Monday, October 20, 2014

Philippines: Bangsamoro police to work under nat’l police

From the World Bulletin (Oct  19): Philippines: Bangsamoro police to work under nat’l police

A Philippine government peace negotiator has announced that if Congress approves of a police force for the country’s autonomous Muslim south, it would operate under the national police.

Chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in a statement emailed to press Sunday, "Consistent with the Constitution, the Bangsamoro police force will be under the command and direction of the [national police] chief and the administrative control and supervision of the National Police Commission."

According to a draft law currently being discussed in Congress with the country’s one-time largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a future regional government would have primary responsibility for public order and safety within the southern Bangsamoro area, as well as supervision over its police force.

On March 27, the government and the MILF signed a peace deal that brought to a close 17 years of negotiations and ended a decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao -- the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines -- while granting Muslim areas greater political autonomy.

The deal -- whose security component includes the establishment of a regional police force -- committed President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF to pass a law creating the Bangsamoro Region before the 2016 presidential elections.

Coronel-Ferrer, however, stressed Sunday that local police will share power with the central government, which will control the recruitment, training and promotion of personnel -- as well as the acquisition of firearms.

She added that operational control and supervision over local police -- including the deployment of units within the Bangsamoro -- would be exercised at the level of the autonomous region’s chief minister, as stipulated under the national police law.

The Bangsamoro Police shall be professional, civilian in character, regional in scope, effective and efficient in law enforcement, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control, and accountable under the law for its actions,” Coronel-Ferrer said.

She explained that the national police chief can countermand an order by the region’s chief minister on “matters that have implications beyond the Bangsamoro.”

Coronel-Ferrer’s statement comes amid discussions on how the southern region will be administered once the MILF forms the Bangsamoro government.

In a recent column in The Manila Times, former presidential press secretary Rigoberto D. Tiglao had questioned the constitutionality of establishing the Bangsamoro police, arguing that it violates the provision that “the State shall establish and maintain one police force, which shall be national in scope.”

Criticizing the draft law, Tiglao wrote: “The MILF army, in effect, will simply be renamed the Bangsamoro Police, and the MILF chairman who had commanded the army will simply wear the robes of the ‘Bangsamoro Chief Minister’.”

If ratified, the law will bring much needed wealth to a region that is among the most underdeveloped in the country due to the decades-old conflict.

Ex-rebels’ project leads Galing Pook awardees

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 20): Ex-rebels’ project leads Galing Pook awardees

A revolution of the governance-changing kind is sweeping a number of local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines.

In Lanao del Norte province, the municipality of Kauswagan that has long suffered from death and destruction due to armed clashes between the Blackshirts (Maranao rebels) and the Ilagas (Christian forces) is transforming into a thriving organic farming community.

Through the From Arms to Farms program implemented by the municipality, former rebel fighters were brought into the fold to participate in socioeconomic activities, mainly organic farming, in Kauswagan, where poverty incidence was pegged at a high of 79 percent in 2009.

So far, nine commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and more than 100 of their men have laid down their arms and embraced their new roles as farmer-entrepreneurs, enticed by the firm commitment of the local government to involve the entire community in identifying and implementing projects relevant to the needs of the communities and potential rebel returnees.

Within two years from the change in local leadership in 2010 and through constant involvement of the community in program identification and implementation, the former rebels were able to set aside their distrust and skepticism and became busy with planting crops, raising livestock and managing fishponds with the help of initial capital assistance provided by the LGU under a cost-recovery plan.

The increase in the number of farmers in Kauswagan helped reduce the town’s poverty incidence from 79 percent in 2009 to 47.5 percent in 2013.

Peace has returned to Kauswagan, which is now visited often by officials from other cities and municipalities who want to know more about how to effectively bridge the gap between Christians and Muslims and to promote peace and development.

In Tagum City, Davao Del Norte province, trash-filled and crime-ridden streets now host 317 vendors and small-scale entrepreneurs who are earning more than ever because of a bustling and organized night market.

Residents of Quezon province, meanwhile, are enjoying an increased harvest of crabs, fish and shellfish because of a massive mangrove replanting program that has restored the homes of various species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, and improved the lives of coastal communities.

These innovative programs implemented jointly by LGUs, residents and partners in the government, the private sector and civil society are among the 10 local government programs deemed worthy to receive this year’s Galing Pook Awards, which recognize the best examples of good governance at work in the Philippines.

Rigorous screening

The awards are given by Galing Pook Foundation, which was established in 1993 following the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991 to champion innovation and excellence in local governance and to recognize innovative and trailblazing programs that can serve as benchmarks and inspiration for other LGUs.

The awardees are chosen from a national search of local governance programs, which are evaluated through a rigorous screening process according to positive results and impact, promotion of people’s participation and empowerment, sustainability and efficiency of service delivery.

President Aquino will formally recognize this year’s Galing Pook awardees in Malacañang on Oct. 21.

Galing Pook Foundation chair Ma. Lourdes C. Fernando, former mayor of Marikina City, said in a statement that this year’s good governance examples were “surprising in their simplicity” and could be readily replicated in other barangays (villages), municipalities, cities and provinces.

On the list of this year’s awardees are the health delivery program of the provincial government of Quezon that covers the remotest barangays and Quezon City’s socialized housing project for the urban poor and Klinika Bernardo, which provides HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) patients with health services in a stigma-free and nondiscriminatory environment.

Eye care

The provincial government of Tarlac likewise delivered an award-winning program, the Linaw Tingin project, that provides quality eye-care services with a special focus on the marginalized and poor communities, while Legazpi City in Albay province boasts of its integrated land transport terminal that has reduced traffic congestion and chaos in the city, where about 350,000 students, businessmen and tourists converge every day.

In Mindanao, the provincial government of South Cotabato implemented a novel sanitary landfill project that involves the resources and participation of constituent LGUs, while Dipolog City embarked on the Dipolog Boulevard project that transformed the coastline overcrowded with informal settlers into a venue for economic activities and recreation, with displaced families provided low-cost housing and alternative livelihood.

Fernando said this year’s winners offered interesting cases of high-finance ventures using minimal capital outlay from LGUs and “soft initiatives” that have made a more positive impact on the people and communities than the hard, multimillion-peso infrastructure projects traditionally favored by most politicians.

The projects may be different but a common denominator is close coordination between the elected local government leaders and the community members—from conceptualization to implementation—so that there is buy-in and commitment in seeing the innovative and award-winning programs through.

Basilan cops lose bomber in chase

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Oct 21): Basilan cops lose bomber in chase

A suspected bomber managed to flee from the police after he was intercepted in Isabela City in the restive province of Basilan in southern Philippines, officials said Monday.

Officials said the unidentified man abandoned a bag containing three 60mm mortar bombs, parts of a cellular phone and other bomb paraphernalia. He was spotted by members of the 15th Special Force Company at a cemetery in the village of La Piedad.

