAIA and a nearby mall.
Gen. Vicente Guerzon, MIAA senior assistant general manager, has placed the entire NAIA complex on full alert.

Guerzon immediately called for an emergency meeting with the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group, Office for Transportation Security (OTS), and local PNP from Pasay and ParaƱaque cities.

The PNP-Aviation Security Group has secured the area covering NAIA.

Chief Supt. Christopher Laxa, head of the PNP Aviation Security Group, said that operations in all terminals remain normal though they have added security personnel to monitor airport activities.

“We gave instructions to maximize our foot patrols and police presence and we just upgraded our status to heightened alert,” said Laxa, explaining that the heightened alert status means at least 50 percent of its personnel are present to man their post.

He added that around 200 security officers manning all the airports and additional 80 more from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

Laxa said that their vehicle inspection is only “visual” and that they cannot check the vehicles entering the airport thoroughly as it would take time and cause traffic buildup in the area.

But he said that if the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will require stricter measures at the airports, they will impose these as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the MIAA assured the public that all airport terminals are safe even with the incident.

“Airport security personnel continue to stay vigilant in their respective areas,” the MIAA added in a statement.

The MIAA said that it supports all efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect the lives and properties of the people from individuals or groups who want to harm and disturb the peace.

For his part, Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, chief of PNP public information office allayed fears of bomb attacks in the airport, saying the PNP has already implemented the necessary security protocols to ensure the safety of the public.

He described the incident as an isolated case and the PNP have already intensified the security in all airports.

Asked if they received intelligence reports about any bomb plot in airports, Sindac said they have monitored none.

“Our target-hardening measures are on-going not only in the airports but also in other places of convergence,” said Sindac.

Aside from airports, he said also subject to target-hardening measures are seaports, malls, transport terminals and other areas where the public usually converge.

The terminal, which for many years served only domestic flights but recently also began hosting international airlines, was operating as normal on Monday morning.

Terminal 3 Manager Octavio Lina said that parking B is a pay parking open to the public.

That security arrangements had been beefed up the past few months may partly account for the timely detection and disruption of the apparent terror plot.

“I was told that the NBI is engaged in entrapment operations and was able to follow the vehicle up to the airport parking area where they arrested the four suspects while assembling the IED,” Lina said.

Military: NPA strength declines

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Sep 1): Military: NPA strength declines

THE strength and weapons of the New People's Army (NPA) rebels had been steadily decreasing in Zamboanga Peninsula, a top military official said.

Army's 1st Infantry Division commander Brigadier General Gerardo Barrientos attributed the decline to the ongoing "Bayanihan" peace development efforts.

Barrientos said another factor that contributed to the continued decline of NPA strength and weapons is the military's continued collaboration with local government units within the command's area of jurisdiction.

"The number of NPA members in the region and their firearms continue to decrease," Barrientos said in a statement, citing the NPA's manpower was reduced by around 10 percent while their firearms went down by five percent.

Barrientos said the troops from the Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion recently recovered two serviceable M-16 Armalite rifles and ammunition in an arms cache in the forested tri-boundary of Zamboanga Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Norte and Misamis Occidental.

He said the troops also recovered two handheld radio transceivers, two pairs of military uniforms, medical paraphernalia, personal belongings and subversive documents of high intelligence value.

Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Luzon said the arms cache was discovered after residents and former rebels informed them of the place where the NPA rebels kept their stash of weapons.

"These items were left behind because the NPA lacks the manpower to bring it due to numerous surrenderees and the capture of their members," Luzon added.

Barrientos commended the troops involved in the recovery of the arms cache, citing it was brought about by the good rapport of the soldiers to the community.

Military locates place where rebels took 2 soldiers

From the Mindanao Gold Star Daily (Sep 1): Military locates place where rebels took 2 soldiers

THE army’s 4th Infantry Division has already located the area where the New People’s Army (NPA) took two soldiers rebels captured in Barangay Bontongon, Impasugong, Bukidnon, in Aug. 22.

1Lt. Norman Tagros, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Battalion, said a rescue team organized has spotted the area where the rebels are holding PFCs Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yorong.

NPA-North Central Mindanao spokesman Allan Juanito earlier confirmed that the NPA snatched Cinches, 23, and Yorong, 28, at the market area of Buntungon, Impasug-ong, in the late afternoon of Aug. 22.

The two soldiers are members of the Bravo Company of the 8th IB who were sent to the town in order to do community organizing work in Barangay Buntungon. At that time, they were sent to the market to buy goods needed by their team.

Juanito said rebels seized the young soldiers’ guns––a caliber .45 pistol, M16 rifles, M203 grenade launchers, and assorted ammunition.

He said the soldiers have been subjected to a “process of investigation” for “prisoners of war.”

“Ginahimo ang pagtuki kun aduna ba sila’y giatubang nga mga kaso ug reklamo sa katawhan, giatiman sila sa usa ka custodial unit sa NPA subay sa gitakda sa mga lagda sa balaud sa gubat isip prisoners of war,” Juanito said in a statement.

He assured the family of the captives that the young soldiers were being treated well.

Tagros said that while the military has already located the area where the soldiers were being held captive, they were handling the situation with much caution because a miscalculation could endanger the captives.

