Sunday, October 26, 2014

Intruder shot dead in boat off Semporna

From the Sun Daily (Oct 26): Intruder shot dead in boat off Semporna

Eastern Sabah Security Command commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun (second from left) displays the seized handgun. ESSCOM

SEMPORNA: Marine police on patrol along the coastline here gunned down a foreign intruder in a shootout near Pulau Bangau-Bangau on Sunday.

The dead suspect who is in his 40's and is suspected to be a member of a group of criminals behind a string of kidnap cases east of Sabah was attempting to intrude Malaysian waters in a speedboat at about 2.15am when personnel in two marine police boats spotted the vessel moving suspiciously.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said on seeing the police boats approach his speedboat the man sped off before a chase ensued.

He said as the suspect sped towards the Semporna jetty, a police boat managed to waylay his boat.

He said when gunshots rang out of the suspect's boat, the policemen returned fire which killed the suspect.

Abdul Rashid said on inspecting the suspect's boat, police recovered a loaded .38-calibre revolver with five bullets and two spent shells. He said there were also two dents on the hull of a police boat caused by gunshots fired by the suspect.

He said police investigations to determine the man's involvement in the recent kidnap cases and other transborder crimes in Semporna is underway.

Abdul Rashid said following the case, police launched an operation at several water villages in the area where seven men and two women were held on suspicion of being involved in various crimes including kidnap.

He said six more men who went by the names — Bocoi @ Komander Black, Ali @ Brown, Badung, Wahab, Alex and Nikson who were sought by the raiding teams are yet to be held.

He urged those with information on the men to alert police.

He said the military, police and maritime enforcement agency were constantly on watch of the east coast of Sabah to counter kidnap attempts by foreign groups.

More than a dozen cases of kidnappings involving mainly tourists had occurred over the past years at several small island off the coast of east Sabah.

The latest case involved police constable Zakiah Aleip, 26 who was snatched by a South Philippines kidnappers on July 4 at Pulau Mabu following a gun battle and remains in their captivity.

The kidnappers who killed Zakiah's colleague Corporal Abd Rajah Jamuan, 32 in the attack have demanded for RM10 million for the release of the abducted policeman.

MILF: BDA SouthMin brings water supply closer to B’laan households of Sarangani

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 26): BDA SouthMin brings water supply closer to B’laan households of Sarangani

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA)-Southern Mindanao (SouthMin) Region facilitated the implementation of spring development project - bringing potable water supply closer to households in a B’laan community of Barangay Lun Masla, Malapatan, Sarangani Province.
“Now we do not need to walk for almost half an hour to fetch water from a nearby creek source,” Lina Sukal, a Blaan grandmother of Sitio Kalmenda, Barangay Lun Masla said in local vernacular during an interview last week.

Sukal is one of the sub-project beneficiaries of the Blaan-dominated Sitios Kalmenda and Kafgul in Lun Masla.

“Because of this project, now our children take a bath every day,” she disclosed.

Before the project was implemented, she further revealed that their kids used to take a bath only twice a week. “Supply of water was indeed the primary problem of our Sitio for the past years,” Sukal added.

The sub-project provides tap stands installed near the beneficiaries’ residences. The period to reach the water source now ranges from 15 seconds to two minutes walk.

The water system level 2 is part of the Cycle 1 sub-projects under the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Programme (MTF-RDP) implemented in 9 barangays of Sarangani Province by BDA SouthMin staff under the leadership of its Regional Manager (RM) Mohalikin D. Piang.

During the turn-over ceremony last September 15, Pastor Sommy Lumayas, Sitio leader of Kalmenda, expressed his sincerest thanks to BDA and donor agencies for the realization of the water system which they “have been yearning for the past years.”

“Imagine how difficult it is to carry water in container from the creek bringing it uphill to our houses for half an hour struggle,” he said in Visayan language.

“The moment you reached home, you have already bathed with your own sweat and you should endure the muscle pain,” the IP leader revealed.

Ferdinand Osop, President of Lun Masla Tri-People Organization (LMTPO), said they now reap the fruit of their sacrifice.”We are very happy with this project,” he added.

“We need to take care and sustain this project which answers one of our basic needs which is water,” he told his fellow constituents.

RM Piang urged the PO officers and members to share their time and effort to sustain the water system project. He cited that having good track record in project implementation shall entice more development partners in their community.

LMTPO is the group that was organized and capacitated by BDA to implement the sub-project through the Community Driven Development (CDD) process.

Under CDD mechanism, the constituents are given leeway to identify their needs, plan and act to address concerns for the holistic peace and development of their community.

CDD process further espouses resource-sharing, thus the Municipal and Barangay governments and the People’s Organization also contribute financial, logistic and manpower support for the project implementation.

The local government of Malapatan provided ten percent of the sub-project cost while the Barangay Council of Lun Masla has committed to help for the major repair of the water system.

The MTF-RDP, under the World Bank administered multi-donor fund, was launched on March 27, 2006 with the aim to assist economic and social recovery in the conflict-affected and vulnerable areas of Mindanao.