Policemen fired warning shots but the man continued running and disappeared inside the cemetery.

A series of bombings have been reported in Isabela City in recent weeks and police largely blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the attacks. But in one attack, the bomber fled on board a pick-up truck which was unlikely the handiwork of the militant group.

MILF: MILF-CCCH protests arrest of Zamboanga Del Sur LMT member

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 20): MILF-CCCH protests arrest of Zamboanga Del Sur LMT member

Early morning on October 16, 2014, operatives of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided six (6) houses at Barangay Binuatan in Dinas, Zamboamga Del Sur including the house of the Manalao Butito, MILF Political Committee Chairman of the town of Dinas and a member of the Local Monitoring Team (LMT) of Zamboanga Del Sur.
In a letter-protest dated October 17, filed by the Abbas Salung, Chairman of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) addressed to BGen. Carlito Galvez, Chair of the GPH-CCCH, he said that, “The PDEA raiding team apprehended Butito and brought him to PNP Camp Avelon in Pagadian City and is being held under custodial detention at the camp despite the committee’s persistent request for his immediate release”.

“This raid and detention of a senior MILF political leader and a member of the LMT, a mechanism of the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Agreement constitute blatant violations of the  ceasefire accord and seriously undermine the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)”,  Salung said in his letter.

Salung enumerated acts that violates the GPH- MILF Ceasefire Accord as follows:

1.    Raid and detention of MILF leaders and worker for the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Agreement in line with paragraphs 3.1.2 and 3.2.3 of the prohibited hostile acts and prohibited provocative acts, respectively of the Implementing Guidelines of the Security Aspect of the GRP – MILF Agreement on Peace of 2001.

2.    Undermining the confidence building measure between the government and MILF pursuant to the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

3.    Total disrespect and dishonor to the safety and security guarantee for the MILF personalities involved in the peace process pursuant to the GPH – MILF Ceasefire Accord.

“We take this case as direct affront to this Committee and those involved in the peace process”, he continued saying.

Salung asked the GPH-CCCH and IMT to act on the matter and for the immediate release of Butito otherwise, there is no option left but to elevate the same to the GPH – MILF Peace Panels.

CPP: Leyte Landing equals Philippine recolonization, not liberation

Anti-US propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 20): Leyte Landing equals Philippine recolonization, not liberation

Communist Party of the Philippines
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the so-called Leyte Landing, when US armed forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on Palo Beach, Leyte, and declared “I have returned… Our forces stand again on Philippine soil.”

Apologists of US imperialism deceitfully describe the armed reinvasion of the Philippines by the US armed forces as “liberation” of the country from the Japanese colonizers. In truth, the arrival of US forces in Leyte was anything but liberation. The reinvasion of the Philippines in 1944 and the succeeding defeat and withdrawal of Japanese forces was part of the overall plan of the US imperialists to reestablish colonial power and eventually prepare the ground for semicolonial rule.

Philippine history has been largely interpreted and taught in Philippine schools from the perspective of American-educated and trained historians and academics. US soldiers are depicted as “liberators” as if the Filipinos silently suffered Japanese colonial abuses and simply waited for the Americans to fulfill their promise to return.

In truth, the Filipino people were not at all meek and silent amid Japanese colonialism. Like the valiant resistance against Spanish colonialism, the epic war against US colonialism from 1899 to 1902 and the armed rebellions and mass upheavals up to the 1930s, the Filipino people fought courageously against the Japanese invaders, at a time that the US government withdrew its military officers and forces for fear of being captured.

The Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon or Hukbalahap was organized by the Communist Party of the Philippines to wage guerrilla warfare and drive away the Japanese colonizers. Through armed struggle and building their mass organizations, the Filipino people succeeded in setting up organs of political power that administered large parts of the Philippines.

By the time the US was planning to reinvade the Philippines, the Japanese could no longer afford to put up strong resistance. The Filipino revolutionary forces, together with the forces allied in the anti-Japanese united front, had succeeded in significantly weakening Japanese colonial power in the country.

Outside the Philippines, the Japanese had suffered grave defeats in China in the armed offensives waged by the Red Army. It was to suffer fatal losses in the war against the Soviet Union in the northern region of Korea, in Manchuria and Mongolia, leading to the surrender of its forces. The dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were overkill attacks by the US armed forces in a brutal assertion of dominance and dramatic claim of defeating the Japanese.

MARKING THE recolonization of the Philippines 70 years ago today is of particular significance amid the uproar against the recent brutal killing of Filipina Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City last October 12 by an American serviceman. The killing of Laude brings to fore the fact that after seven decades, the US government and its military force in the Philippines continue to exercise extraordinary privileges in violation of Philippine territorial integrity and national sovereignty.

The accused American soldier, US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton remains under the custody of the US military despite having committed a heinous crime on Philippine soil. Under existing agreements, particularly the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US has the privilege of maintaining custody and deciding whether it will accede or not to a “request” by the Philippine government to have the suspect in custody.

The Aquino regime, the 15th in the successive line of puppet regimes, created the situation for the brutal killing of Jennifer, by allowing more US warships and combat troops to enter the Philippines and establish their military presence. In signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) last July to allow the US military to establish bases and facilities within so-called Agreed Locations inside Philippine military camps, the US military is again set to project its presence and power.

With the EDCA and the establishment of new and more US military bases around the country, crimes such as the killing of Jennifer, are bound to happen again. The grave social costs of large-scale US military presence has long been established. Wherever US military forces establish their camps and bases or station their warships, there is a marked increase in prostitution as well as crimes against women and children.

American soldiers strut on Philippine soil in extreme contempt of Philippine sovereignty. Such arrogance is evident with the recent declaration by US imperialist chieftain Obama that “we are the indispensable nation.”

Over the past 115 years, not a single American military officer or soldier has been punished for the grave crimes committed by the US military in Philippine soil. Long before Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, US soldiers subjected Filipino “insurgents” to water cure and various forms of torture. Before the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, US officers created a “howling wilderness” in the Philippines in ordering the killing of every Filipino above the age of ten.

In remembering the 70th year of the US reinvasion of the Philippines, it is but proper for the Filipino people to make a patriotic vow to exert all effort to obtain justice for victims Jennifer, “Nicole”, “Vanessa”, 12-year old Rosemarie Baluyot as well as for the 1.5 million Filipinos killed in the brutal war of colonization.

More importantly, the Filipino people should reaffirm their struggle for national liberation in order to put an end to US economic, political and military domination and intervention and neocolonial rule in the Philippines. Only by achieving national liberation will the Filipino people be able to raise themselves from the quagmire of crisis and tread the path of democracy and national progress.

CPP/NDF: The civil war in the Philippines and the status of peace talks between the GPH and NDFP

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 20): The civil war in the Philippines and the status of peace talks between the GPH and NDFP
Luis Jalandoni
NDFP Negotiating Panel
Dear Friends in the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance,

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak in this people’s forum to launch the campaign “Justice for Lacub” as a response to the grave war crimes and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Aquino government in Lacub, Abra last month.