He said the military has sought the help of church, government and lumad leaders to help them in facilitating the release of the young soldiers.
The military said the soldiers were taken by a unit under the NPA’s South Central Bukidnon Sub-Regional Command.

MILF: Murad to Lumads: “We will not repeat the situation where a majority will oppress the minority"

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 1): Murad to Lumads: “We will not repeat the situation where a majority will oppress the minority"

CAMP DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao (MindaNews/ 26 August) – The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is assuring Lumads (Indigenous Peoples /IPs) in the proposed Bangsamoro that they will not allow them to experience what the Moro people have gone through because “we have experienced being the minority and we know the situation, we know the hardship of being a minority, of being a victim of oppression.”
“We are assuring them that we will not repeat the same situation where a majority will oppress the minority,” MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told MindaNews on Sunday afternoon.

Murad said oppressing the IPs and doing them injustice would mean “opening a door for them to wage another struggle against the Bangsamoro people.”

According to an IP Dev 2013 survey among 80 barangays in 12 towns “with sizeable IP population” in the mainland of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the total Lumad population there is 117,189, with the Tedurays numbering 110,559, followed by the Lambangian with 3,139, the Dulangan Manobo with 2,904, Higaonon with 161 and 17 other ethnic affiliations with less than a hundred each.

The ARMM, part of the core territory of the Bangsamoro political entity that would replace it by 2016, has a population of 4.7 million as of 2013, according to the ARMM website.

Murad said the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law has “so many provisions that are addressing the rights of the indigenous peoples,” including a provision for the Bangsamoro government to establish an office or ministry specifically for the IPs, to ensure their concerns are addressed.

Harassment, killings

Complaints have been aired by some Lumad residents in the proposed Bangsamoro about harassments and even killings by armed men identifying themselves as MILF members.
The most recent complaint was aired in a letter sent by Timuay Alim Bandara of the Teduray, Lambangian and Dulangan Manobo Ancestral Domain Claim (TLADMADC) to government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer on August 20, about how an armed group terrified residents of Pmogoyon, a community close to Sitio Bahar in Pandan, South Upi, Maguindanao.

The letter, coursed through Froilyn Tenorio-Mendoza, one of two members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) representing the Lumads, said three instances of ambush had been recorded, killing four persons and injuring one, between May 1 and August 10, 2014 in Sitio Behar and that a certain Maliga Alhaj Ali, an alleged MILF member was “consistently behind the disturbance of peace in this area.”

The GPH and MILF peace panels have a mechanism aimed at addressing complaints involving their respective military forces – the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities which was created in 2003 and mandated to monitor the implementation of the GPH-MILF Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and settle complaints on ceasefire violations to contain and prevent conflicts from escalation.

If the alleged violation is perpetrated by the MILF’s armed wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the complaint is sent to the CCCH of the government peace panel which then sends a protest to the MILF CCCH, copy furnished the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT).

The same process is followed if the alleged violation is done by the military or police. A complaint is filed before the MILF’s CCCH which then sends a protest to the GPH’s CCCH.


Murad said Lumads who have complaints against the MILF are welcome to visit him in his office.
“We are very open.. even yung opisina ko mismo, we are open for them to come and have a dialogue with us at saka iparating nila kung ano yung mga concern nila,” he said.
Murad said he has been holding dialogues with Lumad leaders and mayors.

On August 6 this year, Murad wrote Ricardo Gunsi, Romano Ariston and Janito Rabelo, IP Mandatory Representatives in Upi, Maguindanao, reiterating his commitment to “protect, preserve and guarantee the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the future Bangsamoro, with emphasis on the rights over our shared ancestral domain, as a reflection of our genuine intention of assuring inclusiveness and promoting peace and justice in the region.”

Murad had earlier met the three representatives in a dialogue. He thanked them for their support to the peace process and ended his letter by saying, “Indeed, peace and prosperity in the region can only be attained through collective positive action and recognition of the rights of all constituents in our Bangsamoro homeland.”

“Give us a chance”

In a speech at the Moro-IP Solidarity Event at the EDSA Shangrila Hotel on May 23, 2014, MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, also BTC chair, admitted that the IP issue “ has been one of the most difficult and complex concerns I addressed as Chair of the BTC.”

“Understandably, groups held on to unshakeable ancestral domain claims backed by clashing interpretation of international and domestic legal and political principles. Yet, a zero-sum, take no prisoners’ approach in addressing this complex issue proved counter-productive and destructive of relationships that are key to building peace in our communities,” he said, adding they made progress “only when we took on a new lens and develop(ed) a new language that will foster unity not division in our communities.”

Iqbal added that with the new lens, “we can now imagine a Bangsamoro where all groups equitably and mutually reap what have been gained in our quest for self-determination on top of rights already enjoyed by each and every person or group.”

“We should focus our energies to weaving our beliefs, laws and rights towards forming a tapestry of peace, unity and progress in the Bangsamoro,” he said.