It is supported by Australian Aid for International Development (AusAID), New Zealand Aid for International Development (NZAID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), United States Aid for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, and the European Union (EU). It had been successfully implemented for three (3) consecutive Program Partnership Agreements (PPAs).

It is again embarked under PPA4, covering 65 barangays in 21 municipalities. BDA, with the help of its partners- the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) and Mindanao Land Foundation (Minland), takes lead in the implementation of the PPA4.’laan-households-of-sarangani

MILF: Proposed BBL gains support from MNLF

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 26): Proposed BBL gains support from MNLF

The officials and members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) expressed their full support and cooperation for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during a dialogue with MILF leaders spearheaded by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Yakan City Committee held at Barangay Matikang, Lantawan, Basilan Province on October 25, 2014.

MNLF officials and elements under the leadership of Commander Samma Dikang met with Hji Rashid J. Iklaman, Chairman of the MILF Yakan City Committee.

Iklaman in his statement said “we have been exerting efforts to reach out to our brothers with the MNLF so that we can have better understanding concerning the establishment of the Bangsamoro Government. Our main objective in the dialogue is to strengthen our cooperation and unity for the attainment of lasting peace and development in the Bangsamoro and in the country.”

Iklaman added “the objectives of the MILF and MNLF are the same that to regain the right to slef-determination of the Bangsamoro people through self-governance.”

The host Barangay chairman warmly welcomed the dialogue and coordination initiatives of the MILF in reaching out to MNLF and other groups. He also appealed, saying “if we want to attain peace we must vote yes to BBL.”

Tony D. Sakkalahul, theRregional Manager of Bangsamoro Development Agency zamBas Region was the resource person and facilitator of the dialogue.

Sakalahul cited the gains and milestones of the BBL In terms of the recognition of the Bangsamoro identity, powers, wealth and resources, territory waters. He said “these gains address the Bangsamoro assertion of the right to self- determination.”

“On our part we are committed to cooperate and support the Bangsamoro Law and Government,” Commander Samma said on his response message.

The dialogue was fruitfully concluded with remarks of replicating further dialogues between MILF, MNLF and the Moro constituencies. (reference: RTL)

MILF: MILF Committee on Information holds 137th Regular Meeting

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 26): MILF Committee on Information holds 137th Regular Meeting

The Committee on Information of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held its 137th Regular Meeting on October 23 at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
Chairman Mohagher Iqbal of the MILF Central Committee on Information, at the same time, Chairman of the MILF Peace Panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) presided over the meeting.

Mr. Arman Armada, Committee Secretary welcomed and facilitated the program attended by sixty –three Provincial Information Directors from different part of mainland Mindanao and the island provinces.

“This is our 137th Regular Meeting and with the number of our directors who are present today is a good sign of improvements”, said Armada.

Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director who finished his Journalism degree in Arabic, major in Public Relations at the prestigious Al-Azhar University, World’s Center of Islamic Learning at Cairo, Egypt delivered Islamic orientations underlining the significance of acquiring knowledge and constants remembrance of Almighty Allah under any circumstances especially in times of impending success on one’s goal and objectives when one’s internal passions and whims are getting intense.

He quoted some Verse from the Noble Qur’an and deciphering its wisdoms by narrating some momentous events in Islamic History when Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and his Pious Companions entered and liberated the Holy City of Mecca from Infidels without resistance by demonstrating the spirit of love, respect and compliance of Allah’s decreed revelations.

Chairman Iqbal gave updates on the current status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the flow of congressional hearings being conducted in different parts of Mindanao.

He stressed that everyone must know how to handle a complex situation.  He said that the most critical struggle is to strive against ones desire.

Before the program ended, concerns and issues on the BBL Bill now in Congress (Senate Bill No.2408 and House Bill No.4994) were clarified by Chairman Iqbal.

On September 10, 2014, President Benigno Aquino III officially transmitted the modified draft BBL to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. at Malacañan Palace. Manila. 

Through the collective wisdom of members of Congress, they will eventually enact the best Law – the BBL for the Bangsamoro in shaa Allah (If Allah’s will), Chairman Iqbal said with optimism. 

After Chairman Iqbal lengthily and thoroughly discussed the BBL and its possible enactment, the participants were fully enlightened.

MILF: UNICEF, MILF to hold orientation program on child soldier in Zamboanga Sibugay

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 26): UNICEF, MILF to hold orientation program on child soldier in Zamboanga Sibugay

In letter dated October 24 sent to BGen Carlito Galvez, Jr., Chairman of the GPH Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) by Abbas Salung, Chairman of the MILF-CCCH, he informed him (Galvez) on the upcoming orientation program by UNICEF – MILF Action Plan on Child Soldier for the 113th Base Command – BIAF on October 27-28, 2014 at Camp Salman Al Farishie in Datu Tumanggong, Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Representatives from the UNICEF and MILF Task Force will be spearheading the program.

