Monday, October 13, 2014

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video -- Aquino clings to power like a leech amid mounting calls for his ouster

Ang Bayan propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Oct 7): Video -- Aquino clings to power like a leech amid mounting calls for his ouster

Benigno Aquino III is clinging to power like a leech in refusing to heed mounting calls for his resignation, removal or ouster from power. His stubborn refusal to leave Malacañang is reminiscent of Gloria Arroyo's intransigence amid mounting protests from 2005 onwards.

Over the past several weeks, the stench of the Aquino regime's corruption continued to reek.

Aquino's insistence that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) is a system by which billions of pesos are being realigned as "savings" for use in priority projects has been thoroughly exposed as a lie. The list of projects and its proponents under DAP recently made public clearly shows that DAP funds were released mainly to Aquino's political allies, especially key officers of the Liberal Party.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Political prisoner dies in detention in Samar

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): Political prisoner dies in detention in Samar

A political prisoner died of severe illness after state authorities neglected to provide her with regular medical attention. Nila “Ka Edna” Montes, 57, a Party cadre in Eastern Visayas died on August 15 while in detention in Guiuan, Samar. She was arrested by the military in Guiuan on July 4, 2013 while on the way to her doctor for a check-up for a kidney and liver ailment.

Born in Sta. Margarita, Northern Samar, Ka Edna was a college student in Manila when she was organized as an activist during the Marcos dictatorship.

Ka Edna made major contributions to the advance of people’s war in Eastern Visayas. First assigned to the Political Department of the region’s NPA battalion, comrades admired her for the example she set in remolding and facing sacrifices and personal trials.

She took it hard when her husband was killed in a gunbattle. Nonetheless, she strove to overcome her loss and performed tasks in regional propaganda and education in the early 1990s. She was one of the anchors of the revolutionary program Radyo Katalwasan (Radio Liberation) aired over VHF radios.

During the Second Great Rectification Movement, she was one of the comrades who assiduously ensured the reproduction and distribution of rectification documents.

In 1996, she took on the challenge of recovery work in Southern Leyte, facing an extremely difficult situation since the deviations from the correct line had grave effects on the mass base. But Ka Edna shouldered the necessary political tasks and not long after, their efforts bore fruit with the recovery of the mass base and the NPA’s expansion in their area.

Because of her exemplary performance, she was appointed to the Leyte Island Party Committee in 2003 and the Provincial Committee in 2005. In 2010, she was appointed deputy secretary for education in the Southeast Samar Committee.

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

CPP/Ang Bayan: Peasant killed in Sorsogon

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): Peasant killed in Sorsogon

A peasant was killed in Sorsogon while a farmer-leader survived an attack in Tagum City.

Sorsogon. Elements of the 31st IB forced their way into the house of farmer Josefina Garote in Upper San Jose, Bulusan and gunned down her relative Jestoni Garote. Wounded in the shooting was another farmer, Efren Galve. The troopers also arrested Jaypee Garote and Leo Firmanes.

KARAPATAN-Sorsogon reported that the military accused the victims of being members of the New People’s Army after an encounter between Red fighters and the AFP in the area.

Tagum City. Peasant leader Dexter Ian Selebrado, 31, was wounded in an ambush perpetrated by suspected military agents. Two men aboard a motorcycle shot him near Fatima Parish, 3rd Avenue. He is now in critical condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to the nape and upper pelvic area.

Selebrado had just come from the Inter-Provincial Forum on the People’s Initiative to Abolish Pork Barrel in Tagum City when he was blocked and shot by two men.

He is a firm advocate of peasant and Lumad rights, and is also an organizer of Karadyawan, a local peasant group affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

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

CPP/Ang Bayan: Resistance to military abuses in Northern Samar

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): Resistance to military abuses in Northern Samar

Residents of Lope de Vega and Las Navas in Northern Samar are up in arms against successive military abuses in their towns.

In September, up to 100 village council officers and leaders of Alyansa han mga Parag-uma Kontra Kakablasan ha Las Navas submitted a petition to the local government containing a resolution against continuing military operations in their town which have severely affected peace and order and the peasants’ livelihoods.

On the other hand, barangay officials of Pagite, Lope de Vega met directly with the local government and the media to complain about military operations in their area which have endangered residents.

In Barangay Pagite, soldiers strafed the subvillages of New Sumuroy and Ginbauyan on September 28 and 29, ostensibly targeting the New People’s Army. The first strafing incident triggered the evacuation of most villagers to the barrio center. On September 29, however, two attack helicopters strafed the environs of New Sumuroy, forcing the remaining villagers to leave.

As a result, residents of Barangay Pagite are afraid to return to their homes and farms. They have yet to harvest their rice crops, which have begun to rot in the fields. The villagers have been living at the barrio center and subsisting on aid from the local government and humanitarian groups.

Meanwhile, in Las Navas, one of the latest victims of military atrocity was Nelson Mercader, a town councilor who was killed by suspected elements of the 34th IB on August 5 for opposing militarization.

Since August 23, soldiers from the 83rd CMO Coy have also been forcing residents who want to leave Barrio Osang, Las Navas to sign a logbook, which states that “should anything bad happen to the soldiers, the barrio residents will be held accountable.” The villagers have thus been too afraid to attend to their farms, worsening the hunger now spreading in Northern Samar in the aftermath of typhoon Glenda.

Earlier, on August 19, elements of the 34th IB intimidated and threatened Raul Durin, a barangay treasurer from Las Navas. Soldiers went to his house and accused him of supporting the revolutionary movement two days after a successful NPA military action in Barangay Imelda where at least three soldiers were killed and several others wounded.

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

CPP/Ang Bayan: NPA attacks protector of mining giants

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): NPA attacks protector of mining giants

The Philippine Army resumed conducting a massive combined military operation along the tri-boundary of Matan-ao, Davao del Sur; Tampakan, South Cotabato; and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat in September to defend Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI). Among the military units providing security to this mining giant are the 73rd IB, 39th IB and 27th IB under the 1002nd Brigade, 10th ID; and the 33rd IB under the 601st Brigade, 6th ID.

To disrupt the military operation, a sapper team under the Alex Ababa Command-Front 71 harassed a column under the 73rd IB in Sitio Kalasangan, Caburan, Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental while another team from NPA Front 75 attacked recently arrived troops in Sitio Tugal, Pangaleon in Malita town, Davao Occidental. On the other hand, sapper teams from the Julito Banda Command-Front 73 simultaneously harassed the 27th IB in Lake Sebu and Surallah, South Cotabato on September 5. The NPA targeted military teams conducting “peace and development outreach programs” in Sitio Datal Lawa, Upper Sepaka, Surallah and a CAFGU Armed Auxiliary detachment in Sitio Tasaday Blit, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu and in Upper Sepaka, wounding two paramilitary troops. In another operation, operatives from the Mt. Alip Command-Front 72 lobbed grenades at the tactical command post of the 1002nd Brigade in New Batangan, Columbio on September 21. On the same day, Red fighters from Front 73 seized a 12-gauge shotgun from a despotic landlord in Laconom, T’boli town.

