Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Political prisoners to hold week-long fasting

From the Philippine Star (Dec 2): Political prisoners to hold week-long fasting

Political prisoners nationwide are set to holding a week-long fasting in line with the observance of the International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Starting Wednesday, more than 400 political prisoners in different detention facilities nationwide will fast until December 10.

Meanwhile, members of rights groups Karapatan and Selda and numerous peace advocates will also hold  a picket in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) main office in Manila to call on the government to free all political prisoners in the country.

The groups' members will also hold a program at the Manila Regional Trial Court on Wednesday for the hearing of multiple murder case of alleged communist leaders Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echaniz, Vicente Ladlad, and Makabayan Chair Satur Ocampo.

The groups will then march to DOJ building at Padre Faura Street to call for the withdrawal of the filing of the charges against the suspected leaders of the communist movement.


2 soldiers face raps over bar hostage

From the Philippine Star (Dec 1): 2 soldiers face raps over bar hostage

ORMOC CITY, Philippines – Two Army soldiers are facing charges for allegedly taking hostage workers of a videoke bar here  Saturday.

Pfcs. Ruel Oboquin, 22, and Ronie Mameng, 24, both of the Army’s 19th Infantry Batallion (IB), reportedly barged into the Bahada Videoke Bar at around 3:45 a.m., looking for someone.

When they failed to find the person, the soldiers reportedly rounded up the workers identified as Manuel Duallo, security guard; Jason Escala, 22, waiter; Wealyn Yunson, 19, waitress; Giselle Galbiso, 20, cashier; Florama Ablen, 21; Billy Actob, 22, and Ryan Pantas, 23. 

The soldiers reportedly demanded that the bar be reopened, ordered for drinks and forced some workers to drink with them.

Pantas managed to escape and reported the incident to the city police, who compelled the two soldiers to surrender.

The police seized Mameng’s caliber .45 pistol.

Col. Dinoh Dolina, chief of the Army’s 802nd Brigade, said administrative charges would be filed against the soldiers.

Dolina clarified that the two were not originally from the Army’s 19th IB, but were pulled out from the Army’s Charlie Company to help in the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.


ARAW Contingent to leave Leyte soon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): ARAW Contingent to leave Leyte soon

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte --- The Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Support Group Philippines or the  Araw Contingent is due to leave the Province of Leyte on December 17, 2014.

This was announced by Maj. Kwon Doo Young, Chief of Public Affairs (ARAW Contingent) during a press conference held Friday at Ocho Grill, Tacloban City.

The ROK Contingent was established on December 9, 2013. Barely three weeks of preparatory period, the first batch was deployed in Leyte where three municipalities were chosen to be the areas of operation in the rehabilitation such as Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa, Leyte.

This was made after considering the purpose of dispatch, capability of the engineering element and accessibility of the location.

Initial deployment was made last December 2013.  However, the recovery and rehabilitation operations officially started last January 3, 2014.

Since its arrival, various activities were conducted by the ARAW contingent including rehabilitation of public facilities, debris clearing, medical and dental treatment, fumigation, and feeding, among others.

The Araw Contingent is the first contingent to be deployed outside South Korea as a response to a request from a calamity-stricken area.


ARAW contingent completes rehabilitation work in Leyte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): ARAW contingent completes rehabilitation work in Leyte

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – In support to the recovery efforts undertaken by the national government in Yolanda-stricken areas in Leyte, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Support Group Philippines (Araw Contingent) has accomplished more than what is expected from them.

The latest data released by the ROK revealed that the Araw contingent has completed the reconstruction or repair of 66 facilities including 37 schools, 8 hospitals, 17 public offices, 8 Korean war veterans’ houses in Leyte and other welfare facilities.

In addition, the Korean soldiers also help in clearing facilities and debris caused by the typhoon, supplied water, provided vehicle maintenance, removed fallen telegraph poles, provided medical treatment to local residents and conducted fumigation activities in different areas.

Not only infrastructure, the Korean soldiers likewise established a Vocational Training Center located at the Government Center, Brgy. Candahug, Palo Leyte in coordination with the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) where 490 residents from various areas in Leyte including Tacloban, City have availed the skills training provided by the Korean trainers recognized by the Philippine government.

Furthermore, ROK has also offered free Korean language lessons to190 students and entertained the youths through a K-Pop dance competition and a basketball tournament.

With these accomplishments, the Provincial Government of Leyte sincerely thanks the Republic of Korea (ROK) Joint Support Group Philippines (ROK) known as the ARAW contingent for being instrumental in getting back things into normal.

In his message read by Leyte Board Member Bob Abellanosa during the graduation of 59 students in Heavy Equipment Operation Course (HEO) at ROK Vocational Training Center, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla said, Leyte was truly blessed for having the Araw contingent because the ROK not only supported in the rehabilitation efforts but also set up a Vocational Training Course.

“We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the efforts made by the South Korean government.  Through the support of the Korean soldiers, everything became easy for the people to recover despite the destruction of the strong typhoon last year,” Petilla said.