The topic you have assigned to me is “The civil war in the Philippines and the status of peace talks”.

In the current civil war in the Philippines, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) represents in the peace negotiations, the people’s democratic government which is a co-belligerent of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH).

Two states exist in the Philippines: one is the revolutionary, representing the people’s democratic power, and the other is counterrevolutionary, representing the foreign and domestic oppressors and exploiters.

The people’s democratic government has effective power over an extensive population and territory with organs of political power in 71 out of 81 provinces in the country. It is led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It has the New People’s Army (NPA) as the main component of state power. The NDFP encompasses a wide array of political forces with 18 allied revolutionary organizations and mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, children and cultural activists.

On the other hand, the reactionary government, currently headed by the Aquino clique, is subservient to US imperialism and utilizes the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the CAFGU and private armies to suppress the people. They carry out the Oplan Bayanihan, patterned after the US Counter-Insurgency Guide. They perpetrate atrocious and numerous violations of human rights (HR) and international humanitarian law (IHL).

In carrying out their national liberation struggle through a protracted people’s war, the revolutionary forces are guided by the Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution, the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government, and the Rules of the New People’s Army.

In 1991, the NDFP declared its adherence to international humanitarian law, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol II.

Furthermore, in July 1996 it issued the NDFP Declaration of Adherence to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I and deposited it with the Swiss Federal Council, the official depositary of IHL and also provided a copy to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the official guardian of IHL.

AFP Violations of International Humanitarian Law in Operations in Lacub last month

Taking the data provided by the Fact Finding Mission to Lacub and other reports, it is clear that the 41st Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Rogelio Noora and 2LT Joe Mari Landicho and Capt. Deo Martinez as officers on the ground, committed atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity and other grave violations of IHL.

Grave violations of IHL and constituting war crimes are the brutal killing, torture, mutilation and desecration of Ka Rekka Monte, NPA member, and similar killing and desecration of 6 of her NPA comrades, and the extrajudicial killing of civilians Engineer Fidela Salvador and Noel Viste. The six NPA comrades of Ka Rekka, honored as people’s martyrs like her, are Arnold Jaramillo, Pedring Banggao, Robert Beyao, Brandon Magranga, Robert Perez, and Ricardo Reyes.

The fact that Ka Recca suffered no bullet wound, as the autopsy of the NBI showed, indicates that she was captured alive. She should have been respected as an “hors de combat”. Instead she was subjected to willful killing, torture and inhuman treatment which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and declared war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

2Lt. Landicho, Capt. Martinez, and Lt. Col. Noora should be held accountable for these war crimes. The responsibility of the Commanding Officer of the 5th Infantry Division under which the 41st IB operates, should also be investigated.

The AFP use of civilians as human shields in coercing 24 civilians to be human shields on September 5, 2014 is likewise a war crime. Using human shields is prohibited under customary international law and declared a war crime by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) either as inhuman and cruel treatment or as an outrage upon personal dignity. It is likewise declared a war crime by the ICC.

Indiscriminate firing directed towards the houses of civilians in Talampac Proper and Pacoc, Talampac by the soldiers of the 41st IB stationed at So. Bantugo, Poblacion, Lacub on September 5, between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m is also a war crime. IHL strictly forbids attacks against the civilian population and civilians.

CARHRIHL Provisions Strictly Prohibiting IHL Violations

These war crimes are also strictly prohibited by provisions in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed in 1998 and approved by the Principals of both Parties, NDFP Chairperson Mariano Orosa and then GRP President Joseph Estrada.

CARHRIHL, Part IV Respect for IHL, Art. 3 prohibits “at any time and in any place: violence to life and person, particularly killing or causing injury, physical or mental torture, mutilation, cruel or degrading treatment, desecration of the remains of those who have died in the course of armed conflict …” Art. 4 states: “Civilian population and civilians shall not be the object of attack, they shall be protected from indiscriminate aerial bombardment, strafing, artillery and mortar fire…”

It is worth noting that the CARHRIHL authorizes the investigation and trial by the NDFP and the GRP of those accused of violations of HR and IHL. Cf. CARHRIHL, Part III Respect for Human Rights, Art. 4 and Part IV Respect for International Humanitarian Law, Art. 6. These also state: “The victims or their survivors shall be indemnified.”

This means that the revolutionary justice system of the people’s democratic government can institute investigation, prosecution and trial of those accused of IHL violations. Therefore, the victims and their families may approach the people’s democratic government through its public prosecutors to file relevant complaints.

The CARHRIHL also provides for the filing of such complaints with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) which is mandated by the CARHRIHL to monitor the implementation of CARHRIHL. Such filing may be done through the Joint Secretariat (JS) of the JMC which holds office in Cubao, Quezon City. The JS is composed of the NDFP Nominated Section of the JS and the GPH Section.

Moreover, such complaints may also be raised in the forthcoming International People’s Tribunal against the US-Aquino regime to be held in Washington, USA next year.

The Current Status of the Peace Talks

A series of consultations between the NDFP Negotiating Panel and a high level delegation of the GPH has resulted in a meeting between the two sides scheduled in Utrecht within the next few days. The two sides are discussing the possible resumption of peace negotiations after the collapse of talks on truce and cooperation last February 2013.

There is a new Special Envoy appointed by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), the official Third Party Facilitator. She is Elisabeth Slattum who has experience in peace talks in Columbia, Nepal and Haiti.
She and Mr. Espen Lindbaeck, the Deputy Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Section of the RNG Foreign Ministry came for talks with the NDFP Negotiating Panel in Utrecht on October 18. This new team of the RNG expressed its willingness to help in the resumption of formal talks and to hold the next meeting of the negotiating panels in Oslo, Norway. We reiterated our readiness to resume formal talks on the basis of past bilateral peace agreements in order to address the roots of the armed conflict.

As a goodwill measure to promote peace talks, the revolutionary forces in Mindanao released four Prisoners of War (POWs) on July 29, 2014. They are again offering to release two more POWs, but the AFP is not willing to issue the suspension of offensive military and police operations (SOMO & SOPO) that is needed for the safe and orderly release of the POWs. Peace advocate organizations helped in the release of the POWs last July and they are again trying to facilitate the release of the two POWs. An NPA ceasefire always goes with the SOMO and SOPO.

In contrast to these goodwill gestures of the NPA, CPP and NDFP and the call of peace advocates to resume peace talks, the AFP and PNP commit gross violations of HR and IHL, as seen in the AFP operations in Lacub in September, and in so many other areas in the country.

The NDFP deeply appreciates the call of the family of Ka Recca and other peace advocates for the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the Aquino regime. Together let us affirm again our commitment to fight for justice, sovereignty, genuine democracy and a just and lasting peace.

CPP/NPA: AFP misrepresented detained NGO worker as a CPP official

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 19): AFP misrepresented detained NGO worker as a CPP official

Rigoberto Sanchez
NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Merardo Arce Command)
The New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Command assails the malicious and fake charges imputed against Dominiciano Muya who was presented to the media by the 10th Infantry Division-AFP as a high ranking NPA official in the region.

Last Thursday’s orchestrated arrest in Tagum City—in an outrageous story line replete with standard planted grenade and .45 pistol in Muya’s possession— was not only implausible, it also showed the AFP’s mercenary scheme to siphon off the P4-million reward money at the expense of an NGO worker who had a legitimate profession as an educator and agriculture expert for indigenous peoples (IP) schools. Muya’s arrest was a shameless money-making plot of a corrupt Army unit.

AFP manufactured the criminal charges based on pure imagination; it wrongly accused Muya as part of the CPP Southern Mindanao Regional Committee to portray him as its enemy in order to discredit his work in the countryside as a committed educator of sustainable agriculture among IP schools.

The 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command arrest and detention of Muya is part of its crackdown against advocates, educators and non-government workers who are serving poor and neglected Lumads and peasants in Talaingod and Kapalong towns and other parts of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and other provinces in Mindanao.

Muya’s capture is the handiwork of a desperate Army that is fast running out of dirty tricks to harass NGOs who are closely working with the masses for basic education and other social services. The 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command is hell-bent in closing down IP schools which it wantonly labels as NPA structures in order to stop genuine development in these areas.

The military is allergic to far-flung private schools and any mass undertaking, seeing these endeavors as impediments to foreign large-scale mining and capitalist incursions in the resource-rich forests and ancestral lands of IPs. By arresting, detaining, or harassing teachers in the countryside, they are scheming to instill fear among NGOs, activists, advocates and civil libertarians.

The masses should see to these anti-people machinations and struggle against these gross human rights abuses.

The 10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command should release Muya now!

CPP/NDF-MAKIBAKA: Katarungan para kay Jennifer Laude at iba pang biktima ng karahasang militar!

NDF/MAKIBAKA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 19): Katarungan para kay Jennifer Laude at iba pang biktima ng karahasang militar!
Ka Lorena Rosal
MAKI Laguna Chapter (Makibaka - Laguna)
Ang Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA)-Laguna ay taos-pusong nakikiramay sa pamilya’t mga kaibigan ni Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, at taas-kamaong nagpupugay sa kanilang katapangan – kabilang ang mga testigo at iba pang gumagalang at nagmamahal sa mga “may piniling kasarian” – para ipaglaban ang katarungan sa pagkamatay nito.

Tanging sa isang malaya at makatarungang lipunang hinubog ng rebolusyonaryong pagbabago mapapawi ang karahasan tulad ng dinanas nina Jennifer, “Nicole” at iba pang kababaihan at mamamayang naging biktima ng terorismo ng estado at Imperyalismong Kano (United States).

Bunga ng maka-US at militaristang kasunduang Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) at ang huling nilagdaan nitong taon na Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sa pagitan ng papet na rehimen ni BS Aquino at Presidente Obama ng US, garapalang ginagawang training ground ang Pilipinas ng mga mersenaryo na tinatrato ang mga sibilyan na parang ibon at baboy-damong sinisipat upang barilin, o di kaya’y mga laruan at kagamitan na kapag kinainisan ay basta na lang ibabalibag at aalisan ng dangal hanggang sa mautas.

Mariin nating kondenahin ang mga asal-hayop na sundalo ng estadong nagtatanggol sa Imperyalismong US, Pyudalismo’t Burukrata Kapitalismo; idagdag pa ang “machismo” at dekadenteng kulturang yumuyurak sa dangal ng kababaihan at LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) o ’yung mga may piniling kasarian.

Pumutok sa panahon ni Gloria Arroyo ang panggagahasa ng sundalong Kano na si Lance Corporal Daniel Smith sa Pilipinang si Nicole. Sa pagmamaniobra sa kaso at panggigipit sa biktima, nalantad ang garapal na sabwatan ng papet na rehimeng Arroyo at Imperyalismong US nang pinakawalan at alisan ng kriminal na pananagutan ang hinatulang maysala na si Smith.

Pinakahuli ang sinapit ni Jennifer noong Oktubre 11. Pinaslang siya ng sundalo ng US Navy na si Joseph Scott Pemberton nang matuklasan ang ka-date ay may piniling kasarian at hindi pala tunay na babae. Ang ganitong brutalidad na iniluwal ng labis na pagkamuhi sa mga katulad ni Jennifer ay patunay na utak-berdugo ang mga sundalong sinasanay sa pasistang panunupil.

Mataas ang pagkilala’t pagpapahalaga ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan sa mga may piniling kasarian. Hindi mapasusubalian ang naging ambag nila sa pagsusulong ng matagalang digmang bayan sa ilalim ng pamumuno ng muling tatag na Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Marxismo-Leninismo-Maoismo). Patuloy na lumalahok ang sektor na ito sa rebolusyon at nagkokonsolida sa diwa ng paglilingkod sa sambayanan.

Sa kabilang banda, pinapatatag ng Imperyalismong US ang kontra-mamamayang Oplan Bayanihan ni BS Aquino sa pamamagitan ng kasunduang VFA at EDCA. Sa Laguna, sa tabing ng kampanyang “peace and development”, isinasagawa ng 1st IB at 202nd Brigade sa ilalim ng 2nd ID na nakabase sa Tanay, Rizal ang Civil-Military Operations (CMO) sa paanan ng Bundok Sierra Madre at balisbisan ng Bundok Banahaw na batbat ng karahasang militar at malawakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao.

Simula noong 2012, ipinapatawag sa detatsment ng Philippine Army ang mga lokal na opisyales at taumbaryo upang takutin at pagbintangang mga NPA o supporter nito. Binabastos ang kababaihan at sapilitang dinadala sa mga detatsment nang labag sa kalooban nila, lalo’t higit ng mga asawang tumutupi sa harap ng mga armalayt at masinggan ng sundalo.

Pinakamasahol ang pagmasaker sa ilang kabataang namamaniki at namamalaka sa may hangganan ng Magdalena at Majayjay. Sa isang operasyong kombat, niratrat ng Special Forces hanggang mamatay sina Jessie Perez at Christian Noceto habang sugatan sina Francis Abanilla at Geno Banez na pawang mga menor de edad. Nang walang matunton na NPA sa kabundukang ito, pinaglaruan ang mga inosenteng sibilyan na inihihingi ng katarungan hanggang sa kasalukuyan ng mga ina at kapamilya ng mga biktima.

Katulad ng kababaihan sa balisbisan ng Bundok Sierra Madre at Banahaw na dumaranas ng kawalang kapayapaan at naghuhumiyaw ng hustisya, dapat ilantad at labanan ang pandarahas kay Jennifer at iba pang kabaro at kababayang biniktima ng pasismo ng estado.

Ibagsak ang Rehimeng US-BS Aquino!
Kababaihan at kabataan, sumapi sa NPA! Lumahok sa Digmang Bayan!
Ibasura ang VFA, EDCA at Oplan Bayanihan!
Tropang militar ng US at AFP, palayasin!

Laude family's lawyer claims 'American spy' stalking him

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): Laude family's lawyer claims 'American spy' stalking him

Human rights lawyer Harry Roque on Monday claimed that an American has been stalking him since he took the murder case of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude last week.

"Siguradong siguradong Amerikano po 'yun," Roque said in an interview with radio dzMM. "Ang tindig po niya ay tindig-sundalo."

Roque said he would notice the American wherever he would go since taking the case last week.

"Nagpunta po ako sa tanggapan ng piskalaya, matapos ko pong makipagpulong, siya naman ang pumasok. Nagpunta po ako sa kapulisan, matapos akong makipagpulong, siya naman ang pumasok," Roque said.

The lawyer filed a murder complaint before the Olongapo City Prosecutor's office against Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, who is being held aboard US amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu docked at the Subic Bay free port.

"Nagpunta po ako sa bahay ng isang testigo, paglabas ng bahay, nakita ko nandun na naman siya bagama't hindi siya pumasok," he added.

The incident prompted him to ask for the admission of their potential primary witness, who carries the alias "Barbie," to the government's Witness Protection Program.

Roque said he is also planning to place the entire family of Laude under state protection.

While admitting he attempted to confront the alleged spy, Roque said he hesitated after being dissuaded by his colleagues who fear further complications in the high-profile case.

Roque, a University of the Philippines professor who accepted the case last week, is known for his objections against the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement in 2006 at the height of the trial against US Marines allegedly involved in raping "Nicole," a Filipino, in Pampanga.

"Barbie" reportedly saw Pemberton with Laude before the victim was found dead in a motel room on October 11.

The US Embassy, meanwhile, said Sunday that Pemberton and other US witnesses will not likely appear in the preliminary investigation on Monday as they have "already met their current legal obligations."

British envoy: Bangsamoro disarmament must cover all paramilitaries

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): British envoy: Bangsamoro disarmament must cover all paramilitaries

British Ambassador Asif Ahmad (left) explains his government's concept of a viable disarmament process for Moro rebels and armed groups in the proposed Bangsamoro territory during an informal meeting with journalists in Cotabato City over the weekend. John Unson

The British government is certain a mandatory disarmament of rebels in the country’s south will give Malacañang’s truce with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) an easy take off.

British Ambassador Asif Ahmad, who was here over the weekend to meet with MILF officials, said the disarmament process must involve all sectors and armed groups that do not belong to regular government security organizations.

Ahmad said he is aware that people in the proposed core territory of the envisioned MILF-led Bangsamoro government have a strong culture of love for guns either as status symbol, or as protection from rival clans, or as tools for perpetuating political power.

The United Kingdom is a member of the International Contact Group, which is comprised of foreign governments and peace advocacy entities helping push the GPH-MILF peace efforts forward.

“Peace in Mindanao will not just mean peace in the area, but peace in other parts of the Philippines as well,” said Ahmad, a British Muslim.

The GPH and MILF panels established early this year the International Decommissioning Body, composed of representatives from the governments of Norway, Turkey and Brunei, to oversee the decommissioning and disarmament of rebels in keeping with the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Norway and Brunei are also members of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Group, which has been helping oversee since late 2003 the implementation of the government-MILF July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

Ahmad said the disarmament process based on the GPH-MILF peace accord must have multilateral verification, trust and governance parameters.

“That’s a big challenge for the (Philippine) government and the MILF and all groups that are to be involved in the process,” Ahmad said.

He said the British government will support the decommissioning and disarmament process agreed by the GPH and the MILF.

Ahmad said other stakeholders to the GPH-MILF peace overture must also help sustain a justice system that can hasten the disarmament process.
“Justice has to be done completely,” he said.

Ahmad said even political warlords and private groups keeping firearms must also be disarmed according to security protocols set by government and the MILF.

“Especially if arms are in the hands of people that do not have authority to bear arms,” Ahmad said.

By police and military estimate, each of the more than a hundred mayors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which the MILF want to replace with a new Bangsamoro political entity, has no fewer than 50 assault rifles in their arsenals.

Some of these local officials are locked in bloody clan wars involving big families identified with either the MILF, or the Moro National Liberation Front.

Since the five provincial governors in ARMM, which covers Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, are perceived to be wealthier, it is always assumed that they have more firearms than their constituent-mayors.

John Kerry to urge Philippines, SE Asia action vs ISIS

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): John Kerry to urge Philippines, SE Asia action vs ISIS

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday Oct. 20, 2014, for the inauguration of new Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and meetings with other regional leaders. Kerry is in Indonesia for a brief visit aimed at building Asian support for the fights against Islamic State extremists and the deadly Ebola virus. AP/Brian Snyder, Pool

United States State Secretary John Kerry is in Jakarta, Indonesia to hold meetings with Filipino Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and other leaders to build the campaign against extremists of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

An unnamed senior official of the US State Department said that Kerry, who is in Southeast Asia for the eighth time in the last 20 months, represents the US' campaign to gain support against ISIS from Muslim-majority Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei as well as from countries with significant Muslim populations like Singapore and the Philippines.

"I would put at the top of the list the international effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL," the official said, as quoted in a transcript of a press conference held in Washington, Monday.

"Breaking it down, the effort to combat violent extremism, to block recruitment and to protect against the solicitation of foreign fighters—terrorist fighters from Southeast Asia to the Middle East," he added.

American Admiral Samuel Locklear, chief of the US Pacific Command, bared last month that about 1,000 fighters from the Asia Pacific have joined the ranks of ISIS.

The State official said, meanwhile, that Kerry will also warn the Southeast Asian nations against the return of hardened fighters to the region.

He will also call for action to debunk and denigrate extremist propaganda and to block illicit terrorist financing.

ISIS propaganda has gained ground in the Philippines in the past months, with militants based on its southern areas such as Abu Sayyaf expressing support for the group's campaign in the Middle East.

The Abu Sayyaf group released German hostages after threatening to behead them unless a ransom was paid. The group had also demanded the withdrawal of German support for the US-led air strikes against ISIS.

Kerry, moreover, is expected to discuss with Southeast Asian leaders areas that will ensure that the region is "immune" to ISIS' proselytizing efforts, the official said.

He added that the Washington also hopes that the Philippines and its neighbors will upgrade international efforts to trace and block terrorist money trail.

The department also said that Kerry's visit reinforces American President Barack Obama's foreign policy pivot to the region.

Cops seize bomb ingredient from abandoned house in Zamboanga

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): Cops seize bomb ingredient from abandoned house in Zamboanga

Police seized two sacks of a bomb ingredient during a patrol operation in Labason, Zamboanga del Norte on Sunday.

Police forces led by Inspector Alexis Manuta Bahunsua were conducting a foot patrol when they saw the sacks in an abandoned house owned by a certain Razul Saaban in Barangay New Salvacion in Labason town.

Inspector Dahlan samuddin, public affair officer of Police Regional Office 9 (PIO), said Bahunsua's team recovered 50 kilos of ammonium nitrate and four sets of magazine clips for a Garand rifle placed in two sacks.

Police suspect that the recovered items will be used in the production of improvised explosive device in the abandoned house.

The recovered items have been turned over to the Labason Municipal Police Station.

Police have been on alert against possible terror attacks in the provinces of Zamboanga and Basilan.

Communist rebels, GPH to discuss resumption of peace talks

From the Philippine Star (Oct 20): Communist rebels, GPH to discuss resumption of peace talks

Representatives from the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are set to meet “in the next few days” to discuss ways to resume the peace talks, the chief of the communist negotiating panel said Monday.

NDFP peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni said the meeting was a product of consultations between the two negotiating teams.

“A series of consultations between the NDFP negotiating panel and a high level delegation of the GPH (government of the Philippines) has resulted in a meeting between the two sides scheduled in Utrecht within the next few days,” Jalandoni said in statement issued to the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance.

“The two sides are discussing the possible resumption of peace negotiations after the collapse of talks on truce and cooperation last February 2013,” he added.

Jalandoni did not say when the meeting would start and what topics would be covered by the discussions.

Jalandoni also revealed that a new special envoy has been appointed by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), the official third party facilitator of the talks. He said Elisabeth Slattum, the new envoy, has experience in peace negotiations in Colombia, Nepal and Haiti.

“She and Mr. Espen Lindbaeck, the Deputy Director of the Peace and Reconciliation Section of the RNG Foreign Ministry came for talks with the NDFP Negotiating Panel in Utrecht on October 18,” Jalandoni said.

“This new team of the RNG expressed its willingness to help in the resumption of formal talks and to hold the next meeting of the negotiating panels in Oslo, Norway,” he added.

Jalandoni maintained that the NDFP is ready to resume formal talks “on the basis of past bilateral peace agreements in order to address the roots of the armed conflict.”

Talks between the government and the NDFP were stalled last year after the rebels demanded the release of communist leaders facing criminal cases.

The NDFP claimed that the jailed communist leaders were working as peace consultants and should be immune from arrest. The arrest of the peace consultants, the NDFP claimed, is a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

Government negotiators, however, said they cannot validate the NDFP’s claim since some of the jailed rebels are using aliases.

The communists responded by blaming the government for the impasse and accusing the Aquino administration of refusing to honor previous agreements.

Jalandoni claimed that NDFP has been implementing “goodwill gestures” to promote the peace talks like releasing the four captured policemen in Mindanao last July.

He said government forces had committed “gross violations” of human rights and International Humanitarian Law despite the goodwill measures.

Military officials have repeatedly denied committing human rights abuses and dismissed the rebel’s allegations as propaganda.

Aquino defends VFA post-Laude murder

From Rappler (Oct 20): Aquino defends VFA post-Laude murder

The Philippine President says the Olongapo crime is not reason to abrogate the agreement with the US: The 'sin of one person' should not be 'reflective of the entire country'

VFA STAYS. President Benigno Aquino III says he will not abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of the Philippines with the United States. Malacañang Photo Bureau

VFA STAYS. President Benigno Aquino III says he will not abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) of the Philippines with the United States. Malacañang Photo Bureau

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) will not be abrogated despite increased calls from critics to scrap the agreement after the murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude by a United States Marine.

Laude, a Filipino, was allegedly killed by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US soldier who was visiting under the VFA,

On Monday, October 20, on the sidelines of the 70th anniversary of the Leyte landing, Aquino defended the VFA and said Laude’s death should not affect the agreement.

The VFA, an agreement between the Philippine and the United States governments, allows the rotation of US troops in the Philippines, including the entry and movement of US assets.

"Bakit natin kailangan i-abrograte 'yung VFA (Why would we need to abrogate the VFA?) I mean, name me any place that doesn’t have crime. And the sin of one person should be reflective of the entire country? I don’t think so," Aquino said.

"So, ang importante dito, mayroong krimen na nangyari, kunin lahat nung ebidensiyang magpapatunay na ang salarin ang may kasalanan dito, at magkaroon tayo ng katarungan." (The important thing here is that a crime transpired, let us get all the evidence that proves who commited the crime, and find justice)

Aquino also said Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg are discussing custody matters relating to Pemberton and "are working on resolving this issue."

"At the very least [they are] making sure, based on the treaty again, that he is available or the suspects are available for both investigation in any and all judicial processes," the President said.

Goldberg too defended the VFA. A day earlier, Goldberg said in his Twitter account that "the VFA helped close coordination between the United States and Philippine authorities in investigating Jennifer Laude's case."

Article V, Paragraph 6 of the VFA states: “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.”

Activists have again questioned the constitutionality of the VFA – as it did a few years ago when US Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was convicted of raping Filipina Suzette Nicolas, initially identified by the media as "Nicole," in Subic. (READ: EDCA, Olongapo murder, and the old case of Daniel Smith)

Back then, the Philippine government turned over custody of Smith to the US Embassy, where he remained while his case was pending before the Makati City court and even after the same court had convicted and sentenced him to 40 years. Smith flew back to the United States after he was acquitted 3 years later by the Court of Appeals.

Stronger alliance

In his speech, Aquino praised the United States for its continued alliance with the Philippines, and called for strengthening the two country’s relationship anew.
“Let us renew our commitment to the strong and enduring friendships between the Philippines and its wartime allies, and perhaps most meaningfully, the countries that were once its foes,” he said.
“Today, we are bound by the determination to help each other, to echo General MacArthur’s own words, ‘For our homes and hearts, for future generations of our sons and daughters,’ and in the name of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so many years ago.”

Aquino also thanked the United States and Japan for their assistance after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“Through these friendships, we saw, just last year, vessels bearing the proud names of those that had fought at Leyte Gulf, once more journeying to the Philippines: Ise from Japan, Washington and Denver from America,” he said.

“Seventy years ago, ships with these names engaged in battle, seeking to eliminate the threat of the other; last November, they came here as partners, to demonstrate their unity with the Filipino people at a time of such massive loss and tragedy.”

Goldberg too vowed that the United States’ commitment to the Philippines is unwavering and remains to be "iron-clad," as emphasized by US President Barack Obama during his visit to the Philippines last April.

The event commemorated the October 20, 1944, landing of General Douglas MacArthur in Palo, Leyte, despite heavy defensive by the Japanese in Leyte Gulf. Three days after Aquino returned to the Philippines as promised, the Philippine Commonwealth was restored at the Leyte Provincial Capitol.