Participants are expected to arrive at Camp Salman on October 24 and will return to their respective camps on October 29, 2014. Bringing of firearms and wearing of BIAF uniforms during their movements are not allowed.

The UNICEF and MILF has been in closed contact on the issue of child soldier. The MILF on its part has repeatedly said that there are no child soldiers in their ranks of combatants. The MILF Task Force relative to child soldier is headed by Edward Guerra

MNLF: MNLF Chairman's greeting on the 60th anniversary of Algerian Revolution

From the MNLF Website (Oct 27): MNLF Chairman's greeting on the 60th anniversary of Algerian Revolution

On my personal capacity as Central Committee Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and currently Acting President of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (BFSBR), we wish to express our deep gratitude to Algerian Brother Mohammed Bokreta whom we met in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, sometime in June, 1982 for kindly calling our attention to the historical 60th Anniversary Celebration of the glorious Algerian Revolution of November 1, 1954.

 The beginning of the militant and progressive Algerian Revolution on the First of November 1954 under the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) or National Liberation Front (Algeria) spearheaded by Brother Ahmed Ben Bella shook the foundations of the French Fourth Republic that led to its collapse in 1961. 

After the FLN freedom fighters courageously engaged in strategic guerilla warfare the colonial French occupation soldiers from 1954 up to 1962, the heroic Algerian people gained their freedom and independence in 1962. The sovereign Algerian Republic proclaimed Abdelaziz Bouteflika the first President.

 In remembering the milestone event of the foundation of FLN in November 1, 1954 that led to its victory against French colonizers  in 1962, the Moro National Liberation (MNLF) was established fourteen (14) years after on March 18, 1968. The MNLF pioneer leadership were greatly inspired by the success of the Algerian National Liberation Front that the MNLF identified itself with FLN. The MNLF cadre officers even formed the military arm Bangsamoro Army (BMA) patterned after the FLN guerilla units to wage the MNLF-launched Bansgamoro freedom struggle starting in 1968 against Philippine colonialism.

 Today, November 1, 2014, on behalf of the MNLF freedom fighters and the Bangsamoro people of Mindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan and North Borneo, the MNLF and BFSBR leadership wish to extend their sincerest greetings and felicitations to the valiant Algerian people on their historic commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the foundation of the Algerian Revolution in November 1, 1954 leading to the victorious celebration of its independence.

 Indeed, the glorious FLN-led Algerian Revolution of November 1, 1954 shall live in the hearts and minds of the MNLF freedom fighters and Bangsamoro people.'s%20Greetings_60th%20Anniversary%20of%20the%20Algerian%20Revolution.htm

US denies 'shaky' security commitments with PH

From ABS-CBN (Oct 26): US denies 'shaky' security commitments with PH

The United States denied having “shaky” security commitments with the Philippines in the case of involving US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, with the US maintaining custody of the American serviceman.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg stressed the US commitment to the Philippines is very strong and has been demonstrated “both in word and fact.”

He said the US has “led very strong diplomatic support” for the Philippines in issues on the South China Sea and the case brought by Manila before the United Nations tribunal without taking a position on maritime claims.

“I think our support for Philippine security is clear. It has been demonstrated in both word and fact. So nobody should question our commitment to the Philippine security,” Goldberg told reporters in an interview at the US Embassy on Friday.

Goldberg said the US security commitment to the Philippines, as expressed by President Barack Obama during his visit to Manila last April, is “ironclad.”

“We exercise together all the time. We entered into EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement). We’ve been working for many years with the Philippines on counterterrorism issues,” he added.

Former senator Joker Arroyo said the Pemberton custody issue has shown the US’s shaky security commitments and lack of faith in the Philippines’ justice system.

“Predictably, the US immediately protects the US servicemen. If the US cannot even protect Filipino women from US servicemen, how can Filipinos rely on the US to live up to her commitments embodied in the treaties or agreements they have with us,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo also urged his former colleagues at the Senate to consider the US response to the Pemberton case in gauging the depth of US commitment to support the Philippines in higher security-related missions.

The retired lawmaker also supported calls for a review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the EDCA.

According to Goldberg, the US has been transparent in cooperating with the Philippines on the case of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, allegedly killed by Pemberton, who is detained at Camp Aguinaldo.

“We’ve been as transparent as possible in terms of cooperation we’ve given. This case may not have been solved as quickly or as effectively without our cooperation, and that’s an important point,” Goldberg said.

“It’s our obligation obviously under VFA but it’s also our instinct, because our instinct is to pursue justice and most people who know the US and the US military would agree with that proposition,” he said.

Goldberg said the US has been engaged in talks on the VFA to clarify various aspects, including ambiguous provisions, but he made clear it has to be joint clarification and mutually agreed upon.

Israel offers to share know-how on homeland security with PH

From ABS-CBN (Oct 26): Israel offers to share know-how on homeland security with PH

Israel is willing to share with the Philippines its knowledge on homeland security – considered one of the most sophisticated and innovative in the world.