“Give us the chance to prove that in the Bangsamoro, the IPs have a bright future. This we will prove once the Bangsamoro is in place,” Iqbal vowed.“we-will-not-repeat-the-situation-where-a-majority-will-oppress-the-minority

MILF: Concerned Muslim group to host the 3rd Muslim IQ Quest on Eidul Adha

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 1): Concerned Muslim group to host the 3rd Muslim IQ Quest on Eidul Adha

A group of Muslim professionals in General Santos City are preparing to host the 3rd Muslim IQ Quest this coming Eidul Adha in its effort to increase awareness about Islam and promote understanding with other religions.
The organization which calls themselves Concerned Muslim Individuals (CMI) will hold the activity at Veranza Mall in General Santos City on October 4 or 5 this year.

CMI also seeks the support of other Muslim individuals and organization for the endeavor which is aimed to entice more Muslim youth to seek knowledge about Islam.

Michael “Ting” Kusain, lead organizer, said the contest shall have three categories, Qur’anic, the Life of the Prophet and General Information. He said Kusain said both the contestants and the audience will learn during the competition.

A gallery of photos about the Hajj, Muslims and Islam which will educate mall shoppers, both Muslims and non-Muslims will also be mounted in the venue.

CMI in working on informing the Muslim students about the upcoming inter-school IQ quest for the participants to get ready.

MILF: Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law “99.99% done”

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 1): Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law “99.99% done”

The Philippine government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will not meet their self-imposed deadline of “end of August” for the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic law to Congress but MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal is confident the submission will be “soon” as they are now “99.99% done” with the final text.
Notes are still being exchanged to resolve the remaining issue which Iqbal declined to name but which he told MindaNews is “no longer as problematic” as the other issues that were finally resolved between August 10 and 27 with Iqbal’s team and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

Iqbal declined to cite a date for submission to Congress. “It’s not good to give a fixed date. Even the President did not give a date (in his recent interview),” he said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles on August 15 said the consolidated draft BBL would be submitted to President Aquino before end of the following week (August 22) and to Congress before end of the month.

Congress has less than 50 actual workdays until the end of the year. It goes on recess by September 27 and will resume sessions on October 19, will go on recess again from November 1 to 16 and resume sessions by November 17 until the Christmas break from December 20 to January 18.

President Aquino, in an exclusive interview with Bombo Radyo on August 27, expressed hope the draft BBL would be submitted to Congress at the soonest possible. He said the finalization of the draft has taken long because “talagang masusing inaaral bawat isang section at bahagi nitong Bangsamoro Basic Law dahil hinahabol nga natin isang panukalang batas na maibibigay sa ating mga kapatid sa Bangsamoro iyong kanilang inaasam-asam at binibigyan din naman ng kapanatagan ng loob iyong mga kapit-bahay nila na—sa maapektuhan nitong batas na ito” (Each section and provision of the Bangsamoro Basic Law are being carefully studied because we want a basic law that will give our siblings in the Bangsamoro what they aspire for and give assurance as well to the neighbors who will be affected by this law).

The President said there is no issue on the basic principles but transferring those basic principles into the specifications of the law, “iyon medyo nagkaroon ng konting mas matinding negosasyon” (that’s where the negotiation is intense).

But the President said he believes “malaki na ang na-resolve mula noong isang lingo” (so much has been resolved since the other week). He did not cite a date for submission to Congress but said “ang laki ng inabante” (there has been much progress).

The President said he is hopeful that “isang panukalang batas na sinasangayunan ng lahat ng stakeholders” (a basic law acceptable to all stakeholders) will be submitted to Congress at the soonest possible.

The President said he hopes a plebiscite can be conducted at the end of the year “kung pupwede” (if possible) but that would depend on the deliberations of Congress. He said they are working for a “one year and a half” period to allow the Bangsamoro Transition Authority enough time to prove that the kind of governance system (ministerial form) that they are proposing is more appropriate in running the Bangsamoro.”

Under the Annex on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, the plebiscite shall be held “not later than 120 days” from the enactment of the BBL.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the 15-member joint GPH-MILF body tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), submitted its 97-page draft to Malacanang (Office of the President) on April 22. Malacanang took two months to review the draft, handed over a copy of the reviewed draft with comments and proposed revisions on June 21.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Iqbal, the MILF peace panel chair and concurrent BTC chair raised their “concerns” on the Malacanang-proposed revisions in a “15 to 20 minutes” meeting with President Aquino in Hiroshima on June 24, shortly before the President delivered his keynote address at the 6th Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Seminar (COP 6).

Murad in an interview with MindaNews said he told the President that they were “very disgusted” by the proposed revisions to the BTC draft because “almost everything was … reformulated” and “it was not only the provisions introduced in the BTC that were changed but even those provisions in the agreement itself were diluted.”

The MILF-led BTC passed a resolution on July 3, elevating its concerns over Malacnang’s proposed revisions to the peace panels. The panels held a total of 21 days of “workshops” in Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Davao but failed to come up with a “mutually acceptable” draft BBL. The President also met with the BTC on July 24, four days before delivering his State of the Nation Address on July 28, where he was expected to submit to Congress and certify as “urgent” the draft BBL.

The 10-day “workshop” in Davao ended on August 10. From a morning of “no direction,” it was transformed into an afternoon of action with the arrival of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa who met with the GPH peace panel and later with the MILF to discuss “immediate ways forward.”

