Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rebel surrenders to military forces in Kalinga

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 7): Rebel surrenders to military forces in Kalinga

Tired of incessant fighting, a New People's Army (NPA) rebel voluntarily surrendered to the military's 5th Infantry Division forces in Kalinga province Saturday afternoon.

Major Calixto Cadano, 5th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the surrenderer as Philip Tuctuc, allegedly an NPA assistant squad leader and assigned to the rebels' Ilocos Cordillera Regional Committee.

Tuctuc also yielded his M-16 automatic rifle to troopers of the 17th Infantry Battalion.

Cadano said that Tuctuc decided to surrender due to incessant pressures being brought on them by the 5th Infantry Division units in Kalinga and Abra.

In the latter province, at least eight rebels fell to government forces following a series of encounters last Sept. 4 and 5.

Cadano said that the surrendered rebel is now undergoing questioning at the 5th Infantry Division headquarters in Isabela.

Negros soldiers get brand new M4 rifles

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 5): Negros soldiers get brand new M4 rifles

Negros troops undergoing Battalion of Excellence training at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, received brand-new US made Remington M4 rifles yesterday, as part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri said Army special units and infantry battalions under training will be prioritized in the distribution of the M4 rifles.

The 79th Infantry Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division is expected to return to Negros Oriental after completion of their training.

The government purchased 50,629 units of M4 rifles under the joint Philippine Army and Philippine Marine Corps Assault Rifle Acquisition Project. Two months ago, the AFP received the first batch that totaled 27,300 units.

Each gun costs the government P38,000.

Iriberri said the government saved about P1.2 billion because of the transparent and effective procurement process with the bidding attended by representatives of academe, media, among others.

The P1.2 billion savings will be used for the purchase of 12,000 M14 rifles, bringing to 62,000 the firearms to be issued to AFP frontline units.

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonard Guerrero, newly-installed 3rd Infantry Division commander, said he expects other Army infantry units in Negros and Panay to also get their share of the new M4 rifles.

The 5.56mm M4 rifles replace the early models of M-16 and M-16A1 rifle, majority of which are now as old as the Vietnam War era, and are in such poor condition that they need refurbishing or replacement.

AFP chief, General Gregorio Pio Catapang, who led the distribution of about 400 M4 rifles to the personnel of the Light Reaction Regiment of the Special Operations Command and 79IB in Nueva Ecija, said one of the most important elements of a strong democratic country is a strong Armed Forces.

“It is imperative that its soldiers are equipped with modern military hardware and provided with advanced military training in order to successfully perform its mission, which is protecting the people and ensuring the sovereignty of the land,” Catapang also said.

The 79IB is headed by Lt. Col. Harold Anthony Pascua.

Guerrero said he will work for the retention of the 20th Infantry Battalion, even if the 79IB returns to Negros Oriental.

Group: Abu beheading to cause more U.S. intervention in PH

From the Daily Zamboanga Times (Sep 6): Group: Abu beheading to cause more U.S. intervention in PH

The Philippines chapter of an international leftist group said on Friday the reported beheading of a security guard in Basilan by the Abu Sayyaf that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State will lead to more U.S. intervention in the country.
In a press statement Friday, Elmer Labog, chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle Philippines (ILPS-Phils), condemned the latest attack by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf as a “despicable act of barbarism intended to sow fear and instability in the country and to lead to more U.S. intervention as it does in Iraq and Syria.”
Labog said the beheading of Hadji Aldam, a security guard for Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development Corp., last Saturday in Sumisip, Basilan– a hotbed of the Abu Sayyaf - came at a time when the U.S. is pivoting into Asia and intensifying intervention in the Philippines.
Sr. Supt. Mario Dapillosa, Basilan police director, confirmed the beheading of Aldam and said they had already recovered his body.
The photo, which has gone viral on social media and been verified by the police, shows Aldam’s severed head placed on top of pieces of wood with a bolo semi-automatic pistol in front and two militants seated on a bench - their faces concealed with cloth masks with only their eyes visible. Two others stand holding the Abu Sayyaf’s black flag with Arabic script.
The attack is reminiscent of recent videos on the Internet depicting the alleged beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State (IS), a militant group formerly known as ISIS that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.
Since the first video of Foley’s apparent death was released two weeks ago, U.S. forces have continued to carry out airstrikes against advancing IS forces in Iraq.
The Abu Sayyaf has recently pledged support to the IS in videos posted on Youtube.
A video posted in late July that opens with al-Qaeda’s symbolic black flag shows senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon – who carries a $5 million U.S. bounty on h is head and has been indicted in Washington for “terrorist acts” against foreign nationals - alongside masked men pledging allegiance to theIS.
The links, however, have yet to be verified by the Philippines military.
In his statement, Labog called the latest Abu Sayyaf attack “a failure of the [President] Aquino peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF],” referring to a March 27 deal that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in southern Mindanao island – which has claimed at least 120,000 lives - while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.
He compared recent Western involvement in Iraq following IS attacks to the U.S. military’s role in the Philippines by saying: “The ISIS attack afforded the U.S. and Britain and other EU states a chance to meddle again in Iraq under the guise of the war on terror and lending a humanitarian hand.
“The same is happening in Southern Philippines where US troops have maintained rotational presence and is engaged actively in intelligence and combat operations.”
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 Islamic state.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

MNLF: “When Will Filipino Colonialist Land-grabbers Stop War Crime Against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace?”

