Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5 NPA rebels dead in Abra clash–Army official

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 4): 5 NPA rebels dead in Abra clash–Army official

Members of the 41st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army killed five members of the New People’s Army in Abra Thursday morning, an Army official said.

Major Calixto Cadano, 5th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office Chief, said the Army troops were conducting security operations in Barangay (village) Guinguinabang, Lacub when they chanced upon the armed communists.
As of posting time, the firefight is ongoing.

Army troops recovered five high-powered firearms from the site and no casualties from the government side has been reported.

“Prior to the incident, villagers tipped off the presence of the NPA’s who are on extortion activities and collecting foodstuffs from the populace,” Cadano said.

Lieutenant Colonel Virgilo Noora, Commanding Officer of the 41st IB, said that civilians in the area told them that the communist rebels they encountered were not from the area.

“The barangay folk said that the NPA’s who are extorting from them are not from Abra but from other areas that’s why the people are really distrustful of them,” Noora said.

5 NPA fighters killed as Abra battle rages

From InterAksyon (Sep 4): 5 NPA fighters killed as Abra battle rages

Government troops have killed at least five New People’s Army guerrillas in a clash in Abra province that is raging as of this posting.

“There’s an ongoing operation yet and I’m monitoring the operations. I will provide you the data later this morning soon as the situation there will be normalized. As of now, five (rebel bodies recovered) confirmed,” Northern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Felecito Trinidad told in a phone interview.

Trinidad said helicopter gunships have been deployed to support the ground troops.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. vowed to make the NPA “history” before he retires next year.

Sayyaf does an ISIS, beheads local militia

From the Manila Standard Today (Sep 4): Sayyaf does an ISIS, beheads local militia

The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group, which claimed to have links with the extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), beheaded a civilian auxiliary brigade member in Sumisip, Basilan last Saturday and posted a photo of the headless man in the Internet, a senior police official said.

Grisly. Two suspected
members of the Abu
Sayyaf group pose with
the head of Hadji Aldam,
a member of the militia
in Basilan that they
killed on Saturday.
The military said the
victim’s body was
recovered on the
outskirts of Sumisip town.
Sr. Supt. Mario Dapillosa, Basilan Police Director, said the terrorist beheaded Hadji Aldam and  four masked men wielding Armalite rifles posed with the headless body inside a tent with what looked like a flag of the ISIS in the background.

“Aldam’s body was recovered in the outskirts of Sumisip,” Dapillosa said.

Aldam was abducted in a company where he was employed as a guard last Saturday. He was a member of the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary.

The Abu Sayyaf had cut off the heads of its captives in the past.  The beheading of Aldam happened one week after the ISIS chopped off the head of American journalist Steven Sotloff in Iraq.

The Islamic State released a video on Tuesday showing a masked militant beheading another American journalist and threatening to kill a British captive.

The footage, identified by private terrorism monitor SITE, shows 31-year-old freelance writer Steven Sotloff dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape.

The masked militant condemns US attacks on the Islamic State and cuts Sotloff’s throat. He then introduces a second captive, identified by name and said to be British.
US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States will not be intimidated by the Islamic State after the Sunni group beheaded a second American journalist.

Condemning the “horrible act of violence,” Obama said Washington’s goal is for the Islamic State to “no longer pose a threat” to the region. However, this will “take time” and depends on close cooperation with partners in the region, he said.

The beheading of Sotloff brought fresh calls for an international alliance to combat the extremist group as well as renewed condemnation of its barbarism.

'Delusional' Pamatong behind foiled NAIA bombing, NSC chief calls group 'harmless'

From InterAksyon (Sep 3): 'Delusional' Pamatong behind foiled NAIA bombing, NSC chief calls group 'harmless'

“Delusional” perennial presidential candidate Ely Pamatong’s group was behind the foiled NAIA bombing and National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia called Pamatong’s group “harmless.”

Garcia made the statement Wednesday during a budget hearing chaired by Senator Francis Escudero, who heads the Senate finance committee.