Ochoa had since taken over the helm of the negotiations on the final draft BBL on behalf of the government, a process that was supposed to have been the first level of engagement between the OP and the BTC after the submission of the draft BTC on April 22.

After August 10, Ochoa returned to Davao City on August 13 to 15 for an exchange of papers and daily meetings that ended with a Joint Statement by Ochoa and Iqbal on August 15 that they had “concluded discussions” on the “various issues” involving the draft BBL and that the resolutions arrived at would be incorporated into the final draft “that will be prepared and submitted to President Benigno S. Aquino.”

Iqbal and Ochoa met again in Manila starting August 19 with the consolidated draft submitted to President Aquino through Ochoa at 8 p.m. on August 20. Several more meetings were held after the President’s review last week and the last remaining issue is expected to be resolved this week.“9999-done

CPP/NPA: Video -- POW 8-22-2014 Bukidnon

Posted to the CPP Website (Aug 30): Video: POW 8-22-2014 Bukidnon

POW 8222014 Bukidnon

‘Officials praise elite SAF for human rights respect'

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 1): ‘Officials praise elite SAF for human rights respect'


Policemen, who graduated from Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare Course, perform a mock assault on a bus with passengers being held hostage.

Special Action Force director Getulio Napenas said political leaders and businessmen in Negros Occidental are all praise for the 6th Special Action Battalion personnel for their performance, in more than two years of their assignment in the province.

Napenas said that, in his recent talks with local business leaders and local government officials, he has not heard any complaints against SAF troopers, but only praise.
Napenas, who supervises six battalions of police elite SAF Units all over the country, said he also noted that not a single complaint for human rights abuse had also been aired against the 6th SAB stationed in Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Capiz.
The 6th SAB headed by Supt. Mario Baquiran served as the training coordinator for the training of 84 policemen and women who underwent a three-month Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare Course training in Brgy. 2 poblacion, Sagay City.
The police elite unit arrived in Negros Occidental two years ago, to compliment the internal security operations of the Philippine National Police and Army, as well as maintaining peace and order in northern Negros.
Napenas said he has complimented the 6th SAB with 37 more police troopers,to replace those who have been transferred to other units.
They are now 90 percent filled up, he added.
Two other SAF companies are now deployed in Iloilo and Capiz, while two other companies are deployed in northern Negros, police records show.

Central Visayas to remain insurgency free: CentCom

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 1): Central Visayas to remain
insurgency-free: CentCom

Maj. Gen.l Nicanor Vivar, newly-installed commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (CentCom) based in Camp Lapu-Lapu in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, vowed to help Central Visayas provinces maintain their insurgency-free status.

Vivar made the assurance to Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III during a courtesy call at the Cebu Capitol recently.

The AFP CentCom declared Cebu and Bohol provinces insurgency-free in 2009. On May 31 this year, the Regional Peace and Order Council 7 also announced that Siquijor is free of insurgents, and Negros Oriental is “on its way” to becoming insurgency-free.

The RPOC 7 also declared that the whole Central Visayas is “conflict manageable” and a “development-ready” region.

Major General John Bonafos, former Centcom chief, said violent incidences have “weakened or minimized” in these areas.

Vivar said AFP is aiming to make all of the three regions in the Visayas as “conflict manageable” by 2016. Vivar assumed as the new Centcom commander on August 15 after Bonafos has been transferred to higher headquarters as vice chief of staff.

Vivar, a member of the Philippine Military Academy “Sandigan” Class of 1982, was the former commander of the Philippine Air Force 3 rd Air Division, based at the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City.

He has received numerous commendations, like the Distinguished Service Star, Presidential Medal of Merit, Bronze Cross Medals, Silver Wing Medal and the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Campaign Medals.

AFP: Decision not to surrender weapons came from PHL side

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): AFP: Decision not to surrender weapons came from PHL side

Armed Forces chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Monday said that the Philippine contingent in the Golan Heights involved in a stand-off with Syrian rebels last Thursday refused to surrender their weapons inspite of an order from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander.

Catapang said UNDOF commander Indian Lt. Gen.Iqbal Singh Singha ordered the Filipinos in Position 68 and 69 to surrender their weapons, in what observers said, was a vain attempt to save the 44 Fijians.

The Fijans gave up their firearms without a fight and as a result were held hostage by the Syrian rebels during the beginning of the stand-off Thursday.

Catapang said that there is no section nor clause in the terms of reference (UN deployment of peacekeepers) authorizing troop contributing countries to authorize the surrender of their troops' firearms in the event of harassment or attack.

"It's not our fault that the Fijian peacekeepers were captured and held hostage, what I told the UNDOF commander is that he should save the Philippine contingent (in Position 68 and 69) so that we can help the Fijians," the AFP chief stressed.

And besides, Catapang said that there is no assurance that the Syrian rebels will not capture the Filipino force once it surrendered all its weapons.

"And if that happens, the UNDOF commander will have a bigger problem in his hands," the AFP chief stated.

Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights are armed with M-4 automatic rifles, M-60 machine-guns, K-3 squad automatic weapons, and .45 caliber pistols.