Propaganda statement posted to the MNLF Website (Sep 6): “When Will Filipino Colonialist Land-grabbers Stop War Crime Against Humanity in Mindanao for Peace?” – Reverend Absalom Cerveza

BMNews – MNLF Peace Panel spokesman Reverend Absalom Cerveza repeatedly tweeted recently in Twitter: “When will Filipino colonialist land-grabbers stop war crime against humanity in Mindanao for peace?”

This was in reaction to the oppressive action of Philippine colonialism under President Benigno S. Aquino III to arrest Chairman Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MNLF Christian leader of Filipino-colonized Mindanao also said that any attempt of the Philippine military forces to arrest Chairman Misuari could be considered “act of war” after his declaration of independence for the Bangsamoro Republik now pending before the United Nations (UN). He further explained that the MNLF petition for complete independence and national self-determination of the Muslim and Animist Lumad natives as well as conscious Christians of Mindanao was already submitted to the UN Committee on Decolonization. Thus he concluded that the petition in the United Nations would render any criminal case filed by the Philippine colonial government against the MNLF chairman and other MNLF leaders as “war crimes” under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It is also recalled that the October 30-November 3, 1980 Antwerp, Belgium Permanent People’s Tribunal, headed by the American Nobel Prize winner Dr. George Wald, acknowledged in its judgment that the Bangsamoro people are entitled to the right of national self-determination. It strongly condemned what it called the “programme of displacement and physical extinction” that was waged by the Philippine Marcos government against the oppressed Bangsamoro people. It said that such program had already deprived the Indigenous peoples (Muslim and Lumad natives) of Filipino-occupied Mindanao of much of their ancestral land and made roughly half of their number refugees and exiles. The Belgium Tribunal concluded that the cumulative effect of this program has been its commission of the “crime of genocide” against the Bangsamoro people.


The 1st Anniversary celebration of the declaration of independence of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR) by MNLF Central Committee Chairman Nur Misuari in Cloud 9, Mindanao Island, on August 12, 2014 was highlighted by both foreign and local media last week of August. After being blogged by, it tremendously alarmed Philippine colonialism under President Benigno S. Aquino III that did not expect the Bangsamoro living legendary leader to surface from the newfound land sanctuary.  

On his routine tour to the visitation of the MNLF Jabal Nur and MQ (for Muammar al-Qadaffi) military camps in Mindanao peninsula, the MNLF chairman was occasioned to celebrate the 1st Anniversary independence declaration of the Bangsamoro Republik in the MNLF Cloud 9 island camp last August 12, 2014. In the celebration gathering, he exhorted the MNLF Mujahidin and Mujahidat as well as the gaosbaogbog mass supporters to militantly pursue the freedom struggle by any means possible. He underscored the developmental reality that it has now become possible for the Bangsamoro people and freedom fighters because Philippine colonialism cannot be trusted to implement international peace agreements. And the present Aquino government has shown no respect for the MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements of September 2, 1996.

In full battle gear, the Commander-in-Chief of the MNLF-Bangsamoro Armed Forces (BAF) addressed the assembly of close to 3,000 freedom fighters and mass supporters. He was accompanied by the MNLF Secretary General Ustaj Murshi Ibrahim, Bangsamoro National People’s Congress Chairman Ustaj Sharif Zain Jali, MNLF Foreign Affairs Secretary General Ustaj Abdulbaki Abubakar and other military, political and religious leaders in commemorating the significance of the August 12, 2013 proclamation of the complete independence of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik. The UFSBR Highlander, Christian and Muslim officialdom have considered Davao City the central capital. The MNLF chairman recalled the historical significance of the first public declaration of independence of the Bangsamoro Republik on April 28, 1974 immediately after the 1st Bangsamoro People’s National Congress in Mindanao peninsula. He pointed out though that this was not actively pursued due to the wish of then Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) for the MNLF to accept instead full autonomy for the sake of Mindanao peace. The OIC facilitated the peace talks in Libya that forged the historical December 23, 1976 Tripoli Agreement. He elucidated that the primacy of Mindanao peace overwhelmed the militancy of the MNLF-launched freedom struggle in regaining complete independence and national self-determination for the colonized and oppressed Muslim and Animist Lumad natives of Mindanao, including the conscious Christians.


He lamented the sad fact that Mindanao peace was betrayed by Philippine colonialism under President Ferdinand E. Marcos that reneged in implementing the letter and spirit of the Tripoli Peace Agreement. Instead it unilaterally established a two-fold autonomous government in Mindanao that was rejected by the OIC and MNLF. Thus the betrayal of Mindanao peace by the Philippine Marcos government led to the resumption of the worsening Filipino-Moro war that even resulted in the killing of the 1st Tabak Division Commander Brig. Gen. Teofisto Bautista, Sr. and several AFP national officers in Danag, Patikul in 1977.

He also emphasized that the active MNLF freedom struggle was again stymied in 1986 by the peace negotiations called by Philippine colonialism under President Corazon C. Aquino, who even strategized to meet face-to-face the MNLF chairman in Jolo sometime in December 1986. Although the peace talks resulted in the signing of the Jeddah Peace Accord of January 3, 1987, it was not correctly implemented by the Philippine Aquino government. But, similar to the Marcos government, the Aquino administration unilaterally established its own autonomy version characterized by the 4-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This was again rejected by the OIC and MNLF. The betrayal of Mindanao peace by the Philippine Aquino government led to more blood-letting in war-torn Mindanao.