The day after, the NPA used command-detonated explosives (CDX) on the PNP 2nd Public Safety Company in Batangan, killing a policeman and wounding another.

Another soldier was killed and many others wounded when Red fighters lobbed grenades at 73rd IB troops in Sitio Datal Pitak, Kolon Sabak, Matan-ao town. Because land travel is difficult in this farflung area, the AFP had to use helicopters to retrieve its casualties. The enemy fired mortars on civilian communities on September 28 and 29 to retaliate.

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

CPP/Ang Bayan: Coordinated attacks launched in Bicol

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): Coordinated attacks launched in Bicol

The New People’s Army (NPA) in Bicol launched near-simultaneous attacks on 18 military detachments from September 26 to 29. The coordinated attacks were launched in Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur provinces.

According to initial reports, 22nd and 42nd IB troops suffered a number of casualties in successive sniping operations by the Eduardo Olbara Command against six military detachments in Camarines Sur. The detachments subjected to attack were those of the 22nd IB in Barangay Lobong, Bato; 22nd CAA Infantry Battalion in Barangay Nababarira, Baao; 42nd IB in Barangay Ipil, Buhi; 22nd IB in Barangay Bical, Libmanan; 22nd IB in Barangay Lubigan, Sipocot; and 42nd IB in Barangay Malinao, Libmanan. The attacks were launched between 10:55 p.m. of September 8 and 3 a.m. of September 29.

Meanwhile, nine detachments belonging to the 22nd and 31st IB, PNP Mobile Force and Philippine Army Peace and Development Team were harassed by forces under the NPA Celso Minguez Command in Sorsogon: in Barangay Banuang-Daan, Matnog (Globe Security Forces-22nd IB); Barangay Bilaoyon, Sta. Magdalena (22nd IB-CAFGU); Barangay San Isidro, Bulan (31st IB Charlie Coy); Barangay Mapaso, Irosin (22nd IB); Barangay Casay, Casiguran (31st IB Alpha Coy); Barangay San Antonio, Casiguran (PNP Provincial Mobile Force); Barangay Rizal, Casiguran (31st IB); Barangay Rizal, Gubat (22nd IB); and Barangay San Francisco, Donsol (Philippine Army Peace and Development Team).

In Albay, three 22nd IB detachments were harassed by the NPA Santos Binamera Command in Barangay Del Rosario, Camalig; Barangay Maopi, Daraga; and Barangay Harigi, Libon.

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

CPP/Ang Bayan: Armed actions in Iloilo, Samar, Davao, Bukidnon

Propaganda article from the English language edition of the CPP online publication Ang Bayan (Oct 7): Armed actions in Iloilo, Samar, Davao, Bukidnon

Successive armed actions were launched by New People’s Army (NPA) units in Iloilo, Samar, Davao and Bukidnon from August to September. Meanwhile, the release of two prisoners of war arrested in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon has been postponed indefinitely due to the AFP’s intransigence.

Iloilo. Four soldiers under the 82nd IB were killed and at least two were wounded in three successive harassment operations launched by Red fighters under the NPA Napoleon Tumagtang Command in Igbaras and Tubungan towns on September 17 and 18. The NPA guerrillas were able to make a safe retreat in these firefights.

Three soldiers were killed and several others wounded when an NPA unit used command-detonated explosives (CDX) on rampaging forces of the 82nd IB in Sitio Butuan, Igcabugao, Igbaras on September 17.

The morning after, an NPA unit harassed the battalion’s Bravo Coy detachment in Barangay Lanag, Tubungan, inflicting an undetermined number of casualties.

By afternoon, another soldier was killed and still another wounded in an NPA ambush on patrolling military troops in Barangay Buloc, Tubungan.

Northern Samar. Six soldiers were killed, including two lieutenants in NPA military actions in July and August.

On August 31, the platoon leader of enemy troops operating in Barangay Poponton, Las Navas was killed by NPA sniper fire while taking his lunch.
On August 22, a sergeant serving as commander of a CAFGU detachment was killed in an NPA ambush on 34th IB troops conducting operations in Lope de Vega town.

On August 17, Red fighters sniped at a 17-man unit under the 34th IB at 11:30 a.m. while the soldiers were resting and preparing lunch in Barangay Imelda, Las Navas, killing a lieutenant. In the ensuing gunbattle, two more soldiers were killed on the spot. Another soldier was seriously wounded and eventually died.

Earlier, a soldier was killed on the spot and another seriously wounded in a clash between an NPA unit and the same military troops in Barangay San Miguel, Las Navas on July 31. The guerrillas safely retreated.

Davao. At least six AFP troops were killed in a series of attritive actions by the NPA and people’s militia in Paquibato and Calinan Districts, Davao City in September.

On September 23, two soldiers under the 69th IB were killed and scores wounded in a CDX attack on the KM 40 truck they were riding in Baksarpa, Barangay Malabog at around 7:30 a.m. The day after, another soldier was killed by NPA sniper fire in Kibaton, Barangay Domingga, Calinan District.

Earlier, on September 20, two other soldiers from the same military unit were killed in an NPA sniping operation in Cagamcam, Barangay Sumimao.
On September 9, a soldier was killed and three others wounded in an ambush by the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion on forces conducting a Peace and Development Outreach Program in Salagunting, Barangay Fatima, Paquibato.

Meanwhile, on September 3, the people’s militia confiscated eight military vests, pack bags and ammunition left unattended by 69th IB troops at their detachment in Barangay Mapula. The militia later burned down the detachment.

Bukindnon. The NPA South Central Bukidnon Subregional Command paralyzed two payloaders and a dump truck belonging to Uy Builders Development Corp. in Liboan, Lumbayao, Valencia City on the night of September 21. The company was punished because it violated the policies of the people’s government.

Meanwhile, the release of prisoners of war Pfc. Marnel Cinches and Pfc. Jerrel Yorong has not pushed through because of the AFP’s adamant refusal to declare a Suspension of Offensive Military Operations (SOMO). Instead, the military continues to conduct rescue operations.

Due to the absence of a SOMO, NPA units on September 22 were forced to mount two harassment operations against 8th IB soldiers conducting rescue operations in Impasug-ong and Bulunay towns. The 8th IB forces suffered a still undetermined number of casualties.

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

CPP/NPA: NPA-Mt. Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog, supports the people’s opposition to Sierra Madre Dam Projects, vows to launch tactical offensives!

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 13): NPA-Mt. Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog, supports the people’s opposition to Sierra Madre Dam Projects, vows to launch tactical offensives!

Armando Jacinto (Ka Mando)
NPA Mt. Sierra Madre Subregional Command (Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command)
The officers and Red fighters of Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command (RLRC-NPA-Mt Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog Sub-Regional Command) support the people’s opposition to Sierra Madre Dam Projects.