“We are living in a very unhospitable environment which forced us to redress the challenges with the most sophisticated and innovative approach,” Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Ephraim Ben Matityau said.

“Many years back, we exported $500 million worth of oranges and nothing of high technology. Today, we export almost $40 billion of high technology and still $500 million oranges.”

Israel is the world's sixth largest defense exporter. Its defense industry totaled $7.2 billion in exports in 2010.

Israel excels in the key sectors of intelligence; counter terror and law enforcement; cyber security; emergency preparedness and management; and critical infrastructure protection. Around 600 Israeli companies are engaged in the security sector, particularly in technologies and products, IT and software, and services.

Matityau explained that homeland security is all about innovations and policies, noting that the strategies can easily be accessed by the Philippines.

He said Israel is ready to share with the Philippines its unique expertise on the basis of the traditional friendship and commitment between the two nations.

The embassy held last week in Manila the Israel Homeland Security 2014 conference and exhibition.

In his keynote message, Matityau invited delegates to visit Israel for a “technological pilgrimage” to attend a conference in Tel Aviv from November 9 to 12, which is organized by the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute (IEICI).

The Israel Homeland Security 2014 is a biannual event that gathers local and global industries, together with a host of Israeli and international experts on homeland security.

Air Force upgrading OV10 Bronco while looking for replacements

From Ang Malaya (Oct 26): Air Force upgrading OV10 Bronco while looking for replacements

Thirty million pesos is allocated to upgrade one unit of Philippine Air Force’s OV-10 Bronco attack plane. The upgrade and maintenance of OV-10 Bronco with tail number 636 is part of PAF’s efforts to enhance its combat preparedness.

Deadline for the submission of bid and the opening of bids is set on November 11 at PAF Procurement Center Conference Room in Villamor Airbase.

OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop light attack and support aircraft introduced during 1960s. It was specially develop for counter-insurgency missions.

PAF’s OV-10 Broncos have already reached their maximum years of service, for this reason the Department of National Defense is on the process of procuring replacements via its Close Air Support Aircraft Acquisition Project.

After several reschedules, deadline of bid submission and the opening of bids is set on November 5 at Camp Aguinaldo.

With DND’s acquisition project under AFP Modernization Act, six close air support aircraft worth approximately PhP4.9 billion will be procured for PAF.

US deployment of missile defense radar in Japan makes China concerned

From Ang Malaya (Oct 26): US deployment of missile defense radar in Japan makes China concerned

The United States delivered a second AN/TPY-2, a high-resolution X-band radar at its military communication facility at Kyogamisaki Sub-Base in Kyoto, Japan earlier last week. The said radar is designed to detect incoming ballistic missiles at 600-mile range. The radar may send cues to US Navy’s ship-based Aegis missile defense systems, Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) or launch a Ground Based Interceptor (BGI).

“Particularly with respect to North Korean nuclear program, in Kyoto city, the Kyogamisaki sub-base has been selected as a site for additional deployment of our TPY-2 radar,” Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said last year.

“This additional radar will bolster our ability to defend the U.S. homeland and Japan against North Korea’s ballistic missiles,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on the same period last year.

However, China raised concern on the latest deployment. “The anti-missile deployment in the Asia-Pacific by certain country in the pursuit of unilateral security goes against regional strategic stability and mutual trust, as well as peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” its foreign ministry said.

“Such an action is particularly concerning when the situation in the region is complex and sensitive. The Chinese side believes that relevant country should proceed from regional peace and stability, stay committed to maintaining regional security through political and diplomatic means, and shall not infringe upon other countries’ security interests under the pretext of aforementioned action,” Chinese Foreign Ministry added.

Q&A: US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on VFA, Pemberton, Yolanda

From Rappler (Oct 26): Q&A: US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on VFA, Pemberton, Yolanda

Even before the death of Laude, the US has been talking with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense to clarify – not amend – various aspects of the VFA

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg sat down with journalists to discuss the implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in the wake of the killing of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude allegedly by US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

The VFA gives Philippine courts jurisdiction over erring American servicemen while custody remains with the US until the “completion of the judicial proceedings.” But the agreement also provides that the Philippines may request for custody in “extraordinary cases.”

Even before the death of Laude, the US has been talking with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defense about clarifying implementation of various aspects of the VFA. But the Laude case has revived calls to amend or even abrogate the VFA itself.

Rappler's Carmela Fonbuena joined the roundtable with Goldberg on Friday, October 24. Here are excerpts of the discussion.

On the transfer of Pemberton to Camp Aguinaldo.

We need to always be conscious of the feelings here among people. We took this step – allowing within our custody under the VFA – a suspect to be moved to a sovereign Philippine soil. It is an unusual step, one meant to build confidence that we understand the situation here.

How is this different from the 2006 rape case of former US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was detained inside the US embassy?

