Thursday, December 11, 2014

CPP: Intensify struggle to defend human rights amid Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Intensify struggle to defend human rights amid Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) joins the Filipino people in marking International Human Rights Day and demanding an end to the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression being carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other armed agencies of the reactionary state.

The CPP condemns the Aquino regime for waging the Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression and directing state violence against unarmed civilians. Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is most viciously directed against peasant and national minority communities who are vigorously advancing their struggle for land reform and defending their ancestral lands against landgrabbing by foreign mining and plantation companies.

Campaigns of armed suppression have been particularly brutal during so-called “Peace and Development” operations being conducted by the AFP where platoons of soldiers forcibly embed themselves in communities with the objective of terrorizing the people. Scores of leaders of mass organizations have been killed or targeted for suppression by combat troops of the AFP.

The people’s productive and economic life have been disrupted by restrictions on travel and commerce imposed by the AFP. Operating soldiers have made use of schools as barracks in violation of children’s rights, causing widespread trauma. Soldiers have violated people’s domiciles as well as community civilian structures. They have set up detachments in the middle of communities, endangering the lives of civilians, subjecting women to sexual harassment and encouraging antisocial activities such as drug use, gambling, drunkenness and prostitution.

The war of suppression being waged by the Aquino regime is essentially the same war of suppression carried out before by the Arroyo regime as exemplified by the brutal tactics of former AFP Gen. Jovito Palparan. The “arrest” of Palparan last August was an empty show by the Aquino regime which means nothing to the thousands who suffer from the Palparan-style tactics which the AFP employ to this day.

In the course of the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression, violations of human rights are committed wholesale against entire populations. The CPP receives almost daily reports of widespread AFP violations of human rights and military abuses. These are regularly published in Ang Bayan and available at the PRWC ( An increasing number of cases of military abuses are being documented by human rights advocates as well as by the NDFP section of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) formed to monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The CPP condemns the Aquino regime for its refusal to uphold the CARHRIHL. Under the Aquino regime, extra-judicial killings continue to target leaders, organizers and supporters of peasants and workers, antimining activists as well as human rights advocates. There are more than 400 political prisoners, including more than a dozen consultants of the NDFP engaged in peace negotiations. Police and military torture against detainees remain rampant. Workers rights to organize unions, to seek redress and go on strike have been violated with impunity.

The CPP condemns the US imperialists for arming and training its client state to wage its proxy war to suppress the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation. The US government continues to provide the Aquino regime with foreign military financing to have it purchase military hardware and war materiĆ©l from US military companies and affiliates.

The defense of human rights is an inextricable part of the people’s national and democratic struggles. The people need to stand up militantly in order to defend their rights to organize, voice out their demands and protest foreign plunder of their land and mineral resources, feudal exploitation and oppression, landgrabbing, low wages and salaries, demolition of homes to give way to big bourgeois investments, exploitation of cheap labor and suppression of labor rights, US military presence and interventionism and violations of national sovereignty.

The CPP calls on the Filipino people to raise their militancy in defending their democratic rights. The Party and all revolutionary forces will continue to advance the people’s aspirations for justice as they struggle for national and social liberation.

CPP/NDF: Human rights violations of the US-Aquino regime escalate in the name of super-profit for the ruling class and US imperialism

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Human rights violations of the US-Aquino regime escalate in the name of super-profit for the ruling class and US imperialism

Jorge Madlos (Ka Oris)
NDFP Mindanao Chapter
December the 10th annually commemorates the International Day of Human Rights as declared by the United Nations in 1948. It is however, sad to note that this year, 2014, human rights violations committed by the US-Aquino III regime has escalated in the entire island of Mindanao.

The human rights abuses have been carried out by the puppet regime as a blood offering upon the altar of super profit for the big comprador bourgeois, big landlords and their imperialist master. It is also most unfortunate that a numberof civilians have figured unintendedly in an ambush carried out by a unit of the New People’s Army – NEMR in Rosario, Agusan del Sur against a notorious armed barangay captain, together with his escorts, a cadreman and CAFGU members.

The Spokesperson of the NDF-NEMR has already made clear the circumstances that led to the incident, which also included an apology and the commitment to indemnify the civilian victims. Despite this incident however, NDFP-Mindanao has again emphasized its complete adherence to the signed documents between the GPH and the NDFP, particularly the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law, or CARHRIHL. It is inherent of the reactionary regime to commit human rights violations to terrorize the people and stymie their resistance.