Catapang also said that surrender of weapons, even if a ceremonial one as being proposed by the Al Nusra Front, is frowned upon by the AFP as it is a symbol of a Filipino soldiers' martial honor.

Filipino troops attached to the UNDOF is placed at 331 officers and enlisted personnel.

Catapang added that this action of the Philippine side did not contradict the UNDOF orders as troop contributing countries have leeway to countermand orders when it affects their national interest like continued security and safety of their military personnel.

"But I think we are right because we are all safe now," he added.

The AFP chief also admitted that the incident will have some kind of backlash but stressed that the UN should understand that safety of Filipino troops are of primordial importance as it prevails over and above the Fijian situation.

He also said that they are not planning to apologize to the UNDOF commander and stressed that the latter should be investigated for committing acts compromising the safety of Filipino troops.

Catapang also clarified the decision to escape from encirclement of Position 68 was also the call of the troops in the ground and one that the AFP leadership sanctioned.

Filipino peacekeepers evade Syrian rebels by walking through a minefield

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Filipino peacekeepers evade Syrian rebels by walking through a minefield

Walking through a live minefield was a thing only thought to be done in the movies.

But for Capt. Nilo Ramones and his 39 men who manned Position 68 at the Golan Heights, it was to take that hazard or run the risk of being overwhelmed and captured by the Syrian rebel force whom they engaged in a tense two-day stand-off.

The stand-off between the Filipinos and Syrian rebel force started Thursday 6 a.m. (Syrian time).

Speaking in a video conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Ramones said the decision and plan to escape from Position 68 was reached 6 p.m. (Syrian time) Saturday.

Prior this, the Filipino force was in a seven-hour firefight with the Syrian rebels starting 6 a.m. (Syrian time).

The escape plan was given the go-ahead by the 7th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights and sanctioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

This was reached after reports indicated that more and more Syrian rebels were encircling the Filipino position.

Prior their escape, Ramones said that they were instructed by higher authorities to determine the best time to make the attempt.

Around 8 p.m. Filipino observers detected that Syrian rebels were lying prone in their positions as if they were trying to sleep.

Another series of observations confirmed this report and around 11 p.m. (Syrian time), the decision to move out was given.

Ramones said that they made their escape towards the westward side of Position 68 which is near the Israeli border.

"And when the order to move out was given, the Syrian rebels were all sound asleep," he added.

However, the breakout move was not without risk as the area chosen for their ingress was heavily mined.

Ramones said this prompted them to move out very quietly.

And since they know the exact position of the minefield, they were able to make their escape without any untoward incident.

After one and half-hour of walking, the Filipino troops were able to reach their rendezvous point with other peacekeepers who then escorted them to Camp Ziouani for repositioning.

NBI nabs 4 suspects in NAIA bombing attempt

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): NBI nabs 4 suspects in NAIA bombing attempt

Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) and NBI Counter-Terrorism Division (NBI-CTD) have arrested four suspects in a bombing attempt at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday.

It was about 1:45 a.m. Monday when a white Toyota Revo with plate no. WMK-129 was intercepted at the NAIA Terminal 3 parking lot B loaded with components of explosives.

The suspects were arrested while in the act of assembling the explosives inside their vehicle.

Even before the incident, the NBI has already received an information a month ago that a bomb will be exploded until they again received a "tip" about the presence of the suspects on Sunday night who were at the NAIA 3 open parking lot.

The NBI agents theorized that aside from the NAIA, the suspects were also targeting a nearby mall.

The authorities are now determining which group was behind it and what was the motive in the bombing attempt.

Sajahatra Bangsamoro boosts sustainable farming and livelihood prospects in Zambo Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Sajahatra Bangsamoro boosts sustainable farming and livelihood prospects in Zambo Sibugay

Villagers of Barangay Datu Tumanggon in this town recently received a boost in their livelihood opportunities, thanks to the Sajahatra Bangsamoro, a joint, initial socio-economic development initiative of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

On Tuesday (August 26), the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program (SBP), through the Department of Agriculture (DA), distributed substantial farm inputs and conducted post-harvest trainings to the Moro and non-Moro residents of the barangay.

The Datu Tumanggon community, heavily dependent on agriculture for livelihood and sustenance, had longed throughout the years for better means to cultivate and maximize their natural farm resources, eyeing long-term economic self-reliance.

“In the past, we could only dream of having a better source of livelihood here in Datu Tumanggon,” said Winnielyn Jainuddin, president of the local people’s organization known as Peace Loving People of Datu Tumanggon.

“High interest loan rates, along with the lack of financial windows for farmers to buy seeds and other tools to cultivate our lands, were major challenges to us villagers. With the free farm inputs provided to us by the Department of Agriculture under the Sajahatra program, those dreams can now be achieved,” he said.

DA Assistant Secretary Edilberto M. de Luna led the distribution of farm kits, livestock, and seeds to the villagers in a symbolic turnover ceremony held at the barangay hall.

“We respect and recognize your aspiration for self-determination as Bangsamoro people,” De Luna told Datu Tumanggon locals, adding that the support does not end in providing seedlings alone, but will also involve farmer trainings to ensure the sustainability of the program within their communities.