He further mentioned the political events in 1992 when the MNLF again was invited by Philippine colonialism under President Fidel V. Ramos to give Mindanao peace maximum chance. This led again the MNLF in abandoning militant free-dom struggle to engage the Philippine Ramos government in more than three years peace talks, forging the September 2, 1996 MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements. Departing from the deceptive political strategy of both the Marcos and Aquino government, the Ramos administration decreed the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement by establishing the 13-province and 9-city Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) with the 4-province ARMM as component political empowerment, so to speak. It invited the MNLF chieftain to become SPCPD chairman and ARMM governor. Closer to implementing the letter and spirit of the Tripoli peace agreement contained in the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements, the political formula of the Philippine Ramos government could have finally solved the Filipino-Moro war, giving way to Mindanao peace. But the succeeding Filipino colonialist rulers, President Joseph E. Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who both later figured in plunder case arrest and imprisonment, had different ideas in betraying Mindanao peace.

Bereft of political will on improving the peace solution prescribed by the Philippine Ramos government but literally abandoning it, the short-lived Philippine Estrada government prided with its “all-out war” policy. It embarked in crushing the MNLF-splintered group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces and capturing the Abubakar as-Siddique camp in Maguindanao. But the continued genocide war resulted in appalling humanitarian disaster situation, causing the dislocation of half million Muslim, Highlander and Christian refugees. The Estrada administration opted to betray Mindanao peace again by planning to unilaterally establish its own version ARMM. But this was overtaken by political events when it was toppled down from existence by another so-called Edsa people power.

However, the exact betrayal of Mindanao peace again for the third time was accomplished by Philippine colonialism under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Duplicating the colonial strategy of the Marcos and Aquino government, it unilaterally implemented the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements aided by the pork barrel-conscious Philippine Congress in establishing the present 5-province ARMM. Ridiculed as nothing more than a farcical political regional political entity, the current ARMM has only become the “cheating capital” of Philippine elections.

The MNLF chairman finally expressed dismay on the events leading to the betrayal of Mindanao peace by the leading Filipino colonizers. The stark betrayal compelled him to abandon altogether the ARMM governorship in year end 2001 under the Arroyo government. The crucial event led to the submission of the MNLF petition to freedom and independence from Philippine colonialism to the UN on December 10, 2001. And it also led to the resumption of Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao triggered by the provoked AFP-MNLF battle in Jolo Island on December 2001.   

  In his closing remarks, he cited the conspiracy of the Mahathir and Arroyo regime to silence him and to possibly end the MNLF-launched Bangsamoro people’s freedom struggle by contriving to imprison him for a trumped up charge of rebellion. He pointed out that despite his incarceration for almost five years under the Arroyo prison cell this did not end the Mindanao conflict. Instead it heightened during the 20-day September 2013 battle between the colonial Philippine occupation forces and MNLF freedom fighters in Zamboanga City.

The AFP-MNLF war resulted when MNLF members and mass supporters from all over Mindanao were barred from holding a peaceful rally in the city. Worse, some members were even harassed, arrested and tortured by Philippine military soldiers. Just like the February 1974 AFP-MNLF war in Jolo that witnessed the burning of almost the entire town by AFP land, sea and air bombardments, the September 2013 Zamboanga City AFP-MNLF war registered the burning of around 10,160 civilian houses and mosques by Filipino military soldiers. This also caused unparalleled humanitarian disaster condition that until now remains completely without solution because thousands of dislocated fire victims are still languishing in tents in the city grandstand with hundred children dying.


On the other hand, the Davao City-based MNLF Spokesman and Legal Counsel Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla admitted the holding of the August 12, 2014 1st Anniversary Bangsamoro Republik independence declaration in Mindanao Island with the presence of the MNLF chairman, including the other celebration activities in other areas in Mindanao.

He expressed the hope though that with the first public appearance of the MNLF chairman in Mindanao, this would impress upon the Philippine government to follow the wish of the OIC to address peacefully the Mindanao war. It should be emphasized that the OIC has rejected the GPH-MILF Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) project of the Aquino government as contrary to the letter and spirit of the 1996 Jakarta Peace Agreements.

 “We have already abdicated the use of violence and we want to resolve this peacefully,” Atty. Fontanilla said. BMNews Correspondent, UFSBR

CPP/NDF: Commentary on Padilla statement

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Sep 6): Commentary on Padilla statement

Fidel Agcaoili
Member and Spokesperson
NDFP Negotiating Panel
On the occasion of the observance of the so-called 11th National Peace Consciousness Month by the Government of the Philippines (GRP/GPH), Alex Padilla, Chairperson of the GRP/GPH Negotiating Panel, issued a statement posted at the website of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Peace Process (OPAPP) and reportedly released on 01 September 2014.
On behalf of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I submit hereunder a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary on his statement.

But first, let me state that the statement is a clear documentary evidence that the GRP/GPH is not interested in pursuing peace negotiations with the NDFP but is hell-bent on seeking the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary movement.

His message is a sleek, hypocritical and mendacious statement that totally negates The Hague Joint Declaration and other agreements solemnly made between the GRP/GPH and the NDFP before OPAPP Secretary Teresita Deles was able to do her work to sabotage the GRP/GPH-NDFP peace negotiations during the Arroyo and Aquino regimes.

Paragraph-by-Paragraph Commentary

Message of Alexander Padilla, government peace panel chair for talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF:

On the observance of the 11th National Peace Consciousness Month
[Released on September 1, 2014]
Posted on

Peace is a collective aspiration. It is not the task of government alone. It is in solidarity that we aspire for peace; it is also in solidarity that we should work for peace.