The 2 dam projects – Kaliwa Dam and Laiban Dam- on Sierra Madre would tap water from Agos River in Sierra Madre supposedly to supply potable water to Metro Manila. These projects are being hailed by Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as the New Centennial Water Source Projects under the Public-Private Partnership Program with a projected budget of P88 billion pesos (Kaliwa Dam – 23B, Laiban Dam – 65B).

These dam projects would flood 37,700 hectares of watershed areas including ancestral lands belonging to the indigenous Dumagat and Remontado tribes and would submerge 8 barangays of Tanay, Rizal namely; Sta. Ynes, Mamuyao, Tinucan, Cayabu, San Andres, Sto. Nino, Laiban and Daraitan. These will also submerge Barangay Lumutan and part of Barangay Pagsangahan of Gen. Nakar, Quezon. Even the MWSS acknowledged that the dam projects would displace more than 8,000 families living in the area including more than 4,000 families of indigenous Dumagat and Remontado tribal people.

To be constructed in the mountain village of Pagsangahan, General Nakar town, Quezon Province is the Kaliwa Dam, a 62-meter-high concrete-face, rock-filled dam (CFRD) with a projected capacity of 600 million liters per day (MLD) and will flood a watershed area of more than 9,700 hectares affecting more or less 1,500 families. To be constructed in Barangay Laiban, Tanay, Rizal is the Laiban Dam, a 113-meter-high CFRD with a projected capacity of 1,800 MLD and will inundate more or less 28,000 hectares of watershed areas affecting more or less 7,000 families. These dam projects had no free prior and inf0rmed consent (FPIC) from the Dumagat and Remontado tribe, as mandated under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act No. 8371, or IPRA of 1997 to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples.

These dam projects was started by the Marcos regime. The succeeding regime of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo tried to continue but was forced to shelve the project because of the organized resistance of the people of Rizal and Quezon supported by the church people, pro-indigenous people individuals, environmentalists and the armed revolutionary groups led by the CPP-NPA-NDFP. Every regime, starting from Marcos and the succeeding regimes including the much hated Arroyo regime salivated from the expected profits they would pocket once these projects becomes operational. They all tried but eventually failed.

Now, it is the US-BS Aquino regime’s time to try to continue this project. In his State of the Nation Address last July 2014, he said that the dam projects in Sierra Madre were among the several public-private partnership programs he had approved for immediate implementation. The US-BS Aquino regime and his cohorts want to dip their hands and make this project their milking cow. They are not contented with pocketing pork barrel funds through DAP and PDAF. This time, BS Aquino wants the peoples fund to be pocketed by his relatives, with the presidential uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco at the helm of the project. The Laiban Dam project is now a joint venture of Danding Cojuangco who owned San Miguel Corporation and the MWSS. The BS Aquino regime is hell-bent to have the Sierra Madre dams constructed even with overwhelming opposition from the people.

To quell the widespread opposition of the people against the dam projects, the BS Aquino regime ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to guard the dams and safeguard the interests of Danding Cojuangco and MWSS. He has unleashed the “Butcher” Philippine Army forces, namely the 1st IB-PA and 16th IB-PA. Members of the 16th IB-PA had been strategically deployed in villages that will be submerged by the Laiban Dam project, in the mountain villages of Tanay, Rizal, namely Laiban, Cayabu, Sta- Inez, Tinucan, Mamuyao, San Andres, Sto. Nino, Daraitan and Lumutan, Nakar Quezon. While the 1st IB-PA forces are strategically deployed in Kaliwa Dam area in the mountain villages of Nakar, Quezon namely; Pagsangahan, Umiray, San Marcelino, Canaway and Magsaysay, Infanta, Quezon. These barangays are now teeming with Philippine Army troops with strict orders to suppress and quell the peoples’ movement against the Sierra Madre Dam Projects.

But the people of Rizal and Quezon province will not be cowed. They are determined to oppose the dam projects and with massive protest coupled with the armed resistance of the revolutionary movements in Rizal and Quezon, the wish of BS Aquino regime will surely fail. The efforts of the people together with the revolutionary movement will surely frustrates the ruling regime’s plan.

The Rosemarie Lodronio Rosal Command – (RLRC-NPA-Mt Sierra Madre-Southern Tagalog Sub-Regional Command), with the support ot the people vows to launch tactical offensives to stop the construction of Sierra Madre Dams and all anti-people project of the reactionary government posing as development projects. The successive tactical offensives launched last July 2014 in General Nakar, Quezon which resulted to 5 casualties from the government troops and in Tanay and Montalban, Rizal by members of RLRC-NPA is a living testament of the increasing capacity of the revolutionary movement in Sierra Madre to punish the plunderers of Mt. Sierra Madre. Together with the people of Rizal and Quezon Province, we will prevail against the onslaught of the BS Aquino regime and his AFP mercenaries. The dam projects will be stopped and the ancestral lands of the Dumagat and Remontado tribe will be free from environmental destruction.

MILF: MILF forms political party for envisioned Bangsamoro elections

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 14): MILF forms political party for envisioned Bangsamoro elections

The political party that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has put up so it could field candidates in the anticipated elections in the future Bangsamoro autonomous entity is now functional.
Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF political affairs chief, said on Thursday that for the MILF, the final struggle for the Moro peoples’ fight for autonomy and right to self-determination meant they have to join the mainstream by participating in the envisioned election in the new political jurisdiction.

Even before the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed by both parties earlier in 2014, the MILF’s Central Committee has already called for a meeting to discuss the direction of the political and electoral struggle, Jaafar said.

“In a meeting with the Central Committee, we talked about the idea of organizing a Bangsamoro political party. And it was agreed upon unanimously,” he said by phone.

The MILF, he said, created a special committee tasked to lay the foundation of the political party.

“Before we made our decision, we conducted consultations all over Mindanao and asked them to give out their recommendations,” Jaafar said.

After a few months, the Central Committee agreed to formally name its new party the United Bangsamoro Justice Party and declared that it would participate in the future regional and local elections.

He said that the UBJP has been fully organized after the selection of its officials.

“But their names are not yet for publication. In due time, we will divulge their names,” Jaafar said.

He said the UBJP has also opened its doors to prospective members.

“This party is open to anyone, whether they are members of the MILF or not,” he said. But he immediately added that the MILF has put up some mechanisms to keep unscrupulous politicians out of the party.

“We know that (the possibility that unscrupulous politicians will enlist) and we will not allow that to happen,” Jaafar said.

Considering that the proposed new political entity would be the product of the MILF’s long struggle, Jaafar expressed hope that their political party would dominate the elections.

“Our membership is larger compared to those of other parties,” he said.
In the final draft of the BBL, the proposed political system will be parliamentary in form.

The Bangsamoro Parliament will be composed of party representatives, district representatives and sectoral representatives. The parliament will have a titular head.