Pamatong’s group, the United States Armed Freedom Fighters of the East (USAFFE), is classified as a “fake guerrilla racket, fake guerrilla organization, dubious anti-communist organization, pseudo-religious organization and the like,” Garcia said, also calling it “harmless” and “dubious.”

The group was foiled in its attempt to explode a car bomb at the NAIA Terminal 3. It also had plans to bomb the Mall of Asia and to strafe the Chinese embassy and the DMCI offices in Makati after it expressed exasperation over the Philippine government’s perceived weak stance against China’s incursion into Philippine territory and the dominance of Chinese-Filipino business. The Mall of Asia is owned by Chinese-Filipino tycoon Henry Sy while DMCI is owned by another Chinese-Filipino tycoon David Consunji.

“Sometimes, these types of organizations driven by delusions, led by delusional individuals are involved in these kinds of activities,” Garcia said in a mixture of English and Tagalog.

Garcia’s assessment of Pamatong’s group runs counter to that of the Department of Justice, which in its Tuesday press conference called the foiled bombing an act of terror.

Newly confirmed Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. agreed with Garcia’s assessment. In interviews with Senate reporters, Catapang said the military considered the foiled bombing more a criminal offense rather than a destabilization effort.

“We still believe that this is not a terrorist act because it was done by somebody whom we know is more or less like a prankster who wants to get the attention of the public. But we’re still looking into it,” Catapang said.

Besides, the AFP chief emphasized, even their intelligence reports do not indicate a cause for any alarm as no subsequent similar incidents have been monitored.

‘Labintador lang’

“There’s no destabilization angle. Just imagine, ano lang yun labintador lang tapos nilagyan ng gasolina (it was simply firecrackers with gasoline). Anybody can do that. I think that's not something that we should bother about,” he added. 

Catapang also said there’s no need to raise alert levels due to the foiled bombing.
Walang nakita (Nothing was monitored) as of our reports,” he said, noting that the Pamatong group’s alleged bomb plot at AFP headquarters, major shopping malls, and other highly-populated places proved to have no basis at all.

“That is the allegation, sabi may threat sa kampo (camp) namin pero negative naman. Negative lahat. Sa (shopping) mall, negative din,” he said.

“We did not want to give them importance because they are just, to us, pranksters,” he said. 

Nevertheless, the three who were arrested for the bomb attempt have to face the consequences for their actions, Catapang said.

Japan, PH reach landmark sea pact

From the Manila Times (Sep 3): Japan, PH reach landmark sea pact

Japanese and Philippine lawmakers on Wednesday signed an agreement that they hope will jumpstart a global campaign for peaceful resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and East China Sea.

The Joint Document for Cooperation on Promotion of the Rule of Law at Sea states that both sides recognize that in settling maritime disputes, states should make and clarify their claims based on international law and they should not use force or coercion in pursuing their claims.

The agreement seeks to settle disputes by peaceful means and avoid any unilateral attempts to change the status quo through force or coercion.

Both sides further agreed to address maritime issues and encourage members of Congress to join efforts in establishing a “Parliamentarians’ League for Maritime Security in Asia” aimed at protecting and promoting maritime order based on international law.

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and vice chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, said in a news conference that he will work for the adoption of the agreement in Congress as a resolution similar to what was signed in the US Congress.

Biazon and Hiroshi Nakada, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives and the head of the Japanese delegation, presided over the news conference.

In his discussions with the Japanese officials, as well as with other countries’ officials, Biazon cited the need to do a campaign “to raise awareness of other nations that there must be a resolution of disputes and this resolution must be in accordance [with] international law, specifically the Unclos.”

Unclos stands for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a 1982 accord recognized by 166 countries, including China and the Philippines.

“I agree with the mounting of a campaign by nations interested, nations that are directly affected and that are indirectly affected,” Biazon said, noting that 40 percent of world trade and commerce passes through the West Philippine Sea.

“This is a beginning of a campaign that has been going on, but not in a more formal manner as it is being done now. We have to conduct a campaign to elevate this concern to official level,” he added.

Nakada said they will work with respective legislative bodies of other countries and “we will promote this understanding with international societies.”

Biazon described the agreement as a “jelling of common thoughts addressing common concerns.”