Comment: Lip service. Solidarity with whom and for whom? The NDFP cannot have solidarity with the exploiting classes and their political agents who use state terrorism to preserve and aggravate foreign domination, landlordism and bureaucratic corruption and who make a pretense at peace negotiations to demand the surrender of the revolutionary forces and the people at the outset and to ignore the demand of the people for basic economic, social and political reforms as the foundation of a just and lasting peace.

We celebrate this year’s National Peace Consciousness Month aware of the gains of our Government’s peace processes with the different armed groups in the country, but deeply cognizant of the need to move forward in our negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).

Comment: What gains? OPAPP has turned into a pork barrel racket the recycling of the AFP paramilitary groups like CPLA and RPA-ABB which surrendered to the first Aquino regime in 1986 and the Estrada regime in 1999, respectively. OPAPP has waste-basketed the 1996 peace agreement with MNLF and is on the way to doing the same thing with agreements signed with MILF. Deles and Padilla have proclaimed
The Hague Joint Declaration as a “document of perpetual division” and declared the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as “inoperative”, practically terminating the peace negotiations. It has wantonly violated the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

This year’s theme “Nagkakaisang Bayan para sa Kapayapaan,” encourages every Filipino—rebel, soldier, student, housewife, professional—to transcend ideological boundaries and respond positively to our people’s yearning for peace.

Comment: Once more lip service to peace by a brutal and corrupt regime wishing the pacification of the resisting oppressed and exploited people.

Time and again, we have asked the CPP/NPA/NDF to join us in searching for fair and peaceful solutions to the issues that divide us. We have asked them to engage in talks that have a clear agenda and time-table, to talk not just for the sake of talking, but to reach specific agreements that will lessen if not eradicate the violence on the ground.

Comment: It is a big lie for the US-Aquino regime, the OPAPP or anyone to express or imply that there is no clear agenda and no calculable time for making comprehensive agreements. These are in The Hague Joint Declaration, The Joint Agreement on the Formation, Sequence and Operationalization of the Reciprocal Working Committees and additional pertinent documents.

In fact, the first item of the 4-point substantive agenda was finished in a matter of a few months in 1998 and approved by the principals. Only three items are left. But since then every reactionary regime has systematically blocked the negotiation for a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms.

What the reactionaries are merely interested in is going through the motion of initial negotiations, spreading the rumors of peace, demanding the capitulation and pacification of the people and revolutionary forces and day dreaming about confusing and destroying the revolutionary strength of the people.

They always prematurely ask for indefinite ceasefire to avoid the prior negotiations for social and economic reforms and the needed political and constitutional reforms to implement the social and economic reforms.

History has shown that it is through earnest dialogue, not armed violence, that we can create peace.

Comment: A just and lasting peace is impossible in the Philippines if US imperialist domination, landlordism and bureaucratic corruption persist in the Philippines. The Filipino people will never cease to use all possible and necessary means to end their oppression, exploitation, poverty and misery, especially now that they have the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as their instruments for national and social liberation.

Government’s doors have always been open to peaceful dialogue; we have not lost hope that we and the communist rebels will return to the table.

Comment: The NDFP has always affirmed that the peace negotiations are going on in principle so long as no side in the negotiations gives a formal notice of termination to the other side in accordance with the JASIG. It is the GPH/GRP side that has refused to sit at the table on the basis of The Hague Joint Declaration and other existing agreements, despite the clamor of the people and the peace advocates.

On this Peace Consciousness Month, let us take the time to reflect on our individual roles in creating peace in our families and communities, and pushing for and sustaining the gains we have already made in creating peace in our country.

Comment: In response to the clamor of the people for justice and peace, the GPH/GRP should return to the negotiating table, end immediately its gross and systematic violation of human rights, and OPAPP should stop being a mere psywar adjunct of the military and a very corrupt part of the pork barrel system, pretending to distribute scores of billions of pesos under such tricky names as Conditional Cash Transfer, PAMANA and the like. In fact, the main beneficiaries of such largesse are the corrupt bureaucrats, military officers and their local agents, including the purported social democrats and Akbayans in the OPAPP and the phony Anti-Poverty Commission.

There is nothing stronger than a nation uniting under a singular aspiration.

Comment: The Filipino nation must unite to realize their common aspiration for national and social liberation and to move against every reactionary regime that serves foreign domination, landlordism and bureaucratic corruption.

Guerrero reaffirms commitment to ‘win peace’ in Negros,Panay

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 6): Guerrero reaffirms commitment to ‘win peace’ in Negros,Panay

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the new commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, reaffirmed the commitment of 3ID to “win the peace” in Negros and Panay, in line with the AFP Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” to sustain the grounds it has gained in peace and security operations.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners and stakeholders so that social and economic issues in the community can be appropriately and swiftly addressed,” Guerrero said Thursday.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, who installed Guerrero as 3ID commander, praised his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, for his outstanding accomplishments, citing the declaration of Negros Oriental as “conflict manageable and development ready province”.
The two provinces of Aklan and Antique were also declared earlier by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as “conflict manageable and development ready provinces”.
Guerrero is not a stranger to Western Visayas, and had served as 61st Infantry Battalion commander in southern Negros in 2003 to 2005, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and chief of staff of the 3ID in 2009, military records show.
With his experience in the 3ID, Guerrero said the people of Western Visayas can be assured of the Army’s commitment in bringing peace and development in the countryside in collaboration with the local government units, other government agencies, the civil society organizations, and other stakeholders by fostering “Bayanihan”.
“With the level of professionalism of the men and women of 3ID, we will continue to serve selflessly with the highest degree of commitment and dedication in the performance of our duty with utmost respect for the rights of our people, he said.”