I’m not going to comment on the earlier case, the Corporal Smith case. But what I will say is we went beyond, I think, our obligations under VFA by reaching an agreement with the Philippines that allowed the suspect to be moved to a facility at Camp Aguinaldo that maintains the principles of VFA – remaining under US custody – but also did it in a way that's sympathetic to public opinion here. It is sympathetic to the government and judicial process here, assuring the people that the suspect will be here for the length of hearings and, possibly, if it will come to a trial.

Will the US give the Philippines custody over Pemberton if and when a warrant of arrest is issued?

We'll follow the VFA and the VFA gives custody to the US through the judicial process. I'm going to be very theoretical because nobody has been charged and nobody has been indicted. There is a suspect. But in a case such as one where a US service person is involved, the US retains custody and has obligations under the VFA to make sure that a person identified would then be present for all hearings and so forth, and the witnesses would as well. Those are our obligations under the VFA, and we intend to follow them just as we expect that all the provisions will be followed. We have to understand that we have a legally constituted agreement that is part of the rule of law and we are very interested in that. I know the Philippine is as well.

Does the transfer of Pemberton to Camp Aguinaldo shut down talks over custody issue?

We intend to follow the VFA. And the US retains custody through the judicial process.

Do you consider this an ‘extraordinary case’?

I’m not going to judge. Certainly it might be a question or an appeal. But I can tell you that under VFA it is clear that the custody remains with the US. They can make the request if that is what it says in VFA.

The US has the option to say yes or no to any request from the Philippines for custody?

That is my understanding.

How does the US interpret the phrase “completion of judicial proceedings”?

I think the judicial process includes the entire judicial process, the trial as well as the appeal that might take place.
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: US Ambassador Philip Goldberg says 'VFA as it is' should be followed in the case of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler
ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: US Ambassador Philip Goldberg says 'VFA as it is' should be followed in the case of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. Photo by Mark Cristino/Rappler

On Justice Secretary Leila De Lima’s statement that the executive branch is reviewing the implementation of the VFA because of ambiguous provisions.

The Philippines is free to raise any issues that they want but that doesn’t mean on the other side that it is immediately agreed to. There are two sides to an agreement. I think we should separate that from the current situation. The current situation is that we have to apply VFA as it is. We have enough clarity in the steps under way for example. The Philippine government has said, as we have, that custody goes to the US and that jurisdiction will be applied here.

We need to follow the VFA at the moment. While we’re always open to talking to our friends and allies about these issues, this shouldn’t be done in the middle of something that we have to handle through rule of law. We can continue talking about it, but it’s not part of this process. It’s part of the process between the countries to clarify what these things mean. If the Philippines wants to bring additional things to the table as the Secretary of justice suggested, that’s the Philippines’ right.

On proposals to abrogate the VFA.

I can’t imagine abrogating VFA but i don’t want to get into a political debate here. I took note that the President said, "No, it should not be." We believe it should not be. From my point of view, it’s an agreement and it shouldn’t be abrogated. It allows us to do something that’s important for both countries. That is to ensure mutual security and to carry out exercises.

Last year in Leyte we were able to deploy as quickly as we did [in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda] because we have a VFA. We wouldn’t put soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines into a situation where there is no certainty about process and what happens, and the rights and obligations. We do this all around the world.

On the involvement of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS).

Our work to date through the VFA has allowed us to identify the suspect, identify witnesses, to cooperate and collaborate with the Philippine National Police. And quite frankly I don't know if that would have happened if it hadn't been for our cooperation with investigators from the NCIS.

This case may not have been resolved as quickly or as effectively without our cooperation. That’s a very important point. It is our obligation obviously, but it is also our instinct. Our instinct is to actually pursue justice. i think most people who know the US and the US military would agree with that proposition.

What constitutes justice for Jennifer Laude?

Somebody is a suspect at the moment and hasn’t been accused of a crime. What constitutes justice is that if a crime occurs, that the person or people responsible are found. I’m speaking hypothetically here because I don’t want to talk about a particular person because nobody has been accused of anything at this point, but that first, the facts are established. There is a judicial process that is good and is according to law. Justice is served by finding the truth and punishing those who are responsible for crimes. That is what we are committed to doing in this or any other case.

On the rights of the US Marine as a suspect.

We’re sympathetic to the Filipino people but we also have to observe the rule of law and our obligations to a member of the US armed services. This is the commitment we make to the American people and American Congress, to do those things as government representatives.

How will the case affect EDCA?

On EDCA, we have an agreement and I understand it's before the Supreme Court here for consideration on certain legal grounds. I'm really not in a position to comment because it's in a court here. But it's a fully legal agreement as far as we are concerned. We went to great lengths when we negotiated the EDCA to make sure that the provisions of the EDCA from the Philippine side were constitutional. But that’s for the court to decide, not for me or anyone else.

Pinning down NDFP Consultants affects resumption of Peace Talks

From the Bohol Standard (Oct 26): Pinning down NDFP Consultants affects resumption of Peace Talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Visayas condemns the Government of the Philippines (GPH) along with the AFP, PNP and other anti-peace talk’s elements for going after NDFP Consultants with trumped-up criminal charges and sowing malicious intrigues instead of working on efforts to resume the NDFP-GPH Peace Negotiations. 