DA’s livelihood assistance manifests the agency’s commitment to the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program which aims to uplift Bangsamoro communities through the delivery of health, education and livelihood opportunities as initial dividends of peace.

De Luna said they are providing at least a thousand coffee seedlings, several vegetable seeds, and livestock to include 45 chickens, 21 goats, and two water buffaloes to enhance the agricultural activities in the village.

Tuesday’s event is the first among a series of livelihood distribution events that the DA is initiating in all 10 SBP beneficiary sites across Mindanao, which the joint Sajahatra team had identified.

Fair and equitable distribution Jainuddin said the farm inputs and livestock will be distributed to the villagers. Each family will have a fair share of seedlings and the chance to breed the livestock.

“The impact of this program is huge. Considering how the level of living conditions here is so low, the program will certainly help each family here earn more,” she said.

For Merlyn Melindres, a Visayan settler who grew up in Datu Tumanggon, the potential for prosperity that they are being given now could not have been realized if not for the strong determination and sincere commitment of the Philippine government and the MILF to pursue the path to peace.

“The good thing about the Sajahatra Program is that it is not selective in terms of its beneficiaries. Even we Visayan members of the community can still gain from the program,” she shared.

Beyond economic advantages, the joint initiative also puts in effect a grassroots-level effort to cater to the political and historical rights of the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.

“Muslims and Christians here share a mutual understanding. Their (Sajahatra program’s) purpose upholds this and promises to bring progress to our village. We, the people here, express our gratitude to them for coming down to meet our group,” Melindres added.

Jainuddin affirmed that the southern peace process between the GPH and MILF has not only created a peaceful environment in their area, but also enabled a significant improvement in the delivery of basic services.

“We have huge regard to the [GPH-MILF] peace process. It has provided us with better livelihood and education opportunities for our children. Now, we are even expecting a health center to be constructed in our village; we don’t have to travel far to get free medical services anymore. The (peace process) has truly uplifted the living conditions of the families here,” she said.

NAIA T3 on full alert over suspected bomb interception

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): NAIA T3 on full alert over suspected bomb interception

Authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA T3) are on full alert after police were able to intercept a suspected car bomb in the airport’s parking lot on Monday morning.

According to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) at around 1:45 a.m., six to eight improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were intercepted at the NAIA T3 parking B.

The car was reported to be a dirty white Toyota Revo with the plate number WMK 129, police reports showed.

Three suspects have been arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which will be presented to the prosecutors on Tuesday (Sept 2).

NBI said that aside from the IEDs found in the car, a number of firearms were also seized from the suspects.

MIAA, however, assured the public that NAIA T3 and all other terminals remain safe.

“Airport security personnel continue to stay vigilant in their respective areas,” MIAA said in a statement sent to reporters.

“The MIAA supports all efforts of law enforcements agencies of government towards protecting lives and properties from people or groups who want to instill havoc and disturb peace and order in the country,” it added.

For its part, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the alert level has been heightened in airports nationwide.

The heightened alert status means that 50 percent of its security personnel have to be at their posts at any time.

3rd Infantry Division joins nationwide celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): 3rd Infantry Division joins nationwide celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month

The Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division announced that it is spearheading in its area of responsibility the month-long observance of the National Peace Consciousness Month this September.

During Monday’s flag raising ceremony, soldiers in all military camps under 3rd Infantry Division recited the Harmony Prayer and the Pledge for Peace in support to the annual event, Major Ray Tiongson, unit spokesperson, said.

This year's theme is “Nagkakaisang Bayan para sa Kapayapaan”.

“As we observe the National Peace Consciousness Month, your Army remains resolute in its peace and security efforts in order to create an environment conducive for sustainable development and a just and lasting peace,” 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

Since July 2013, the unit has implemented the “Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw III” (Working together for peace) campaign.

This resulted to the neutralization of sixty-eight CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) members that included five high ranking CNN personalities.

Fourteen were killed during encounters, 26 were captured or arrested and 28 have chosen to lay down their arms and return to the folds of the law.

The 3rd Infantry Division has also recovered a total of 75 firearms (39 high powered and 36 low powered) and 12 improvised explosive devices.

The Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw has also paved the way in the declaration of Negros Oriental as conflict-manageable and development-ready province last May 7.

Explosives found in car at NAIA 3 parking lot

From Rappler (Sep 1): Explosives found in car at NAIA 3 parking lot

(UPDATED) A vehicle laden with explosives was discovered by personnel from the National Bureau of Investigation in the early hours of Monday at the airport terminal's parking lot

Bomb squad operatives conducts a search at the entrance of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Photo by Francis Malasig/EPA

Bomb squad operatives conducts a search at the entrance of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Photo by Francis Malasig/EPA

Authorities discovered early Monday, September 1, a vehicle loaded with explosives at the parking lot of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

A white Toyota Revo (WMK 129) was discovered by personnel from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) around 1:30 am at the airport terminal's parking lot.

The car was found to have improvised explosives, banned firecrackers, wrapped around bottles containing gasoline, sources from the NBI said.

The NBI also found a manifesto from the group believed to be behind the car bombing attempt, which stated a plan to bomb several locations in Metro Manila. Among these places were the SM Mall of Asia and the Chinese Embassy, as well as the office of real estate developer DMCI.