The chief minister, who will head the ministerial government, shall be elected by majority votes by the members of the parliament.

Guerrilla training of Sayyaf, Islamic militants continuing

From the Manila Times (Oct 13): Guerrilla training of Sayyaf, Islamic militants continuing

ISLAMIC MILITANTS and Abu Sayyaf (ASG) bandits continue to conduct joint training in urban guerilla warfare in an undisclosed location in Central Mindanao, a source from the intelligence community disclosed on Monday.

The source, who uses the codename Pokemon, said the training of the ASG and the shadowy Khilafa Islamiya Movement (KIM) is being supervised by a foreign terrorist.

The source earlier identified the supervisor as Abdurahman, a Saudi Arabian, who is married to a Tausug woman.

The KIM and the ASG earlier pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a jihadist group that took huge territories in the Middle East after the collapse of the Iraqi army in 2012.

“We still don’t know the purpose of their training and for what reasons they are training for,” the source said.

Transgender’s death casts dark shadow on EDCA

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 13): Transgender’s death casts dark shadow on EDCA

Olongapo City, Zambales — A few days after the Solicitor General declared that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) is constitutional, the death of a transvestite here in Olongapo City have strengthened rumors of culture clash between Americans and Filipino.

Twenty-six-year-old transvestite Jeffrey Laude was found dead inside his hotel room around 11:45 p.m. Saturday a few minutes after he and a Caucasian male with marine-cut hairstyle checked in.

Room attendant Elias Gallamos said he saw the suspect leave the room but still saw a pair of slippers inside it. Hotel attendants usually clean the room right after hotel customer check out of their rooms.

Gallamos returned to check on the room and discovered Laude’s body slumped on the toilet. According to a report, Laude may have been hit in the head by a blunt object then drowned in toilet water.

A report from theMarine Corps Times stated that an unidentified marine is being held on board “USS Peleliu” as agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) probe the Laude killing, along with the Olongapo City Police Office (OCPO).

According to an internal Navy memo obtained by Marine Corps Times, the marine being detained is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The infantry unit the marine was assigned to recently take part in the Amphibious Landing Exercise 2015.

The report also stated that three other Marines from the same unit were also detained aboard the ship, citing that they are potential witnesses to the crime.

The death, isolated as it is, has rattled the thoughts of netizens in Olongapo on the possible increase in criminal activities due to the enhanced presence of US servicemen in the city.

Activists would probably use this incident to further their cause of blocking EDCA from materializing.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said EDCA is necessary for the country’s internal and external security, considering the “international platform of politics” as well as “recent events within Philippine territory.”

Thus, he said, EDCA is one of the security measures needed “to achieve a minimum credible defense to the manifold security concerns in the West Philippine Sea.”

Filipino and American military officials met yesterday to discuss key security issues, including details of EDCA.

According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., both the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and the Security Engagement Board (SEB) assembled yesterday with their US counterpart in Manila.

Catapang earlier stated that part of the discussion will be the location of the US military facilities. And with the SolGen declared that EDCA is constitutional, the plans of setting up some parts of Subic Bay Freeport into a US military facility are a probability.

Business leaders want Basilan to be model for peace and progress

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 13): Business leaders want Basilan to be model for peace and progress

The country’s top civic and business leaders, who comprise the Eisenhower Fellows Association of the Philippines (EFAP), recently launched a comprehensive socio-economic program to ensure peace and progress in Basilan and establish the island-province as a development model for the proposed Bangsamoro region.

“As the country prepares for the transition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the Bangsamoro autonomous government, EFAP believes that Basilan would be a strategic area for development intervention,” said Jaime Zobel de Ayala, honorary chairperson of EFAP during the launch of the Basilan Development Program at the Ayala Museum in Makati City.

The goal of the Basilan Development Program (BDP) is to build, rehabilitate, and capacitate within the province resilient and peaceful communities to translate the ideals proposed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace accord signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Program Director Ariel Hernandez explained that through the Basilan Development Program, EFAP is responding to the two-fold challenges posed by the anticipated Bangsamoro transition.

“The first challenge is to make the peace agreement felt by common Basileños,” said Hernandez. “Next, we must also figure out how to mobilize stakeholders to synergize their efforts to build development models that can be replicated in other areas.”

EFAP trustee Derek Chilvers lauded the efforts of the Filipino Eisenhower Fellows who are spearheading the initiative.

“Eisenhower Fellows are active in 53 countries across the world, engaged in various projects, both large and small in scale,” Chilvers shared. “I can truthfully and sincerely tell you, however, that there is no project more aligned with our vision for a better—more prosperous, more just, and more peaceful world than the Basilan Development Program.”

“Through this shared effort, we are aiming to make Basilan—a province so rich with potential, yet so stunted and deprived by its history of violence—a development model for best practices for the entire Bangsamoro region, as well as an inspiration for Eisenhower Fellowships worldwide.”

According to Chilvers, this is also the first time that “so many senior Eisenhower Fellows—many of whom are already very advanced in their respective careers—have pooled together their collective talents to create a major impact in their society.”

The launch of the BDP is in support of newest EFAP fellow who hails from Basilan, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman.

NPA commander nabbed in Agusan del Norte

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 13): NPA commander nabbed in Agusan del Norte

An alleged New People’s Army (NPA) commander and one of his men were arrested by a joint operation conducted by the Army and police at Barangay Dona Rosario, Tubay, Agusan del Norte province, military and police reported Monday.

Army and police reports said the captured NPA commander was tagged as allegedly responsible for burning an agricultural aircraft and gas pump belonging to  Mindanao agri-traders at Tubay town last August 23.

The reports stated that the suspects were identified by witnesses as responsible in burning the company’s agricultural aircraft and gas dump in a village in Tubay town.

Identities of the NPA commander and the regular communist fighter have been temporarily withheld pending further investigation on their involvement in other attacks in Northeastern Mindanao.

Col. Jonathan Ponce, commanding officer of the Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade based at Bancasi here could only describe the captured NPA commander as being the commanding officer of Sub-Regional Command Sentro De Grabidad “Westland” while the regular red fighter is a member of guerilla-Front Committee 30, both of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NMRC).

Recovered from them were two loaded caliber .45 pistols, two hand grenades, two blasting caps, a detonating cord, two black shoulder bags, PNP uniforms and cash amounting to R25,500.00. The money is believed to be the proceeds from forced taxation extortion imposed on villagers and small-time rural businesses.

According to the Ponce, cases has been filed yesterday against the two for illegal possession of firearms and explosive.

Another case is arson which will be filed after the company has already computed the total cost of damage of the agricultural aircraft and gas dump, Col. Ponce said.

“The close coordination with our PNP counterpart is the key to the successful apprehension of these two criminals. We thank the people who pinpointed the location of these two NPAs,” Col. Ponce said.

Meanwhile, a high ranking official of the area command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Northeastern and Northern Mindanao expressed gratitude to local residents for helping government forces in solving the communist insurgency problem in their respective villagers.