The Philippines is the first country with which Japan entered into such agreement but Nakada said they are aware that other countries also share the same problems.

He added that they are looking at promoting the same agreement in Vietnam and other affected countries.

Biazon said there are two steps that must be discussed in the context of the agreement: a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law and how to address encroachments into the defined exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of each country.

Although the agreement is not yet considered a national policy, he noted that both parties “recognize a common concern [and] a need for cooperative, concerted effort to address the problem.”

“We cannot escape having to also address the security matter to prevent [raising of tensions] and to protect national interest in disputed areas,” Biazon said.

Make China aware

Nakada said the 2002 Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC) signed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) did not stop China from raising tensions in the region through its “activities and actions.”

“What we are trying to do here is essentially to make China aware that the global community wants China to act within established principles that have been agreed upon,” the lawmaker added.

The international community, particularly the United States, voiced out its concerns on China’s aggressive actions in the region.

The Philippines has filed a memorial against China before the United Nations-backed International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos) questioning Beijing’s claims in the disputed sea.

Based on its nine-dash line, Beijing lays claims to territories extending to the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.

Taiwan also has claims in the contested waters.

Japan also has its own territorial issues with China over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called the Diayou in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese.

Tokyo has warned Beijing over its expansive claims in that region, with Japan’s new government removing the shackles of its pacifist Constitution to allow it to militarily engage long-time allies and even foes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Nakada’s delegation includes Hiroshi Miyake (Osaka), Takahito Miyazawa (Nagano), Manabu Matsuda (Yokohama), Hiromu Nakamaru (Hiroshima) and Takashi Tanuma.

They are members of Japan’s minority group in the House of Representatives, the Party for Future Generations.

On the side of the Philippines, the agreement was signed, aside from Biazon, by Representatives Al Bichara, Raul del Mar, Maria Zenaida Angping, Josephine Sato, Rufus Rodriguez, Victor Ortega, Gabriel Luis Quisumbing, Jose Ma. Zubiri 3rd, Gary Alejano, Francisco Ashley Acedillo, Mel Senen Sarmiento and Pablo Nava.

The Japanese lawmakers also met with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other members of Congress.

Army: 68 rebels neutralized

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 3): Army: 68 rebels neutralized

The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division reported yesterday that it has neutralized 68 alleged New People’s Army personalities in Negros and Panay, through their arrest or surrender, while others died in encounters through its “Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw” campaign.

Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, 3rd Infantry Division commander, said that, of the 68 neutralized rebel personalities, five of those captured occupied high positions in the rebel movement, 14 died in gunbattles, 26 were captured, while 28 surrendered to various Army units in the region, from January to July this year.

In the same period, infantry units of 3ID recovered 75 assorted firearms of assorted calibers, 39 of which are high-powered, and 12 improvised explosives devices (IEDs), military records show.

Baladad, who is relinquishing the 3ID command tomorrow to Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, said the “Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw (Working Together for Peace)” campaign also paved the way for the declaration of Negros Oriental as a conflict-manageable and development-ready province on May 7, 2014.

The CPP-NPA-NDF was rendered insignificant in Negros Oriental due to the cooperation and unity of the local government units, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police, government agencies and civil society, as well as local communities, he said.

Meanwhile, Antique and Aklan remain as peaceful communities since their declaration as conflict-manageable and development ready, and insurgency-free provinces, respectively, he added.

“Our continued collaboration and partnership has brought significant results in our campaign to win the peace in Panay and Negros,” he also said.

Baladad will assume the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command on Friday.

US Dept of State official to visit Palawan to enhance law enforcement partnership and capabilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): US Dept of State official to visit Palawan to enhance law enforcement partnership and capabilities

U.S. Department of State Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Carol Z. Perez of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will be visiting Palawan and touring the Philippine National Police-Special Boat Unit (PNP-SBU) Headquarters Thursday.

Her visit comes as the Philippines and the United States look to amend a Letter of Agreement granting the country additional funding support to enhance the institutional and operational capabilities of law enforcement.

It is also to support reform efforts aimed at helping the justice sector prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes.