Four suspects were apprehended by the NBI in connection with the case, and were brought to the NBI headquarters in Manila for processing.

According to an initial statement from one of the suspects, the plan was not to bomb NAIA but the offices listed in their manifest.

An NBI source said the aim is to destabilize the government. The group behind the attempt is said to be a right-wing group "unsatisfied" over the government's action over the maritime row with China.

The vehicle containing improvised explosives that was found at the parking lot of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, now at the NBI headquarters in Manila, 1 September 2014. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

The vehicle containing improvised explosives that was found at the parking lot of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, now at the NBI headquarters in Manila, 1 September 2014. Photo by Joel Leporada/Rappler

The entire NAIA complex has been placed under full security alert after the incident.

The terminal, which for many years served only domestic flights but recently also began hosting international airlines, was operating as normal on Monday morning.

Airport spokespeople declined to comment.

According to Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, President Benigno Aquino III has directed authorities, specifically the Department of Justice and the NBI to submit a report.

Palparan asks for military detention

From Rappler (Sep 1): Palparan asks for military detention

Palparan's motion asks the court to transfer him either to the Philippine Army Custodial Center (PACC) in Fort Bonifacio or at the detention center of the Intelligence Agency of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in Camp Aguinaldo

After being denied his motion to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters instead of the Bulacan Provincial Jail, retired Major General Jovito Palparan is now filing a motion to be detained instead by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The motion, for filing Monday, September 1, asks the court to transfer Palparan either to the Philippine Army Custodial Center (PACC) in Fort Bonifacio or at the detention center of the Intelligence Agency of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in Camp Aguinaldo.

Two of the four accused in the case, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt Edgar Osorio, both Army personnel, are detained at the custodial center.
The prosecution earlier maintained that Palparan's status as a retired general bans him from being allowed into the AFP's custody.

Palparan, along with 3 others, is charged with the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan. Witnesses claim the young women were tortured, raped and held under the orders of the former partylist representative.

He was apprehended on August 12, 2014, after nearly 3 years in hiding.
According to Palparan's counsel Eduardo Millares, the AFP's Judge Advocate General's Office has expressed willingness to handle Palparan's detention.

Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales asked the defense to file the motion within the day for comment from the prosecution counsel as well as the proposed institutions for detention.

The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) labeled the move as "detention-shopping."

"Palparan detention-shopping as if going on holiday. The audacity to make flippant choices betrays the desire to come home to a conniving AFP," the group said on Twitter.

'Free Palparan'

Protesters against former Maj Gen Jovito Palparan Jr. at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court, 1 September 2014. Photo by Carlo Gabuco

Protesters against former Maj Gen Jovito Palparan Jr. at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court, 1 September 2014. Photo by Carlo Gabuco

About two dozen officers in the blue uniforms of the Philippine National Police (PNP) stood guard before the steps of the Regional Trial Court. Several others were stationed at the second floor outside branch 14.

A dozen jail guards also appeared with the retired general, 8 of them inside the courtroom, blocking Palparan from the view of the rest of the court. The NBI also had their representatives armed with a variety of automatic weapons.

Palparan had earlier claimed that detention at the Bulacan Provincial Jail would put his life in jeopardy.

Between 2005 and 2006, under the Arroyo administration, Palparan served as commanding general of the military's 7th infantry division, which commanded troops in central Luzon, including Bulacan, once the hotbed of communist insurgency.

Under the Arroyo government, it was the subject of a massive campaign by the Philippine military to weed out the mass supporters of the rebel New People's Army (NPA).

Activists with megaphones led protests outside the trial court during the hearing. To one side were the families of Palparan's alleged victims as well as members of progressive groups carrying posters with the faces of the dead and missing. Opposite them were a group of at least thirty Palparan supporters, many of them widows of soldiers killed in alleged NPA ambushes.

Both sides attempted to outshout the other. "Butcher Palparan," screamed one side. "Free Palparan," shouted the other. It is a change from Palparan's previous hearing, when Palparan's supporters were content to stand quietly.

A pro-Palparan protester holds a poster of the former general accused of human rights violations in a protest at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court, 1 September 2014. Photo by Carlo Gabuco

A pro-Palparan protester holds a poster of the former general accused of human rights violations in a protest at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court, 1 September 2014. Photo by Carlo Gabuco

Myra Ochave, the 60-year-old widow of soldier Richard Ochave, says her husband was killed in the Mountain Province by the NPA in an ambush against the 24th Infantry Battalion.

"It is not true (that the two women were kidnapped). All the left wants to do is to jail all the generals so they can be free to do what they want," said Ochave in Filipino.

She said that Richard's death in 1991 has never been brought to justice. A pension of PHP 7,000 (159 USD) is not enough to compensate for her husband's lost.

The retired general will appear again in court next Monday, September 8.