 Aside from grossly violating the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), wherein those involved in peace negotiations are allowed to freely discuss and move without any threat of being arrested, fabricated criminal cases such as illegal possession of firearms, robbery, murder, frustrated murder and others are hurled against NDF Consultants illegally imprisoning them and, as a result, sabotaging their work in the peace process. 

NDF Consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Roy Erecre are the latest victims of these treacherous acts by the GPH through the AFP and PNP. 

Not only does the AFP and PNP resort to trumped-up charges but they themselves employ criminal acts such as planting evidences (documents, firearms and explosives) during arrest operations, robbing their victims of money and personal belongings, physical and psychological torture, and even to the point of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. 

 Rene Bustamante, a political detainee, was forcefully arrested in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental last June by elements of the PNP and the Philippine Army. He was arrested by virtue of a "John Doe" case and a grenade was planted in his belongings. 

The AFP and PNP can go as low as maligning personalities of the National Democratic Revolution and NDF Consultants through malicious intrigues involving lifestyle and immorality. In the case of Roy Erecre, NDFP Consultant for the Visayas, the AFP claimed that he was vacationing and island hopping with a married woman when he was arrested last May 7.

But in truth, they already knew upon surveillance that he was having his follow-up medical check-up in Davao. NDFP liaison Judith Jaron was not arrested by CIDG Davao with her husband (Erecre). Nonetheless, she fell victim to the intelligence operatives of ISAFP who went after her to get their belongings and plant firearms and explosives as they have done to Benito and Wilma Tiamzon in Cebu last March.

Eventually, they robbed her things but she was able to exit safely out of Davao City. The Aquino Regime must be held accountable for these condemnable actions. In order for the peace negotiations between the NDFP and GPH to flourish, the Aquino Regime must put a stop to sabotaging the peace process and instead comply with its obligations according to the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Manhunt vs BIFF launched

From Tempo (Oct 25): Manhunt vs BIFF launched

Government troops have a launched pursuit operations against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who attacked a predominantly Christian village in Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, leaving two people dead including a militiaman and a BIFF rebel.

Lt. Col. Markton Abo, 33rd Infantry Battalion commander, said troops who were conducting clearing operations were able to recover yesterday four other bodies believed to be that of the fleeing rebels within the boundary of Qurino town and SK Pendatun town in Maguindanao.

Abo said some 50 BIFF rebels led by Commander Magnum swooped down on Barangay Katico in Quirino town early morning Tuesday but were repulsed by members of the Civilian Volunteers Organization led by chairman Sancho Salamanca.

Killed during the skirmishes were Salamanca’s brother, Maximo, and Salilama Dangkalan, a BIFF member.

A militiaman identified as Jose Lozano and a civilian, Javier Yadao, were wounded.

Two rebels identifed as Mohamed Landasan and Gusi Kamid Pagao were reported to have been wounded but were rescued by their colleagues.

Quirino Mayor Azel Mangudadatu has asked the military to intensify its manhunt operations against the rebels.

Senior Supt. Rex dela Rosa, Sultan Kudarat police director, said they are set to file criminal charges against the BIFF rebels who sowed terror in the area.

Abu Sayyaf frustrates military operatives

From the Manila Times (Oct 26): Abu Sayyaf frustrates military operatives

THE elusiveness of the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group (ASSG) is getting into the nerves of the military operatives who, for more than a week now, have been running after them without any positive results.

Col. Allan Arojado, commander, Joint Task Group Sulu, admitted on Sunday that his men were getting “impatient” and “frustrated” for their failure to catch up and engage the rebels despite a continuous pursuit operation since the bandits released their two German hostages 10 days ago.

“Kasama na yan (frustration and impatience). Malaki ang expectation, lahat buong bansa, buong madla,” Arojado said.

But Arrojado assured that it would only be a matter of time, stressing that they would not stop with their relentless pursuit operation until they would be able to secure the safe release of the other hostages and bring the bandits to the bar of justice.

“Let’s just wait. If you’re getting impatient, much more on me as the commander. We will really plan how we can (get them),” he added.

Arrojado explained that that bandits knew the terrain well, while his troops, most of whom were newly-assigned in Sulu, were just starting to familiarize and coordinate with the existing Marine contingent in the province.

Arrojado said the Army troops that were supposed to augment the Marines have yet to establish their base in Sulu.

“So it’s not that easy. I also lack the staff officers who can help me. The staff (officers) that we need have yet to arrive, thus we have to make do with what is available,” he said.

“We have enough forces but when it comes to planning, I still lack the needed staff officers who can assist me. That’s one handicap, but let’s just be patient and there would be an incident soon,” he further said.

He also pointed out that aside from their law enforcement operation, they were also in close coordination with the stakeholders, from the barangay level up to the highest provincial official and as well as with the private sector.

As per directive the AFP chief, Arrojado added, they were tasked to help the local communities and provide funding, if necessary, to whatever projects that would improve the lives of the residents.