The U.S. Government is looking to provide nearly $ 18 million to support projects, such as the Global Security Contingency Fund-Philippines (GSCF-Philippines) program to enhance the Government of the Philippine’s capability to enforce laws and maintain internal peace and security in the lands and seas of the southern part of the country, and the Southeast Asia Maritime Initiative project is designed to enhance maritime law enforcement capacities within the Philippine national maritime domain.

Police deployed in Cotabato village to stop clan war

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Police deployed in Cotabato village to stop clan war

Police and Army special forces have been deployed in Barangay Kalanganan, Cotabato City following the killing of a mother-son tandem while rafting along Cotabato river Tuesday.

Supt. Rolen Balquin, city police chief, said police are digging deeper into the shooting of Saimona Abdulla Dimatingkal, 42, and her four-year-old son Saada, all residents of Timako, Kalanganan 2, Cotabato City.

Jainal Dimatingkal, the victims’ patriarch, escaped by jumping into the river when gunmen opened fire using assault rifles on Tuesday morning in what police believed was a case of mistaken identity.

Police said the victims were ordinary fishermen and had no known enemy.

Police learned that the boat owned by Jainal Dimatingkal was borrowed by a certain Yusop Wasay last week and he could have been the target of the suspects when they were waylaid Tuesday morning.

Balquin said efforts are underway to reach out to two warring clans to spare civilians in Barangay Kalanganan.

Local police also sought the help of Muslim religious leaders to mediate on the “rido” (family feud).

DOJ allays Zambo folks’ fears on case hearing against MNLFs involved in siege

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): DOJ allays Zambo folks’ fears on case hearing against MNLFs involved in siege
The Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified that the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) involved in the September 2013 siege will not be brought back to this city to face trial of the cases filed against them.

Deputy Regional Prosecutor Peter Medalle made the clarification as he allayed fears of the residents who are apprehensive the presence of the accused might stir panic and might cause disturbance.

All of the accused are presently detained in Camp Bagong Diwa where they were transferred from this city for security reasons.

Medalle said the Court has come up with such procedure aimed to give justice to the victims and to the accused.

The Supreme Court seating en banc issued a Resolution dated August 5, 2014, which reads as follows: “A.M. No. 13-10-223-RTC (Re: Request for Transfer of Venue of Cases against Suspected Moro National Liberation Front [MNLF] Rebels in the Attempt to Take Over Zamboanga City). – The Court Resolved to NOTE the Memorandum dated July 17, 2014 of the Office of the Court Administrtor (OCA) and APPROVE OCA’s recommendation that the reception of the testimony/testimonies for the prosecution and their witnesses as well as the testimony/testimonies of the witnesses for the accused in Criminal Case Nos. 28212 and 28213 (now Criminal Case Nos.152737-TG to 152739-TG), en entitled ‘People of the Philippines vs. Chairperson Narulaji P. Misuari, a.k.a. Nur Misuari, et al.,’ be conducted by Executive Judge Gregorio V. Dela Peña III, RTC, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur under the following guidelines:

(1)After the arraignment and pre-trial to be conducted inside the premises of Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, Judge Rowena M. San Pedro, Branch 158, RTC, Pasig City, shall cause the transmittal of the case records to Executive Judge Dela Peña III or his successor;

(2)Within three (3) days from receipt of the records, Executive Judge Dela Peña III shall immediately calendar the cases for the reception of evidence for the prosecution and their witnesses who are residing in Zamboanga City and in the nearby provinces;

(3)When it is the turn of the inmate/accused to testify, or whenever their presence at the trial is deemed indispensable, Executive Judge Dela Peña III shall against cause the transmittal of the case records to Judge San Pedro, Branch 158, RTC, Pasig City;

(4)After the reception of the testimony of inmate/accused, Judge San Pedro shall cause the return of the case records to Executive Judge Dela Peña III for the reception of evidence for the witnesses of the accused who are in Zamboanga City and in the nearby provinces; and

(5)Thereafter, the case records shall be forwarded to the sala of Judge San Pedro for the continuation of trial, decision-making, and promulgation of judgment.”