These human rights violations are carried out by the AFP-PNP-CAFGU in the name of the economic interests of the ruling elite such as big scale mining, plantations, the energy business and others. From only around 50% in 2013, this year, the AFP has deployed 60% of its forces to Mindanao.
The increase in the number of AFP mercenaries in the island is to protect the investments of the imperialists and the local ruling classes, even if this meant the escalation of human rights violations in the island.

The regime also dreams of ending both the armed and non-armed resistance of the people of Mindanao, but contrary to this, the people’s protest movement has broadened and the armed resistance of the NPA and the Bangsamoro has intensified and gained strength. There has been a significant increase in the number of human rights violations committed by the AFP-PNP-CAFGU in different areas in Mindanao. The incidents of extra-judicial killings have stepped-up to 103 this year. Usually, the AFP out rightly denies committing most of these grisly murders, if not falsely blame them on the NPA or fabricate falsehoods such as claiming their civilian victims to be NPA members.

There have also been cases where the AFP have intentionally killed their own CAFGU elements whom they suspect of disloyalty and attribute the killings to the NPA.

This year, the number of civilians leveled with trumped up cases of murder, arson, rebellion and other serious criminal charges have increased to 233. This is evidently meant to paralyze legal mass organizations who actively demand for fundamental social reforms and protest against the malfeasance within the reactionary government. The incidences of displaced barangay communities in the entire island due to heavy shelling, aerial bombings and strafing have also increased. There have also been countless cases of community schools being burned down, destroyed or forcibly occupied by mercenary elements of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU. The AFP’s psywar operations through COPD, PDT or RSOT is leading in the commission of human rights violations in barrios or communities.

They have occupied barrio centers and people’s houses, controlled the flow of people coming in and going out of villages, limited the time for farming, forced the men to enlist in the CAFGU, and abused women, aside from bringing back gambling and the proliferation of illicit drugs in many communities where these have already been eliminated due to campaigns undertaken by the revolutionary movement.

They have forcibly organized counter-revolutionary organizations, such as the “alsa masa”.

The COPD has also been launched in schools and communities in the urban areas. Because of the imminent danger posed by the brutality of these military butchers, numerous Lumad and peasant communities have been forced to evacuate to safer areas, and, from there, protest against this intensifying militarization. The dire inequities brought on by the socio-economic system in Mindanao and in the entire country are in themselves vile forms of human rights violations. Foremost of these is the continued outright refusal of the US-Aquino regime to implement genuine agrarian reform, where instead of undertaking this, it has given favor to vast plantations planted with pineapple, banana, oil palm and other cash-crops owned by big landlords, big bourgeois comprador and imperialists such as Dole Phil, Del Monte Phil, Sumifru, FPPI and others.

Instead of defending the interests of Lumads, Moro, peasants and workers, it has given priority to the interests of the monopoly capitalists of large-scale mining, who have for many years, plundered our natural resources and ravaged the environment.

The NDFP-Mindanao calls on the people to join and strengthen their open resistance against escalating human rights violations in Mindanao and the entire nation.

It is imperative that we strengthen the New People’s Army because this is our sole weapon to smash and put an end to the human rights violations of the fascist US-Aquino III regime.

CPP/NDF: Ika-66 komemorasyon ng Pandaigdig Deklarasyon ng Karapatang Pantao, Ika-4 na taon na muling Tigmak ng Dugo ang kamay ng Rehimeng US-BSA!

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Ika-66 komemorasyon ng Pandaigdig Deklarasyon ng Karapatang Pantao, Ika-4 na taon na muling Tigmak ng Dugo ang kamay ng Rehimeng US-BSA!

Maria Roja Banua
NDFP Bicol Chapter
Ang kasaysayan ng alinmang lipunan ay kasaysayan ng pakikibaka ng mamamayan laban sa pang-aapi at pagsasamantala. Sa lipunang kapitalista, ang digma ay ginagamit na paraan para ibayong kumita ng dambuhalang tubo mula sa pagbebenta ng kagamitang pandigma at higit na pagpapalawak ng hegemonya para sa interes ekonomiya at pulitika laban sa sariling mamamayan o mamamayan ng sinasakop na bansa. Sa ngayon, muling nagkukubli sa paraang “proxy war” ang gyerang inilulunsad ng US dahil sa pagkakalantad,magastos at pagkatalo sa labanan sa gyera sa maraming bansa sa nakaraan.