“It is sad to note that the remaining NPA rebels who are still in the mountains suffered the hardship in the mountains while their leaders and officials are living in air-conditioned flashy homes in subdivisions,” said Maj. Gen Oscar T. Lactao, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division.

Lactao urged parents to watch their children closely so that they would not be deceived by the propaganda offered by the underground movement.

“Kawawa ang mga buhay nitong mabilang na lang na NPA sa kabundokan at tinatawagan ko ang mga magulang na yakagin na nila ang kanilang mga anak na sumanib na sa peace and development program ng ating pamahalaan,” added the highest ranking military official in the region.

OIC reaffirms support for Mindanao peace process

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 14): OIC reaffirms support for Mindanao peace process

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday reaffirmed its continuing support for the Mindanao peace process, as it convened the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) meeting in Makati City.

At the meeting, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani conveyed this strong message to senior MNLF and MILF leaders to lay down the ground rules for the activation of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF).

Madani ascended to the OIC as the new head of its General Secretariat in January, 2014.

He dispatched to Manila his special envoy for peace for Southern Philippines, as it appears the pan-Islamic body is growing impatient over the slow progress of the June 12, 2014 agreement to activate and make the body operational.


His special envoy, Ambassador Sayyed Kaseem El-Masry, convened the meeting yesterday in Makati where the leaders of the two groups discussed issues surrounding the BCF.

In his opening remarks, he said Madani sent his greetings to the MNLF and MILF leaders present and through them the whole Bangsamoro people his heartfelt greetings and wishes on the celebration of Eid’l Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

The OIC secretary general “asked me further to assure you that he and the entire OIC Membership will continue their engagement with the peace process in Mindanao,” said El-Masry.

Also present at the meeting was Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Mostafa. Egypt chairs the Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP), which handles the “Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines” for the OIC.

El-Masry recited two verses from the Holy Qur’an to stress Muslims’ duty to unite: “Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor; fear God, for God is strict in punishment.” Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 2.

Brotherhood and reconciliation (Surah Al-Hojourat, Verse 10), he said, is the “motto of Islam.” He again emphasized the vital need for the MNLF and the MILF to get their act together and move further the agreed “cooperation and coordination among themselves and to jointly address the concerns confronting the Bangsamoro people.”


Some of the MNLF leaders present were former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, Randolph Parcasio, Habib Mujahab Hashim, Alvarez Isnaji, Utto Salem Cutan; for the MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, Prof. Aboud Syed Lingga, Hadji Abdullah Camlian, and Jun Mantawil.

Parcasio and Sema thanked the OIC secretary general, welcoming his efforts to continue its support for peace in Mindanao and the Moro people.
The meeting went into a close-door mode after the opening ceremony in the morning.

El-Masry said that the secretary general instructed him and his delegation to come to Manila “to meet with you and offer whatever help is needed to move things.


“The most precious asset a human being has is time. We have already lost two precious months and so let us have a solemn pledge not to waste any more time,” he said, reiterating the two agenda items, such as the BCF’s activation ad operationalization and continuing to engage in dialogues.

He recalled that the 41st Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) called upon the secretary general to exert his effort to close the gap between the MNLF and MILF leaderships’ positions. It also urged him to call an urgent meeting of their leaders “in order to find a way for the two peace tracks to merge instead of colliding.”

El-Masry was referring the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of the MNLF and the Philippine government (GPH) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement (CAB) of the MILF and the GPH.

The OIC delegation also includes Charge d’Affaires Hassan Alabdein, of the OIC’s Department of Communities and Minorities, and Saidu Dodo.

Attack helicopters with night vision for Philippine Air Force arriving

From the Philippine Star (Oct 13): Attack helicopters with night vision for Philippine Air Force arriving

A photo of a AW109 Power helicopter, which the Philippine Air Force is purchasing from an Italian company. AugustaWestland photo

New attack helicopters that can operate in the dark are set to arrive for the Philippine Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said.

The new units will have night vision capability allowing pilots to target hostile subjects even in the dark.

"We have capable helicopters arriving for the PAF," Catapang said while touring in Sulu on Sunday, according to a state news report.

Catapang said that the new helicopters set to arrive this year shows progress in the military's modernization campaign.

The Air Force earlier selected eight pilots to man and operate the AgustaWestland AW-109 Power helicopters and sent them to train in Costa di Samarate, Italy.

Also undergoing training are 22 maintenance personnel.

The Air Force signed the contract for eight AW109 Power light twin helicopters last November. The P3.44-billion contract includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel, the Italian firm said.

"These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support," AugustaWestland said in an earlier statement.

The AW109 Power is a three-ton class eight seat twin engine helicopter, dubbed as the most cost effective helicopter in its class for a range of government tasks.

Photo: Goodwill visit

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 14): Photo: Goodwill visit

The Training Squadron of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces consisting of three vessels docks at Pier 15 for a goodwill visit on Monday. EY ACASIO

Release of soldiers from NPA pressed

From the Manila Standard Today (Oct 14): Release of soldiers from NPA pressed

Church leaders in Northern Mindanao are pressing for the release of two soldiers captured by the New People’s Army last August in Bukidnon.

Iglesia Filipina Indepiendente Bishop Felixberto Calang over the weekend said  an interfaith dialogue is seeking the release of Private First Class Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yorong after negotiations failed in September.

On record, they belong to the  Community Organizing for Peace and Development  of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion were captured by the NPA on August 22, 2014 in Barangay Buntongon in Impasug-ong.

Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma expressed optimism over the religious sector’s moral support to get the soldiers back to their families soon.

Earlier, the NPA offered a 10-day truce and asked for a Suspension of Military Operation (SOMO), Suspension of Police Operation (SOPO) as conditions to set the troppers free.

Calang and Ledesma have sought the assistance of Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, who attended the launching of the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS).

Last October 11, he signed an agreement supporting UBAS along with lawyer Edmund Abesamis, president of Liga ng mga Barangay and City Mayor Oscar Moreno.

Calang said the safe conduct pass for the soldiers must be worked out by the government panel and the captors.

Before the failed release in September, the NPA cited a directive from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), waiving investigation and trial of the captives.

“As a gesture of goodwill and sincerity from the revolutionary movement in its hope for the resumption of peace talks between NDFP and the government of the Philippines (GPH), and due to humanitarian considerations for the POWs and their families,” Alan Juanito, spokesman of the NPA-North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

Even as the interfaith dialogue urged the rebels to patient over their demand for a truce, Major Christian Uy, 4th ID spokesman, said top military leaders had the final say.

“What the NPA did is kidnapping military personnel which is illegal and we have to uphold the law,” he said.

Transgender woman slay: ‘US Marines presented in police line-up’

From GMA News (Oct 13): Transgender woman slay: ‘US Marines presented in police line-up’

A lineup of suspects—all of them US Marines—have been presented for witnesses to identify the person who could be responsible for the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City on Saturday, the Philippine National Police in Central Luzon said on Monday.