“Judge Dela Peña will hear the testimonies and evidences against the accused while Judge San Pedro in Pasig will hear the testimonies and evidences of the accused,” Medalle explained the High Tribunal’s en banc resolution.

He said when the time comes for the witnesses to identify the suspects, “this will be done in Pasig City.”

Leyte guv wants sustainable livelihood program for former rebels

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Leyte guv wants sustainable livelihood program for former rebels

Leyte governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla expressed his desire for former rebels to have a sustainable livelihood as he emphasized that it is one of the strategies of the provincial government to address poverty.

He said that former rebels are welcome to join the program which the provincial government intends to implement starting at the mountainous section of the province where the soil is rich for plants to grow.

The governor likewise expressed his confidence to Leyteños, including the former rebels in boosting the efforts of the government in poverty alleviation.

Aside from livelihood program, the province also provides skills development as another strategy to address poverty.

On Tuesday, the provincial government released P10,000 each to three former rebels as their basic assistance. They also received P65,000 for immediate livelihood assistance.

The amount released, according to Petilla, is monitored by personnel of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) down to the barangay level to ensure that they are properly utilized.

“They will be taught important skills to sustain their livelihood and their other initiatives,” he stressed.

Meantime, the governor pointed out that support extended to victims of typhoon Yolanda has no distinction whether they are former rebels or not.

DND-Government Arsenal in the market for 670,000 rounds of 7.62mm tracer ammunition

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): DND-Government Arsenal in the market for 670,000 rounds of 7.62mm tracer ammunition

The Department of National Defense (DND)-Government Arsenal has allocated Php 34,840,000 million to acquire 670,000 rounds of 7.62mm tracer ammunition for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The money will be sourced from the General Appropriations Trust Fund.

The 7.62mm tracer rounds must be linked, it also added.

Interested bidders must have completed a similar project within the last five years.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 180 calendar days from the opening of the letter of credit.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the DND-BAC conference room, basement, right wing, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City at 10 a.m.

Bid opening, meanwhile, will be on Sept. 25 at the DND conference room, 3rd floor, DND Building.

Two Army units to get M-4 rifles Thursday

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Two Army units to get M-4 rifles Thursday

With the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday announced that it is equipping its 59th and 79th Infantry Battalions with the newly-acquired Remington M-4 assault rifle.

Distribution of the new weapons to the troops will take place at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija Thursday afternoon, AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

The initial batch of 27,300 units out of the 63,000 M-4s units acquired for the AFP arrived last July.

The M-4 is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, selective fire, shoulder-fired weapon with a telescoping stock and 14.5 inch (370 mm) barrel to ease close quarters combat.

It fires the .223 caliber, or 5.56 mm NATO round.

"The M-4 carbine is a lighter and shorter variant of the M-16A2 assault rifle. The two have roughly 80 percent of their parts in common (and thus) cost efficient," the AFP earlier said.

And despite its short length, the M-4 has a point target range of 500 meters and area target range of 600 meters.

This is greater than the 460 maximum effective range of the M-16A1 assault rifle.

Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato earlier said said that the M-4 can fire a more heavy shell than the M-16 automatic rifle it is replacing, thus ensuring greater damage to its target.

It can do this due to so-called "rifle twisting".

"The old M-16s have a 1-in-12 twist while the M-4s have a 1-in-7 twist making more powerful," he added.

Detoyato stated that the M-4 can be more easily upgraded with modern sighting devices.

"The new M-4s (are) ready for enhancements as it is the A3 model. Its carry handle is removable (thus ensuring) its conversion as 'flattop' rifle with Picattiny rail for night vision gear. It also has a handguard to accommodate TGT designators, flash lights and many other items," he added.

And due to its smaller size than the M-16, Detoyato said the M-4 is more easier to carry in foliage and inside vehicles.

With this characteristics, the weapon is more easier to fire and reload during engagements, he added.

Baladad to head Eastern Mindanao Command by Saturday

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Baladad to head Eastern Mindanao Command by Saturday

Major Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad will be the new head of the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command effective Saturday.

He replaces Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III who will retire from the military service after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Armed Forces chief chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., will be the guest of honor and presiding officer during the traditional military change of command ceremony at Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan, Davao City this Friday.