Baladad, meanwhile, assumed yesterday as chief of the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command. He was conferred the Distingish Service Star medal by Iriberri during the 3ID turnover of command in Jamindan, Capiz, on Sept. 4.

China says 2 pilots died in aircraft carrier tests

Posted to AngMalaya (Sep 6): China says 2 pilots died in aircraft carrier tests

Associated Press – Two Chinese test pilots were killed during development of the country’s first aircraft carrier fighter wing, state media said, in a rare admission of problems with the hugely popular naval program.

The admission came in a report by the official Xinhua News Agency saying President Xi Jinping had signed an order awarding honorary titles to all pilots in the first squadron to conduct take-off and landing tests aboard the Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier.

“Two test pilots of the squadron sacrificed their lives during the tests,” the report said. No details were given.

The original Xinhua report ran Aug. 28, but went largely overlooked at the time. It was picked up by U.S. defense blogs and linked Friday to the blog of the U.S. Naval Institute.

Carrier flight operations are inherently risky, and the loss of two pilots is far from unusual. However, China’s military still operates under a shroud of secrecy and no deadly accidents relating to the carrier had been reported at the time.

China announced it had begun flight tests on the Liaoning in late 2012, spurring a wave of patriotic pride in the country’s growing capabilities. State television ran hours of footage of planes landing and taking off, while Internet users across the country posted photos of themselves recreating the carrier flight crews’ “all-clear” signal to the pilot.

Chinese carrier pilots fly the J-15 fighter-bomber, a copy of Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33.

China spent a decade refurbishing a derelict Soviet-era carrier bought from Ukraine before commissioning it as the Liaoning in 2012. It is part of a major expansion of the Chinese navy that includes sophisticated new surface ships and submarines. The ship is slower and smaller than U.S. aircraft carriers and doesn’t carry as many aircraft.

The Liaoning is still conducting sea trials and Chinese defense officials haven’t said when, or even if, it will receive its full complement of aircraft.

On Dec. 5, 2013, a Chinese ship accompanying the Liaoning was involved in a near collision with a U.S. Navy cruiser, the USS Cowpens, when it was operating in international waters in the South China Sea. U.S. Navy officials said the Cowpens maneuvered to avoid the collision, but it marked the two nations’ most serious sea confrontation in years.

OPAPP, DILG cite PAMANA project implementations in CamNorte as satisfactory

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 5): OPAPP, DILG cite PAMANA project implementations in CamNorte as satisfactory

An inter-agency assessment on the implementation in Camarines Norte of rural development projects funded under the Payapa at Masagamang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program has found them satisfactory, recent reports said.

The assessment which tracked down success stories from project sites involving thousands of rural folk in four impoverished municipalities of the province was recently conducted through a series of joint visitations by personnel from the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Departments of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Agriculture (DA) and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The municipalities -- Labo, Mercedes, Capalonga and Jose Panganiban -- were among the Bicol areas given preferential attention by the PAMANA program based on a criterion that highly influences “unpeace,” having a considerable number of barangays infested by communist insurgency being along the Bicol-Quezon-Mindoro Corridor.

PAMANA is a priority government program being undertaken by the OPAPP towards the attainment of economic progress in conflict affected areas (CAAs) in line with the Aquino administration’s peace agenda geared at ending internal armed conflicts.

In 2011, five PAMANA projects in Camarines Norte were provided with a total of Php140 million from the stimulus fund of President Benigno Aquino III and channeled through the OPAPP under the program.

All projects -- concreting of Malibago-Maligaya worth Php40 million; concreting of Bakiad-Sta. Cruz-Fundado worth Php10 million; concreting and graveling of Exciban farm-to-market road worth Php50 million, all in Labo; concreting of Pambuhan to Lanot Road of Mercedes worth Php20 million; and the concreting of the Sta. Rosa Sur-San Rafael in Jose Panganiban worth Php20 million -- were completed in the following year.

Implementation of these projects was assigned to the Camarines Norte Provincial Engineering Office and supervised by the Provincial Management Team chaired by Gov. Edgardo Tallado.

In 2012, additional projects worth Php20 million funded by the DILG were also implemented in the in the towns of Labo, Jose Panganiban and Capalonga while in 2013, an amount of Php106 million was also provided from the funds of DILG and DA for projects implemented in the same areas.

This year, the DILG provided additional allocations for PAMANA projects worth Php81 million, covering five municipalities of the province -- Basud, Capalonga, Labo, Mercedes and Sta. Elena.

DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor clarified that among the six Bicol provinces, only Camarines Norte has the allocation from her agency for the PAMANA projects.

The assessment activity, Paul Escober, the OPPAP Area Manager for Bicol, on Friday said, was aimed at strengthening collaboration with partner agencies as embodied in the PAMANA convergence framework.

Almost all the projects were visited by the inter-agency team and the assessment found them satisfactorily implemented and serving the communities very well towards PAMANA’s aim of attaining economic progress for the areas covered, Escober said.

The projects communicate effectively among communities the initiatives of government in building the culture of peace and development in the countryside to make them resilient against the anti-government whims of the insurgency being carried out by the communist New People’s Army (NPA), he said.

To build resilient communities in these areas, PAMANA, Escober said, focuses on empowering households and communities to include delivery of basic services at the community level through community-driven reconstruction, development and livelihood interventions.