Transgender woman Jeffrey Laude was found dead in an Olongapo City inn over the weekend. She was reported to have been seen with a foreigner before her death.
Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, the police regional director in Central Luzon, said local police and the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted a briefing "to give the identity of the suspect."
"Kasalukuyan pa lang briefing with NCIS [representatives] to give the identity of the suspect. We will release it as soon as possible," Petrasanta said.

"Police lineup pa lang pina-identify sa witness and all of them belong to the US Marines," he said. 
A witness said Jeffrey was last seen with an American, who didn't give his name but who said he came from the "Peleliu ship," a report on GMA News' "24 Oras" said.

One of the US Navy ships that figured in a recent joint military exercise in the country is the USS Peleliu.
The Olongapo Police said it would request for the custody of the suspect once he was identified.

A source, however, said that the issue of custody may only be brought up if the case would be brought before the courts. 
Earlier on Monday, the US Embassy in Manila disclosed that the "possible suspect" in the killing may have been a US Marine.
A report on "24 Oras" showed that the 26-year-old victim, who also used the the name "Jennifer Ganda," was found dead inside the toilet of a room at the Celfone Lodge in Olongapo City on Saturday night.
The victim was found slumped on the floor while her face was in the toilet bowl. A room attendant saw her lifeless about an hour after her companion left the lodge. The suspect left the door unlocked. 
"Meron kaming na-notice na mga injuries especially doon sa mukha niya, sa part ng leeg niya, at sa dibdib kaya possible na inano siya sa toilet bowl, nilunod siya roon," Chief Inspector Gil Domingo of the Olongapo City Police Station 3 said in a report aired at GMA's "24 Oras."
A photo grab from a CCTV footage showed the victim with a foreign companion  exiting a bar called Ambyanz Night Life.
The two walked across the street and checked in at the lodge around 10:55 pm, the television report said.
After an hour, Jennifer's body was found by the room attendant who was supposed to clean the room.
Police investigators said two used condoms were found in the bathroom. 
"Maaring na-find out ng suspek na 'yung nakuha niyang partner is transgender. Maaring ito ang kanilang pinag-awayan o ito na 'yung ikina-pikon kaya nagawa niya itong krimen na ito," Domingo said.

Govt won’t assert jurisdiction over US soldier in transgender killing yet – Palace exec

From GMA News (Oct 13): Govt won’t assert jurisdiction over US soldier in transgender killing yet – Palace exec

Malacañang will wait for police investigators to ascertain the alleged involvement of a US serviceman in the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City before deciding whether the government will assert jurisdiction over the American soldier.

"It’s unconfirmed so we will let the ... authorities first determine what happened in that incident," presidential spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing on Monday. 
"Until such time we would not like to make any comment or speculate as to the next steps taken," he added.
Earlier in the day, the US Embassy in Manila said a US Marine had been identified "as a possible suspect" in the killing of Jeffrey Laude, who also used the name Jennifer.
American military vessels have already been barred from leaving the Philippines until the probe on Laude's killing is concluded.

Also on Monday, UP professor Roland Simbulan called on the Philippine government to exert all efforts to ensure that the American soldier would not be able to leave the country.
Under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US, "Philippine authorities shall have jurisdiction over United States personnel with respect to offenses committed within the Philippines and punishable under the law of the Philippines."
The agreement, ratified by the Philippine Senate in 1999, gives US authorities exclusive jurisdiction over American personnel "with respect to offenses relating to the security of the United States" such as treason, sabotage and espionage." 

Unsigned letter prompts AFP to probe purchases of hospital

From the Business World (Oct 13): Unsigned letter prompts AFP to probe purchases of hospital

THE PHILIPPINES’ armed forces is conducting a probe on allegations medicines and supplies bought by its hospital were either overpriced or undelivered.
The entire Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (AFPMC) is currently under investigation after an unsigned and undated letter was sent to the offices of the AFP Chief-of-Staff and the Ombudsman, a military spokesperson said in a press conference.

“The commander of the AFPMC is now being investigated with the whole members of the medical center by the OESPA (Office of the Ethical Standard and Public Accountability) as far as this allegation is concerned. The Chief-of-Staff wants to have a factual assessment of this to determine if there are indeed anomalies as stated,” AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Domingo M. Tutaan said in a press conference at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.

Mr. Tutaan was unable to indicate if anomalies from the P80-million transaction involved overpricing, ghost purchases, or a rigged bidding, saying that the letter was “generally stated.” The anomalous purchase took place just this year, under the term of the present AFPMC commander, Brig. Gen. Normando T. Sta. Ana, Jr.

AFP Chief-of-Staff Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr. has already ordered the OESPA of the military to handle the investigation as early as last month, Sept. 5, Mr. Tutaan said.

He also added that they have not yet received any orders from the Office of the Ombudsman compelling them to answer the accusation.

Mr. Tutaan also clarified that Mr. Sta. Ana, as well as any other AFPMC personnel are not yet relieved, saying that the AFP is still waiting for the initial report and findings of the investigation conducted by the OESPA.

Public hearings set for Bangsamoro

From the Business Mirror (Oct 13): Public hearings set for Bangsamoro

THE Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), a body created by the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to recommend measures to correct historical injustices and address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, is set to conduct public consultations from now until June next year to come up with their report.

The commission will approach its work by considering the culture of the people, multiple narratives of history and ensuring inclusivity among the different stakeholders, TJRC Chairman Mo Bleeker said during the commission’s Manila launch last Saturday at the Shangri-La Hotel.

On October 4 the TJRC was officially introduced to the public in Cotabato City. Joining Bleeker in the TJRC are its members, Cecilia Jimenez (as government representative) and Ishak Mastura (as MILF representative), as well as Jonathan Sison who serves as senior adviser. The commission’s work is part of the normalization process specified in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Government panel Chairman Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that TJRC’s greatest contribution could be in pointing out how the country can effectively have sustainable justice and reconciliation in healing the internal conflict in the south.

“The work of the TJRC and its outcome must set off a process that does not control, formalize, bureaucratize nor narrow down the avenues, but rather generates, in addition to the state’s, people-driven initiatives to do transitional justice and reconciliation,” she explained.

Saying that “justice is political and it is also personal,” Coronel-Ferrer underscored that, “Our efforts must produce the needed state policies and institutions that would be responsive. It must make us more human, with faith and trust in the humanity that is in each one of us, knowing that this is what will unite us whoever we are, whatever identity we self-ascribe to or are other-ascribed. It must produce a norm-change, change the hate to love, convert the distrust to trust, ensconce the sense of personal and collective accountability and strengthen the desire to build peace.”

MILF peace panel Chairman and Bangsamoro Transition Commission Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, in his message during the launch of TJRC, said that, “Achieving accountability [of human-rights violators], achieving justice and restoration [after conflict] is a tedious process for all.”

