Monday, November 10, 2014

AFP chief faces contempt raps

From the Manila Standard Today (Nov 11): AFP chief faces contempt raps

Lawyer claims disbarment rules violated 

The Supreme Court has been asked to hold Armed Forces Chief Gregorio Catapang liable for indirect contempt for violating the confidentiality rule on disbarment proceedings.

In a 17-page petition, lawyer Harry Roque Jr. accused Catapang and two other officials of violating the confidentiality rule when they announced the filing of their disbarment complaint before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) last week.

Aside from Catapang, Roque, counsel for the family of slain transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude, also asked the SC to cite Camp Aguinaldo Commander Brig. Gen. Arthur Ang and spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc for indirect contempt.

He also wanted them to be imprisoned for three months and fined with P30,000 each.
“Their act of repeatedly publicizing their threats to file a disbarment suit against petitioner, and the filing itself of the said suit, violate the confidentiality rule covering a disbarment proceeding, as stated in section 18, rule 139-B of the Rules of Court,” Roque said, in his pleading.

He cited the case of Relativo v. De Leon where the SC found the complainant in the disbarment case guilty of contempt for causing the publication in newspapers of the filing and pendency of the disbarment proceedings.

Roque cl;aimed that the disbarment case had no other purpose than to malign him and his professional standing as a lawyer since he has been helping the Laude family in seeking criminal liability of suspect US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Sources at the IBP, however, revealed that the complaint against Roque was returned to the AFP over “defects.”

In its complaint against Roque filed last Nov. 4, the Armed Forces accused him  of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility over his inappropriate behavior during an incident inside military headquarters Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City two weeks ago.

Roque accompanied his clients, the sister and German boyfriend of Laude, when the two breached the perimeter fence on October 22 in aqn attempt to make sure Pemberton was in the premises.

Manila police brace for ‘bombings’

From the Manila Times (Nov 10): Manila police brace for ‘bombings’

The Manila Police District Office (MPDO) on Monday stepped up security measures against what it described as possible “bombings” targeting government, private, business and religious edifices and establishments.

In a memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times, dated November 10, 2014, Malate Police Station commander and Supt. Romeo Mendoza Odrada reported to acting MPDO Director Rolando Nana that “preemptive and hardening measures” against the “bombings” had been implemented.

The memorandum, however, did not identify who the supposed bombers would be.

“In line with the directives of higher headquarters regarding [p]olice visibility within our AOR [Areas of Responsibility] elements of this station conducted aggressive patrol/inspection particularly vital installations such as [Meralco], [p]ower unit, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, [h]otel/motels such as Ambassador Hotel, Orchid Garden Hotel, Aloha Hotel, Victoria Court, Mercury Drug [S]tores, malls, schools, universities, gasoline stations, markets and churches,” it read.

Meralco is the Manila Electric Co. and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is the Central Bank of the Philippines.

Also, according to the memorandum, “[t]he elements of this [s]tation’s anti-crime conducted clearing operations of ambulant vendors and pedicab drivers at the vicinity of Ospital ng Maynila and Baywalk.”

Baywalk is a stretch of Roxas Boulevard in Manila facing Manila Bay.

The Odrada memorandum apparently was reacting to reports on twin bombings in Zamboanga City in Mindanao on Sunday evening that left a member of a police anti-bomb squad wounded.

The attacks, according to Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), could be a diversionary tactic of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to distract ongoing intensified military operations against the bandits in Sulu and Basilan, also in Mindanao.

“We are looking into that [ASG angle]. Hindi ko pa masabi kung yun na ba yun [I still cannot say if the group was behind the bombings],” Catapang said in a news conference at Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP’s General Headquarters, in Quezon City (Metro Manila) also on Monday.

He added that he was planning to go back to Zamboanga City to allay fears of the people there about the apparently uneasy peace in the city.

Also on Monday, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayo, the Philippine National Police spokesman, told The Manila Times that they have not monitored any specific threat against Pope Francis when he visits the country early next year.

A number of foreign governments earlier warned that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had issued a threat against the pope that it will carry out in one of Francis’ foreign travels.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumuad said the government should not take the ISIS’ threat lightly.

The Pope will arrive on January 15 and will stay for five days.

While his schedule has not been disclosed, he is expected to spend time with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City, Leyte.

PH-US landmine disposal exercises in Tarlac

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 10): PH-US landmine disposal exercises in Tarlac

Bilateral military exercises between the Philippines and the United States continued despite recent developments that have revived a debate over the presence of American troops in the country.

In Tarlac City, United States Navy and Philippine Army bomb experts have partnered to enhance their capability in dealing with threats posed by landmines and other explosive devices.

Capt. Craig W. Thomas, military public affairs liaison at the US embassy, said sailors from the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 (EODMU5) stationed in Guam conducted a Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) Level One training course with the Philippine Army from October 27 until yesterday.

“They are here to present safe and effective ways to remediate and dispose of explosive threats from unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war (ERW),” said Thomas.

During the training, the EODMU5 personnel shared techniques and best practices to members of the Army EOD Battalion. This is to increase their ability to work together to train future technicians on the skill sets of removing land mines and other ordnance from the Philippines.

“HMA is a “train-the-trainer” program. By the end of the course, each of these 12 soldiers will be able to effectively train other Philippine Army soldiers in HMA Level One,” said Thomas.

Overseen by the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) at U.S. Embassy Manila, the program aims to relieve human suffering by helping remove land mines, which maim and kill innocents, obstruct emergency assistance activities, hamper economic development, and impede free movement of citizens.

The HMA program also helps develop an indigenous mine action capability so the country can further eliminate the threat of land mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and /or abandoned ordnance, Thomas explained.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed the conduct of the training, which officials said will benefit both the military and civilian communities. “We can use the skill to save lives and also in educating the people on the bad effects of using landmines in armed conflicts,” said AFP public affairs office (PAO) chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc.

The use of mines by insurgent groups remains a big concern for the government.

MILF belittles BIFF threat to Bangsamoro

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 11): MILF belittles BIFF threat to Bangsamoro

Recalcitrant Moro rebels do not pose a serious threat to the proposed Bangsamoro autonomous entity, which peace stakeholders look upon as a potential avenue to end the so-called Mindanao conflict, according to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim.

Ebrahim was referring to remnants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), which is a breakaway MILF group founded in recent years by the reclusive Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato.