PAMANA underscores that building resilient communities is one of the two tracks of the Aquino administration in pursuit of a just and lasting peace, the first being the negotiated political settlement of all armed conflicts through formal peace talks.

He said the projects were observed to be responding well to peace-building, reconstruction and development in conflict-affected areas (CAAs) in line with the government’s goal of putting a permanent and just closure to internal armed conflicts.

One of its track to peace, Alcober said, is closing the gap between what happens on the negotiating table and the realities on the ground as it also serves as a guide for national and local government agencies, international donors and non-government organizations in providing various interventions to address conditions that create un-peace.

In between project visitations, the OPAPP Communications Unit headed by Polly Michelle Cunanan also conducted communication workshop to intensify efforts in showcasing how PAMANA has improved people’s lives and communities.

The workshop has increased public awareness, appreciation and understanding of the program as the government framework for peace and development in CAAs, Escober added.

2 more rebels, one trooper killed in new Abra clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): 2 more rebels, one trooper killed in new Abra clash

The Isabela-based 5th Infantry Division announced that two more rebels and a soldier were killed following a clash between New People's Army (NPA) fighters and government troopers in Lacub, Abra, early Saturday.

Major Calixto Cadano, 5th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the body of two unidentified rebels and four weapons were recovered in the scene of the fighting.

He added that encounter stemmed from search operations being conducted by 41st Infantry Battalion troopers who figured in heavy firefight with rebel force Thursday, resulting in the death of six NPA fighters and recovery of 13 high-powered firearms.

Two of the rebels killed in Thursday's fighting in Barangay Guinguinabang were identified as Abra provincial committee secretary Arnold Jaramillo and Joel Banganan, commander of an NPA unit operating in Northern Kalinga.

The soldiers were looking for wounded rebels to treat and save when Saturday's fighting took place.

Rebels also "harassed" the soldiers 9 p.m. Friday, while the troops were on pursuit, Cadano said.

Maj. Gen. Guerrero takes over as new 3ID commander

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): Maj. Gen. Guerrero takes over as new 3ID commander

The new commanding general of the 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division (3ID), Philippine Army has formally took over the post in Friday's turnover of command.

Major Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero has replaced 3ID commanding general Major Gen Aurelio Baladad in a simple turn-over ceremony held on Thursday at the Philippine Army headquarters based in Camp Macario Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz.

Prior to his take over of the 3ID’s helm as the incoming commanding general, Guerrero was the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army.

The new 3ID commanding officer who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class 1984, vowed to continue the programs and projects started by his predecessor.

Gurrero’s predecessor Maj. Gen. Balabad will be assigned as the new commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command in the Southern Philippines after serving for more than a year stint here.

The outgoing 3ID commander also thanked the men and women of the Division in Panay Island and the public as well for the all-out support extended to him since he steered the command in July last year.

The 3ID has the overall jurisdiction of all Army units operating in Western Visayas including Negros Oriental and the island-province of Siquijor.

Once a deputy chief of staff for operations at the Philippine Army national headquarters prior to his assignment here as 3ID commander, Baladad has introduced innovative efforts during his stewardship in winning the peace in this part of the country that led to the neutralization of 68 rebels that include five high ranking NPA leaders in the region as well as the recovery of 75 high-powered firearms.

Baladad said the deliberate engagement and partnership and collaboration of 3ID with various stakeholders have fostered the culture of peace in Panay and Negros islands.

During the devastation of super Typhoon Yolanda in Western Visayas, particularly the Panay provinces in November last year, Baladad spearheaded the disaster relief operations and humanitarian assistance as the Incident commander in collaboration with the different local government units and various national line government agencies.

300 Army personnel set to join 'Alay-Lakad 2014'

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): 300 Army personnel set to join 'Alay-Lakad 2014'

Around 300 Philippine Army (PA) personnel will be participating in "Alay-Lakad 2014" which will take place this Sunday.

Carrying the theme "Lakad para sa Kinabukasan", the activity aims to raise funds to ensure the future of the less-privileged Filipino youth.

Army Chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri will lead the PA contingent in this year's "Alay Lakad".

The "Alay-Lakad Walk 2014" has a two-kilometer route from the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex to Quirino Grandstand.

Participation in this annual event is part of the Army's multi-sectoral approach and inter-agency collaboration that aims to provide support to the endeavors of other government agencies, civic and non-government organizations.

The Alay-Lakad Foundation, Inc. has been providing financial assistance for Filipino youth, especially the marginalized and out-of-school youth, for the past 42 years.

AFP Reserve Command to play a more aggressive role in climate change efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): AFP Reserve Command to play a more aggressive role in climate change efforts

With climate change now a growing concern worldwide, the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) Reserve Command is now taking a more active role in helping the country contain threat of global warning.

In line with this, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang on Saturday said that the Reserve Command will be one of the strong pillars of the military in addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

He added that he will do everything he can to develop the AFP Reserve Force so that it can be the first responders in the aftermath of any natural calamities and disaster.

“The call that we have in the AFP as protectors of our nation now encompasses a greater mission of safeguarding our fellow Filipinos from the devastating effects of climate change and various natural disasters,” Catapang said.

“Reservists are partners towards unity and nation-building with the high sense of compassion and dedication to our pledged commitment. They whole-heartedly rendered their services without anything in return. We commend all of the efforts they have done to our stakeholders, the Filipino people,” AFP Reserve Command chief Brig. Gen. Alex C. CapiƱa said.