However, he said other paradigms have to be examined, beyond judicial approach or courts, to realize the goal of healing wounds of conflict toward reconciliation, to not repeat the state-sponsored human-rights violations in the past, and lead to the “eventual vanishing of discrimination.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, also present at the TJRC launch, said that as a people, “we sometimes have a tendency to say ‘Huwag nang ungkatin pa and natapos na’ [Don’t try to dig up the past]. That’s why we tend to repeat historical injustices and tragedies. I am so glad that we are deliberately doing this now to ensure that the wrongdoings in the past…will not be repeated.”

Deles underscored that while rights of victims are important, it is also crucial to provide space for the right to forgive and right to embrace one’s enemy.

Also present at the TJRC Manila launch were members of the diplomatic community, including Swiss deputy chief of mission Raoul Imbach (who represented Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber), UK Ambassador Asif Ahmed, Brunei Ambassador Malai Halimah Yussof; GPH panel members Senen Bacani and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos chair Yasmin Busran-Lao; BTC Commissioners; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-Regional Human Rights Commission head Algamar Latiph; international non-governmental organizations, Mindanao historian Prof. Rudy Rodil, among others.

Used condoms found near murdered transgender

From ABS-CBN (Oct 13): Used condoms found near murdered transgender

A US Marine is suspected of killing a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City.

The body of the victim, Jeffrey Laude alias "Jennifer," was found naked and lifeless inside a motel bathroom, with only a blanket covering her.

Based on the initial investigation of the Olongapo police, Laude's neck was pressed down on the toilet seat, while her head was being shoved into the toilet bowl.

Two used condoms were also found in the garbage can inside the hotel room.

CCTV footage taken at a bar in Olongapo City shows four male foreigners with Laude.

Laude's friend said the foreigners approached them inside the bar on the evening of October 11.

A few minutes later, Laude and one of the foreigners checked in at Celzone Lodge.

The foreigner was spotted leaving the room at 11:45 p.m.

Motel staff who entered the room to clean it found the victim's body.

There were no signs of a struggle in the bedroom and Laude's belongings were complete.

Police are now looking at two motives behind the killing.

One -- The foreigner could have found out that Laude was a transgender.

However, authorities doubt this theory because of the used condoms discovered in the room.

Another theory of investigators is Laude could have tried to steal from the foreigner.

The US embassy in Manila has said that a US Marine is the possible suspect.


For Laude's family, the brutal killing of their breadwinner is unbearable.

Laude was paying for the education of youngest sibling Rex, and also provided for their family's other needs.

Laude's sister Michelle last saw her alive at the bar that fateful Saturday night.

Michelle said Laude had a German fiance and she only dreamed of giving her family a better life.

The Laude family hopes they will not have to wait long for justice to be served.


Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario vows justice for Laude.
Del Rosario said he has met with US embassy officials and they will coordinate closely regarding the case.

In a statement, the US embassy expressed its deepest condolences to Laude's family and vowed to cooperate in the investigation.

American troops are currently in the country as part of a joint training exercise.

The drills are over, but no American ship will leave the Philippines, just yet.

Admiral Samuel Locklear ordered the USS Peleliu and another warship to stay in the former U.S. base of Subic Bay until after the murder investigation is over, executive director of the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, Eduardo Oban, said.

So far, there are few details about the case. But according to the Marine Corps Times and Navy Times, a US Marine and three others are already detained at the USS Peleliu.

Some Filipino lawmakers said the US Marine should be immediately placed under Philippine custody.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippines will have jurisdiction on criminal cases involving American servicemen, but the suspects will remain under US custody.

Women's group Gabriela now fears a repeat of the Subic rape case involving Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

Smith was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006. But three years later, the alleged victim Suzette Nicolas recanted and Smith was released.

MILF seeks Pope Francis’ endorsement of Mindanao peace pact

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 12): MILF seeks Pope Francis’ endorsement of Mindanao peace pact

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has said it plans to write a letter to Pope Francis asking him to say something in support of the peace process in Mindanao in the course of his visit to the country on Jan. 17, 2015.

“We are thinking about writing the Pope to ask him to say something about the need for peace,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel that signed a comprehensive peace deal with the Philippine government on March 27, 2014.

Iqbal said a statement of support for the peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the MILF would be a morale booster for efforts to hopefully end over four decades of Moro conflict in Mindanao.

“I think that the letter will be addressed and will be delivered very soon to the Pope,” Iqbal said in an interview with reporters over the weekend.

Civil society groups and international donor agencies have greeted the signing of the peace agreement with great enthusiasm, as it could end the conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced communities in Central Mindanao.

After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, composed of the MILF and government representatives, came up with the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, or the law that governs how the Bangsamoro political entity should be run, which has already been submitted to Congress for deliberation. Once Congress ratifies the document, the BBL will be submitted to a plebiscite to allow the people to decide whether to accept the proposed law or not.

Pope Francis will be in Leyte on Jan. 17, 2014, to visit survivors of the Super Typhoon “Yolanda,” a natural calamity, which ravaged huge parts of Central Visayas and claimed over 6,000 lives in November 2013.

AFP chief: We have capable helicopters arriving

From Ang Malaya (Oct 13): AFP chief: We have capable helicopters arriving

“We have capable helicopters arriving for the PAF,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang said while doing rounds in Sulu. He noted that these helicopters will be capable of operating in the dark.

AgustaWestland is set to deliver AW-109 helicopters until July of 2015. “We are expecting delivery of eight AgustaWestland AW-109 attack helicopters starting January to July 2015,” Philippine Air Force said previously. While the Philippine Navy sees December 2014 for delivery.

Both Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force are waiting for armed variant of AW-109 choppers. AgustaWestland will be delivering two units for Navy and eight units for Philippine Air Force. The procurement is under AFP Modernization.

Philippine Navy is already operating three unarmed variant of AW-109.

Last July, eight pilots and twenty-two maintenance personnel for the said attack helicopters have trained in Italy.

“The Philippine Air Force’s AW109 Power configuration will feature a dedicated mission package and equipment including a combination of weapon systems,” says AgustaWestland. “These aircraft will be used to perform a range of duties including homeland security, armed reconnaissance and close support.”

“We are committed to deliver the improved mission capabilities and high quality services the customer (AFP) deserves,” said Daniele Romiti, AgustaWestland Chief Executive Officer.

PHIBLEX 15 concludes, US warships can’t leave PHL

From Ang Malaya (Oct 13): PHIBLEX 15 concludes, US warships can’t leave PHL

“The exercise was an overwhelming success because we were able to train and integrate with our Philippine partners,” said Col. Romin Dasmalchi, commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit of US Navy.  This year’s edition of Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 15 concluded Friday, October 10.

“This was another great opportunity for our amphibious forces in 7th Fleet to train side-by-side with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to better understand our capability to rapidly respond to any potential crisis in the region”, said Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group.