Disyembre 10, 1948 naganap ang pagtitipon ng mga bansa sa ilalim ng United Nations matapos ang Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig kung saan kinilala ang maraming mga kasong ng paglabag sa karapatan pantao at sa layuning itaguyod na maging makatao ang paglulunsad ng digmaan.

Pagkukunwari man o pakitang tao sa esensya ito ay inilangkap sa gyerang sikolohikal ng mga imperyalista dahil itinulak ng lumalakas na paglaban sa imperyalismo ng mamamayan ng mundo. Iniluwal ng pagtitipong ito ang Unibersal na Deklarasyon sa Karapatang Pantao kung saan ang mga kasaping estado ay nangangako na kamtin ang pagtataguyod ng pangkalahatang paggalang sa karapatang pantao at ang mga pundamental na usapin ng kalayaan. Sinundan pa ito ng maraming kasunduan, batas at kaayusan hinggil sa paglulunsad ng gyera at mga usapang pangkapayapaan bilang isang larangan para pag-usapan ang pagresolba ng pinagmumulan ng armadong tunggalian.

Disyembre 10, 2014 ang ika-66 taong ng komemorasyon ng Pandaigdigang na Deklarasyon sa Karapatang Pantao ay nagsisilbing Araw ng Pang-uusig sa US-Benigno Simeon Aquino (US-BSA) ng mamamayan dahil sa lansakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Hindi maitatatwa na ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao ay integrado sa kamalayan ng mga bayarang mga sundalo ng US-BSA laban sa itinuturing na kaaway ng naghaharing rehimen. Simula pa lamang sa pagsasanay ng mga opisyal at treynor na kano sa isang sundalo ay isinasalaksak na sa isipan nito at dumadaan sa tortyur bilang paghahanda sa kanilang kaisipan na gamitin laban sa kaaway at mamamayan. Kung itinuturing nilang kaaway ang CPP-NPA-NDF, mamamayang Moro at iba pang nag-aarmas na mamamayan ay itinuturing din nilang kaaway ang sinumang tumututol sa pang-aapi at pagsasamantala.

An mga magsasakang nakikibaka para sa lupa, manggagawang nakikibaka para sa makatarungan pasahod at benepisyo, maralitang lunsod na nakikibaka para sa kabuhayan, serbisyo at desenteng tirahan, kunsumedores at driver na nagrereklamo sa mataas na presyo ng produktong petrolyo at bilihin, propesyunal na humihingi ng pagtaas ng sweldo at reklamo sa mataas na bayarin sa buwis at higit sa lahat nakikibakang mamamayan laban sa pork barrel at panghihimasok ng US sa pamamagitan ng EDCA.

Ang Oplan Bayanihan natodong gyera na nakabalangkas sa kontra-insurhensyang desenyo ng US sa bansa na naglalayong wasakin ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan, supilin ang paglaban at pag-alsa ng mamamayan sa paulit-ulit na takdang talaan. Ang Peace and Development Team (PDT) na binalutan ng mga pakitang-taong medical mission, 4p’s, kalahi program, debuto_boyadores sa inang penafrancia, clearing and relief mission sa panahon ng kalamidad na gamit ang rekurso ng burukrasyang sibilyan ay pawang palamuti sa hungkag at ilusyon nakuha na nila ang suporta ng mga “stakeholders” at mamamayan. Ang totoo, nauulol pa ring nanalasa ang operasyong militar laban sa mamamayan higit lalo kapag nakakaranas ng pagkatalo sa labanan. Nagreresulta ulit ito ng maraming kaso ng pagbalga sa karapatang pantao dahil sa paggigiit na ipanalo ang gyera ng US-BSA.

Pinalala pa ito ng pagtatayo o pagsuporta sa mga paramilitar na grupo sa hanay ng mga minorya at mga grupong lagalag na pumapatay nang walang sinusunod na batas at nagsasagawa ng pagnanakaw sa masa. Ang masaklap marahas sila sa walang labang mamamayan subalit duwag at walang prinsipyo sa harap ng labanan. Kung nananalo man sa labanan, idinadaan sa dumog dahil sa lakas tauhan, kagamitan at maruming taktika labag sa batas ng digmaan.