Kato had maintained he and his men bolted the MILF because they do not believe that the latter’s effort to forge peace with the government was part of their original struggle for independence in Mindanao.

Ebrahim said the BIFM has lost a unified leadership and its armed-wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), has split into three factions.

Ebrahim made the claim last week when reporters asked about the potential threat the group posed to the forming of a parliamentarian autonomous entity called Bangsamoro, which is prescribed in peace accords signed by the MILF and the government.

He explained that the MILF has been trying to win BIFF members over but admitted having difficulty in dealing with the defiant group because it is fragmented.

“We cannot talk to them anymore as a whole organization. What we are doing is the individual approach,” he said.


Ebrahim said that during talks with individual Kato supporters, some had manifested positive responses.

“Just like our comrades in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), they are positive in their response,” he said.

But he admitted that there were Kato supporters whose “doors were already closed” to talks.

Ebrahim did not mention the individuals, saying only that they were among the “three groups in the BIFF.”

Local initiatives and intercessions by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have reportedly helped enlist the support of the chairmen of major MNLF factions – Nur Misuari, Muslimin Sema, and Abul Khayr Alonto.

Photos obtained by local reporters showed the three MNLF leaders meeting with Ebrahim at the MILF main enclave in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao in recent months.

Sema had repeatedly expressed his faction’s support to the proposed Bangsamoro entity, while Alonto personally conveyed to Murad his group’s positive stance to the MILF-government accords. Misuari’s support was conveyed by a spokesman during a recent interfaith dialog here on the proposed autonomous entity.

The proposed entity would cover territories, including the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Mindanao (ARMM), the cities of Cotabato and Isabela, six towns in Lanao del Norte and 39 villages in six municipalities of North Cotabato. ARMM will be deemed abolished upon the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.


Meanwhile, indigenous people’s advocates in Mindanao have assailed the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was crafted without proper consultation with IP groups in the region.

Convenors of the Lumad Mindanao Peoples Federation (LMPF) said the government and the MILF should consider the position of the IP sector in Mindanao vis-à-vis the approval of the BBL.

LMPF spokesmen Sarx Lanos said the IP groups were sidetracked at the start of the crafting of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro until it reached the passage of BBL.

He said their group expressed concern that the implementation of BBL might adversely affect the provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) law.

“There was no provision in the BBL that acknowledges and respects the IPRA law, especially in the stewardship of mineral resources and lands within the ancestral domain,” Lanos said.

He said IPRA advocates, including former North Cotabato Rep. Greg Andolana, former commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous People Ruben Dasay Lingating, Tim Alim Bandara, and IP representative to the United Nations c are set to hold dialogues with IP groups in Mindanao to come up with their strong position on the BBL.

He said the LMPF will ensure that the rights of IP groups in Mindanao will not be jeopardized once the BBL is implemented.

CPP/NDF: Munisipyo ng Paluan, sinalakay ng NPA! 20 armas, nasamsam!

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Nov 7): Munisipyo ng Paluan, sinalakay ng NPA! 20 armas, nasamsam!

Patnubay De Guia
NDFP Southern Tagalog Chapter
Malugod na binabati ng National Democratic Front-Southern Tagalog (NDF-ST) ang Lucio de Guzman Command – NPA Mindoro sa matagumpay na opensiba laban sa mersenaryong tropa ng kaaway sa bayan ng Paluan, Occidental Mindoro.

Nagpupugay ang NDF-ST sa kagitingang ipinamalas ng mga Pulang mandirigma at kumander ng BHB laban sa mga elemento ng Public Safety Battalion, 408th Public Safety Maneuver Forces ng Philippine National Police at ng 76th Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army.

Ganap na 3:00 ng hapon ngayong Nobyembre 7, 2014 nang atakehin ng NPA ang mismong bayan ng Paluan, Occidental Mindoro. Hindi na nakaporma pa ang reaksyunaryong kaaway sa labanang tumagal nang 20 minuto. Hindi bababa sa pitong elemento ng kaaway ang nalipol habang apat na iba pa ang naiulat na sugatan. Nasamsam ng magigiting na NPA ang pitong M14, 13 M16, isang shotgun, dalawang pistola, mga bala at iba pang gamit-militar. Walang kaswalti sa panig ng mga Pulang mandirigma na ligtas na nakaatras matapos ang labanan.

Samantala, dinala ng mga umatakeng NPA ang mayor ng nasabing bayan na si Carl Michael Pangilinan at kanyang municipal administrator upang babalaan sa pang-aabuso ng una sa maralitang mamamayan ng Paluan. Binabalaan din si Pangilinan sa kanyang pagsangkot at pagkandili sa mga iligal na pagtotroso, iligal na droga at iba’t ibang sindikatong nag-oopereyt sa kanyang bayan sa Occidental Mindoro. Isang sindikadistang pinoprotektahan ng mga pasista at reaksyunaryong militar mula 76th IBPA at 408th PNP.

Makasaysayan ang araw na ito dahil tanda ito ng mahigpit na pagkakaisa ng masa at hukbong bayan. Nagbunyi ang mamamayan ng Paluan at mga karatig sa pagpaparusa ng Lucio de Guzman Command – NPA Mindoro sa palalo, mabangis at kawatang 76th IB at abusadong PNP. Makabuluhan ang ginampanang papel ng masang Mindoreño sa pagtitiyak ng tagumpay ng opensiba mula sa paghahanda, sa aktwal na opensiba hanggang sa ligtas na pag-atras ng NPA. Buhay na patotoo ito na hindi kailanman nasaid ang malalim na balon ng suporta ng mamamayan sa NPA na ipinuhunan ng mga rebolusyonaryong nauna nang nag-organisa sa isla.

Makasaysayan din ang araw na ito para sa rebolusyonaryong mamamayan ng rehiyong Timog Katagalugan sapagkat ngayong araw ay inaalala natin ang buhay at pakikibaka ng magigiting na kadre ng Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas at NPA na sina Ka Armando Teng at Ka Lucio de Guzman. Hindi lang miminsang binagtas nina Ka Armando at Ka Lucio ang mga kabundukan at kapatagan ng isla ng Mindoro. Kabilang sila sa mga kapita-pitagang haligi ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan na namuno sa pagpupunla at pagpapayabong ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka ng mamamayan sa Mindoro. At sa araw ng kanilang ganap na kabayanihan, wala nang hihigit pa sa pagpupugay na hatid ng matagumpay na opensiba ng New People’s Army laban sa kaaway. Ang tagumpay na ito ay alay sa kagitingin ng lahat ng mga rebolusyonaryong martir na naghawan ng landas para sa pagsulong at patuloy na pagliliyab ng apoy ng pakikibaka.