Incidentally, the nation on Saturday is celebrating the opening ceremony of the 35th AFP National Reservist Week.

“You now have in your hands the bigger responsibility of taking part of the disaster risk reduction endeavors of our nation. I urge every one of you to take this objective in much dedication. You have proven to be truly an indispensable force in our organization,” the AFP chief told reservists present during Saturday's ceremonies.

In line with this, the AFP Reservist and Retiree Affairs and AFP Reserve Command launched the annual tree growing program earlier in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

In coordination with the military camp commanders, a total of 700 seedlings of Bukidnon Gold Cherry Blossom trees will be planted and nurtured in Camp Aguinaldo, Fort Bonifacio and Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.

This will be followed by the simultaneous tree growing activities in selected areas in various parts of the country from October onwards.

The program is aimed at growing one million trees in 10 years through a sustained tree growing program in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

The growing of at least one tree per year for every reservist and administrator would result to the production of more than 100,000 trees per year.

In 10 years’ time of implementation, the AFP Reserve Force can produce more than one million trees. At present, the AFP has a total of 106,376 ready reserve force and reservist administrators.

To ensure the success of this program, the AFP has called on the assistance of other government agencies and stakeholders particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous People, and local government units across the country.

1,189 individuals successfully hurdle PMAEE

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): 1,189 individuals successfully hurdle PMAEE

A total of 1,189 individuals successfully hurdled the Philippine Military Academy Entrance Examination (PMAEE) which was held last Aug. 3.

Major Ray Balido, PMA spokesperson, said 12,014 persons took part in nationwide examination held in 37 examination centers nationwide.

He added that the successful examinees, composed of 827 males and 362 females, will continue to the next phase of the selection process which is the complete physical examination which will be conducted at the AFP Medical Center in V. Luna, Quezon City.

A series of physical and medical examinations will be conducted to test their strength, agility, endurance, and worthiness to belong to PMA Class 2019.

The Top 10 passers are the following: (1) John Paul Baetiong of Caloocan City; (2) Alenn Gabriel Macapagal of Cainta, Rizal;(3) Joylene Bacani of Baguio City; (4) Jeo Cacal of Puerto Pricensa City; (5) Julius Caesar Librada of Baguio City; (6) Michael James Daligdig of Calamba, Misamis Occidental; (7) Lyster Rey Cabardo of Iligan City; (8) Aleana Cecilia Bantolo of Caloocan City; (9) Justine Cyle Mapalo of Quezon City ; and (10) Kernell Ortega of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro.

Balido said the Office of Cadet Admission will be informing the successful passers through email as to how to proceed with their complete physical exam.

Successful passers without email address or with invalid email address are advised to call the mentioned office to have their email addresses updated at the following numbers: (0917) 896 – 4299; (0928) 559 – 7651; 074-447-2632; or 074-447-2635 local 6751/6752.

(Update) 4 killed, 3 wounded in fresh Abra encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): (Update) 4 killed, 3 wounded in fresh Abra encounter

In another encounter with rebel forces in Abra Friday, four people, two of them New People's Army (NPA) fighters, were killed while three others were wounded.

One rebel was also captured in the clash that took place 9: 35 p.m. in Poblacion, Lacub town, Abra, 5th Infantry Division spokesperson Major Calixto Cadano said Saturday.

The soldiers along with the civilians were transporting the body of slain rebel, killed in the earlier Sept. 4 encounter, when fired upon by the NPAs.

A civilian identified as Noel Viste of Poblacion, Lacub town, was killed while return fire from government forces resulted in the death of two rebels.

Killed in action was Pfc. John Kevin Manuel and wounded in the encounter were Cpl. Gilbert Ba-awa and Pfcs. James Ericson Danao and Randy Sayaan.

All of the government casualties are from the 41st Infantry Battalion.

Recovered from the encounter scene were the two dead rebels and two firearms.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this posting.

Palace defends EDCA, says agreement does not violate constitution

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 6): Palace defends EDCA, says agreement does not violate constitution

The Palace reiterated on Saturday that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US is within the bounds of the law and that government lawyers can defend it in the Supreme Court (SC).

"We are very confident that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will be able to discuss and to defend the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

EDCA was discussed lengthily by the Philippines and US teams and it has been looked at by the Philippine government's legal team, Lacierda said noting that he believes the agreement has not violated constitutional provisions.

The concerns of those opposing EDCA have no basis, according to Lacierda. He added that in fact, the Department of Foreign Affairs released a briefer on EDCA saying it is in line with the Constitution.

"And for that particular reason, we are very confident that the OSG will be able to defend the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement before the Supreme Court," Lacierda said.

Leftist partylist groups also raised EDCA as one of three impeachment cases against the President. The lower house trashed the three impeachment complaints against President Aquino last week.

The Philippines and the US signed the agreement this year that allows American forces to use Philippine bases on limited and rotational basis.

This is in the midst of the country's ongoing territorial row with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Alleged NPA commander nabbed in Cagayan de Oro - police

From InterAksyon (Sep 6): Alleged NPA commander nabbed in Cagayan de Oro - police

An alleged commander of the New People’s Army was captured in Cagayan de Oro Thursday night, police said over the weekend.

Reports reaching Camp Crame said Victoriano Dimco, alias “Ka Berting,” allegedly vice-chairman of the NPA’s Southeastern Command 3 Guerrilla Front in Bukidnon, attempted to escape the arresting policemen.