Sa rehiyong Bicol lamang, sa loob ng apat (4) na taong panunungkulan ng US-BSA nagtala ng rekord ng 373 insidente sa 1,424 na indibidwalng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na may biktimang 16,240 katao. Nasa animnapu (60) nito ay extra-judicial killing at apat (4) nakaso ng masaker na hindi pa kasama ang kaso ng mag-asawang Sales sa Camaligan, Camarines Sur na may 19 katao ang napatay at dalawa (2) nito ay bata. Sa huling kwarto ng 2014, ang pagpatay ki brgy kagawad Marites Espinilla, 48 taong gulang, Melissa Dominguano 15 taong gulang, Michael Lignes 38 taong sa Masbate, Samuel Dollesin sa Bacon, Sorsogon isang xnpa na nagbuhay sibilyan na sa loob ng ilang taon. Maliban pa nito, tumampok ang mga gawa-gawang kaso ng panghuhuli sa isang mataas daw na opisyal ng NPA sa Masbate na hindi kailanman naging kasapi ng NPA. Ang mga paglabag na ito ay krimen mismo ng mga tropang sa ilalim ng 9th Infantry Division ng Philippine Army na may pitong (7) batalyon kasama ang Cadre Battalion ng CAFGU at PNP Security Batallion na isinasabak sa kontra-insurhensyang operasyon hindi pa kasama ang Naval at Air Force. Ang paulit-ulit na malalakas na bagyong na Pablo, Yolanda, Glenda at Ruby ay dagdag sa sumasalanta sa kabuhayan ng masa ay paglabag mismo ng naghaharing rehimen na dahil sa walang pakundangan pagpapahintulot sa mga dayuhan at lokal na negosyante na pagsamantalahan ang ating likas yaman.

Ang CPP-NPA-NDF at buong rebolusyonaryong kilusan, sa ika-66 na komemorasyong ng pandaigdigang deklarasyon ng karapatang tao ay higit na nagbibigay superyoridad na tupdin ang mga patakaran sa rebolusyonaryong batas at hustisya sa hukumang bayan, 3-8 na disiplina ng bagong hukbo bayan at patakaran sa iba-ibang larangan ng gawain sa pagkondukta ng gyera. Kinikilala nito ang Universal na Deklarasyon sa Karapatang Pantao, Protocol I at II ng Geneva Conventions at pagpapahalaga sa pinirmahang kasunduan sa pagitan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa Comprehensive Agreement on Human Right ang International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Sa pagsasagawa ng mga pamamarusa sa abot ng makakaya tinutupad nito ang kaakibat na instruksyon ayon batas at hustisya, bigat ng kaso laban sa mga tiwaling opisyal ng gobyerno at bayarang opisyal ng hukbong sandatahang lakas ng Pilipinas.

Usigin ang US-BSA, alipures at bayarang mersenaryo sa maraming kaso ng paglabag sa batas sa digma at karapatang pantao Higit na pag-iibayuhin at paiigtingin ang pakikidigmang gerilya upang kamtin ang susunod na yugto ng digmang bayan. Mabuhay ang rebolusyon!

'Hired bombers' behind Bukidnon bus blast?

From ABS-CBN (Dec 11): 'Hired bombers' behind Bukidnon bus blast?

Could "bombers for hire" be responsible for the explosion inside a bus in Maramag, Bukidnon last Tuesday that killed 10 people and injured 41 others?

Risk Management Consultant Ace Esmeralda cautions the military against being too quick to blame the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) for the bus bombing.

Esmeralda said while it is possible the BIFF is behind the incident, the attack occurred outside the BIFF's area of influence.

It's also odd that the BIFF has not claimed responsibility for the attack if indeed they were behind it.

"BIFF always claims it if they are victorious, if 'maganda' ang resulta ng trabaho nila," Esmeralda said.

This is the second attack against a Rural Transit Mindanao Incorporated (RTMI) bus in a span of five weeks.

Esmeralda said "bombers for hire," which can be contracted for as low as P40,000, should also be considered.

Motives of financiers, he said, could include eliminating competition among transport operators, or masking an assassination.

Extortion activities are also possibly being undertaken in order to raise funds for the elections, or to fund a group's activities, Esmeralda said.

The danger in focusing on BIFF without a thorough investigation, he said, is that it could hinder authorities from uncovering the true perpetrators and motive.