Earlier, Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief, Public Affairs Office, AFP said the bigger challenge of the operating forces on the ground is how to differentiate the bandits from innocent civilians.

Cabunoc explained that the ASG camps overran by the soldiers were not really camps similar to that of the military, but were actually communities or villages populated by civilians.

“There are houses there, and part of the challenge there is the blending of the bandits with the innocent civilians. We cannot judge them all (as bandits) because of the misdoings of the few,” he pointed.

“We are reminded to protect the rights of the people. We are not suppose to harm them, we are not supposed to cause collateral damage if there are skirmishes right inside these communities, and that’s the reason why we also enlisted the help of these former MNLF rebels who are now in the Army to identify plain civilians because they know exactly who are identified with the Abu Sayyaf,” Cabunoc added.

The AFP has claimed that there were less than a hundred ASG operating in Sulu, Basilan and the Zamboanga Peninsula.

MNLF hits OPAPP, denies it has hand in peace process with MILF

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 26): MNLF hits OPAPP, denies it has hand in peace process with MILF

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – Misuari faction once again reiterated its stand for independence in Mindanao and lashed at the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process (OPAPP) for using former MNLF members who had already surrendered to the government to drum up support for the current peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

MNLF spokesperson Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla, in an exclusive interview with the Manila Bulletin here Saturday, charged that OPAPP has been utilizing their former members to come out and declare that the MNLF was supporting the entire process.

“What the OPAPP is doing now worries us because they are using these MNLF members who had already surrendered to the government in their consultations to make it appear that the organization (MNLF) is supporting the peace process with the MILF and the BBL,” Fontanilla pointed out.

Fontanilla said MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari has made it clear that the organization has nothing to do with the present peace process with the MILF.

“The chairman said that we are not participating with the present peace process and our agenda still remains – and that is for independence through peaceful process,” he added.

Fontanilla called on OPAPP not to include them in the present process and stop using former MNLF members just to serve the government’s interest.

He told the Manila Bulletin here that they were able to monitor a group of former MNLF members who were brought by OPAPP to Manila to consult with them on the present peace process and the BBL.

“This is a kind of modus operandi to legitimize what they are doing,” Fontanilla said.
He said they monitored these between the last weeks of September until the first week of October this year.

“We have already showed our pursuit for independence in Zamboanga. That was supposed to be a peaceful gathering to call for independence. It was the military and the government who started the violence,” Fontanilla stressed.

The spokesperson was referring to the infamous Zamboanga siege in September last year where civilians, military, police and MNLF members were killed and displaced over 100,000 residents in the street battles that lasted three weeks.

“We are not recognizing their process now and we will not, in any way, participate”, he emphasized.

Skipper of US warship in Subic mishap sacked

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 26): Skipper of US warship in Subic mishap sacked

The commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) has been relieved from his post one week after the warship hit two fishing boats while on its way out of Subic Bay.

Commander John Bradford, was relieved by Capt. Shan Byrne, commander, Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 15, Oct. 24, due to loss of confidence in Bradford’s ability to command,” said a statement from Task Force 70, the battle force for US 7th Fleet.

According to the statement, “the decision to relieve Bradford came after a recent incident involving a 19-foot wooden vessel reportedly hit by Stethem while the ship was underway from Subic Bay, Philippines, Oct. 13. No one was injured. The investigation is still in progress.”

“Stethem is now commanded by Capt. Chris Sweeney, deputy commodore of Destroyer Squadron 15, who will serve as a temporary relief. Bradford has been reassigned to Destroyer Squadron 15,” it further stated.

Capt. Craig Thomas, Military Public Affairs Liaison, US embassy, had earlier confirmed the collision between Stethem and two fishing boats.

“A 19-foot wooden vessel crossed into the authorized outbound traffic sea lane and was hit by the USS Stethem (DDG 63) at approximately 8:36 p.m. Oct. 13 while traveling from Subic Bay, Philippines,” Thomas told the Manila Bulletin in an email.

“As the USS Stethem proceeded in the center of the traffic sea lane, the ship’s safety officer reported Stethem had collided with a small unlit boat,” he added.

The 19-foot wooden canoe was towing a smaller wooden craft, both were unlit, when hit by the warship.

Thomas stressed no one was hurt in the incident and all three personnel in the boat were recovered by USS Stethem sailors. “After a medical evaluation the ship’s duty corpsman determined they were uninjured,” he said.

Local authorities have identified the fishermen as Orlito T. Cocjin, 44; Julie Mendez, 43; and Pampilo B. Bacsal, 33, all from Barangay Barretto, Olongapo City.

The Stethem proceeded to its journey after turning over the three fishermen to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) authorities.

The ship pulled into Subic Bay Oct. 13 for refueling. It was not among the five US vessels that US Pacific Command (US PACOM) commander Admiral Samuel Locklear ordered to remain in port at Subic after investigation on the killing of a Filipino transgender allegedly by a US Marine.