Baladad earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the Philippine Military Academy and is a member of the “Sandigan” Class of 1982.

He is a distinguished and decorated officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Prior to his appointment as Eastern Mindanao Command commander, he was head the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

He was also the former commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division.

In 2012, he was designated as the assistant division commander of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division which based in Bicol.

AFP says UNDOF commander rejected resignation of Filipino chief-of-staff

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): AFP says UNDOF commander rejected resignation of Filipino chief-of-staff

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday announced that United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander, Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, has rejected the resignation of his chief-of-staff, Col. James Ezra Enriquez.

Instead, the Indian commander has placed Enriquez on administrative leave until the repatriation of the 331-strong Filipino contingent in the Golan Heights is repatriated this October.

The latter earlier tendered his resignation due to differences in opinion regarding the handling of Singha of the Golan Heights stand-off crisis.

The UNDOF commander last Thursday ordered the Filipino contingents in Positions 68 and 69 to surrender their weapons upon learning that 44 Fijian peacekeepers were captured by Syrian rebels.

"Col. Enriquez, the chief-of-staff of UNDOF, because of disagreement with the force commander offered his resignation but the force commander instead put him on administrative leave until the repatriation of the troops from Golan Heights," said AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.

He added that Enriquez cannot be faulted for countermanding the order of the UNDOF commander as he was only exercising his prerogative of protecting and ensuring the safety of Filipino troops under him.

Zagala also said that the primary mission of the UNDOF is to ensure the separation of Israel and Syria from the Golan Heights so that their forces will not fire at each other.

The AFP public affairs office chief said that another reason why the UNDOF commander did not accept Enriquez's resignation is that the latter together with other staff are inducted directly by the UN, meaning they are selected directly by the world body, unlike members of the peacekeeping mission who were selected and deployed there by their respective countries.

And on claims that Singha denied ordering the surrender of Filipino troops, Zagala said it is a recognized fact that the UNDOF commander did order the repositioning of Positions 68 and 69 but change his mind on Position 68.

This took place during the height of the stand-off.

"We do not (know) the reason why he changed his orders, the orders of the force commander as relayed by Col. Enriquez was for Filipino troops to raise the white flag and give up their arms (when another rebel attack takes place) so what does that tell you," he added.

The AFP was earlier instructed to prepare a detailed report concerning the stand-off in the Golan Heights.

This was confirmed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Tuesday.

"We were instructed by the President (Benigno Aquino III) (to prepare the report) during a meeting together with the Secretary of National Defense. (The AFP was told) to document the blow-by-blow events that occurred," he added.

Catapang said it will (be) up to higher authorities to decide on whether the Philippines will file a protest regarding the handling of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) commander on the matter.

The filing of protest is a right of the Philippine government as a troop contributing nation to UN peacekeeping missions.

Catapang earlier said that AFP countermanded the order of Singha which called for the Filipinos in Position 68 and 69 to surrender their weapons, in what observers said, was a vain attempt to save the 44 Fijians.

According to reports, the 44 Fijians 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 there is no section nor clause in the terms of reference (UN deployment of peacekeepers) authorizing troops contributing countries to authorize the surrender of their firearms in 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 was that he should save the Philippine contingent (in Positions 68 and 69) so that we can help the Fijians," the AFP chief stressed.

Besides, Catapang said there is no assurance that the Syrian rebels will not capture the Filipino force once they surrendered their 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 surrendering of weapons, even if it is 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 soldier's martial honor.

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

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

Suspects in alleged NAIA bombing attempt deny possession of explosives

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): Suspects in alleged NAIA bombing attempt deny possession of explosives

The three suspects in the alleged bombing attempt at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 filed their counter-affidavit at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) charged them with illegal possession of explosives on Tuesday.

In a four-page joint counter-affidavit of Grandeur Pepito Guerrero, Emmanuel San Pedro and Sonny Yohanon, submitted to Assistant State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes, they vehemently denied that they brought along with them explosives at the NAIA.

The suspects said that Norberto Paranga allegedly borrowed the white Toyota Revo with plate no. WML 129 owned by Guerrero and that he drove it to the NAIA T3 parking lot.