Gov't, private lawyers differ over motion to move Palparan

From Rappler (Oct 20): Gov't, private lawyers differ over motion to move Palparan

The Malolos Regional Trial Court does not act on the motion of private lawyers to transfer the retired general to a regular jail since it doesn't have the conformé of government prosecutors

STAYING PUT. Government lawyers decline to support private prosecutors' bid to transfer retired army general Jovito Palparan to a regular jail. File photo by Rappler

STAYING PUT. Government lawyers decline to support private prosecutors' bid to transfer retired army general Jovito Palparan to a regular jail. File photo by Rappler

Public prosecutors declined to join a petition filed by private lawyers before a local court to transfer retired Major General Jovito Palparan from the army custodial center in Fort Bonifacio to a regular jail.

The Malolos Regional Trial Court on Monday, October 20, did not act on the motion since it needed the conformé of the Department of Justice to be valid.

Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera told reporters that government lawyers did not back the move due to "valid and credible threats" to the life of Palparan.

The retired general is facing charges over the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Three other soldiers are also accused in the case.

Palparan was moved to the Army Custodial Center from the Bulacan provincial jail after the local court granted his petition despite the prosecution's argument that Palparan's status as a retired general bans him from being allowed into military custody.

Leftist groups have slammed the alleged special treatment for Palparan, saying that detaining him in a military was just like a coming home affair for him.

Private prosecutors from the National Union of People's Lawyers representing the families of Cadapan and Empeño filed on September 25 a separate motion to move Palparan to a regular jail. This cannot be taken up by the court, however, without the approval of government lawyers.

He was nabbed in Sta Mesa, Manila, on August 12, after 3 years of evading arrest. (READ: TIMELINE: The search for Jovito Palparan)

4 US witnesses in Olongapo slay left Philippines – DFA

From Rappler (Oct 20): 4 US witnesses in Olongapo slay left Philippines – DFA

The Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs says it 'was not informed' by the US that the 4 witnesses 'were leaving the country'

'JUSTICE FOR LAUDE.' Protestors at the University of the Philippines demand justice for transgender woman Jennifer Laude, 26, whom a US Marine allegedly murdered. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

'JUSTICE FOR LAUDE.' Protestors at the University of the Philippines demand justice for transgender woman Jennifer Laude, 26, whom a US Marine allegedly murdered. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Citing information from the US Embassy, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported Monday, October 20, that the 4 American witnesses in a transgender Filipino's murder have left the Philippines.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose, however, said the foreign affairs department “was not informed by the US side that 4 witnesses were leaving the country.” He added: “They are not required to do so."

Jose noted that according to the prosecutor, the 4 witnesses “have already satisfied the legal requirements.”

“Moreover, the US has given assurances that they will make available the witnesses at the trial,” he said in a text message to reporters.

In a media briefing Monday, Jose also said the witnesses “are free” because they “are not the accused.”

This is not the case with Private First Class Joseph Pemberton, the 19-year-old US Marine who allegedly murdered Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender woman, in Olongapo City.

Jose said the prosecutor “will expect” Pemberton to appear at the hearing in compliance with the VFA.

Sworn statements submitted

Earlier, the US Embassy pointed out the 4 witnesses have submitted their sworn statements.

“Last week, city prosecutors met with 4 witnesses and swore them to their statements in accordance with Philippine law, satisfying the requirements of the city prosecutor and the 'make available' language of the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” the US Embassy said in a statement Sunday, October 19.

While the witnesses will not appear on Tuesday, the US said they will be made available for the trial "in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

The Office of the Olongapo City Prosecutor earlier required 4 US Marines to testify on the murder of Laude, who was allegedly killed by their colleague, Pemberton.

Jose said the prosecutor “has already obtained the sworn affidavits of the 4 witnesses, and based on review and evaluation, the prosecutor has decided that it was not necessary for them to appear” at the preliminary investigation Tuesday.

Aquino: Ransom for German hostages not from Malacañang

From Rappler (Oct 20): Aquino: Ransom for German hostages not from Malacañang

President Benigno Aquino III says the government will pursue the Abu Sayyaf

Three days after the Abu Sayyaf released its two German hostages, President Benigno Aquino III emphasized not one cent of the P250 million ($5.57 million) ransom money paid to the rebels came from the Office of the President.

“Well, nothing came from the Office of the President. I can assure you that. I didn’t authorize anything from the Office of the President,” Aquino told reporters on Monday, October 20.

Aquino’s statement comes after an Abu Sayyaf spokesman confirmed in a radio interview that they received the ransom as they demanded.
Intelligence sources said that Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Dielen, 55, were released last Friday, October 17, after the ransom was paid. They told Rappler that two Germans arrived in Jolo, Sulu, Friday to bring the payment to a conduit.

Ang focus ko doon ay ‘yung Abu Sayyaf rather than the ransom. ‘Yon ang tinatrabaho ko together with the Chief of Staff, the Chief of the PNP (Philippine National Police), the SND, and the SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government), na masyadong matagal nang problema itong Abu Sayyaf na ito e,” he said.

(My focus is the Abu Sayyaf, rather than the ransom. That is what I’m working on together with the Chief of Staff, the Chief ofthe PNP (Philippine National Police), the SND, and the SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government) because this Abu Sayyaf has been a longtime problem)

“It affects our relationships with various neighboring states, na wala silang humpay at palagay ko naman dapat rin tapatan ng estado na walang humpay ‘yung pagtutugis sa kanila. Wala ng safe area; talagang kailangan walang tigil ang paghahabol sa kanila. At ‘yan ang ongoing ngayon."

(Their continued operation affects our relationships with various neighboring states, so I think it’s only right for the state to be as ceaseless when it comes to pursuing them. And that is what’s ongoing now.)

The Germans were abducted in April this year off Palawan. This month, the Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead one of them if its demands were not met – ransom and the withdrawal of German troops from the US-led war against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East.

This caused a flurry of activities in Sulu that ended in the release of the hostages Friday night.

Linked to Al-Qaeda, the Abu Sayyaf gained notoriety after a string of high-profile abductions of foreign nationals in the country and in neighboring areas.

Troops find another abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp in Patikul, Sulu

From InterAksyon (Oct 20): Troops find another abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp in Patikul, Sulu

Government troops found another abandoned Abu Sayyaf camp in Patikul, Sulu Monday morning, just “a few hundred meters away” from a larger encampment discovered Sunday, the military said.

The military has been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf since the Friday night release of two Germans taken hostage off Palawan in April.

"I believe that it is a security outpost that is manned by more or less 10 people. We are continuously tracking them as they flee towards the forested parts of the town," Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of Joint Task Group Sulu, said of the “satellite camp” found in Barangay Kabuntakas Monday by soldiers of Bravo Company, 35th Infantry Battalion, led by Lieutenant Chester Catapang.

The larger camp could hold 100 persons.

Earlier, the military said the troops were having difficulty engaging the Abu Sayyaf, who are believed to be holding 10 more hostages, including three foreigners, because they have been mingling with the civilian population.

Around two brigades, or more than 3,000 soldiers, have been deployed mainly to Patikul town.

The military has said it had no part in the negotiations for the release of Viktor Estefan Okonek, 71, and Henrike Dielen, 55, amid reports that a P250-million ransom was paid to secure their freedom.

Chief of Staff Catapang: Getting the ASG will happen. 'Just be patient.'

From InterAksyon (Oct 20): Chief of Staff Catapang: Getting the ASG will happen. 'Just be patient.'

The commander of a military task force assigned to pursue the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu and rescue 10 hostages, three foreigners among them, that they have kidnapped detailed on Monday the difficulties he said government forces are up against.

"We will try our best to go after them," Colonel Allan Arojado, Sulu island commander, told journalists.

Two Army brigades, or more than 3,000 soldiers, have been deployed, mainly to the town of Patikul and have been operating since Saturday last week following the release of German hostages Viktor Estefan Okonek, 71, and Henrike Dielen, 55, Friday night.

Thus far, government forces have come upon two abandoned Abu Sayyaf camps but have yet to engage the extremist fighters in a direct confrontation.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr said Monday, "It will happen. Just be patient."

Arrojado described the Sulu theater thus: "Imagine Jolo Island is as big as Metro Manila, and the ASG and the hostages are, say, in the city of Makati. When we get to where they are, they have already slipped through to Caloocans City. And its thickly forested out there."

Still, Arrojado stressed, the discovery of the two abandoned camps was a "positive" sign.

"We have penetrated to camps that have not been patrolled for a long time. We are closing on them, gradually but surely."

Besides, Arojado added, "the Philippine Army has not been present here in significant terms for almost eight years. That's probably one reason they have grown so bold."

Lt Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP Public Affairs Chief, also said the troops had to be "very deliberate" in their movements because of the danger of booby traps, improvised explosive devices and landmines that the Abu Sayyaf may have planted as they retreated.

Explaining why there have been no engagements yet, Cabunoc said that the Abu Sayyaf have been known to mingle with the civilian population as a core strategy to evade security forces, which behooves the government troops to be careful about possibly harming civilian non-combatants or the remaining hostages when it tried to bring "indirect fire" like artillery to bear on the Abu Sayyaf.

Asked if there was a timeframe for the operations in Sulu, Cabunoc replied in the negative: "There is no timeline, but it will continue until we get back the hostages and bring them to justice. That is the end state."

Senate passes on final reading bill prohibiting chemical weapons development

From InterAksyon (Oct 20): Senate passes on final reading bill prohibiting chemical weapons development

In its third and final reading, the Senate on Monday passed a bill seeking to prohibit the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and at the same time establish a Philippine National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention (PNA-CWC).

"In our modern society, the use of chemical weapons, especially by non-state actors such as terrorists, poses a grave threat to international security," said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2042, otherwise known as the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Act.

The Philippines became a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, the first disarmament agreement that provides for the elimination and prohibition of the development of chemical weapons. As of October 2013, 190 nations have already signed to be part of the endeavor.

Trillanes, chair of the Committee on National Defense and Security, said the measure aimed to provide a legislative framework for the effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in the country.

Furthermore, he said, SBN 2042 aimed to establish a separate and permanent bureau that "will serve as the national coordinating body for effective liaison with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Convention. The PNA-CWC will be the lead agency in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention."

"Despite our efforts, we cannot fully implement its provisions in the country due to lack of a legislative framework that will give teeth to its implementation," Trillanes said.

Under the proposed legislation, PNA-CWC will be comprised of the executive secretary as the chairperson and the secretary of national defense as the vice chairperson. Members will be the National Security Advisor and the secretaries of foreign affairs, justice, interior and local government, finance, health, environment and natural resources, agriculture, transportation and communications, trade and industry, science and technology and energy.

Once passed into law, violators face penalties of imprisonment of 12 years and one day to life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million for any person charged with any of the prohibited acts, according to Trillanes.

"As a signatory to the Convention, the immediate passage of this bill is necessary to maintain our country’s commitment to international peace and security. It would be a vital step towards maintaining the peaceful and meaningful utilization of chemicals and the creation of a treaty regime which will ensure that governments from different states will fulfil their national obligation of implementing chemical disarmament and non-proliferation," Trillanes said.

Philippines' Aquino says US ties above transgender murder

From InterAksyon (Oct 20): Philippines' Aquino says US ties above transgender murder

President Benigno S. Aquino III observes the re-enactment presentation during the 70th Anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landing at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park in Palo, Leyte. Gil Nartea / Malacañang Photo Bureau

President Aquino said Monday the murder of a Filipino transgender prostitute allegedly by a US Marine should not sour ties with the United States.

Aquino said there were no grounds to void a bilateral agreement that allows the US military to conduct regular training exercises involving thousands of troops on Philippine territory.

"Name me any place that doesn't have any crime. And the sin of one person should be reflective of the entire country? I don't think so," he told reporters at a ceremony to mark a World War II victory by the allies.

Aquino said both governments were making sure the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs American military behavior in the Philippines was being followed in the criminal proceedings.

Philippine prosecutors have summoned Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton to appear before a preliminary murder hearing in the northern port city of Olongapo on Tuesday.

Police said Pemberton was the last person seen with the victim, Jeffrey Laude, before he was found dead in a hotel bathroom on October 12 with his head in the toilet and marks of strangulation on his neck.

The murder placed defence ties between the two countries under scrutiny. It recalled a 2005 rape case involving a Filipina and a US Marine, who like Pemberton was in the country for joint military exercises.

But in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of US General Douglas MacArthur's return that paved the way for the Philippines' liberation from Japan, Aquino reaffirmed the alliance with the United States.

The US landing in Leyte Gulf set the stage for one of the largest naval battles of World War II and made a hero out of MacArthur for fulfilling his "I shall return" promise.

"Let us renew our commitment to the strong and enduring friendships between the Philippines and its wartime allies," Aquino said.

Without directly mentioning the murder case, US ambassador Philip Goldberg said the two countries could surpass "challenges and uncertainties".

"Just as in the case 70 years ago we will prevail," he said.

Under the bilateral agreement, the United States has primary custody over its personnel accused before Philippine courts. But the Philippines has criminal jurisdiction.

Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said prosecutors would "insist" on Pemberton's appearance on Tuesday.

Pemberton had not informed prosecutors if he would attend Tuesday's hearing, Olongapo city assistant prosecutor Ria Nina Sususco told AFP.

Four other Marines earlier gave statements to Philippine prosecutors as witnesses. They will not attend the hearing on Tuesday, according to the US embassy.