Ang taktikal na opensibang inilunsad ng LdGC – NPA Mindoro ay salubong na putok sa higit na nag-iibayong pagsusulong ng armadong pakikibaka sa rehiyon. Ito ay panandang bato sa papalakas at papaigting na rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka upang makamtan ang dramatikong igpaw ng digmang bayan sa bago at mas mataas na antas.

Mabuhay ang Partido Komunista ng Pilipinat at Bagong Hukbong Bayan!
Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!
Sumulong sa estratehikong pagkapatas!

CPP: CPP hails NPA for arms haul in Mindoro raid

Propaganda statement from the CPP (Nov 11): CPP hails NPA for arms haul in Mindoro raid

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) acclaims the New People’s Army (NPA) for the seizure of 23 firearms in a raid last November 7 at the Paluan, Occidental Mindoro municipal hall. Moving swiftly and precisely, the NPA Red fighters successfully overpowered the armed elements of the Public Safety Battalion and the 408th Public Safety Maneuver Forces of the Philippine National and the 76th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The raid was successfully conducted by the NPA Mindoro Island Command (Lucio de Guzman Command). According to the NDF-Southern Tagalog, the Red fighters seized seven M14 rifles, 13 M16 rifles, a shotgun, two handguns, ammunition and other war materiél.

“A new platoon of NPA Red fighters in Mindoro is set to be armed with the newly seized weapons from the enemy,” added the CPP. “The people of Mindoro, especially the mass of poor and middle peasants and farm workers and the mass of the Mangyan people, are elated at the successful tactical offensive and are determined to intensify their revolutionary armed struggle.”

“The oppressed and exploited people in Mindoro are ever determined to advance their struggles for land reform and to drive away the big mining companies and big foreign agri-business companies which are set on plundering Mindoro, poisoning the environment and robbing the people of their wealth and resources,” said the CPP.

“The biggest of these companies are in cahoots with the ruling Aquino regime and are among Aquino’s big bourgeois comprador amigos,” pointed out the CPP.

“The entire CPP, NPA and the revolutionary masses across the country are exhilarated at the successful raid of the NPA-Mindoro,” said the CPP. It was one of the biggest NPA tactical offensive this year in terms of the number of arms seized.

“NPA units in the different regions will be carrying out more tactical offensives, both big and small, in the coming weeks and months in order to seize more weapons from the enemy,” added the CPP.

“The Filipino people wish and expect to see more tactical offensives launched by the NPA as they suffer more and more under the puppet, corrupt and brutal Aquino regime,” said the CPP.

Opinion: Time to reorient the Philippine Navy

Opinion piece in Business World (Nov 10): Time to reorient the Philippine Navy

Alma Maria O. Salvador

FOR MANY DECADES, naval modernization in the Philippines has been suspended to give way to an army-led warfare against insurgency. This has led to a tremendous allocation of resources in support of the development of personnel, operations and capital needs of the ground forces, leaving the archipelagic state devoid of a focused and well-financed maritime strategy.

With the ongoing peace process that ended the Moro rebellion and the “handover” of Communist-cleared provinces to the local governments, a more prominent role for the Philippine Navy is being called for as the Armed Forces of the Philippines shifts from internal to external defense.

Recognizing the altered transnational threat in the region, the new Navy chief, Vice-Admiral Jesus Millan, aptly states that “the menace of various threats to national security and territorial integrity are real and present.”

Aligned with the National Security policy 2011- 2016 and the Philippine Defense Transformation 2012, the Navy is now being poised to beef up its amphibious capabilities. Its mandate: to protect maritime interests and to “ensure the sovereignty of the archipelago and the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.”

Koh Swee Lean Collin, associate research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, notes that the makeup of an amphibious capability upgrade is inclusive of the development of “specialized amphibious ground forces” and the procurement of amphibious vessels such as landing platform docks (LPD), large amphibious landing ships and amphibious transport docks, landing helicopter docks (LHDs, such as amphibious assault ships), amphibious troop carriers, aircraft carriers, etc.

The strategic importance of these forces is based on the increasing requirement of the militaries for airlifts and sealifts for transporting supplies, relief personnel, water and relief goods overseas and in locations ravaged by disasters. Because ASEAN has been wanting of these capabilities, a collective response expected of an emergent political and security community fell short during Typhoon Haiyan.

As in all other choices that the Philippines has to make, the military has to contend with either a territorial or a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR)-oriented defense.

To Wu Shang-su, RSIS research fellow, the choice is a zero-sum game that would translate to giving priority to sea-control and sea-denial-capable patrol vessels, fast-attack crafts and the like, over sea lift-capable amphibious forces. The dilemma is further compounded when neighbours in the region factor in these choices in making their own external threat calculations. For instance, China has viewed the Philippines’ joint and interoperability exercises with the United States as part of the US’ Asia-Pacific “rebalancing” strategy and a realist positioning to boost the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea.

RSIS analyst Euan Graham’s pragmatic perspective highlights the duality of purpose of certain types of amphibious forces such as frigates which can be positioned in realpolitik terms and for humanitarian assistance. Objectives of “force mobility,” “territorial defense,” and “power projection” can be achieved when amphibious forces are deployed for joint exercises. At the same time, large amphibious landing ships (LALS) are able to perform the peacetime functions of patrolling, crisis response and HADR. During Haiyan, LALS were used to transport personnel, goods and vehicles.

As has previously reported, the recently concluded agreement between the Philippine government and an Indonesian naval firm will build up the Philippine Navy’s LALS capability in 2016.

But how can the goals of minimum credible deterrence and active archipelagic defense be sustained after the end of President Aquino III’s term in 2016? What progress has been made in the non-materiel areas of doctrine, force structure and human resources? What is the emergent role of the Philippine Army and how effectively does the Army Transformation Roadmap pave the way for a paradigm and operational shift? How much attention has the government paid to police reform?

[Alma Maria O. Salvador, PhD, former chair of the Political Science Department of Ateneo de Manila University, is an assistant professor of international relations and the convener of the Working Group on Security.]

UP Mindanao student leader killed in Army-NPA encounter

From MindaNews (Nov 10): UP Mindanao student leader killed in Army-NPA encounter

Student leader Rendell Ryan Edpan Cagula, president of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao in 2011-2012, former Davao City coordinator of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Southern Mindanao coordinator of the Kabataan party list, has returned home after an 11-month absence, in a casket.

The 23-year-old Cagula, popularly known by his nickname, “Perper,” was among three persons dubbed in an Army press release as “NPA bandits killed in Sarangani encounter” between elements of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the New People’s Army (NPA) at around 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, November 4, in Sitio Tubac, Barangay Nomoh, Maasim town.

His mother, Marina, told MindaNews she and her son Kenneth identified Perper in a funeral parlor in Maitum, Sarangani on Thursday and transported him to this city in the early hours of Friday.

Marina says she does not know if her son was, indeed, a member of the NPA, as claimed by the military. “Nagtudlo man daw to siya’g mga Lumad” (He said he was teaching Indigenous Peoples).

Marina said Perper, who would phone her when he was in an area with “signal,” loved talking about how happy he was sharing his learnings with Lumads (Indigenous Peoples), and how he was learning so much from them as well.

Perper took up BA Anthropology at UP Mindanao and was six units short of finishing his course when he left the university.

His father, Joy, told MindaNews that when his son left home in early December last year, “humanon man daw niya iyang thesis” (he said he was finishing his thesis).

Thesis is not a requirement in the BA Anthro course but its equivalency is Field School and in the field school in Agusan that Perper attended, he excelled, according to one of his teachers. His classmates and teachers say Perper was “maayo gyud” (really good) as a student and as a leader.

Marina attests to her son’s devotion to his studies. She would sometimes sleep at night and wake up in the morning to find her son still reading his books.

Joy said Perper didn’t come home for Christmas and New Year last year but finally communicated with them by phone in February.

No to Geology, yes to Anthropology
Joy, a retired geologic aide from the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) in Surigao and later Davao, and presently working in a nickel mining operations in Tawi-tawi, told his former colleagues at the MGB who came to the wake at the Collado funeral parlor Sunday night that he had hoped his son would take up Geology because he could borrow books for him from them and it would be easy for his son to find a job after graduation.

But even before Perper finished secondary education at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School (DRAHS), Joy said he was already bent on pursuing Anthropology at UP Mindanao.

Joy recalled how he once told his son that he was informed he was picketing the MGB office, and reminded him he used to work there. But his son went on with his activism, tackling issues in and out of the university, and was, as the father described him, “pirmi frontliner” (always a frontliner).

RR, Perper’s nickname at home (he became “Perper” while at the DRAHS), had always been a frontliner since he was little, said Joy. “Lider gyud na sya” (He was really a leader), said Marina.

Even in death, Perper was still a leader. Before he was identified and claimed by his mother, he was tagged “Cadaver No. 1” in the military reports while the 28-year-old Johnny Wata Camag of Magsaysay in Davao del Sur was “Cadaver No. 2.”

The on November 6 reported that “the slain NPA rebels were identified as Rendel Ryan Cagula, reportedly a resident of Bago Gallera in Davao City; Johnny Camag of Magsaysay in Davao del Sur; and Fredi Ayog of Islome in Maasim.”

Marina presented her son’s school ID when she claimed his cadaver, according to a military report.

Perper was president of the University Student Council at UP-Min from 2011 to 2012. He also served as Davao City coordinator of the LFS. Last year, he was visible in several protest actions against tuition increases as well as in the series of anti-pork barrel rallies, as regional convenor of the Kabataan party list.

On September 5 last year, Perper was at the press conference of Youth Act Now Davao alliance, which Kabataan convened. The alliance called for “the abolition of pork barrel fund, including the presidential pork barrel, and the re-channeling of the pork barrel fund to education and other social services” and urged schools in Davao City to “make a stand supporting the call to abolish the pork barrel, and mobilize the whole school-community (for the) September 11 nationwide protest.”

“Happy there”
Perper continued to communicate with his mother in Davao City and his father in Tawi-tawi, by text or call, but would not tell them where he was.

Marina said she kept telling her husband they should look for their son but she couldn’t answer whenever Joy asked her, “but where?”

Joy would tell his wife to “load” Perper’s phone so he could communicate with them. Perper communicated with his mother more frequently because the signal in the area where his father was working in Tawi-tawi was erratic.

The signal was good on November 5 when Marina phoned Joy to tell him the bad news that their son was dead.

He recalled telephone conversations with his son where he tried to convince him to return home. In Filipino and Cebuano, Joy said, “but he told me he was happy there, that he had found his calling there.”

Until she saw her son’s body and the four bullet wounds on the right side of his chest, and some marks of bullet grazing on the right side of his head, Marina did not want to believe her son was dead.

She smiled recalling how Perper told her over the phone that he was eating what the residents in the area were eating, such as “lagutmon” (root crops), and how he had started to gain weight. He did gain weight.

Perper would inform her he had fever, his back was painful, it was cold where he was, that he was feeling sick, he was having allergies, or that he had colds but would update the worried mother that he was feeling better.

But he would never tell her where he was.

Marina said she sent her son text messages every day even if she wasn’t sure he would receive them “para kung naa nay signal, mabasa niya akong mga mensahe” (so that when there is signal, he could read my messages).

But Marina, Joy and Kenneth were looking forward to December as Perper promised his mother he would come home.

“Ingon siya, ‘promise gyud nako Ma, magkita gyud ta karong December. Sure gyud na, Ma’” (He told me, ‘I promise you, Ma, we’ll see each other in December. For sure, Ma.’’’).

“Nagkita gyud mi, November pa, pero patay na siya” (We did finally see him, in November, but he’s dead), said Marina.

Traveling 200 kilometers from Maitum, Sarangani to Davao City in the early hours of Friday, Marina said she kept crying and telling her son, “uli na ta, anak” [we’re going home, son].

Security forces alerted vs. armed group in Sultan Kudarat

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 10): Security forces alerted vs. armed group in Sultan Kudarat

SULTAN KUDARAT – Security forces have been alerted in Sultan Kudarat province in southern Philippines following reports that armed followers of a slain former rebel commander may launch attacks to avenge the death of their leader.

Motorcycle gunmen killed Manubakan Abdul, 57, a leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and Abdulkarim Maslamama, 38, a village councilman in Midconding in General Salipada Pendatun town in Maguindanao province. The duo was driving their motorcycle when gunmen attacked them last month in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province.

Police said prior to the attack, two unidentified armed men also tried, but failed to kill Abdul’s son, Datumana, who is the village chieftain of Midconding. The village chieftain managed to escape after the gun of one of the suspected assassins jammed. It was not immediately known whether the gunmen and the killers of Datumana’s father were the same assailants.

Colonel Melquiadez Feliciano, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said he alerted his troops about the possible attacks by gunmen.

Superintendent Marvin Fontalva, of the Provincial Public Safety Company, and Superintendent Maximo Layugan, of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, also ordered police forces in the province to stay alert and vigilant.

Authorities previously said that some members of the MILF may have been involved in recent attacks by jihadist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in President Quirino town and nearby areas. The recent attack in the town killed the brother of Katiku village chieftain and wounded two more people in Katiku village.

Police also relayed this information to members of the International Monitoring Team which is overseeing the cease-fire accord between the MILF and the Aquino government. The MILF has signed a peace accord with Manila last year, ending decades of bloody fighting in the restive region.

The BIFF has been fighting for independence in Mindanao and has pledged allegiance with the Sunni jihadist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Zamboanga security heightened after twin bombings

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 10): Zamboanga security heightened after twin bombings

Facial composite of the alleged Zamboanga bomber. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Police and military authorities have tightened security in Zamboanga City on Monday following two bomb explosions at a massage parlor and karaoke bar that injured a member of the police bomb squad.

Police also released the facial composite of the alleged bomber based on the description of several witnesses. The mayor of Zamboanga, Maria Isabelle Salazar, offered a P50,000 to anyone who can provide information leading to the apprehension of the bomber.

Officials said PO2 Franklin Manuel Ined, Sr. was rushed to the hospital after sustaining shrapnel wounds from the explosion late Sunday. The police was inspecting the explosive inside the Deluxe Massage and Karaoke Bar at Tomas Claudio Street when it went off. Two explosions were reported in the first and second floors of the bar.

The blast occurred just as security forces deployed more personnel to guard some 7,500 who are attending the week-long Centennial Jamboree in Zamboanga City.

Police have cordoned off the blast site shortly after the explosions and forensic experts recovered pieces of electrical wiring, dry cell and shrapnel believed to be parts of the bombs left inside the bar. Traces of ammonium nitrate were also found at the scene.

The military’s Western Mindanao Command, citing an initial report, said the explosives were concealed in a cardboard box. It was not immediately known how the bomber managed to smuggle the improvised explosives in the bar.

The mayor has assured the safety of scouters who are camping out at the sprawling compound of the Zamboanga City Economic and Freeport Zone in San Ramon village where armed soldiers and policemen, backed by armored vehicles, were guarding them.

“The public is advised to stay calm, but vigilant and report suspicious persons or bags and other items to (emergency telephones) 117 or 166. Authorities are in control of the situation, that the city, particularly the Boy Scouts of the Philippines jamboree participants are safe and sound. The blast site is over 20 kilometers away from the jamboree site in Ecozone,” she said.


Police have praised the heroism of Ined, a member of the Zamboanga City Public Safety Company, who is a K9 dog handler. Ined, who sustained multiple shrapnel wounds on the different parts of his body, is now in stable condition, according to Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, the regional police spokesman.

He said Ined, unmindful of the dangers and hazards of his job, put his own life at risk to protect and save others. And so were other members of the bomb squad who quickly responded to an emergency call.

Samuddin said a worker at the bar phoned the police about the suspicious boxes left there. He said the quick response of the local police personnel to the incident prevented further damage and injuries.

He said Chief Superintendent Edgar Basbas, the regional police commander, assured that Ined will get full medical assistance and the police would also shoulder all other expenses incurred during his confinement.

“The Police Regional Office 9 urges the public to continuously support the authorities by providing timely and relevant information, particularly those that concerns about public and safety of the region,” Samuddin said.

Officials could not say if the twin explosions were the handiwork of Abu Sayyaf militants or a deliberate attack to shame the administration of Salazar as investigation is continuing. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Last month, police bomb squad also disrupted an improvised explosive abandoned at the Plaza Pershing also in downtown Zamboanga. The explosive was hidden in a thermos that contained nails and ammonium nitrate, a banned chemical fertilizer widely used by rebels in the manufacture of homemade bombs.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed by authorities to the spate of bombings and killings in the southern Philippines, has recently pledged allegiance to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Terror groups behind Bukidnon bus blast

From Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Nov 11): Terror groups behind Bukidnon bus blast

A RANKING military official confirmed Monday that a terrorist organization may be behind the November 6 bombing of a passenger bus in Barangay Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Citing a police intelligence report, Lieutenant General Aurelio Baladad, commander of the Philippine Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said authorities are looking at the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as the perpetrator of the explosion from an improvised explosive device (IED) that left four of the more than 30 passengers injured.

During his visit to the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) headquarters at Camp Edilberto Evangelista on Monday, November 10, Baladad told reporters that the BIFF’s Special Operations Group carried out the attack.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that was organized in 2008 and whose goal is independence for the Bangsamoro people and domain while rejecting the ongoing crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Ameril Umbra Kato leads the BIFF.

In a previous article, Lieutenant Colonel Jose Eriel Niembra, of the 58th Infantry Battalion, was quoted as saying that another extremist group, the Khalifa Islamiah Mindanao (KIM), carried out the attack.

Based on the fragments collected by investigators from the blast site, the evidence has pointed to the terrorist cells operating in Mindanao.

Earlier, Inspector Jose Regner Sevillano, Maramag municipal police deputy chief, said the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) 204, named after the bus number, found out that the IED was primarily composed of a 60 mm mortar and a cellphone circuit board.

Major Christian Uy, 4ID spokesman, said that according to the information gathered by the military, the two groups are collaborating in committing terror activities in Mindanao.

“Actually, the [IED] came from BIFF, but it has ties with Khalifa Islamiah Mindanao,” Uy told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Monday.

The website said the KIM, a new al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group led by an Afghan-trained cleric, Humam Abdul Najid, has been fighting for the declaration of Mindanao as a separate religious state.

“The [KIM] is described as an ‘umbrella organization’ of local operatives of Jemaah Islamiyah, the BIFF and the bandit group Abu Sayyaf,” the website said.

Baladad said the perpetrators did not come from his area of responsibility but from the western Mindanao area.

The Eastmincom covers the Northern Mindanao, Davao and Caraga regions and is composed of the 4th and 10th Infantry Divisions.

Baladad said the law enforcement agencies already have the identification of the suspects “because this is a terroristic activity” but the police are working toward going after the perpetrators as the lead agency.

“We are [supporting] the police on this (investigation),” he added.

‘ISIS recruiting MNLF leaders’

From the Bayou Buzz (Nov 9): ‘ISIS recruiting MNLF leaders’

Sunni Islamic preachers are recruiting field commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a top rebel leader said yesterday.

Absalum Cerveza, head of the MNLF peace panel, told The STAR in a telephone interview that Islamic preachers have been trying to convince the MNLF to support the extremist belief espoused by the ISIS.

Sunni Islamic preachers are recruiting field commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a top rebel leader said yesterday.

Absalum Cerveza, head of the MNLF peace panel, told The STAR in a telephone interview that Islamic preachers have been trying to convince the MNLF to support the extremist belief espoused by the ISIS.

“We have been talking with ISIS preachers, but the MNLF is not supporting their own brand of Islamic belief,” he said.

“The MNLF leadership is firm with its commitment to renounce violence in attaining its political objective, which is the independence of Mindanao,” he added.

Cerveza explained that joining ISIS would isolate the MNLF from the international community, which is waging a war against ISIS fighters in the Middle East.

The MNLF has a permanent observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and has close ties with the United Nations.

Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF spokesman, earlier said that foreign ISIS preachers began arriving in Mindanao last August to seek an alliance with Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other extremist groups to expand their caliphate in the island.

“The Islamic preachers want to put Mindanao and Sulu in the ISIS world map,” he added.

ISIS preachers split into several groups in their recruitment activities and once they get the support of certain groups, they will pose with their armed allies pledging support to the ISIS flag, he warned.

Rebel returnees get ‘Kabuhayan Starter Kits’

Sun Star-Zamboanga (Nov 9): Rebel returnees get ‘Kabuhayan Starter Kits’

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced that a total of P280,000 “Kabuhayan Starter Kits” have been released by the agency in the province of Zamboanga del Sur.

DOLE-Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Director Lourdes Amores said the project is a joint undertaking of DOLE and that of the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion headed by Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Luzon.

Amores said the beneficiaries are rebel returnees who are engaged in farming, fishing, carpentry, food processing and other living.

Amores said the beneficiaries were identified by the Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, which is based in the Municipality of Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.

Forty of the 60 beneficiaries are residents of remote areas in the Municipality of Kumalarang, 10 from Guipos and 10 from San Miguel towns, according to Amores.

She said they received starter kits comprising of farm and carpentry tools, fishing equipment, kitchen utensils and barber kits, which would enable the beneficiaries to start a livelihood undertaking and allow them to engage in sustainable self-employment.

The starter kits were turned over in a ceremony held in the village of Sicade Kumalarang, Zamboanga del Sur.

Amores said the distribution of Kabuhayan Starter Kit Project (KSKP) is a livelihood formation strategy of DOLE that is intended to improve the socio-economic of workers in the informal economy, in groups or sectors with specific concerns, and their families.

Luzon expressed his gratitude to DOLE for assisting them in giving livelihood projects to “the poor and vulnerable sectors of our society.”

“It is the first time for the 53rd Infantry Battalion to partner with the DOLE together with the LGUs (Local Government Units) in the project,” Luzon said.

“Partnering with DOLE and LGUs helped us enhance our social immersion skills,” Luzon explained adding that this also helped in reaching out to people in remote villages in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Internal Peace and Security Plan ‘Bayanihan’ campaign.

China’s Large-Scale Reclamation Works Over Disputed Spratly Islands Not Valid: Study

From China Topix (Oct 31): China’s Large-Scale Reclamation Works Over Disputed Spratly Islands Not Valid: Study

South China Sea dispute

(Photo : REUTERS GRAPHICS) Maps showing the claims of six Asian countries contesting all or parts of the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea.

In the course of the dispute over the Spratly Islands, China's extensive reclamation works do not necessarily act as a ticket to win sovereignty claims in accordance with the maritime provisions of international law.
A Eurasia Review analysis cited China's ongoing infrastructure projects on several of the seven reefs it occupies in Spratly. But according to the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, participating nations should restrict themselves any activities that would further cause complications.

Currently, China is expanding Fiery Cross Reef to 2 square kilometers, as big as the combined size of Spratly's13 largest islands. But China is the sole violator; in fact, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have respective reclamation projects in the disputed seas.
Yongshu Reef belongs to the seven reef areas under China's control, but the legality and jurisdiction of such claim remains in dispute with the Philippines. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) serves as the arbitral tribunal to which China decided not to participate in.
In the arbitration case, the Philippines said three of the seven reefs under China pass the international definition of an island in the basis that they are naturally formed above high tide.
However, the Philippine government added that the islands on the said reefs are very small and not capable to sustain habitation. Therefore, China is entitled to a 12-nautical mile territorial sea and not an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In addition, the Philippines argued that China does not hold any sovereign rights or maritime zones for the remaining four reefs since it is not classified as islands. In all of the arguments raised by the contending party, Eurasia Review wrote that China possibly violates certain provisions of the international law.
One, the fact that other countries also filed dispute in some of the reefs, China cannot use its ongoing reclamation works to strengthen sovereign claim. Two, China cannot use infrastructures built on submerged islands to be given EEZ entitlement mainly because these islands are classified as "artificial".
Finally, current provisions in UNCLOS do not specify whether or not China can convert uninhabited rocks to reclamation sites to obtain EEZ.

Aside from the above conditions, Eurasia Review cited that though China's reclamation projects may be proved valid, it is also pending environmental preservation. China must also consult effected nations and all works must be done in good faith.

Four, including 13-year-old, killed execution style in ComVal

From Rappler (Nov 10): Four, including 13-year-old, killed execution style in ComVal

The victims were found hogtied and their heads covered with face towels and shirts in Purok 3, Barangay Basak, Nabunturan town

Four dead bodies were recovered by police in Nabunturan town in the province of Compostela Valley on Monday, November 10.

Philippine National Police Region 11 spokesman Psupt. Antonio Rivera said the victims were found hogtied and their heads covered with face towels and shirts in Purok 3, Barangay Basak at around 8:25 am Monday.

The victims – who were identified as 31-year-old Ramil Diongson Quilaton, 36-year-old Ruel Sejuela Quilaton, 13-year-old Romil Pilones Diongson and 19-year-old John Mark Laurel Diongson – bore stab wounds and hack wounds in different parts of their bodies.

Initial investigations show that all victims are relatives and are residents of Purok 9, Barangay Poblacion in Compostela Town.

"Nabunturan municipal police station is still tracking witnesses to determine motive of the incident and to identify perpetrators," Rivera said.

New joust over sea dispute expected at ASEAN

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): New joust over sea dispute expected at ASEAN

Fresh diplomatic sparring over who owns what in the South China Sea is likely to break out this week at a major regional summit in Myanmar, after a year in which China jacked up tensions in the resource-rich waters.

Rival claims have gnawed away at ties between Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines and regional powerhouse China, which claims nearly all of the sea, including waters near its smaller neighbors' shores.

The issue has also become a key testing ground for diplomacy between China and the United States, which has cozied up to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as part of a wider eastwards foreign policy "pivot".

Leaders including US President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will gather in Naypyidaw for the two-day ASEAN summit from Wednesday which also takes in an expanded list of dignitaries for the East Asian Summit.

When he meets ASEAN leaders Obama "will highlight US leadership in addressing maritime territorial disputes," according to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

Other security issues, such as countering the rise of self-proclaimed Islamic State and the Ebola epidemic, will also be on the table, she added.

Beijing has been accused of aggression after boosting naval patrols in waters contested with the Philippines and positioning an oil rig in seas disputed with Vietnam in May, sparking deadly anti-Chinese riots.

It has given ground on low-level talks with ASEAN towards a multilateral, binding code of conduct to governing the seas.

But analysts and diplomats are skeptical of a tangible deal, as China prefers bilateral talks with its smaller neighbors, allowing it to exert its massive economic and political leverage in a region dependent on Chinese trade.

No breakthrough

That leaves expectations low for any movement on the seemingly intractable South China Sea squabble, which ritually dominates regional diplomacy forums.

The waters are a vital shipping lane also believed to contain vast oil and mineral deposits. Parts are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

"I don't see any breakthrough in Naypyidaw or anytime soon," one Southeast Asian diplomat told AFP ahead of the summit.

"Let's face the reality that it's a complex issue and in addition, ASEAN is dealing with China, a major Asian and world power."

Observers say a softening of Chinese rhetoric in recent weeks, including the removal of the oil rig from Vietnamese waters and two high profile diplomatic visits to Hanoi, does not amount to a strategy shift from Beijing.

"China waxes hot and cold and moderates its behavior prior to ASEAN summits," said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer.

"Some rabbit might be pulled out of the hat to impress the end of year summit meetings, but nothing substantial has occurred or is likely to occur."

In early October Chinese state media said a 2,000-meter runway had been completed on Woody Island, part of the contested Paracels, in an apparent bid to build up bridgeheads in the area.

A few weeks later Vietnam's Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Do Ba Ty issued a stark warning that China "unilaterally plans to take the East Sea," using the Vietnamese term for the South China Sea.

"This struggle will move to another phase, even more drastic and complex," he told the National Assembly.

US making friends

While China singes relations, the US has moved in to bolster its alliances.

Obama, who arrives in Myanmar from a major Beijing summit, will meet Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Naypyidaw.

The meeting comes after a US agreement to partially ease a 40-year ban on arms sales to its one-time war foe, citing some "modest" progress in human rights.

In April, Washington also signed a defense pact with the Philippines, which is outraged that China has effectively taken over the contested Scarborough Shoal.

That deal will eventually allow thousands of US troops to be stationed in the country.

But American efforts to make friends have irked China, which insists it is seeking its own amicable resolution to disputes in its neighborhood.

At an ASEAN security meeting in August, China accused its rival superpower of deliberately stoking tensions in the South China Sea and rejected a proposal by US Secretary of State John Kerry for a freeze on provocative actions in the region.

With no deal in sight the issue looks set to worry relations between Washington and Beijing for years to come, said Bill Hayton the author of "The South China Sea - the struggle for power in Asia".

"So the region is condemned to a complex game of diplomatic and military competition for the next few decades at least," he added.

AFP chief asks for more patience from kin of returning UN peacekeepers

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): AFP chief asks for more patience from kin of returning UN peacekeepers

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has asked for more patience from the families of the arriving first batch of 108 soldiers who served the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Liberia for almost one year, as they will be quarantined for 21 days in Caballo Island immediately after arrival this coming Wednesday at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

"To the family members of our gallant peacekeepers, I'd like to ask for your patience for extending the absence of your loved ones for these 21 more days, at least. We have done everything to make their stay in the island paradise of Caballo, off Manila Bay, a pleasant and memorable one," Catapang during his news conference at Camp Aguinaldo.

The second batch of four soldiers who were in charge of arrangements for the transport of military equipment are expected to arrive sometime next week.

Catapang said the soldiers will not be bored since their wives and children can contact them through their communication gadgets.

"Both Smart and Globe Communications have expanded their cellular network coverage in order to promote telecom services for our hero peacekeepers. Smart Communications has set up a free wifi facility to honor the peacekeepers and their family members by allowing them use of Internet services with 3G signal," Catapang said.

The UTair Aviation plane from Monrovia, Liberia with 108 soldiers on board, along with 24 policemen and a jail officer, is scheduled to land at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the early evening of November 12.

"They will disembark at the Villamor Air Base base operations facility and, upon arrival, be brought immediately to Caballo Island for their 21-day quarantine. This is in compliance with our government's drive for the country to remain Ebola virus disease free," Catapang said.

On Nov. 8, the peacekeepers who belonged to the "no risk category" of the Ebola infection in Liberia had been declared safe by the UN medical staff corps.

"Their work is concentrated inside the force headquarters of the United Nations mission in Liberia as members of the mission’s support personnel. They all passed the Ebola screening test, their clinical assessment was strictly required for peacekeepers who are due for repatriation," Catapang said.

The quarantine area at Caballo will be supervised by Task Group Liberia led by the Philippine Navy.

"We are closely working with the Department of Health's Bureau of Quarantine, the Health Emergency Management Bureau and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine during their stay in the island. After the quarantine period the AFP will schedule a heroes welcome for our gallant peacekeepers in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments while in service with the United Nations," Catapang said.

Meanwhile, Catapang said the arriving members of the 18th Philippine Contingent to Liberia will be the last while the threat of Ebola virus continues to spread in that country.

"Actually, our contingent had only six months to serve the UN peacekeeping force there, but their tour of duty was extended anther four months. They stayed there for almost one year," he said.

Military's ex-civil relations chief appointed as National Defense College executive vice-president

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): Military's ex-civil relations chief appointed as National Defense College executive vice-president

Retired general Rolando Jungco Jr. delivering his farewell speech as head of the Civil Relations Service in May 2014. FILE PHOTO BY JAIME SINAPIT

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed a retired Air Force brigadier general whose last assignment was chief of the Civil Relations Service (CRS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the new executive vice president of the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP).

In a phone interview with, Rolando Jungco Jr. confirmed his appointment.

"Actually, it's my first day of office today," he said.

Jungco, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Sandigan Class of 1982, bowed out of the service in May 2014.

"This job (as NDCP’s EVP) is not new to me as I have been lecturing here for years during my stint at the CRS and even when I was the adjutant general prior to CRS," Jungco said.

The position was left vacant for almost two years after the departure of retired Army Brig. Gen. Ernesto Aradanas.

During the time of former AFP chief of staff and now Bureau of Customs' Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa, a military circular was issued requiring all officers aspiring to be promoted to general to take the Masters on National Security Administration at the NDCP.

The NDCP is directly under the Department of National Defense.

'WALA MUNANG GOODTIME' | US 7th Fleet indefinitely cancels liberty calls in PH

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): 'WALA MUNANG GOODTIME' | US 7th Fleet indefinitely cancels liberty calls in PH

The US 7th Fleet has indefinitely cancelled liberty port calls -- the free time ashore allowed military personnel on visiting ships -- in the Philippines following the murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, allegedly by an American Marine, the Navy Times reported.

Laude was founded dead in a hotel in Olongapo City where she had checked in with Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton the night of October 12.

The murder and Pemberton’s subsequent detention under American custody have renewed calls for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US.

The Navy Times report quoted Army Major David Eastburn, spokesman of the US Pacific Command, as saying said Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the PACOM, had canceled liberty for all American servicemen in the Philippines.

The order “prompted 7th Fleet officials to look for ports elsewhere for ships where liberty was the sole purpose of their visit,” the report said.

Although “ships pulling in for a working port call, like repairs, maintenance, or refueling, are still a go, but sailors shouldn't plan any day trips to Manila. There is no timeline for liberty being restored,” it added.

Earlier, officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority said nine US Navy ships scheduled to dock at the former American naval base in Zambales had canceled their visits.

But the Navy Times quoted a 7th Fleet spokeswoman as saying “they haven't officially canceled any port visits,” and that these were “pending.”

The spokeswoman also said the oceanographic survey ship Mary Sears had docked in Subic Bay.

News reports have said the vessel docked for emergency repairs.

Bomb-sniffing dog saves handler in southern Philippines

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): Bomb-sniffing dog saves handler in southern Philippines

A dog handler in the southern Philippines narrowly avoided death after his dog alerted him to a bomb just before it exploded, police said Monday.

Officer Manuel Ynid was only injured when the bomb hidden in a cardboard box exploded in the strife-torn southern port city of Zamboanga late Sunday, said the city police spokesman Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca.

Ynid and his bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois called Diego were part of a team that was investigating an earlier explosion at a massage parlour, Huesca said.

The first bomb had caused no casualties but as Ynid was approaching a cardboard box, the dog reacted, indicating it had detected a bomb.

Just as they moved away from the box, the bomb inside exploded, wounding Ynid although the dog was unharmed.

Security officials said the bomb was made from ammonium nitrate and was possibly set off with a mobile phone.

Ynid is in stable condition while Diego, a three-year veteran who found a bomb in a public square last month, was given a week to recover from the stress, police officials said.

Authorities are still trying to determine who might have been behind the bomb blast.

Zamboanga has been the scene of Muslim rebel activity in the past.

Last year, die-hard Muslim guerrillas occupied parts of the city, resulting in three weeks of urban battles that left more than 240 dead.

The military is also carrying out operations in the islands south of Zamboanga, against the Abu Sayyaf, an Al-Qaeda-linked extremist group blamed for the country's worst terror attacks including bombings and kidnappings.

AFP acknowledges security is fragile in Zamboanga City

From InterAksyon (Nov 10): AFP acknowledges security is fragile in Zamboanga City

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. acknowledged on Monday some fragility in security measures in and around Zamboanga City, following two explosions Sunday night that hit a building and wounded a member of the police's Explosive Ordnance Division (EOD) and his K-9 bomb sniffing dog.

"The latest we knew is that there was a second explosion where the PNP member was wounded. That's why I intend to go back (to Zamboanga City) because I'm not completely satisfied with the security arrangements in place there," Catapang told journalists in a news conference at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Catapang said that, of the 95 barangays of the city, only 20 so far are deemed to have been adequately covered by security forces.

"Troops are concentrated mostly in 20 or so barangays, mainly within the center perimetry of the city. So, I was telling all the barangay officials they should be involved in maintaining peace and order in the city, that was my suggestion to them," Catapang said.

As for the troops, Catapang said he strictly directed them to be vigilant especially in conducting security checks and patrol, and monitoring the ingress or movements of motor vehicles and surveillance of passengers.

Catapang, however, was cautious in classifying the explosions as terror-related acts or perhaps "diversionary tactics" by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and its ally, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), even as intensified military operations continue in their island bastions of Sulu and Basilan.

"Our forensics people are still checking for tell-tale signatures on what kind of bombs were exploded," he said.

In Sulu, the military continues to launch operations against the bandits since the release of their two German captives more than two weeks ago amid allegations of a P250-million payoff.

Pursuing ground troops have, so far, found abandoned bandit camps but inflict no casualties on the side of ASG.

Despite the recent setback in Basilan, where six soldiers, including a neophyte young lieutenant, were killed during an attack by Abu Sayyaf bandits, Catapang said the operational momentum is on the government's side.

"The marching order of our President is to put a stop to the atrocities that ASG is committing, and we are now doing that in Jolo. We have the cooperation of the people; the cause-oriented and civil society groups themselves were the ones who told me that they want peace," he said.

"What I want to happen now in Basilan is to establish a rapport with the people there to help them claim the peace that they want ... I'm also suggesting that we conduct a peace and development or economic summit in Basilan so that, once and for all, we can address the root cause of the problems in the island," he added.