BBL won’t unify Mindanao stakeholders, insists MNLF

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 27): BBL won’t unify Mindanao stakeholders, insists MNLF

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) yesterday maintained that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is biased against other stakeholders in Mindanao.

Lawyer Emmanuel Fontanilla, spokesman for the MNLF, said contrary to claims by both the government and the MILF leaderships that the BBL would end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao by unifying all stakeholders, the BBL is “an agreement of exclusion.”

He stressed the MNLF, which is the original party of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the government, was excluded in the BBL.

Fontanilla also said the BBL ignores the recommendation of the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to have a “synchronized agreement.”

“The MNLF maintains its stand that the BBL is an agreement of exclusion. It excludes other stakeholders particularly the MNLF which is the original party to the agreement. It set aside resolution of the OIC to synchronize the agreements,” Fontanilla told the Daily Tribune.

“The MNLF does not recognize the BBL nor the MNLF authorize somebody to recognize the same,” he pointed out.

The 1996 FPA between the MNLF, headed by Chairman Nur Misuari, and former President Fidel V. Ramos paved the way for the establishment of the Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development which was succeeded by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Under the MILF and GRP peace agreement, the ARMM would be abolished and a new Bangsamoro political entity would be established.

Former Sen. and Ernesto Herrera said the BBL would be “giving way to fragmentation of the country.”

Herrera also warned of the repercussion of the abolition of ARMM.

The President has already forwarded the proposed BBL to Congress last September 10.
Currently, lawmakers are conducting public hearing on the proposed law.

CPP: AFP is despicable for badgering Jennifer’s fiancé

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Oct 25): AFP is despicable for badgering Jennifer’s fiancé

Communist Party of the Philippines
It is despicable how the top leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ganging up on, and badgering, Mr. Marc Sueselbeck, the fiancé of murder victim Jennifer Laude, and demanding that he be declared “persona non grata” and deported from the country.

No less than the chief-of-staff of the AFP is raising hell against Susselbeck who last October 21 climbed the wired fence surrounding the the compound of the Joint US Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) which houses the tempororay cell holding US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton, the prime suspect in the killing of Laude.

Susselbeck was with Laude’s family and trespassed the compound with Jennifer’s sister Marilou.

Climbing the fence was clearly an act of frustration after camp officials repeatedly ignored the pleas of the Laude family to verify the presence of Pemberton in the compound. Pemberton was reported to have been transferred to the compound after being detained aboard the USS Peleliu. Laude was seen with Pemberton just a few minutes before she was discovered brutally murdered inside a motel room in Olongapo City last October 12.

The Filipino people share in the frustration of the Laude family. They and their lawyers, as well as police investigators, have been denied access to Pemberton. Even the police have not even been allowed to interview him or collect fingerprints and DNA samples.

US officials have been keeping custody of Pemberton and have refused to allow Philippine officials from gaining access to him. The US government claims such authority over their servicemen suspected or accused of crimes under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Agreement which is in outright violation of Philippine national sovereignty.

Susselbeck has since expressed regret for trespassing into the JUSMAG compound. The AFP, however, vigorously refuses to listen to any apology and is dipslaying disproportionate outrage over the incident.

The AFP and the Aquino regime have not even expressed sympathy for the Laude family lest they court the displeasure of the US military and US government. The AFP chief himself has pinned a medal on the soldier guarding the fenced compound of the US for blocking Mr. Susselbeck in a clear show of contempt for the Laudes and display of loyalty and service to their US military patrons.

MNLF snubs BBL public hearing in Cotabato City

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Oct 26): MNLF snubs BBL public hearing in Cotabato City

The Moro National Liberation Front—Council of 15 led by former Cotabato Mayor Muslimin Sema did not show up at the public hearing and consultation on Bangsamoro Basic Law last week.

In a phone interview Friday, Romeo Sema, executive director of MNLF Council of 15 said they opted not to join because “(T)here’s an existing policy from the MNLF’s Central Committee that bars us to join any sorts of public hearing and consultation on BBLuntil the Tripartite Review on the Implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement will be concluded.”

“It’s clear that we won’t participate unless that condition is met by the government,” Sema said.

Despite the non-appearance, the MNLF has met with the MILF in a meeting presided by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Special Envoy Syed Kassim El-Masry  last October 13-14.

“The MNLF and MILF finally agreed to operationalize the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum and also agreed the Term of Reference. On November 12-13 we will convene again in Manila for further talks,” said Sema.

For his part, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rofus Rodriguez, chair of the Bangsamoro Basic Law Adhoc committee, lamented the MNLF’s snub of the public hearing, saying “As far as I know, the invitation was communicated to them because we want to hear their opinion also. Sadly, they never showed up.”

The MNLF and ground commanders were among the invited organizations to participate in Friday’ public hearing and consultation on House Bill 4994 held at Cotabato City State Polytechnic College, the second in a series of consultations and public hearing on the draft Bangsamoro law following an earlier consultation in Upi town in Maguindanao.