KA-TAPANG | Now it can be told: PH peacekeepers ignored UN commander's order to yield

From InterAksyon (Sep 1): KA-TAPANG | Now it can be told: PH peacekeepers ignored UN commander's order to yield

What was billed as "the greatest escape" by 40 Filipino peacekeepers who broke through the encirclement of Syrian rebels at the Golan Heights Saturday almost never happened - thanks to an order to "surrender" their firearms, given by an UNDOF commander, which the Filipinos ignored.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang on Monday revealed - and called for an investigation of the matter - the order from the commander of the United Nations Disengagement Force for the Filipino peacekeepers to surrender if attacked by the Syrian rebels. The surrender order for Filipinos was apparently meant to spare the lives of UN Fijian peacekeepers, who earlier surrendered to the Syrians but were taken hostage. They remain missing until now.

However, the UN Filipino peacekeepers’ commanders on Positions 68 and 69 stood their ground and silently invoked their right to defend themselves rather than be taken hostage and remain unaccounted for for an indefinite period.

“The order of the UNDOF commander kept changing. First of all, there's nothing in the terms of reference that says we can be ordered to surrender our firearms. It's because the UNDOF commander wanted to save the Fijians at the expense of the Philippines. It's not our fault that they were taken hostage," Catapang said.  He said he stressed to the UNDOF commander that it made more sense for him to "save first the Filipinos and then we will help the Fijians later."

He did not name the UNDOF commander, who was described as from the Indian military. Military officials later named him as Major General Iqbal Sing Singha.

No apology needed, just a probe

Catapang sees no point in asking the UNDOF commander to apologize for the lapse of judgment. “Hindi naman kailangan mag-sorry dito. Ang kailangan dito imbestigahan siya [There's no need for an apology here. What must be done is investigate him],” he said.

The standoff between Syrian rebels and the Filipino peacekeepers, who were assigned in positions 68 and 69 at the disputed territory at Golan Heights, began Friday, after the rebels captured the Fijian position and took them hostage. The rebels then sent an English-speaking Fijian to the Filipino troops’ position, telling them to also surrender their firearms and munitions.

“Then the next move is to capture them (Filipino soldiers) and make them hostage. So [that would only compound the problem of the] UNDOF commander. We do not surrender our firearms. A deadlock happened because the Al Nusra [rebel front, linked to Al-Qaeda] said the guns are symbolic to them, that's why they want them. But said, to us Filipinos it’s not only symbolic; it is our honor that is at stake."

Catapang recalled telling the Philippine battalion commander to tell the UNDOF commander that if he wants, he can donate the guns of the Fijians, who comprise the biggest force. They still had 400 peacekeepers left.

Catapang explained that there are rules of engagement and “Our national policy can prevail.” He explained that the policy is to save the lives of the Filipino soldiers.

“There is no agreement yet. It still has to be sorted out, if we were right or if we were wrong, but I think we are right because we are all safe now,” he said, as a postscript to  the decision of the Philippine ground commanders not to raise the white flag to the Syrian rebels, and how this can possibly affect the country’s relations with the UN.

Catapang said “it (decision not to surrender) can affect [the Philippines' prime standing as one of the best contributors to the UN peacekeeping force globally], but they have to understand that the safety of our soldiers is of primordial importance; it prevails over and above the Fijian situation,” he added.

The Philippines' position, as conveyed to the ground commanders at Golan, had been crunched by top officials of the defense and military establishment, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, who comprised a “Battle Staff” since Day 1.  They were in direct contact, through teleconference, with the ground commanders of the besieged forces.

Escape plan hatched by soldiers on ground

Catapang denied, however, directly giving orders to the ground troops on what to do. ’The escape plan is the decision of our troops there. We supported their decision,” he said.

AFP Peace-keeping Operations Center commander Col. Roberto Ancan said the situation called for a decisive response from the ground commanders. This included, he added, their decision not to follow the surrender order given by the UNDOF commander.

Ancan said the Philippines, as a troop-contributing country, is well within its right to let its national interest prevail in the situation. "So, we can do that (disobey the surrender order) because as a member state we are just only loaned  by the UNDOF and with that we can take orders from our national government, from the capital,” he said.

Ancan said the Philippine government cannot subordinate the lives of its soldiers to the decision of the UNDOF commander.

The firearms that the Filipino soldiers were being told to turn over to the Syrian rebels are "our issued firearms . . . part of our uniform," and as peacekeepers, he added, the soldiers were "duty-bound to defend [themselves] and [their] facilities in that order. If I am the commander I will ensure the safety and security of my troops. That is paramount to a commander,” he explained.

On the second day of the standoff, Ancan had declared that the Filipino soldiers at Golan were "well-trained, well-armed, well-disciplined" and were authorized to use "deadly force" if necessary to defend themselves and the UN facility.

Ancan admitted that at first the Filipino ground commanders simply relayed to them the decision of the UNDOF commander to just surrender their firearms.

Surrender did not ensure they'll be spared

Ancan pointed out, however, that if the soldiers turned in their guns, “you don’t know what will happen to you next. Can you go after that? There’s no assurance. So you have to defend yourself because in the rules of engagement, you can use deadly force if that is to defend yourself and the UN facilities.”

The Filipino soldiers trapped in the two positions actually numbered more than 70, but 32 were able to move to safer ground with help from the Irish contingent who provided cover.

The 40 engaged the rebels in an hours-long firefight, before making the mad dash to safety past midnight Saturday.

Ancan said the PKOC will recommend an investigation of the UNDOF official.