However, two US Navy warships won’t be able to leave Philippine territories due to an incident linking a US Marine in the killing of a Filipino transgender last Saturday, October 11. The unnamed marine including three other US troops are currently detained in USS Peleliu (LHA-5) a Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship. The three were detained as possible witnesses.

According to report, Commander of the US Pacific Command Admiral Samuel Locklear ordered USS Peleliu and USS Germantown not to leave Philippine waters indefinitely.

US Embassy in Manila is now coordinating with Philippine National Police to help identify suspect.

EDCA, Olongapo murder, and the old case of Daniel Smith

From Rappler (Oct 13): EDCA, Olongapo murder, and the old case of Daniel Smith

Jeffrey Laude's murder happened in the same city that the US reportedly wants covered by the new military deal, stoking fears of another battle over custody of a US serviceman who breaks PH law

The murder of Jeffrey Laude in Olongapo City allegedly by an American soldier happened on the weekend before a scheduled meeting that would discuss the expanded agreement to allow United States military presence in the Philippines.

There can't be a worse timing, officers interviewed by Rappler conceded.

US Pacific Command chief Admiral Samuel Locklear III met with Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr on Monday, October 13, for an informal meeting that precedes discussions on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) set for Tuesday.

Catapang and Locklear are co-chairmen of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board (MDB-SEB), the body tasked to decide the details of the new military-to-military agreement. It allows Americans two new activities: to build military facilities and to preposition defense assets in “agreed locations” that have yet to be determined by the two countries.

Laude's murder happened in Olongapo, the city where the former US Naval Station was located. It is the same naval station that the US military reportedly wants to be included in the "agreed locations" for EDCA.

One of the weakest militaries in Asia, the Philippines is resorting to EDCA as part of its strategy in securing the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), where tension ocassionally erupts between claimant countries.

The new deal, however, is being contested in the Supreme Court for supposed unconstitutionality. Critics also protest that the deal is lopsided in favor of the Americans. (READ: Solgen to SC: EDCA needed to defend West PH Sea)

10 years ago, another US serviceman

The murder also recalls a decade-old case that split public opinion toward Americans in the Philippines. In December 2005, charges were filed against US serviceman Lance Corporal Daniel Smith for allegedly raping "Nicole," a Filipina, inside a moving van while other soldiers were supposedly cheering him on.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll recorded one of the lowest net trust in the US among Filipinos during this period. A December 2005 poll showed a 35% net trust in the US. The Philippine ally currently enjoys a net trust of 76%, based on a March 2014 survey.

Screenshot of SWS surveyScreenshot of SWS survey

Smith and Nicole met in a bar also at the former Subic Bay Naval Station. The US soldier maintained that the sexual act was consensual, but "Nicole" was left lying on the side of the road.

It was the first case to be tried under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a treaty ratified by the Philippine Senate and which allowed the return of the American troops to the Philippines after they were evicted in 1992.

But the bigger issue for women's and rights groups was the custody of Smith and the power of the Philippine laws over erring US servicemen. The Philippine government turned over custody of Smith to the US Embassy, where he remained while the rape case was pending before the Makati City regional trial court and even after the same court convicted him.

'The custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with the United States military authorities, if they so request.' - Article V, Paragraph 6 of the Visitinf Forces Agreement
While the rape case was pending in the Makati court, the custody battle was in another battleground, the Supreme Court.

In December 2006, The Makati court would sentence Smith to life imprisonment, saying the victim was “severely intoxicated that night and was deprived of reason to consent to sex and incapable of sensing or fighting off danger.”
But appeals were filed and it reached the Court of Appeals (CA).
In February 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the VFA has different provisions for US soldiers under trial and US soldiers who are already convicted by Philippine courts. The High Court said Smith should be detained in a Philippine facility after his conviction by the Makati court.

Smith, however, was not transferred to a Philippine prison. Two months later, in April 2006, the appeals court acquitted Smith, saying that what happened between the serviceman and the woman was "spontaneous, unplanned romantic episode." The ruling was released after "Nicole" submitted a letter recanting her allegations.

US vows cooperation

The same issue hangs as another US servicemen is tagged in the murder in Olongapo City. Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr cautioned against the repeat of the battle over custody of erring US servicemen.

"The Philippine government must assert national sovereignty and jurisdiction over the American soldier. He must not be allowed to leave the country and should be immediately turned over to Philippine authorities for proper investigation and detention," Reyes said.
"Never again to the same circumstances that marred the Subic rape case. A Filipino was killed. This requires the assertion of our laws. Our government should ensure that justice would be served. Aquino should not junk national interest just because he's eager to implement the EDCA," Reyes added.
The US promised to be cooperative in the investigation. As the story broke Monday morning, the US Embassy immediately issued a statement. "The United States Embassy in Manila expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jeffrey Laude, who was found dead in Olongapo City on October 11. A US Marine has been identified as a possible suspect in the ongoing investigation. The United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation."
Later in the afternoon, Locklear also ordered to put on hold the departure of USS Peleliu and USS Germantown, the two ships that carried about 3,000 US sailors and marines for the annual Amphibious Landing Exercise.

US probes American tagged in Filipino's death

From Rappler (Oct 13): US probes American tagged in Filipino's death

The US Embassy says it is 'working closely' with the Philippine National Police to identify the suspects in the murder of Jeffrey Laude in Olongapo City

OLONGAPO MURDER. CCTV footage shows the victim, Jeffrey Laude, and the suspect in a hotel before the crime allegedly happened in Celzone Lodge, Olongapo City.

OLONGAPO MURDER. CCTV footage shows the victim, Jeffrey Laude, and the suspect in a hotel before the crime allegedly happened in Celzone Lodge, Olongapo City.
The United States Embassy in the Philippines has vowed to investigate the possible involvement of an American in the murder of a transgender Filipino in Olongapo City.
“We are aware of the situation and express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We are also aware that there are allegations that a foreigner, including possibly a US national, was involved in the incident,” the US Embassy said in a statement aired by GMA News on Monday, October 13.

“We are currently looking into these allegations and working closely with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to take all necessary steps to help identify the suspects,” the embassy added. On Monday afternoon, the US Pacific Command ordered to put on hold the departure of US ships from Subic Bay. (READ: US stops departure of ships after transgender murder)

A police report on Sunday, October 12, identified the victim as Jeffrey Laude, also known as “Jennifer.”

Laude, 26, was found dead on the floor of a comfort room in Celzone Lodge, Olongapo City, according to the report signed by Police Chief Inspector Gil Arizo Domingo.

Laude's head “was leaning” on a toilet bowl, while “his lower body was partially covered with a color cream blanket” as the victim was naked.
Police saw injuries on Laude's neck.

Witness Elias Gallamos said Laude entered Celzone Lodge with an “unidentified male white foreigner” at around 10:55 pm on Saturday, Ocober 11. Gallamos said the foreigner sports a marine “style of hair cut,” and is between 25 and 30 years old.

The PNP said it is working to arrest the suspect.