Dimco, against whom five warrants of arrest for murder were issued, was tagged to an ambush of Army Special Forces troops in which Captain Apollo Palasol and four other soldiers died.

He is also facing charges for the rebel raid on the police station of Quezon town.

PMA: Passing rate of cadet entrance exam only 10%

From InterAksyon (Sep 6): PMA: Passing rate of cadet entrance exam only 10%

Only 1,189, or about 10 percent, of the 12,014 applicants that took the entrance examination for entry to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) early last month passed the screening to earn the chance of becoming future leaders of the 140,000 strong military.

The PMA Entrance Examination was conducted on August 3, 2014 by the Armed Forces (AFP) at 37 examination centers nationwide.

Of those who passed, 827 were male applicants and 362 females.

The cadet aspirants will next go through the next phase of the selection process by completing the Complete Physical Examination (CPE) that will be conducted at the AFP medical center in Quezon City.

The PMA said in a statement that a series of physical and medical examinations will be conducted to test their strength, agility, endurance, and worthiness to belong to the PMA Class of 2019.

The Top 10 passers are the following:
  1. John Paul Baetiong of Caloocan City
  2. Alenn Gabriel Macapagal of Cainta, Rizal
  3. Joylene Bacani of Baguio City
  4. Jeo Cacal of Puerto Pricensa City
  5. Julius Caesar Librada of Baguio City
  6. Michael James Daligdig of Calamba, Misamis Occidental
  7. Lyster Rey Cabardo of Iligan City
  8. Aleana Cecilia Bantolo of Caloocan City
  9. Justine Cyle Mapalo of Quezon City
  10. Kernell Ortega of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro.
The PMA Office of Cadet Admission will inform the successful applicants through e-mail as to how to proceed with their Complete Physical Exam.

Successful passers without e-mail address, or with invalid email address, are advised to contact the admission office to have their contact details updated: (0917) 896 – 4299; (0928) 559 – 7651; 074-447-2632; or 074-447-2635 local 6751/6752.

The complete list of those who passed the exam is posted on the PMA web site at

Eastern Mindanao decorated general retires, leaves brilliant legacy behind

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Sep 6): Eastern Mindanao decorated general retires, leaves brilliant legacy behind

Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III and Major General Aurelio Balada, behind.

Philippine military chief General Gregorio Catapang, Lieutenant General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III and Major General Aurelio Baladad and their wives.

General Ricardo Rainier Cruz III, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has retired Saturday formally ending his 17-month stint as one of the best military officer behind the capture of four of the most notorious leaders of the communist rebel group New People’s Army in southern Philippines.

Soft-spoken and low-key, the 56-year old Cruz was largely credited by the military for the drastic decline of NPA offensives in the eastern part of Mindanao. During his time - from April 22, 2013 to September 6, 2014 – at least 247 armed rebels had surrendered to the Eastern Mindanao Command, taking advantage of the “Guns for Peace Program” that Cruz aggressively pursued under the “Oplan Bayanihan” or the Internal Peace and Security Plan to give fresh hope to those deceived by the communist ideology.

Under Cruz’s leadership, the Eastern Mindanao Command scored not one, but two major accomplishments with the capture of two wanted front secretaries and two other regional secretaries of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He was also able to free Paquibato District in Davao City which was long under the influence of the NPA that allowed the government and other stakeholders to launched various socio-economic development.

The Eastern Mindanao Command was also adjudged as the “Best Unified Command” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Performance Base Bonus in 2013, and was a recipient of Certificate of Excellence for having attained an excellent rating of 96.80% in Leadership and Management, Morale and Welfare, and Discipline, Law and Order during the conduct of Annual General Inspection last year.

Cruz, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1980, had successfully implemented the Oplan Bayanihan through the Eastern Mindanao Command’s campaign plan dubbed “Panagdait Mindanaw II” aimed at winning peace in the region. Panagdait is local term which means “to help each other.”

He also signed three Joint Letter Directives with the Philippine National Police that further strengthened the operational inter-operability of the AFP and the PNP against the threats posed by NPA, and built partnerships with the different stakeholders clamoring for peace and stability in eastern Mindanao region.

With that, Cruz managed to secure the cooperation and support of various companies and corporations in the region to provide “Corporate Social Responsibility” packages for the campaign that brought the peace and development teams closer to the communities.

Cruz also led the “Joint Task Force Tambayayong II” - a contingent of construction-skilled soldiers assembled from the different units of the Eastern Mindanao Command that assisted in the repair and reconstruction of damaged houses and public utilities; and supported the delivery and distribution of tons of foreign and local relief goods in the earthquake and typhoon (Haiyan) stricken provinces in the Visayas.

Under his command, Cruz oversaw the planning and execution of the 32nd and 33rd Republic of the PhilippinesRepublic of Indonesia Border Committee Chairmen’s and Vice Chairmen’s Conference, and the Philippines-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol Operations.

For now, Cruz said he would spend much of his time with his beautiful wife and two children. “I will now have more time with my family, my beautiful wife and two children, watch television and movies with them, cooking and gardening and enjoy the civilian life,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner, adding, he would also attend to the estate of his father in Quezon City.

Cruz was formally replaced by similarly decorated Major General Aurelio Baladad, who belongs to the Philippine Military Academy Class 1982, was the former commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in the Visayas and held various positions in the past as brigade and assistant division commander with the 2nd and 9th Infantry Divisions in Rizal and Camarines Sur provinces.

Troops foil bombing in Lamitan City

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Sep 6): Troops foil bombing in Lamitan City