4ID condemns NPA’s attack on ambulance in AgSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): 4ID condemns NPA’s attack on ambulance in AgSur

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City – The 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (4ID, PA) condemns the New People’s Army’s (NPAs) attack on ambulance that killed four civilians and wounding of seven others on board at Sitio Latay, Barangay Marfil, Rosario, Agusan del Sur at around 5:30p.m. on November 30, 2014.

The victims who just came from a thanksgiving mass in Wayside Baptist Church and were on their way back to their residences on board an ambulance from the municipality of Rosario were ambushed by more or less 20 NPAs believed to be members of Guerilla Front 14 of North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC).

Among the 14 on board the ambulance (6 civilian adults and 8 children), four civilians were killed and seven were wounded (6 adults and 1 child).

75th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Ltc Noman Alcovindas immediately coordinated with the PNP in the area and ordered his troop to rescue the victims while other troop conducted pursuit operation on the said NPAs.

4ID commander MGen Oscar T Lactao said that "this is clear evidence that NPAs are more than just criminals but a terrorist group. I strongly condemn this terroristic attack of the NPAs that killed civilians and wounding others on board an ambulance. These people came from a thanksgiving mass and were probably praying for peace in their community but these NPAs attacked them.”

“I urge the PNP, the Commission on Human Rights, and the church to investigate on this terroristic attack. These NPAs must be put behind bars. We cannot just let them roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Mindanao,” MGen Lactao added. (4ID, Phil. Army/PIA-Caraga)


189 graduates of soldiers training beefs up 10th ID

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): 189 graduates of soldiers training beefs up 10th ID

MAWAB COMPOSTELA VALLEY - A total of (189) candidate soldiers successfully completed the 20 weeks military training at the Army's 10th Division Training School of the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division based in Camp General Manuel T Yan Sr., Brgy. Tuburan, Mawab, Compostela Valley Province.

A native of Loreto Agusan del Sur, Mariano N. Gonzales Jr. topped their class besting 96 other members of the class which bears the name “Maalab” or Mandirigmang Agila Alay ay Lakas at Buhay. The class has an original regular quota of 97 candidate soldiers. Seven were not able to survive the rigors of military training and discipline. They were replaced from the pool of reserved but qualified trainees.

Meanwhile, Nicko John S. Manginsay of Tagum City topped the Candidate Soldier Course Class 370-2014 besting 91 others. Their class name “Maligalig” which stands for Mandirigmang Agila na Likas ang Galing, Iingatan ang Gawain Bilang Isang Kawal has an original quota of 96 but four failed to pass the course.

The Candidate Soldier Course, cross-trained with Jungle Warfare Mountaineering Operation Course also included training in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) and Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) Orientation Course.

10th Infantry Division Commander Maj. General Eduardo M. Año, the graduation's keynote speaker, congratulated the new members of "Team Agila" as well as their families and relatives. In his message, General Año, reminded that “soldiers are not only required to possess a high degree of military skills but also willingness to make personal sacrifices, lots of personal sacrifices to provide the most combat capability and the maximum service possible for the tax paid by our people.”

The 10th Infantry “Agila” Division of the Philippine Army is relentless in its peace and security operations to address various threat groups and support developmental efforts in Davao Region where the new graduates will be deployed.  (1LT VERGEL  U . LACAMBRA, Chief, 10THDivision Public Affairs Office)


200 NPAs surrender in Kapalong

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): 200 NPAs surrender in Kapalong

More than 200 rebels, who were mostly indigenous people of Ata Manobo origins, surrendered to the 60th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong.

During the Serbisyo Caravan of the Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies in Region XI (ARENA XI), 216 members of the New People’s Army (NPA) pledged allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and the Constitution on Sunday (November 30).

The Balik-Loob Ceremony was witnessed by 10th Infantry Division commanding officer Major General Eduardo Año, Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario and Kapalong Mayor Edgardo Timbol.

Major General Año encouraged the indigenous people to continue in supporting the army to end the insurgency problem in Barangay Gupitan.

Sa atong mga kaigsuonang lumad dinhi, pagpatuloy niyo ang magsuporta sa ato para once and for all matapos na ang problema natin sa CPP-NPA sa lugar na ito,” he said. (To our Lumad brothers, continue your support to us to, once and for all, end our problem in CPP-NPA in this area.)

Año assured the people that the military will serve 24 hours a day to ensure peace in the area as well as in the whole province.

Meanwhile, Datu Lirab Lirab (not his real name), a tribal chieftain in one of the sitios in Brgy. Gupitan, recalled in his testimony his ordeals while he was kidnapped by the NPA.

“Gigamit ako sa NPA para dauton ang mga sundalo, pati among Mayor ug si Governor,” Datu Lirab Lirab said. (I was used by the NPA (New People’s Army) to speak ill against the military, including our Mayor and the Governor.)

He emphasized that he was directed to broadcast in radio and press conferences to pull out the military in Brgy. Gupitan.

“Gipa-apil pa nila kanako ug pagdaot si Mayor ug Governor kay nganong wala daw gibuhat aron mapahawa ang mga military,” he said. (They even included in my slander the Mayor and the Governor for doing nothing in pulling out the military.)

Datu Lirab Lirab also expressed his happiness for pledging back his allegiance to the republic.


Sulu Gov seeks more cooperation with the AFP on crisis situations

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 29): Sulu Gov seeks more cooperation with the AFP on crisis situations

Sulu Governor Abdusakur "Totoh" A. Tan II sought the cooperation and full collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines especially in time of crisis situations like kidnapping incidents.

 In a press report, Governor Tan expressed dismay over how the military handled the case of two German kidnap victims Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek and his wife Henrike Dielen. He stated his concern during a special meeting last October 20, 2014 at the Provincial Capitol with representatives from various sectors of Sulu Civil Society, government line agencies and institutions.

"We were not informed that the hostages were already rescued, it was only thru media reports that we became aware that they were already rescued Friday night (Oct 17) and in the custody of the Armed Forces," Tan said.

Moreover, he questioned the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) action of keeping the Special Action Committee (SAC) in the dark on the events recently, leading to and the subsequent rescue from the Abu Sayyaf of the two (2) German captives.

"The approved mandate of the committee during the 16 October 2014 Expanded PPOC Resolution was set aside, even though it was unanimously subscribed to by all council members present, including the PNP and AFP. The idea was upon the suggestion of AFP Vice Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, that the committee was created," Tan told sector and community representatives.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico O. Guerrero said in a statement that “the issue has already been resolved since the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CSAFP), General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang, Jr., personally visited the province of Sulu last October 24, 2014 purposely to apologize and consult with the provincial government, particularly with the Special Action Committee, and the people of Sulu for the resolution of this controversy.”

The said apology was lauded by Governor Tan and several of the local officials, while General Catapang pronounced the AFP’s willingness to assist the local government units and the PNP in the attainment of peace and development in the province thru the AFP-PNP Joint Letter Directives.

Sulu Provincial OIC information chief Sonny Y. Abing III said the Special Action Committee (SAC) is a unit created by the Sulu Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) mandated to oversee all law enforcement operations in the hostage situation and rescue of the two German captives, headed by the Sulu Governor, with the provincial chiefs of PNP and AFP, and civilian representatives, among its members.

The Civil Society organizations/groups (CSO) in Sulu, also strongly believe that the military must sincerely involve the participation of the community in the solution of the perennial problem of kidnapping.

"We must build trust between the people and our law enforcers to curtail criminality in the Province," a CSO representative said.

Position papers were submitted to the Office of the Governor from each sector and civil society groups expressing their sentiments and suggestion on possible measures to effect change and improve the organizational structures on public order and law enforcement, and to include community perspective on curtailing criminality in the province.


AFP pursues welfare programs for IPs

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): AFP pursues welfare programs for IPs

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has established government welfare programs for the most vulnerable sectors of society, according to Capt. Frank Suelto, chief of the 1st Tabak division’s Public Affairs Office.

Representing BGen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr. in a press conference held at the conference room, Zamboanga del Sur Police Provincial Office (ZSPO) here, Suelto disclosed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is now attending to the indigenous peoples (IPs) within Tabak’s area of jurisdiction.

He said the AFP had established an IP desk in the line units particularly at the Civil Military Operation (CMO) to assist the IPs.

“We have implemented the cultural sensitivity program. In the program, we conduct orientation, seminar-workshop to our soldiers who are socially immersed in the Subanen community to respect the right to self-determination and to respect their cultural integrity as well,” Suelto explained.

“Our soldiers assigned in the remote areas have provided the IPs basic services through medical civic action program (MEDCAP),” he added.

The AFP has fully supported the implementation of Republic Act 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.

Meanwhile, Suelto said many of the rebel returnees who are IPs have availed themselves of the AFP’s Comprehensive Livelihood Program (CLIP) through the “Guns for Peace,” giving cash incentives to members of the New People’s Army who would voluntarily surrender to the government along with their firearms in exchange for livelihood programs.

The press conference was one of the lined up activities during the Mindanao Week of Peace celebration starting Nov. 27-Dec. 3 organized by the Interfaith Forum for Peace and Solidarity.


CPP/NDF-KM: Lightning Rally para sa Ika-50 Taon ng Kabataang Makabayan

NDF/KM propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Nov 30): Lightning Rally para sa Ika-50 Taon ng Kabataang Makabayan

[Lightning Rally para sa Ika-50 Taon ng Kabataang Makabayan

Lightning Rally para sa Ika-50 Taon ng Kabataang Makabayan, Matagumpay na Inilunsad!

KM, Nanawagang Paigtingin ang Digmang Bayan, Sumapi sa NPA!

MAYNILA – Sa pagdiriwang ng ika-50 anibersaryo ng Kabataang Makabayan, halos 300 na mga kasapi ng Kabataang Makabayan (KM) ang naglunsad ng lightning rally noong Nob. 30 ng umaga, sa araw mismo ng pagkakatatag nito. Ang lightning rally ay nagsimula sa Quiapo patungong Recto Ave. hanggang sa Morayta.

Matagumpay na narehistro ng pagkilos ang mahalagang papel ng Kabataang Makabayan sa pagsisindi ng militanteng kilusang kabataan-estudyante noong dekada ’60 at sa pagsusulong nito hanggang sa kasalukuyan.

Ang mga kalahok sa pagkilos ay may bitbit na mga panawagang “Mabuhay ang ika-50 taon ng Kabataang Makabayan!”, “Ipaglaban ang Karapatan! Ibagsak ang bulok na sistema!”, “Pagtagumpayan ang pambansa-demokratikong rebolusyon!”, “Kabataan at mamamayan, lumahok sa armadong rebolusyon! Sumapi sa NPA!” at “Mabuhay ang CPP-NDF-NPA!” Habang nagmamartsa ay namahagi ng mga polyeto sa mga masa, nagsabit ng mga streamer, nagdikit ng mga poster, at nagpinta ng mga panawagang ito. Tampok ang naging pagladlad ng mga streamer sa mga estratehikong lugar tulad ng tulay sa Quiapo underpass at sa overpass malapit sa tarangkahan ng Malacañang.

Ang lightning rally ay isang tipo ng pagkilos sa kalunsuran kung saan ang mga kasapi ng lihim na organisasyon ng KM ay nananawagan ng paglahok ng mga kabataan at mamamayan sa demokratikong rebolusyong bayan at hikayatin silang sumapi sa NPA. Ang mga kalahok ay may tabing sa mukha upang itago ang kanilang mga identidad.

“Ang mga tagumpay na nakamit ng KM, sa ilalim ng pamumuno ng PKP, ay patunay na tumpak ang pagtahak ng mga mamayan sa rebolusyunaryong landas. Patuloy kaming magmumulat, mag-oorganisa at magpapakilos ng mga kabataan at mamamayan upang wakasan na ang malakolonyal at malapyudal na lipunang Pilipino at pabagsakin ang paghahari ng imperyalismong US, kasabwat ang mga papet nitong panginoong maylupa at malalaking burgesya kumprador na kinakatawan ni Noynoy sa kasalukuyan. Ang tunay na pagbabagong panlipunan ay tanging makakamit lamang sa pagtahak natin sa landas ng armadong rebolusyon. Patuloy ang paglahok ng mga kabataan dito, hanggang sa tagumpay, hanggang sa pagtatayo ng sosyalistang lipunan, hanggang komunismo.” ani Ma. Laya Guerrero, tagapagsalita ng KM.


CPP/NPA: Mga Elemento ng 22nd IB inambus ng BHB sa Pasacao, Camarines Sur

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 2): Mga Elemento ng 22nd IB inambus ng BHB sa Pasacao, Camarines Sur (Elements of the 22nd IB ambushed by theNPA in Pasacao, Camarines Sur)

Michael Robredo
NPA Camarines Sur Front Operations Command (Norben Gruta Command)
Noong Nobyembre 15, 2014 siyam na elemento ng 22nd IB ang inambus sa Barangay Tinalmod, Pasacao Camarines Sur ng magkasanib na pwersa ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan at mga myembro ng Milisyang Bayan sa ilalim ng Norben Gruta Command-West Camarines Sur. Nagtamo ang mga ito ng 2 patay at 2 pang nasugatan.

Nakasamsam ang rebolusyonaryong hukbo ng 1 carbin, 2 magasin sa M14, 7 magasin sa carbin at 1 granada.

Naganap ang pananambang bandang alas 10:15 ng umaga habang ang nasabing 1 iskwad ng 22nd IB ay naglalakad para sa isang hot pursuit operation bilang reaksyon sa pagparusa ng araw ding iyon ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan kay Victorino Abejoro isang elemento ng CAFGU. Ang labanan ay tumagal ng halos 30 minuto. Malapit lamang ang pinangyarihan ng labanan sa detatsment ng 22nd IB na nakabase rin sa Barangay Tinalmod, Camarines Sur. Subalit hindi nito nagawang sumuporta sa kanilang mga kasamahan, imbes ay nagpakawala ito ng maraming putok na di naman umalis sa kanilang kampo. Habang ang mga napalaban naman ay nagsitakbuhan at naiwan ang kanilang mga kasamahang namatay.

Kaugnay nito, Si Abejoro ay pinarusahan dahil sa mga kontra-rebolusyonaryong aktibidad at kasong pagpatay sa mag-asawang Bernardo Gata at Remedios Gata at kamag-anak nitong si Vicente Gata na mga taga Barangay Salvacion, Pasacao Camarines Sur noong taong 1996. Nakumpiska kay Abejoro ang 1 M16 (single shot), 4 na RPG at 2 kalibre 38.


CPP/NPA: 28 ka aksyong militar sa NPA-NCMR sa bulan sa Nobyembre 2014

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 2): 28 ka aksyong militar sa NPA-NCMR sa bulan sa Nobyembre 2014 (28 military actions of the NPA-NCMR the month of November 2014)

Alan Juanito
NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Julito Tiro Command)
Kusganong gisuklan sa mga sub-rehiyon ug natarang gerilya New People’s Army – North Central Mindanao Region ang pagpangatake sa 4th ID – Philippine Army niining bulan sa Nobyembre 2014.

Nalunsad ang 28 ka aksyong militar nga mipahamtang og kapin 40 ka kaswalti (kapin 30 ka patay ug kapin 10 ka samaron) ngadto sa mga tropa 4th ID-PA ug PNP sa mga probinsya sa Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Western Agusan del Norte ug Western Agusan del Sur. Niini nga mga aksyon, 1 ka Pulang Manggugubat ang mabayanihong mihalad sa iyang kinabuhi – si Fransisco “Ka Kevin” Mansiguiao.

Ubos sa pasangil nga pagluwas sa 2 ka POW nga mga tropa sa 8th IB, gilunsad sa 403rd Brigade ang operasyong militar didto sa quad-boundary sa Misamis Oriental, Agusan Norte ug Sur ug Bukidnon sugod niadtong hinapos sa Oktubre 2014.

Sugod petsa 15 hangtud 22 sa Nobyembre, 11 ka hugna sa harassment ang nalunsad sa BHB batok sa mga tropa sa 8th IB, 58th IB, 2 kompanya sa Scout Rangers, Airborne, CAFGU ug paramilitar nga grupong lumad. Mikabat og 20 ang kaswalti sa AFP sa maong sunod-sunod nga mga sangka kung diin nagpalaban na ang kaaway sa ilang kanyon nga mipabuto og 22 ka bala. Miresulta kini sa pagpangbakwit sa kapin 300 ka lumulopyo sa mga sityo sa Lakbangan, Impadiding ug Calhaan, sakop sa barangay Minalwang, Claveria Misamis Oriental.

Sa samang panahon usab, gilunsad sa 402nd Brigade ang operasyong militar didto sa mga lungsod nga sakop sa Agusan del Sur ug Norte. 14 ka mga baryo nga sakop sa San Luis ug La Paz, Agusan del Sur ang gihasi sa COPD teams sa AFP. Sukad niadtong Nobyembre 9, walo (8) ka aksyong militar ang nalunsad sa Western Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur Subregional Command nga mipahamtang og 7 patay ug 5 samaron ngadto sa kaaway.

Taliwala niini nga kahimtang, abtik nga mitubag ang mga sub-rehiyon ug mga natarang gerilya nga nalugakan sa kaaway.

Milunsad og lima (5) ka sunod-sunod nga operasyong harassment ang Mt. Kitanglad Subregional Command, gikan Nobyembre 12 hangtud 22 nga mipahamtang 4 patay ug 8 samaron ngadto sa kaaway. Tulo (3) usab ka sunod-sunod nga harassment ang nalunsad sa Front 4B (Eastern Misamis Oriental) batok sa 3 ka Cafgu detatsment sulod sa bulan sa Nobyembre.

Padayong pakyason sa New People’s Army – North Central Mindanao Region ang gipakusog nga operasyong militar sa 4th ID – Philippine Army. Isip Hukbo sa katawhan, dili kini makatugot nga papason sa kontra-katawhang Oplan Bayanihan ang mga kadaugan nga naangkon sa masa diha sa pagbatok sa pagpangilog sa yuta, paglunsad sa rebolusyong agraryo, pagbarug sa katungod sa kaugalingong paghukom ug pagpanalipod sa yutang kabilin.


Iqbal: There is tremendous pressure to make Bangsamoro better than ARMM

From GMA News (Dec 2): Iqbal: There is tremendous pressure to make Bangsamoro better than ARMM

After witnessing the second and probably the last State of the Region Address (SORA) of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman on Monday, Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal admitted there is “tremendous pressure" to make the Bangsamoro government better than the present reformed ARMM.

“We can see a difference between the present ARMM and before. Kitang-kita ang diperensya,” Iqbal said of Hataman’s administration, noting reform achievements.
Iqbal was among the main guests of Hataman during the SORA on Monday together with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

Hataman is expected to step down if the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority (BTA) is established next year once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) gets ratified.

Iqbal admitted expectations are high to make Bangsamoro improve the lives of the people when the BTA is in place.
“It is our determination, our political will to make things happen. We have our commitment to the people,” Iqbal said.
In a press briefing, Hataman, Iqbal and Deles told the media that efforts are underway for the smooth transition from the ARMM government to Bangsamoro through the BTA.
“We don’t want to make happen the mistakes of the past kaya hinihimay-himay naming mabuti at maayos ng mabuti ang details. Kahit mabagal, basta naisama lahat ang aspirations ng Bangsamoro mapa-MNLF or -MILF aspirations man 'yan,” Hataman said. 

Suspected NPA rebels abduct 2 soldiers in ComVal

From GMA News (Dec 2): Suspected NPA rebels abduct 2 soldiers in ComVal

Two soldiers were abducted by suspected New People's Army rebels in Compostela Valley on Tuesday, a military official said Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, commander of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, said the two were kidnapped by about 15 communist rebels at a banana plantation in Barangay San Roque in New Corrella town at around 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

He, however, declined to identify the two soldiers, who are both members of the 60th Infantry Battalion.

Año said the rebels disguised as farmers when they abducted the soldiers.

"Hindi na sila nakalaban dahil nabigla na lang 'yung dalawa, biglang natutukan 'yung dalawa, so na-abduct 'yung dalawa," he said, noting that the two soldiers were disarmed by the rebels.

He said it seemed the soldiers were caught off guard, as they were easily disarmed by the rebels.

"May failure on the part of our soldiers, masyado silang naging confident, na caught sila off guard [sila], so this is also a reason na improve namin 'yung mga security protocols ng mga sundalo natin na tumutulong sa pagprotect ng vital installations and business interest," he said.

Meanwhile, members of the 60th Infantry Battalion are conducting pursuit operations to rescue the two soldiers.


Army calls for probe in Agusan del Sur ambush staged by NPA

From the Philippine Star (Dec 2): Army calls for probe in Agusan del Sur ambush staged by NPA

The Army on Wednesday called on civilian sectors to investigate the ambush staged by communist rebels in Agusan del Sur that left four persons dead and seven others wounded.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, chief of the Army’s 4th division, said those behind the attack should be made accountable for their actions.

“I urge the PNP (Philippine National Police), the Commission on Human Rights, and the Church to investigate this terroristic attack,” Lactao said in a statement.

“These NPAs (New People’s Army rebels) must be placed behind bars. We cannot just let them roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Mindanao,” he added.

Four persons were killed and seven others, including a child, were wounded after suspected NPA members waylaid an ambulance in Sitio Latay, Barangay Marfil in Rosario town Sunday afternoon.

According to military reports, the victims came from a thanksgiving mass in Wayside Baptist Church and were on their way back to their homes when they ambush by about 20 armed men.

Maj. Christian Uy, spokesman of the Army’s 4th division, said the perpetrators may have been members of the NPA Guerilla Front 14 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

Lactao said the incident has proven that the NPA is “a terrorist group.”

“I strongly condemn this terroristic attack of the NPA that killed civilians and wounding others on board an ambulance,” he said.

Members of the 75th Infantry Battalion are now conducting pursuit operations against the rebels.


3 Zamboanga City siege suspects cry torture

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 2): 3 Zamboanga City siege suspects cry torture

Several detained suspects in the Sept. 9, 2013 Zamboanga Siege have claimed they were tortured by members of the government security forces.

The details of torture were included in the 63-page resolution of the Department of Justice’s reinvestigation report in connection with the rebellion and insurrection charges filed against those arrested.

The DOJ earlier recommended the dropping of cases against 60 of the 287 charged due to absence of gunpowder nitrate and testimonial evidence.

The victims alleged that their heads were wrapped in plastic bags, their feet hit by a baseball bat and their genitals and nipples stapled.

A Government trooper rests amidst the ruins at the site of a three-week intense fighting between Government forces and Muslim rebels who have taken nearly 200 people hostages and used them as human shields, Saturday Sept. 28, 2013 in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO
A Government trooper rests amidst the ruins at the site of a three-week intense fighting between Government forces and Muslim rebels who have taken nearly 200 people hostages and used them as human shields, Saturday Sept. 28, 2013 in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

The victims said they were tortured to force them to admit that they were members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). (Members of an armed MNLF faction staged a protest action in Zamboanga City with the intent, according to the government, to take over the city government facilities and declare their return to rebellion. Government immediately sent troops to arrest the armed MNLF members, resulting in the siege.)

Neighbors Jeffrey Umandak, Makrin Manambahi and Botes Mahamud, residents of Barangay Santa Barbara here have told the DOJ they were tortured by government agents.

The three left their homes after government announced a forced evacuation on Sept. 14. With white cloth on sticks to signify they were civilians, they ran toward government soldiers’ location.

“However when they were within reach, soldiers hit them with the butts of their rifles, made to lie flat on the ground and their hands and necks tied with a rope,” the DOJ’s report, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said.

During the interrogation, the report added, the three were “subjected to torture, questioning, forcing them to admit that they are members of the MNLF. They were repeatedly punched, kicked and their heads wrapped with plastic bags.”

“After hours of torture they were transported to Camp Batalla for another round of interrogation and later brought to Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO),” the report added.

“(At the ZCPO), police punched staple wires on their nipples, their feet bound together and their faces covered with plastic bags and their penises punched with staple wires,” the report said.

Umandak is a homeowner at the Ayer Village in Santa Barbara. His neighbor, Manambahi, is a utility worker of the Santa Barbara Elementary School, while Mahamud is a pedicab driver.

Lawyer Edylyn Santiago, head of the sub-regional Office of the ARMM’s Human Rights Commission, said that of the 60 whose cases were recommended for dismissal, 29 were from Basilan, eight from Sulu, 14 from Zamboanga City, two from Zamboanga del Norte and six from Zamboanga Sibugay.

Of those from Basilan, most are from Barangay Sulutan Matangal in Mohammad Ajul town.

Mohammad Ajul Mayor Talib Pawaki, in a phone interview, said those arrested “are innocent.”

“Most of them are poor fishermen and boat people who were just contracted by the MNLF to bring them to Zamboanga City,” he said.

He said more than 10 fishermen from his town were killed during the siege, while more than two dozens have been in jail since the siege.

But Commissioner Edilwasif Baddiri of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) said freeing the suspects would go through a long process.

“It will go through the court process and the court will ask the other parties to comment and the judge will make his own assessment on an individual basis, so it will still take a long time,” Baddiri told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview.

Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar said she was surprised by the DOJ’s report.

“Nothing has been communicated to us,” Salazar said, adding that she might “make a letter of appeal.”

Salazar maintained that those arrested passed through a “process of screening” to ensure that innocent civilians were not deprived of their liberty.

Supt. Ariel Huesca, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City Police Office, said all material evidence gathered against the 287 accused, including more than a hundred firearms, were diligently collected by the police.

He, however, admitted that not all the firearms found and recovered from the sites of battle were in possession of those arrested.


Artillery battalions with 155, 105mm howitzers move in Mindanao

From Ang Malaya (Dec 2): Artillery battalions with 155, 105mm howitzers move in Mindanao

Philippine Army Artillery Regiment’s 7th Field Artillery and the newly formed 8th Field Artillery Battalion will be supporting ground troops in Central Mindanao and ZamBaSulTa respectively. 7FAB is taking care of 155mm Howitzer while the 8FAB with 105mm Howitzer.

“We are seen as the deliverer of hope in winning this battle or any battles. If history may speak itself, indeed, we have helped won many battles. Thus, we have nowhere to go but forward and prove the worth of their trust and confidence in us,” AAR Regiment Commander Brigadier General Leandro A Loyao III told 7FAB Commander Lt Col Ferdinand Geminic P. Ramirez and 8FAB Commander Lt Col Jeffrey A. Cabansay in a simple ceremony at Zamboanga City.

“With the recent activation of 8FAB which primarily supports troops in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi (ZamBaSulTa), we can now focus our reinforcing fire support to units in Central Mindanao like the 1st and 6th Infantry Divisions and other government troops operating in the said areas,” 7FAB Commander Lt Col Ramirez said.

Army Artillery Regiment now has a total of eight battalion deployed in different strategic locations. Recent movement of artillery batallions is aimed to boost campaign against the terror group Abu Sayyaf and other lawless elements in Mindanao.


MILF: ARMM projects to continue under Bangsamoro entity

From the Philippine Star (Dec 2): MILF: ARMM projects to continue under Bangsamoro entity

Flanked by Muhaquer Iqbal of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles (right), Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (center) raises a point during a press conference Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, in Cotabato City. John Unson

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Monday assured to be at par or even surpass the efficiency of the present administration of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao once the Bangsamoro political entity replaces the present regional government.

Muhaquer Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, told reporters at the office of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman in Cotabato City that they will continue the religious implementation of whatever costly unfinished projects the regional government shall turn over to the new entity once it is established via the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law.

The bill, which aims to replace the ARMM with an MILF-led Bangsamoro entity, is now in Congress, expected to be enacted into law by the first quarter of 2015.

“We will continue all the projects of the ARMM and all its programs benefiting all people in the region,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles were among the special guests on Monday’s state of the region address (SORA) of Hataman at the ARMM’s Sharif Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City.

Hataman’s SORA delved on his administration’s accomplishments in introducing reforms in the graft-ridden regional government and in the implementation of some P2 billion worth of infrastructure projects from 2012 to November 2014.

Hataman, through his SORA, punctuated by impromptu acknowledgement of the gains of the Mindanao peace process, again gave a vote of confidence to the on-going diplomatic overture between Malacañang and the MILF.

In a press conference with Hataman and Deles after the SORA, Iqbal said the projects and humanitarian programs of the ARMM administration will hasten the efforts of the MILF to foster peace and development in the autonomous region and other areas inside the proposed territory of the Bangsamoro entity.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“We can assure the public that the Bangsamoro will continue these projects and do its best to be at par if not surpass the performance of the present ARMM administration,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal said they find consoling Hataman’s assurance to relinquish his post and turnover to the incoming Bangsamoro entity whatever savings there are in all coffers of the ARMM’s line agencies and support offices under a transition process agreed by the MILF and government.

Hataman's administration had saved in the past two years more than P1 billion in state funds from the national government for the ARMM's education and public works departments, earmarked for projects and operating expenses of the two agencies, both touted as the region's most corrupt during the time of past regional governors.

Hataman said that his SORA last Monday could be his last owing to the possibility of the replacement of the ARMM government with a Bangsamoro entity next year.


Sajahatra Bangsamoro to include Muslims and Christians in conflict affected areas

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 2): Sajahatra Bangsamoro to include Muslims and Christians in conflict affected areas

Representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government in the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program cited the inclusivity of rendering basic services to the communities even extending beyond the Bangsamoro areas.

Speaking at the Hermes Club press briefing at the Waterfront Insular Hote, Dr. Taugan Kikay, team leader of the project management of the MILF in the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program said the services of the program extend to both Christians and Muslims to ensure that they see and experience the caring hands of government especially in the once conflict-affected areas.

He said the Sajahatra Program simply puts to life its real meaning in the languages like Maguindanaowon, Malaysian and Arabic implying bracing for peace and development.

Kikay observed the program gets good acceptance even to the Muslim communities due to the basic services in education, health and livelihood assistance.

The Sajahatra Bangsamoro followed immediately following the dialogue between President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Japan, two years ago and the subsequent signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the peace panels of the MILF and the government.

“The program is enjoyed by both the Muslims and Christians in the once conflict-affected areas,” Kikay said.

Hadizer Birowa, director of the Sajahatra Program under the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said under the program, a total of 11,000 now enjoy insurance coverages through the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

He also said that the Cotabato City Sanitarium Hospital is undergoing repair in order to cater to the sick.

Birowa also said that more than 16,000 children are now placed under the supplementary feeding program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development while 639 students enjoy scholarship grants from the Commission on Higher Education.

He said that through the Department of Education, reading, writing and arithmetic are now integrated in the education system of the Madaris.

“We also cater to place outside the conflict-affected areas like Mati City, Davao Oriental, Munay, Lanao del Norte, Butig, Lanao del Sur, Tungaoan, Zamboanga Sibugay and in areas like Magcawa, Albarca, Basilan, Bongao, Tawi-tawi, Jolo, Sulu and Sultan Mastura in Maguindanao,” Birowa said.


Peacekeepers end Caballo Island quarantine

From InterAksyon (Dec 2): Peacekeepers end Caballo Island quarantine

Peacekeepers being quarantined at Caballo Island depart for a final medical checkup before being released to spend Christmas with their loved ones. Photographs from Armed Forces of the Philippines

The 108 soldiers, 24 police officers and a jail officer have finally finished their quantine after returning from their nine-month United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Ebola-stricken Liberia, finishing the mandatory 21-day isolation period on Caballo Island off Manila Bay, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced.

"Officially, on this day, their quarantine period ended," said Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, public affairs chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

At about 12 noon Tuesday, they boarded Philippine Navy vessels (in photo above) for the transfer to Sangley Point in Cavite, to be transported by military buses to the AFP Medical Center for routine medical screening.
Major Gerard Alvaran, one of the peacekeepers, said that he was very excited to come back home.

"I am eagerly waiting for this day that we finish this quarantine period. I can't wait to see my family during the Hero's Welcome that is scheduled for us," he said.

Alvaran said that they enjoyed their stay on Caballo Island.

"Our stay was never boring because we had lots of activities including fun games, environmental protection activities and also the rare opportunity to discover the historic spots there," he said.

The peacekeepers were formed into groups and were allowed to visit Battery Craighill and Battery Gillespied, where they experienced views of Metro Manila, Cavite and Corregidor island.

Master Sergeant Freddie Mercado, the group's first sergeant, said that he kept himself fit during his stay on the island.

"I jogged every morning around the island, during which I also had the chance to watch the beauty of the sunrise. I also participated in all the ball games to interact with my fellow peacekeepers," he said.

SPO4 Shirley B. Alonzo, a member of the police peacekeepers, said that the quarantine was not in vain.

"Our stay was very productive. It also gave us an opportunity to show our creativity by making the island a better place by planting trees and conducting coastal cleanup," she said.

One peacekeeper is confined at the AFP Medical Center for hypertension, although, Cabunoc said, "although we hope he will be able to join the group to receive the heroes' welcome" that will coincide with the lighting of the Christmas tree there.

AFP Chief of Staff, General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. will lead the welcome ceremony that will be held at 4:30 pm on Thursday.

"I am very happy that the peacekeepers have successfully finished the quarantine without any untoward incident. I am commending them for their self-sacrifices to make our country Ebola virus-free," he said.

Catapang has also prepared exciting prices for winners of the friendly competition such as essay writing, photo contest and sportsfest.

Catapang will award the UN Service Medal to the peacekeepers for their exemplary performance and services as members of the peacekeeping contingent in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the 24 peacekeepers from the Philippine National Police were given honors by the PNP top brass.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said the peacekeepers arrived at Camp Crame Tuesday afternoon after completing their mandatory 21-day quarantine.

"In honor of their sacrifice and courage in their missions, the PNP personnel who have served in UN peacekeeping operations in Ebola-stricken Liberia will be awarded letters of commendation, UN Service Medal and Glock 9mm Pistol to be witnessed by their families and other police officers," Mayor said.

"Since 1992, the PNP has been sending its peacekeeping contingents to UN peacekeeping operations and missions, first in Cambodia and subsequently in other countries torn by conflict to provide services and assistance," said Mayor.