They added that they did not know that the vehicle was loaded with improvised incendiary device (IID).

They added that no forensic examination was conducted to determine that the materials found inside the vehicle were real explosives.

As such, the three suspects withdrew their "waiver and prayer for preliminary investigation" which they earlier lodged at the DOJ.

Instead, they asked for an immediate resolution of the charges filed against them.

NBI arrests Pamatong at NAIA 3

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 3): NBI arrests Pamatong at NAIA 3
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Elly Pamatong at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Wednesday night.

However, the arrest of Pamatong has nothing to do with the foiled bombing attempt at the NAIA last Monday, but rather, it was in connection with the pending warrant of arrest for the case of inciting sedition, illegal possession of firearms and malicious mischief.

Pamatong was arrested at the NAIA 3 upon his arrival from Cagayan de Oro City.

The NBI earlier said that they will summon Pamatong in connection with the failed attack at the airport.

Pamatong has admitted that he knew one of the arrested suspects in the failed NAIA attack who was said to be a member of the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East).

He became known to the public when he ran for president but was disqualified.

Pamatong was also accused of being behind the scattering of "spikes" in EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue) which deflated many vehicles.

CA confirms Catapang, 51 other AFP officers

From InterAksyon (Sep 30): CA confirms Catapang, 51 other AFP officers

AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. at his confirmation hearing (photo by Jamin Verde,

The Commission on Appointments on Wednesday confirmed the ad interim re-appointments and appointments of 50 general, flag and senior officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including that of General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. as chief of staff.

The other confirmed appointments were:

For Major General
1.       Victor V. Bayani
2.       Edwin Manuel F. Remotigue

For Lieutenant General
3.       John S. Bonafos

For Brigadier General
4.       Inocencio M. Mayangao
5.       Angelito M. De Leon
6.       Arnold A. Mancita
7.       Irma I. Almoneda

For Colonel
8.       Pacianito D. Castillo
9.       Nolasco A. Mempin
10.   Joshua B. Santiago
11.   V irgilio D. Magaway
12.   Nestor M. De Vera
13.   Carlito C. Lomboy
14.   Zumeea Y. Serrona
15.   Wilfedo M. Nakpil
16.   Noreta C. Sison
17.   Gerry E. Pulohanan
18.   Bernardo T. Odfina
19.   Ma. Victoria P. Juan
20.   Francis BB. Cabugon
21.   Marlo M. Guloy
22.   Gregory L. Docil
23.   Andrew D. Costelo
24.   Glenn E. Cruz
25.   Roy B. Cabe
26.    Bebarlito M. Baribar
27.   Keymen U Edao
28.   Eduardo E. Agcaoili
29.   Edwin R. Buela
30.   Joselito M. Apin
31.   Christopher L. Florendo
32.   Facundo O. Palafox IV
33.   Francisco D. Millare
34.   Leonidas L. Hidalg
35.   Rosalio G. Pompa
36.   Leo A. Valdez
37.   Benjamin S. Pedralvez, Jr.
38.   Domingo B. Gobway
39.   Joel Aleandro S. Nacnac
40.   Jose Maria R. Cuerpo, II
41.   Maning S. Tawantawan
42.   Aguinaldo I. Ordonez
43.   Santiago I. Enginco
44.   Benito V. Doniego
45.   Honorio M. Abenojar
46.   Teodoro R. Batilo
47.    Carlo V. Lagasca
48.   Florante A. Falsis
49.   Moises C. Duque
50.   Jimmy C. Estolas

For Captain
51.   Leopoldo T. Catisimo

Photo: Blood Bucket Challenge

From MindaNews (Sep 3): Photo: Blood Bucket Challenge


Students from Ateneo de Davao University join the blood bucket challenge at the Freedom Park, Davao City on Wednesday, 3 September 2014. The students joined the protest in response to criticisms by Capt. Nathaniel Morales, of the Army’s 10 Infantry Division, who called student organizations like the College Editors Guild of the Philippines as “fronts of New People’s Army and threats to the national security.” MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano