Friday, December 5, 2014

Opinion: Distorting Moro Mindanao, Part 1

Opinion piece from Rappler (Nov 22): Distorting Moro Mindanao, Part 1 (by Patricio N. Abinales)

'The absence of the historian in the world of punditry and policy has fostered a series of ill-conceived notions about Muslim Mindanao, the most serious of which being the Moro armed struggle and the causes behind it'

(This argument has already been made academically. The essay is attempt to broaden its audience and, hopefully, generate some debate.)

Pundits, public intellectuals, and policy wonks share two common and often irritable habits: the tendency to sermon and the penchant to predict.

The attitude behind these two usances is strictly positivistic. What is now is important, and what is now determines what the future will look like…but if, and only if, certain current variables and formulas are adhered to.

Predictability is thus dependent mainly on the data at hand. Where history may figure in, its role is to simply “introduce” the contemporary scene. It is an appetizer to the main course, and sometimes it is not even adequate.

Consider, for example, how policy wonks and pundits approach the issue of separatism in Moro Mindanao. These bright minds may sometimes differ ideologically, but they almost always share a common view of the historical origins of Moro separatism.

Here, for example, is what the World Bank wrote in 2005:

“Spain subdued the northern island of Luzon…and…the Americans…brought [Mindanao] under central control, although hostility and conflict remained endemic.... Thus, persisting for some five centuries, the Mindanao conflict is the second-oldest on earth, after the conflict between North and South Sudan….

“The Philippines was comparatively calm for a period after independence in 1946, but conflict flared up again in the late 1960s as growing numbers of Christian settled in Mindanao. Settlers arrived particularly from Central Luzon and Panay Island in the Visayas.

“The resettlement was fostered by deliberate policy of the central government in Manila, and eventually resulted in Mindanao having a Christian majority overall, with Muslim-majority areas concentrated in the central and southwestern regions.”

And here is what an institutional critic of the World Bank penned in 2008:

“There is consensus among analysts, policy makers and rebel leaders that the root cause of the conflict stems from (a) the marginalization of the Moro inhabitants from the mainstream Philippine society as a result of the latter’s conversion to Christianity, and (b) the influx of Christian settlers to Mindanao as combined results of population pressure in the northern islands of Luzon and Visayas, and the government’s policy of encouraging Christian settlers to develop Mindanao’s land resources.

“These factors led to (a) the alienation of the Moros and the IPs [indigenous people] from the central government located in Manila as they were treated in the fringe or outside the Christian-dominated society, (b) increasing impoverishment of Moro and IP communities as they were not provided adequate development assistance, (c) strained relationship between Moro and IP communities, and Christian communities within Mindanao due to religious and cultural differences, and (d) persistent indifference among national government agencies on the plight of the Moros and IPs as they are different from the rest of Philippine society.”

The common view of Moro history by these two ideological rivals is uncanny. It is as if both knew how to end each other’s sentences. But only when it comes to history. When it comes to engaging the present and forecasting the future, the two would passionately disagree:
  • more markets, more infrastructure, more outside money for the World Bank (ie, spread capitalism into the war zones)
  • more community involvement, inward-looking food-centered development, more education and welfare on the part of the Philippine Development Forum (ie, preserve communalism and limiting the spread of the market)
So how do we explain their consensus when it comes to history, but divergence in regards to the present and the future?

The first has to do with intellectual conceit. They think history has no value in such writings because it is, well, history. It is the past; it is old and, even if we read an occasional citation of what Rizal said about learning from our past, this is just being deferential.

Hence, the curt historical overviews of the above documents. One gets the sense that the authors of these texts see looking back as something that needs to be immediately dispensed with so that we can all go to the meat of the discussion: the present.

The second reason is professional turf. The image of the historian is that fellow who works in the ivory tower and prefers to live her life inside mephitic archives. As he is concerned mainly with the dead and their stories, he rarely ventures a comment or two on the contemporary world.
In the world of punditry and policy, this character is an oddball, of little if no value in the evaluation and resolution of the problems of the day. So why accord the historian a place at the table with pundits and wonks?

Unfortunately, it is the absence of the historian at that table that has fostered a series of ill-conceived notions about Muslim Mindanao. The most serious among these, because it is also the most resilient, is the argument of a thousand-year Moro armed struggle and the causes behind it.

[Patricio N. Abinales is professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. He hails from Mindanao.]

Opinion: Distorting Moro Mindanao, Part 2

Opinion piece from Rappler (Dec 5): Distorting Moro Mindanao, Part 2 (by Patricio N. Abinales)

There was not a single nationalist sentiment in the Moro revolts against Americans. They were not widespread either.

This essay is a followup to what I wrote last November 22.

The one theme that civil society groups and the World Bank share when it comes to Muslim Mindanao is the idea of a thousand-year unified Moro resistance against colonialism and the Philippine Republic. On this, they find support from historians and public intellectuals.

The historian Samuel K. Tan, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ideologue Sallah Jubair (Mohagher Iqbal), and the Mindanawon public intellectual Rudy Rodil all subscribe in various ways to this idea of the century-old struggle argument. Their ideas are, in turn, picked up by the institution that has a hand in shaping public opinion: the media.

Yet, if we take a second look at the available data, we can easily notice a couple of discrepancies. Tan, for example, has framed his studies in a way that shows that this long history of Moro resistance is an inherent part of the larger nationalist movement working for the flowering of the Filipino nation.

However, the evidence he presents in a 1977 book, The Filipino Muslim Armed Struggle, 1900-1972, contradicts his conclusion. Tan tracks the various revolts against the Americans in the first decade of colonial rule, and the first thing one immediately notices is that the causes of these revolts were all very local in nature.

If these revolts were “anti-American,” it was because the rebels protested the ban on slavery and the policy of the head tax. There was not a single nationalist sentiment in them. They did not even consider their resistance part of the Filipino anti-American movement.

(Rodil has a more nuanced approach, recognizing the general Moro sentiment that they were never part of the Republic and their preference to remain under American rule. But he stops in pursuing this second thread even today.)

This absence of any ideology leads us to the second discrepancy.

The orthodox historical view portrays these revolts as being widespread.
They were not. The denseness of the Mindanao ecosystem made it impossible for these rebels to connect with each other. Even the Americans had a hard time setting up and maintaining the telegraph system to cover the entire island. This was one of the reasons they were easily suppressed by the militarily superior colonizers.

Thus, the two major brutal events which historians, public intellectuals, NGO activists, aand even Asian Development field specialists cite as the acme of Moro resistance – the massacres of Bud Dajo in 1906 and then in Bud Bagsak in 1913 – were events that hardly made reverberations all across Muslim Mindanao.

These two horrific events happened in Sulu, and involved a couple of Tausog communities. Magindanaos, Maranaos, and Samals were not involved in them simply because they knew nothing of them. The ones who read and heard the most were the American media (even Philippine media had limited coverage of both massacres).

The feeble nature of the Moro opposition to the Americans helps us understand two related puzzles: the speed with which the Moros turned around and accepted public education taught by the same soldiers they were fighting a year back, and, as a result, the development of strong pro-American, anti-Filipino sentiment that persists to this very day.

Nationalists and believers of the 1,000-year Moro struggle do have a point about the brutality of early American colonial rule in Moro Mindanao.
However, they say very little about the second phase of that dominance when the Americans introduced public education to their colonial wards. But this cultural project had a more lasting effect than the horrors of war because of its capacity to reshape the public perception of American colonial rule.

It is important to note one ignored historical fact here: the transformation of American soldiers into teachers and the installation of public schools throughout the Moroland was only the second time that “teachers” came to share their wisdom and spread knowledge among the Moros.

The first teachers were the Islamic missionaries whose proselytization also involved helping the sultanates consolidate their power. These imams did not come in groups, in fact. All of them traveled on their own by hitching a ride with trading fleets to get to their destinations. But they made up for their small numbers by their extreme mobility and the alliances they entered into with local sultans and datus. This was how Islam spread throughout southwestern Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago; today it remains a powerful influence in these communities.

This can also be said about American public education. The soldiers-turned-teachers schooled their constituencies in English reading and writing as well as some mathematics while keeping religion at arm’s length. Communities were acquiring new knowledge, providing them some insight into how their colonial masters governed but also into how to engage a new order where English was becoming the main lingua franca of the Southeast Asian maritime trade.

The lessons from the public schools became strongly embedded in the Moro mindset. The first generation of college educated Moros were extremely fluent in English, could relate well with their American overseers, and, more importantly, could understand the legal and political dynamics of Manila-Moro relations. Their followers shared the same sentiment. Thus, like Islam, pro-Americanism became the other durable mentality in Moro Mindanao; it was after the American army left in 1913, it still is in the era of the Balikatan exercises and the War on Terror.

The failure by historians to correct these myths and their refusal to recognize evidence that contradict what is being bandied around by everyone – including policy wonks and NGO activists – as the Moro modern history have an impact on how contemporary events have unfolded in the South. These will be explored in the 3rd part of this extended essay.

[Patricio N. Abinales studied the political history of Cotabato and Davao under the Americans and after independence for his PhD dissertation.]

Scores displaced by battle between soldiers and Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 5): Scores displaced by battle between soldiers and Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

At least six civilians were wounded in the cross fire of a battle between government soldiers and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Al Barka, Basilan, on Thursday.

The military said three Abu Sayyaf men were killed and eight wounded, while the government suffered seven wounded, including an officer.

Al Barka Mayor Darussalam Lajid told the Inquirer in a telephone interview Friday that more than a hundred families were forced out of their homes in the villages of Ginanta, Magkawa, Linuan, Makalang and Danapah by almost 12 hours of gunfire.

A list of the victims released by the Lamitan District Hospital showed that one was a minor.

They were identified as Lucio Salses, 54; Pedro Bantilin, 64; Arham Sapii, 30; Shaima Abdasan, 28; Mujid Jasalun, 25; and Mohamad Jaharun, 14.

“I advised my residents not to return to their respective homes yet. The tension is still high and threats still loom,” Lajid said.

Tipo-tipo Mayor Tong Istarul said residents of villages near Al Barka were also “shaken and afraid.”

“My people were afraid that clashes could spill to our town,” he said.

Edylyn Santiago, head of the Basulta sub-office of the Regional Human Rights Commission in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said they would investigate how the civilians were wounded.

Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the Abu Sayyaf faction led by Furuji Indama and Nurhassan Jamiri suffered three dead and eight wounded.

Among the slain bandits was Abdullah Kalitot, who was a fugitive from the Basilan provincial jail.

“Subject was charged with nine counts of murder committed in Basilan in 2007 and had a monetary reward of P500,000,” Capt. Eugene Espino, Public Affairs Officer of the Joint Task Group Basilan said.

Lt. Col. Paulo Perez, commander of the 18th Infantry Battalion, said seven soldiers were wounded in the firefight. One of them was his executive officer, a major.

“We encountered around 60 bandits and they were all heavily armed with mortars, recoil-less rifles and caliber-50 machine gun,” Perez said.

Civilian wounded in Maguindanao clash between MILF commanders

From InterAksyon (Dec 5): Civilian wounded in Maguindanao clash between MILF commanders

MILF uniform patches

A woman was wounded in the crossfire as followers of two Moro Islamic Liberation Front commanders clashed in Datu Abdullah Sangki town, Maguindanao Thursday afternoon, police said.

Town police chief Inspector Wendylyn Banico, who did not identify the victim, said the eight-hour clash between the men of a Kumander Tony of the MILFs 105rth Base Command and Kumander Rex of the 10rth Base Command had left Barangay Tukanalugong deserted after residents fled to escape the fighting.

Banico said a land conflict most likely triggered the hostilities.

Gun deal gets Purisima sacked

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 5): Gun deal gets Purisima sacked

Malacañang won’t rescue national police chief


 OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales yesterday placed under preventive suspension Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and 10 other officials over allegations that they entered into an anomalous contract for courier services in 2011.

The Ombudsman said probable cause was established to warrant Purisima’s six-month suspension without pay. The order has already been transmitted to the Department of Interior and Local Government for immediate implementation.

Purisima is also facing two plunder complaints before the same office over allegations of hidden wealth and questionable deals, including the renovation of his official quarters in Camp Crame.

A Palace spokesman said Malacañang would abide by the Ombudsman’s decision. “We are a government of laws, not of men,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

“Under the rules, the suspension order will be conveyed to the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government who is tasked to implement the same,” he added.

Coloma, however, begged off from answering questions on whether President Benigno Aquino III was inclined to replace his handpicked police chief, given the length of the preventive suspension.

He expressed confidence that the work of the PNP will not be derailed even with Purisima out.

He also noted that Purisma may also appeal the ruling of the Ombudsman.

“There are still legal remedies available to General Purisima, including seeking reconsideration,” Coloma said.

In an earlier interview, Aquino personally vouched for the good character of Purisima, whom he had known since 1987 when the PNP chief was still a member of the Presidential Security Group of the late President Corazon Aquino.

“I have not known him to be extravagant or greedy,” the President said.

But an administration ally, Senator Sergio Osmeña III, said Purisima should resign.

“If he wants, he can call it falling on his sword, on behalf of his boss, the President,” said Osmena.

The senator said Purisima should have filed his irrevocable resignation six months ago, when allegations against him began to surface, including reports that he had built a mansion in Nueva Ecija.

“He should have also retired. He has a very, very beautiful house,” Osmena said.

Asked if the President should remove Purisima, Osmeña replied: “The President stands by his friends, which is not good. In many instances, especially when you are in government, standing by your friends, is not a virtue. It is a shortcoming.”

Osmeña said the string of corruption charges against Purisima had demoralized the police.

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, called on the President to immediately appoint a capable leader to run the PNP during Purisima’s suspension, but would not say if the police chief should be sacked.

Poe’s panel had earlier investigated Purisima’s alleged unexplained wealth.
The PNP said it would seek legal remedies for the suspension of Purisima and his lieutenants.

“The PNP respects the decision of the Ombudsman and we ill exhaust all necessary and available legal remedies to address the issue,” said PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor in a briefing.

Mayor said the suspension was not a penalty but a preventive measure to keep a respondent from influencing the investigation.

Also suspended without pay over the courier contract were: Police Director Gil Meneses, former chief of the Civil Security Group; former PNP Firearms Explosive Office personnel Chief Supts. Raul Petrasanta and Napoleon Estilles, Senior Supts. Allan Pareno, Eduardo Acierto, Melchor Reyes, and Lenbell Fabia; Supt. Sonia Calixto, Chief Insps. Nelson Bautista and Ricardo Zapata and Senior Insp. Ford Tuazon.

The Ombudsman said Petrasanta, Pareno, Acierto, Fabia, Calixto, Bautista, Zapata and Tuazon will face another six-month preventive suspension due to an ongoing probe on missing AK-47s.

Asst. Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said Meneses and Estilles are not included in the second suspension order because the Ombudsman noted that they are already retired while Purisima is not among the respondents in the complaint regarding the AK-47s.

The suspension of Purisima and the other PNP officers came after the Ombudsman found that he entered into a contract with Werfast Documentary Agency in 2011 for the delivery of firearms license cards even without proper accreditation.

According to the Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman, the company was accredited two years after it has signed the contract with the PNP. The accreditation was approved by Meneses, then CSG head and, subsequently approved in 2013 by Purisima, who was appointed PNP chief in 2012.

A concerned citizen filed a complaint last April, accusing Purisima and other PNP officers and Werfast officials of pocketing about P100 million by allegedly overcharging for the delivery of firearms license cards to registered gun owners.

Grenade explodes in Bgy. Mother Labu-labu

From ABS-CBN (Dec 5): Grenade explodes in Bgy. Mother Labu-labu

MAGUINDANAO - A hand grenade was lobbed at a police car in Barangay Mother Labu-labu in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao Friday morning.

According to Shariff Aguak Municipal Police Deputy Chief Police Insp. Michael Tinio, they received information that a suspected bomb, placed inside a sack, was left at a car wash in the said area around 4 a.m.

While securing the area, they noticed a stone-like object thrown around 4 meters away at a private vehicle the police used. An explosion ensued.

No one was reported hurt or injured in the explosion.

Tinio said they are still conducting a deeper probe to determine the motive behind the incident.

On Tuesday, two other grenades were lobbed at the house of former Maguindanao Board Member Yasser Ampatuan in the same village. The grenades did not explode.

MILF: MILF assures it will stop using child soldiers

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 5): MILF assures it will stop using child soldiers

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday vowed to exert all efforts to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers and remove the group from the UN list of armed groups using children as combatants.
The assurance came during an orientation on the UN-MILF Action Plan on the recruitment and use of children attended by UNICEF officials and MILF commanders, in Camp Darapanan here.

MILF first vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said they wanted to set an example to other armed groups like the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in respecting internationally recognized children’s rights.

“We approved this code of conduct as our sincere effort to show our concern for children’s future, but it was never the policy of the MILF to use children,” Jaafar said.

“MILF is the only non-state armed group in the whole world attempting to be delisted from the list of armed groups that engage children in armed conflict and this is something very, very unique”, according to UNICEF country representative Lotta Sylwander.

She said the move would have global significance now that the group has set its eyes on developing the Bangsamoro together with the state.

In a visit last week to Camp Rajah Muda in Pikit, North Cotabato where the same orientation was held, one MILF fighter admitted it was difficult to refuse children who wanted to follow the footsteps of family members who have joined the group.

“But now, realizing the improvements of the peace talks and the recent developments with the sincerity of the present government, we rather wanted to see young fighters in schools,” the source who refused to be identified said.

Aside from MILF, military commanders and troops also underwent a series of orientation sessions on the action plan to ensure adherence to international law.
Globally, at least 740,000 people die directly or indirectly as a result of armed violence every year. One third of these deaths can be attributed to armed conflicts in war zones.

In the Philippines, it is estimated that around 30,000 to 50,000 children were displaced by armed conflict every year for the past years, mostly in Mindanao.
The UN-MILF Action plan is a key component in ensuring protection for children in situations of armed conflict.

Signed in 2009, the Action Plan commits the MILF to concrete, time-bound activities pertaining to the prevention of recruitment and use of children as combatants or in supporting roles, the separation of any children under 18 from the command structure, unimpeded access for UN verification, and awareness raising on child rights and child protection for its military rank and file, as well as for MILF communities.

Orientations are currently being carried out across all 31 MILF base commands and seven Front Commands in Mindanao for Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) commanders and troops.

So far, 4,151 BIAF elements from 26 base commands and four fronts have received these trainings.

At the end of these sessions, MILF front and base commanders would publicly commit to ensure that no children are associated with their respective commands, and that if there are cases, these children will be separated from the command structure. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)

CPP: Revolutionary forces prepare for typhoon Ruby—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 5): Revolutionary forces prepare for typhoon Ruby—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said all revolutionary forces will be mobilizing all possible resources to secure the people and carry out all necessary operations in the face of the upcoming supertyphoon Ruby (international name Hagupit).

“All units of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in areas in the path of typhoon Ruby, specifically those in Eastern Visayas, Panay, Central Visayas, Negros, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions, are on alert to immediately respond to possible emergencies that may arise as a result of the typhoon,” said the CPP.

“In geologically hazardous areas where there is danger of floods, mudflows, sea surges and other natural disasters, barrio revolutionary committees and standing organs of political power acting as agencies of the people’s government are in the process of mobilizing the people to carry out preventive evacuation to ensure their safety,” said the CPP.

“Special attention should be given to the elderly, children, pregnant women, single parents and others requiring special assistance in times of emergencies,” added the CPP. “The barrio revolutionary authorities must be able to account for the village population before and after the storm and carry out rescue operations when necessary.”

“Units of the people’s militias serving as civil defense units have been tasked to assist the people in preparing evacuation areas, securing their homes, properties, work animals, fields and sources of livelihood,” added the CPP.

“Planning and quick action by local Party branches, mass organizations, people’s militias and units of the NPA are critical in ensuring the safety of the people and enabling the people to confront and overcome the impact of the storm.”

CPP/NDF/Sison: Jose Ma. Sison’s latest book launched in the Netherlands

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 4): Jose Ma. Sison’s latest book launched in the Netherlands

NDFP International Information Office
Detention and Defiance Against Dictatorship, the latest book of Jose Maria Sison, was launched yesterday at the international office of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The book contains Sison’s selected writings while in detention in 1977-1986, during the notorious Marcos dictatorship.

The book launching was co-organized by the Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands (FREN), International Network for Philippine Studies (INPS), and the NDFP International Information Office to coincide with the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners on 03 December.

The event was well-attended by Filipino and international guests. They were treated to a short program of interesting speeches and cultural numbers. Prominent Dutch lawyer Michiel Pestman, Rose Bernabe PhD, and NDFP Political Consultant Vic Ladlad gave highly engaging reviews of the book.

Julieta de Lima-Sison, Chairperson of the INPS, publisher of the book, spoke about the INPS’ ongoing project to publish five volumes of Sison’s selected writings, spanning different periods of his life. The latest book contains Sison’s writings while in detention during the Marcos dictatorship. These writings were smuggled out from prison through the most creative of means to evade the watchful eyes of guards assigned to secure the dictator’s most prized political prisoner.

According to De Lima-Sison, his writings were an expression of Sison’s defiance against the oppressive dictatorship, despite the various types of torture he endured without being broken. His writings while in prison served as guide to the revolutionary movement outside the prison walls that played a key role in the eventual overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

Michiel Pestman has been Sison’s long-time lawyer in some of his difficult cases. In 2007, he successfully defended Sison and caused his release from detention in The Hague on trumped-up charges instigated by the Manila government. His special expertise is on terrorism, political activism, international humanitarian law and extradition. Pestman has wide experience in taking up controversial cases in such courts as the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia, the special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

In his book review, Pestman decried the different types of torture employed on Sison. He noted that Sison was actually water-boarded before “water-boarding” acquired international notoriety, as a result of the torture scandals exposed in US-run prisons in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Pestman said that, as his lawyer, he advised Sison to use his right to remain silent during interrogations. He said, however, that Sison did not always follow his advice but perhaps it was for the better since it was probably one of the reasons why he got a rather quick release from detention.

Dr. Rose Bernabe chose to do a chapter review, explaining that she had great admiration for Sison and took him seriously, adding that a full book review would need more time than what the brief program would allow. She focused on Chapter 1: Dialectical Materialism of Sison’s article The Basic Principles of Marxism-Leninism: A primer. She said she agreed with much of what Sison wrote about materialist philosophy but she had some questions of her own that she wanted to discuss with Sison sometime.

Vic Ladlad began his speech by saying that he was in the mountains of Southern Tagalog when he and other comrades learned with great sadness of the arrest of Sison in 1977. He continued to speak about the similar methods of torture he suffered during his own time while in prison during the Marcos dictatorship. He was arrested in 1983 and was released at about the same time Sison was released upon the overthrow of Marcos in 1986. His first wife was among the early victims of enforced disappearance during the Marcos dictatorship.

Sison said that he learned how to deal with the different methods applied by his tormentors. He spoke about how he sparred with military officers sent to interrogate him. He even advised them to take the fascist dictator into custody and make peace with the armed revolutionary movement. He added that he enjoyed giving free lectures on Philippine society and revolution to his guards.

The program was spiced up with poetry reading and community singing. Kyle and Kalil G. Baleva, sons of political refugees, rendered one of Sison’s prison poems Against the Monster on the Land. There was also rendering of songs popular among activists of the patriotic and democratic movement in the Philippines.

After the program, people lined up for the customary book-signing by the author and for picture taking with him. Food and drinks were served during the book signing session.

Marines plant 2,000 mangrove propagules in Sulu

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 5): Marines plant 2,000 mangrove propagules in Sulu

Marines and stakeholders during the planting of mangrove propagules in Panglima Tahil town in Sulu province. 

Marine soldiers planted some 2,000 mangrove propagules as part of its environmental advocacy in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

The soldiers, who are members of the 2nd Marine Brigade, planted the propagules on Bangsas Island which is part of Panglima Tahil town. The activity coincided with the 64th anniversary of the 2nd Marine Brigade.

It was also participated by the different military and police units and local stakeholders, including government officials and representatives of different nongovernmental organizations and the provincial government.

The activity is also in support to the government’s National Greening Program and Sulu’s environmental greening campaign.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Provincial Government of Sulu are working closely for the preservation and conservation of the natural resources and delivery of basic services to the community to attain peace and prosperity in the province,” the 2nd Marine Brigade said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Policemen shoot cop who ran amuck inside base in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Dec 5): Policemen shoot cop who ran amuck inside base in Philippines

Security forces shot dead a policeman who killed a cop and wounded another during an assault before dawn Friday on a police base in the southern Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi, sources told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

It said policemen, backed by soldiers, assaulted the base in Bongao town and killed PO2 Mario Tobias after he failed to surrender peacefully for killing PO2 Alano Abdulwahid the night before.

Tobias, who ran amuck, fired his M16 automatic rifle and killed the cop. Two other policemen who had been identified only by their rank and first name – SPO3 Kamaluddin and PO1 Tety – were also wounded in the rampage.

After shooting indiscriminately, Tobias locked himself inside one of the rooms of Camp Alejandro Suarez as police commanders urged him to surrender peacefully, but negotiations had failed.

It was unknown what triggered Tobias to go on rampage, but police have launched an investigation into the tragedy.

Provincial and regional police officials did not give any statement about the incident.

1,500 troopers now on stand-by in Samar, Leyte for possible HADR missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): 1,500 troopers now on stand-by in Samar, Leyte for possible HADR missions

Some 1,500 troopers of the 8th Infantry Division are now on stand-by for possible relief missions that may be needed in the aftermath of Typhoon "Ruby" which is expected to make landfall this weekend.

Major Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, 8th Infantry Division spokesman, said that the soldiers are equipped with mobility assets and already prepositioned in various areas of Samar and Leyte to help in disaster response missions.

An additional 300 disaster response personnel with varying rescue capabilities are on standby at the Division Headquarters in Catbalogan City, Samar and Disaster Response Task Force 8 headquarters in Tacloban City, Leyte ready to respond in areas that will most affected by "Ruby".

Velarmino is also the concurrent head of Disaster Response Task Force 8.

“The disaster response units and their complement of mobility assets, will provide the capability to move the badly injured for medical care, and to help move relief supplies to isolated areas in the aftermath of the typhoon," he said.

AFP ready to secure commercial establishments in provinces that may be hard hit by 'Ruby'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): AFP ready to secure commercial establishments in provinces that may be hard hit by 'Ruby'

With the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) now on "red alert" for expected landfall of typhoon "Ruby" this weekend, AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said they prepared to deploy troops to safeguard commercial establishments on provinces that may be hard hit by the storm.

This is to prevent the recurrence of looting which took place during the aftermath of "Yolanda" last year.

"Our forces will secure supermarkets so there will be no more repeat of what happened during ‘Yolanda,’" Catapang stressed.

In relation to this, the AFP chief has ordered the deployment of all engineering battalions for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

"Ruby" is expected to batter Eastern Visayas, Bicol province and Northern Mindanao upon making landfall this Saturday.

The AFP chief also recommended that Cebu, one of the nearest islands with a sizeable airfield and military presence, be made a repacking center for relief goods that may be needed by typhoon victims.

He made this statement after noting that all of the Air Force's Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" cargo planes are based in Benito Ebuen in Mactan, Cebu and thus capable of being deployed immediately.

In a related development, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said that members of the recently returned 18th Philippine Contingent to Liberia are not under the "red alert" status of the AFP and thus could go on with their Christmas vacation.

Samar-based 8th Infantry Division gears up for 'Ruby'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Samar-based 8th Infantry Division gears up for 'Ruby'

The Catbalogan-based 8th Infantry Division, one of the sizable military contingents along the projected path of typhoon "Ruby," has placed all its units on "full red alert" for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in areas threatened by the cyclone.

Major Gen. Jet B. Velarmino, 8th Infantry Division commander, said they are maintaining constant coordination with the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

Further, tactical units in the field are also closely working with the local government units’ disaster management councils in implementing plans that will mitigate the possible effects of the super typhoon within their respective localities.

Contingency planning with the different concerned agencies are being undertaken should "Ruby" trigger flash floods and landslides in their areas of operation, Velarmino said.

“The primary objective here is ‘zero-casualty.’ Along with other agencies, your Army here in the region will exhaust all means to save lives and properties, particularly in the areas that will be worst-hit by the typhoon,” he added.

The 8th Infantry Division troopers were among the "first responders" during the onslaught of last year’s super typhoon "Yolanda."

All units under the 8th Infantry Division were placed on red alert effective Thursday morning.

Continuous communication with the local disaster councils are being conducted by different agencies down to the city/municipal level for the prioritization of evacuation of residents in low-lying areas.

On the other hand, as early as Wednesday, the 8th Infantry Division already deployed rescue personnel, mobility assets, communication equipment and field ambulances in Tacloban City, Leyte, and in Borongan and Guiuan, all of Eastern Samar, among the worst-hit areas by "Yolanda" on Nov. 8, 2013.

NDRRMC says all Central Command units now in 'red alert'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): NDRRMC says all Central Command units now in 'red alert'

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that all units of the Cebu City-based Central Command are now in "red alert" for the expected weekend landfall of "Ruby".

In its Friday update, the NDRRMC said that search-and-rescue groups have been organized alongside with the pre-positioning of emergency equipment and supplies.

Aside from this, the Central Command also pre-positioned air and naval assets that may be used for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

In line this, the Army's 901st Infantry Brigade has already activated five disaster response units, 71 personnel,and 13 military trucks for rescue missions.

27 Navy ships, 12 military aircraft readied for possible 'Ruby' related HADR missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): 27 Navy ships, 12 military aircraft readied for possible 'Ruby' related HADR missions
With Typhoon "Ruby" expected to make landfall Saturday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 27 Navy ships and 12 military aircraft were placed on stand-by for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions.

All available military land mobility assets were also alerted, the NDRRMC said in its Friday update.

These assets will be deployed to help provincial and local disaster risk response units if needed.

Unified military commands on alert for possible typhoon 'Ruby' impact

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Unified military commands on alert for possible typhoon 'Ruby' impact

With typhoon "Ruby" projected to make landfall Saturday evening over the Eastern Samar-Northern Samar area, all unified military commands have been ordered to alert their disaster response task units (DRTUs) from their respective divisions, brigades, battalions, and down to company levels for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions.

Major Emmanuel Garcia, 7th Civil Relations Group commander, said the orders are for the Southern Luzon Command, Eastern Mindanao Command, and Central Command which are in the areas to be affected by "Ruby."

He added that these units are also ordered to coordinate with various local government units (LGUs) and representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other government line agencies in their areas of responsibilities for HADR, leveling and rationalization and pre-positioning of equipment and supplies before the arrival of the typhoon.

Trooper hurt in landmine explosion in Irosin, Sorsogon

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Trooper hurt in landmine explosion in Irosin, Sorsogon

A trooper engaged in essential disaster rescue operations (DRO) was hurt after a landmine put up by New People's Army (NPA) rebels in Irosin town, Sorsogon exploded Friday morning.

The incident took place at 11: 45 a.m.,, Southern Luzon Command spokesperson Major Angelo Guzman identified the wounded trooper as Pfc. Jerlou Fiesta, a member of the 903rd Infantry Brigade's disaster response team.

Fiesta and his companions were on their way to set up a a DRRMO (disaster risk response management operations) post in Irosin town when their vehicle ran over a landmine at about 11:45 a.m.and detonated a NPA landmine.

The military puts up DRRMO posts in an effort to lessen the damages that typhoon "Ruby" may cause.

The shrapnel pierced into the vehicle wounded Fiesta.

His unhurt companions quickly rushed him to the Irosin District Hospital for treatment.

He is already out of danger, attending doctors said.

Lt. Col. Beerjenson Aquino, 31st Infantry Battalion commander, immediately dispatched troops to pursue the rebels.

"During these moments where we are facing another natural calamity threat, it is very inhumane for the NPA to launch offensives versus soldiers on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations," Southern Luzon Command chief Major Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya said.

Despite the attack, he said that they will continue their humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions to ensure the safety of the people.

AFP now coordinating with US PACOM, other foreign militaries for HADR

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): AFP now coordinating with US PACOM, other foreign militaries for HADR

With Typhoon "Ruby" expected to make landfall this Saturday in Eastern Samar, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that discussions with the US Pacific Command and other foreign militaries are ongoing for possible humanitarian assistance and distance response (HADR) missions.

This was announced Friday by 7th Civil Relations Group commander Major Emmanuel Garcia in a statement to the Philippines News Agency.

He added that 75 heavy equipment, three helicopters, and 178 ground mobility assets are also now on stand-by.

"Fuel, supply, and other logistics (items) are now being pre-positioned," Garcia stated.

Communication nets with civilian agencies in support/redundancy for military communications net are already being set.

Garcia also revealed that all available troops in the provinces, that may be affected, is already on stand-by for disaster response missions.

All PN units ready for 'Ruby'

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): All PN units ready for 'Ruby'

In preparation for the possible impact of Typhoon "Ruby" which is forecast to affect Eastern and Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Bicol provinces, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced it has already implemented various steps to mitigate the effects of the typhoon.

"The PN leadership already initiated a warning and alert order to its Naval Operation Support Units (NOSU) to prepare the necessary assets and personnel for a proactive response in order to alleviate and address possible damages and losses that will be brought about by the incoming typhoon," said Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Cmdr. Marineth Domingo.

She added that the PN monitors the movements of "Ruby" through its Naval Operations Center (NOC) which is centrally accessible to its NOSU in the affected areas.

Disaster risk reduction units from NOSU are already undertaking precautionary measures which include but not limited to trimming and pruning of tree branches, inspection of flood prone areas, seaside installation, etc.

NOSU is all set as it updates the status of their disaster risk response task organizations, force composition, transportation vehicles and communication equipment, to include the floating assets within their AOR, as well as their typhoon evasion measures and strategic deployment locations, equipment in conducting water search and rescue operations, and immediate medical evacuation.

"Further, the PN is in closed coordination with the local government units, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to ensure a consolidated effort to effectively address this incoming weather disturbance," Domingo added.

The PN is vigilantly ready when called upon to respond in any emergency situation and disasters that may transpire, she concluded.

5 rebels killed clash with gov't troops in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): 5 rebels killed clash with gov't troops in Compostela Valley

Troopers from the Army's 71st Infantry Battalion killed five New People's Army (NPA) rebels and recovered five high-powered weapons during an encounter at Sitio Upper Balantang, Barangay Cabuyuan, Mabini, Compostela Valley province Friday afternoon.

1st Lt. Vicente Alcambra, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the clash with an undetermined number of NPA guerrillas took place at 2 p.m.

After a fierce 10-minute gunfight, the rebels fled, leaving behind their five dead comrades.

There was no casualty on the government side as Philippine National Police-Scene of the Crime Operatives personnel proceeded at the encounter site for documentation and possible identification of the dead rebels.

Recovered from the encounter site were an M-653 rifle, three M-16 automatic rifles and one M-1 Garand rifle, five bandoliers, 10 magazines for M-16 rifles, subversive documents and personal belongings.

Pursuit operations are ongoing against the fleeing rebels.

“This is part of our intensified efforts to curb the recent series of banditry attacks perpetrated by NPA rebels. We will not allow these lawless armed group from sowing terror in our communities," 10th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Eduardo M. Año said.

Early this week, the rebels abducted two soldiers securing a banana plantation in New Corella, Davao del Norte.

The NPAs also attacked government troops securing an ongoing road construction project in San Fernando, Bukidnon.

DOJ set to resolve Laude case

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): DOJ set to resolve Laude case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to resolve the case involving the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude.

Laude was allegedly killed by United States Marines Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City last October 11.

According to Olongapo City Chief Prosecutor Emilie Fe Delos Santos, the public prosecutors only have a period of 60 days within which to determine if there is probable cause to indict Pemberton.

Delos Santos said that they are meticulously studying the pieces of evidence and the documents of the case.

It is expected that the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office will issue the resolution on Dec. 15, 2014 when the 60-day period will lapse.

Delos Santos was also the one who resolved the rape case of US Marines Lance Corporal Daniel Smith wherein she ordered the filing in court of the rape case involving the victim “Nicole”.

Smith was convicted of rape by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC), however, he was acquitted by the Court of Appeals (CA).

Typhoon 'Ruby' slightly weakens; 36 areas still under public storm warning signal -- PAGASA

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Typhoon 'Ruby' slightly weakens; 36 areas still under public storm warning signal -- PAGASA

Typhoon “Ruby” has slightly weaken but still 36 areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have been placed under public storm warning signal (PSWS), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said on Friday.

PAGASA weather forecaster Chris Perez said typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) weakens its strength while continuing to move west-northwest towards the Eastern Samar-Northern Samar area.

As of 4 p.m., the typhoon was located at 370 km East of Borongan, Eastern Samar (11.9°N, 128.8°E) with maximum sustained winds of 195 kph (slightly lower than the 215 kph previously forecast) near the center and gustiness of up to to 230 kph.

Perez said areas under Public Storm Signal No. 2 (Winds of 61-100 kilometers per hour is expected in at least 24 hours) are: Albay, Sorsogon, Ticao Island and Masbate in Luzon Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Cebu City, Bantayan Island and Camotes Island in the Visayas.

Travel by all types of sea vessels and aircrafts in these areas are risky. Residents in low lying and mountainous areas are alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides.

On the other hand, areas under Publis Storm Signal No. 1 (Winds of 30-60 kph is expected in at least 36 hours) include: Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Burias Island and Romblon in Luzon; Capiz, Iloilo, Antique, Guimaras, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Rest of Cebu, Siquijor and Bohol in the Visayas; and Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, Agusan del Sur and Camiguin Island in Mindanao.

The estimated rainfall amount in these areas is from 7.5 to 20 millimeters per hour (heavy to intense) within the 700-km diameter of the typhoon.

Perez said Typhoon "Ruby" continues to move West Northwest at 13 kph. With its movement and speed, it is expect to make landfall on Saturday evening over the Eastern Samar–Northern Samar area and it will be associated with strong winds, storm surge (3-4 meters) and heavy-intense rainfall.

Typhoon "Ruby" is expected to be at 80 km North Northeast of Borongan, Eastern Samar or at 130 km East Southeast of Catarman, Northern Samar by Saturday afternoon.

By Sunday afternoon, it is forecast to be at 40 km North of Masbate City, Masbate or in the vicinity of Ticao Island. By Monday afternoon, it is expected to be at 50 km West of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

PAGASA said typhoon "Ruby" is expected to exit Philippine Area of Responsibility by Wednesday morning.

1,234 Southern Luzon Command troops on stand-by for possible HADR missions

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): 1,234 Southern Luzon Command troops on stand-by for possible HADR missions

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday placed on stand-by some 1,234 officers and enlisted personnel in the Southern Luzon Command for possible humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions in case Typhoon Ruby's landfall will have any adverse impact.

AFP 7th Civil Relations Group commander Major Emmanuel Garcia in a message to the PNA said that these personnel could also be deployed in the Central Command area in the Visayas should provinces there sustain more damage than those in Southern Luzon.

"These (personnel) should be shifted to the Central Command as the need arises," Garcia pointed out.

The official also added that all disaster response task units (DRTUs) in the Southern Luzon Command are now alerted for rescue missions related to the incoming typhoon.

Garcia said Matnog Port is now being secured by elements of the 31st Infantry Battalion and the 903rd Infantry Brigade as the port may be used a relief center in case the area will be hit by super typhoon Ruby.

He added that alternate routes for Bulan Port is now being secured.

Garcia said additional sealift vessels from Sangley Point, Cavite has been requested to augment other naval ships in Matnog.

The 7th Civil Relations Group commander also stated that coordination is now ongoing with the Department of Transportation and Communication and private shipping companies and lines to increase their frequency and number of vessels after the aftermath of the typhoon, to facilitate humanitarian and relief efforts.

Garcia also said they continue to monitor the situation on Mount Mayon.

Army to deploy 272 new soldiers to Negros, Panay

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Army to deploy 272 new soldiers to Negros, Panay

A total of 272 soldiers were enlisted into the ranks of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division during the graduation rites held at Camp Macario Peralta Jr. in Jamindan, Capiz Thursday, the 3rd ID said.

The neophyte soldiers are members of the Candidate Soldiers Sumiklab or Sundalong Minimithi ay Kapayapaan, Lalaban para sa Bayan Classes 352 and 353-2014.

Soon to be deployed to Negros and Panay Islands, the newly-enlisted soldiers completed a six-month Candidate Soldier Course and Jungle Warfare Mountain Operation Course training held at the Division Training School in Camp Peralta.

The Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award was given to Mark Joseph Brillantes, a registered criminologist from Barangay Salcedo, Dumarao, Capiz, for topping his class.

Brillantes bested 136 other trainees in Class 352 with an average of 93.05 percent in all evaluated academic and non-academic subjects.

Jose Cambas Jr. of Badiangan, Iloilo, who topped the Class 353, also received the Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award after garnering an average of 92.83 percent.

The Chief of Staff, 3rd ID Awards went to Ariel Caraballe of Sagay City and Roldan Cadiente of Kabankalan City, both in Negros Occidental for graduating number 2 in Class 352 and Class 353, respectively.

Recipients of the Commandant, 3rd Division Training School Awards were Marjun Lacse of Candoni and Rene Lobaton of Cauayan, both in Negros Occidental for finishing number 3 in Class 352 and Class 353, respectively.

The Physical Proficiency Awards went to Ryan Rabanera of Alaminos, Pangasian of Class 352 and Robert Gallaron of Janiuay, Iloilo of Class 353.

Maj. General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, commander of the 3rd ID, congratulated the Division Training School personnel who trained the new soldiers who will later implement the 3rd ID campaign “Dagyaw Para sa Kalinaw” in Western Visayas.

Philippine Army’s 10th ID welcomes new force in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Philippine Army’s 10th ID welcomes new force in Compostela Valley

MAWAB, Compostela Valley Province -- More than a hundred candidate soldiers successfully completed Tuesday the 20-week military training at the Army's 10th Division Training School of the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division based in Camp General Manuel T Yan Sr. in Barangay Tuburan here.

The newly graduated soldiers are the new members of the “Team Agila” Division of the Philippine Army. They are expected to respond to peace and security to various threat groups and support developmental efforts in Davao Region where they will be deployed.

According to 1Lt. Vergel Lacambra, 10th ID Division Public Affairs Office chief, a native of Loreto, Agusan del Sur in the person of Mariano N. Gonzales Jr. topped the class besting 96 other members bearing the name “Maalab” or Mandirigmang Agila Alay ay Lakas at Buhay.

He added that 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.

During the graduation rites, Maj. General Eduardo M. Año, 10th Infantry Division Commander, said, “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 graduates have undergone 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.

South Korean Armies move to safer grounds

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): South Korean Armies move to safer grounds

Troops of the South Korean military humanitarian contingents stationed in Candahug village in Palo, Leyte will leave their camps today and move to a safe evacuation center.

Candahug is one of the hard hit village in Palo town following storm surge whipped by super typhoon Yolanda’s strong winds.

Capt. Kwon Youngwoo, public affairs officer of the contingent, said that they will temporarily leave their base camp and evacuate to Leyte Academic Center (LAC) this afternoon due to typhoon Ruby.

LAC facility is owned by the provincial government of Leyte and located inside the Leyte ICT Park that was partially damaged by last year’s calamity.

This is the first time that the Araw Force will evacuate their personnel since arriving in Leyte to help in the reconstruction of public infrastructures in the towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa.

Capt. Kwon said that activities of the Araw Force for this week, such as the inauguration of Araw Memorial Park this morning is cancelled and will be schedule anytime next week.

The Korean soldiers, with 389 personnel are expected to leave the province of Leyte this December 17.

Number of ASG casualties in Basilan clash now at 11

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Number of ASG casualties in Basilan clash now at 11

The Western Mindanao Command announced that the number of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Thursday's clash in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan has now climbed to 11.

This was disclosed by Capt. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, in a statement forwarded to the PNA Friday.

Initial reports placed the number of ASG dead to three, with an undetermined number of wounded.

The bandits were headed by Furudji Indama and Nurhassan Jamiri.

Joint Task Group Basilan commander Col. Rolando Joselito D. Bautista said two of the ASG casualties were identified as Abdullah Kalitot alias "Abdullah" and a certain Hidzran while eight others were wounded.

Kalitot, an ASG member under the group of Jamiri, escaped from the Basilan Province Jail on Dec. 31, 2010.

The suspect was charged with nine counts of murder committed in Basilan in 2007 and had a bounty of Php500,000 for his immediate capture.

On the government side, one suffered from major wounds and six others incurred minor wounds mostly caused by shrapnel.

Intensified law enforcement operations are ongoing as of this posting.

Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division gets 272 new troopers

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division gets 272 new troopers

Two hundred seventy two newly trained troopers formally joined the ranks of the Capiz-based 3rd Infantry Division Thursday.

These soldiers are members of the Candidate Soldiers “SUMIKLAB” (Sundalong Minimithi ay Kapayapaan, Lalaban para sa Bayan) Classes 352 and 353–2014 who will be deployed and bring peace and development to Panay and Negros Islands.

The newly enlisted soldiers have completed the six (6) month rigid Candidate Soldier Course (CSC) and Jungle Warfare Mountain Operation Course (JWMOC) training held at the Division Training School (DTS) in Camp General Macario Peralta Jr, Jamindan, Capiz.

Mark Joseph S. Brillantes, a Registered Criminologist from Barangay Salcedo, Dumarao, Capiz received the Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award for graduating Number 1 besting 136 others in Class 352–2014 with a General Point Average of 93.05 percent in all evaluated subjects both academic and non-academic in the said training.

While a native of Barangay Indorohan, Badiangan, Iloilo, Jose A. Cambas, Jr graduated Number 1 besting 134 others in Class 353–2014, also received the Commander, 3rd Infantry Division Award who garnered a General Point Average of 92.83 percent in all evaluated subjects both academic and non-academic courses.

Major Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3rd Infantry Division commander, congratulated the Division Training School personnel who were responsible for the training of these new breed of soldiers.

He expects these troopers to serve the people and secure the communities guided by the Army core values of honor, patriotism and duty.

MILF infighting reported in Maguindanao, mediation ongoing

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): MILF infighting reported in Maguindanao, mediation ongoing

Two warring groups belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had been fighting each other the past few days over land dispute in Maguindanao’s Datu Abdullah Sangki town, officials said today.

To avert bloody and major confrontation, the local government of Abdullah Sangki has appealed to MILF leadership to interfere.

The warring groups, one led by Zacaria Guma and the other under Datu Item, have been trading bullets since Wednesday, forcing civilians to vacate their hoems to safer grounds.

Military sources the hostilities escalated when two other guerilla commanders of the MILF’s 105th and 106th Base Commands joined in the conflict.

Commander Tony is identified with Guma’s group while Commander Rex is a supporter of Datu Item, a relative of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Jr.

“We are trying to pacify the warring group but the MILF leadership could pacify it effectively because they are its people, we can only appeal,” Datu Abdullah Sangki town councillor Anwar Emblawa.

The municipal peace and order council has aleady appealed to the central committee of the MILF to reposition its forces away from populated areas in Datu Abdullah Sangki town.

Emblawa, citing information from village officials, said a woman was hit by stray bullets during the exchange of gun fire Thursday.

He said the warring groups have been locked in land dispute.

Von Al Haq, MILF’s military official, said an emissary had been sent to negotiate with the warring groups.

BIFF member hurls grenade at Army, police bomb experts in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): BIFF member hurls grenade at Army, police bomb experts in Maguindanao

SHARIFF AGUAK -- A suspected member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) tossed a hand grenade at Army bomb experts trying to defuse a roadside improvised bomb here on Thursday, the military said.
Captain Joan Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the joint Army and police bomb experts were in the process of deactivating a suspected bomb believed to have been planted by BIFF guerrillas intended for military personnel when a man hurled a hand grenade at 4 p.m.

The man quickly fled as the grenade exploded, Petinglay said.

No one from the soldiers or police were hurt but it damaged parked police patrol car.

Police and local officials are still trying to identify the lone bomber.

Ad hoc committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law holds public hearing in Ilocos Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): Ad hoc committee on Bangsamoro Basic Law holds public hearing in Ilocos Norte

At least six members of the ad hoc committee of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) visited Laoag today to consult Ilocanos and the Muslim community here about their thoughts on House Bill No. 4994 which seeks to promote peace in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) including Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.

Presided by Rep. Henry Oaminal of the second district of Misamis Occidental along with five other members of the ad hoc committee namely: Congressmen Rodolfo Farińas, Celso Lobregat, Tupay Loong, Jorge Almonte and Prospero Amatong, they told Ilocos residents the“insights of Ilocanos are important” for the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro government.

“We are one nation, the concerns of Mindanao are the concerns of Luzon and Visayas and vice versa. Di ba may kasabihan tayo na ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay sakit ng buong katawan. That is precisely the idea. The proposed Bangsamoro affects us all. As a Mindanaoan myself, I too, would like to hear the concerns of Luzon,” said Oaminal.Held at the auditorium of Northern Christian College in Laoag City attended by various multi-sectoral representatives composed of the United Alliance of Muslim Community in Laoag City, local government officials, public and private organizations, business organizations and other religious sectors, the ad hoc committee on the BBL is in Laoag today for the 24th league of the peace caravan in key cities of the country.

Citing the bill as a legacy of President Aquino which he strongly supports, Congressman Farińas said the committee hopes to finish the series of consultative hearings before December 17 in time for the passage of a committee report and plenary debate early next year when the Congress will resume session.

For the Muslim community in Laoag, Omar Yasin, adviser of the United Alliance of Muslim in Ilocos Norte expressed support for peace and development.

“We are grateful for the pushing of this bill. We thank Allah and we express our full support to this endeavour,” Yasin said during the hearing.

Meant to strengthen the relationship of the proposed Bangsamoro government with other local government units, Oaminal underscored the committee values the significance of Regions I and II as base of cultural diversity where peoples from different religion, cultural background and political divisions were able to live in peace and harmony.

“This diversity is a model for us in Congress to emphasize that the tri-people in Mindanao can be successfully governed by the formula of peoples’ participation, people empowerment and good governance,” he added notwithstanding the fact that there are many Ilocanos also in Mindanao.

For his part, Police provincial director Antonio Mendoza Jr. of Ilocos Norte who also served as former police chief of Basilan has commended the ad hoc committee for promoting lasting peace in Mindanao through the passage of the BBL.