"The danger there is you close other doors to a good investigation. What's important is to investigate. If we have a sudden closure and just say it's the usual suspects, then we will not be able to prevent it (from happening again)."

Authorities earlier said the bombing could be a terrorist attack or an extortion attempt.

Chan finally free after being held captive by Abu Sayyaf for 177 days

From the Star Online (Dec 11): Chan finally free after being held captive by Abu Sayyaf for 177 days

What a relief: Sabah CID chief SAC Salehudin Abdul Rahman (left) with Chan and his wife Chin. With them is Sandakan police chief ACP Zabidi Zain (right). (inset) Chan before his abduction.

What a relief: Sabah CID chief SAC Salehudin Abdul Rahman (left) with Chan and his wife Chin. With them is Sandakan police chief ACP Zabidi Zain (right). (inset) Chan before his abduction.

KOTA KINABALU: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Those were the first words uttered by a grateful and relieved Chan Sai Chuin, 32, upon his release by the Abu Sayyaf terror group after 177 days in captivity on the southern Philippine island of Jolo.

Profusely thanking and hugging a team of Malaysian and Filipino negotiators who brought him safely back to Sandakan in the Sabah east coast by speedboat at 6.45am yesterday, Chan also told them: “I have lost a lot of weight ... good also.”

The fish breeder was reported by sources as looking healthy despite his ordeal since he was snatched form his farm in Kampung Sapong in Kunak on June 16.

It is understood that Chan was freed at about 11.30pm on Tuesday, following lengthy negotiations between Filipino emissaries and the Abu Sayyaf group led by the Sadawan brothers in Jolo.

No confirmation was available if any of the RM3mil ransom, said to be for board and lodging, had reached the hands of the gunmen.

According to the sources, negotiations for the release of marine policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, are ongoing.

Kons Zakiah is being held by another Abu Sayyaf group led by Al Habsi who has also demanded a RM3mil ransom. He was grabbed from the Mabul island on July 12.

Negotiations hit a snag about 10 days ago and nearly led to a bloody gun battle, scuttling efforts to free him together with Chan.

When told by The Star about Chan’s release yesterday morning, his wife Chin Pek Nyen, 42, said: “Many people have called me. I am not with him yet. If he is here, I will be hugging him.”

However, sources said Chin was in Sandakan later in the day and reunited with her husband at a hotel in town.

Last month, as the deadline to pay the ransom loomed with a threat to behead Chan issued by the kidnappers, a frantic Chin publicly appealed for help to secure her husband’s release, even making a trip to Parliament House and meeting businessmen and potential donors in Kuala Lumpur.

Chan, who was born in Ipoh, underwent a medical examination and was de-briefed by the police.

He is expected to return to the fish farm that he started with some partners hardly three months before his abduction.

At press time, Sabah police commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman could not be reached for comments on the release.

Arms cache recovered in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Dec 11): Arms cache recovered in Southern Philippines

Government forces tracking down Abu Sayyaf rebels seized a small cache of weapons on a village in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said Thursday.

Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the weapons were recovered in the village of Mangis in Indanan town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf tagged by authorities as behind the spate of kidnappings and terrorism.

She said Col. Alan Arrojado, commander of the anti-terror task group in Sulu, reported that troops recovered oneM14 rifle with grenade launcher, one 9mm pistol, one .45-caliber pistol, four M16 rifles, three M14 rifles; one AK-47; one Barrett rifle; and one M4 rifle.

Arojado did not say in his report who owns the weapons.

Muyuela said Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, ordered security forces in Sulu to intensify the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf, especially in Indanan town. “Our troops continue to cordon the area to prevent extrication of lawless elements operating in Indanan,” she quoted Guerrero as saying.

She said the military is closely working with the police and local governments in the conduct of relentless law enforcement operations in Sulu.

NPA says sorry for civilian deaths in attack on village leader

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 11): NPA says sorry for civilian deaths in attack on village leader
Communist guerrillas apologized to families of civilians who had been killed in a guerrilla ambush on Nov. 30, saying the attack’s targets were a village warlord and soldiers using an ambulance as a deceptive measure against guerrilla attack.

“We know that apologies are not enough because we can do nothing to bring the dead back,” said Maria Malaya, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Northeastern Mindanao.

“But we are doing everything to help the families of the civilians,” Malaya said.

NDF admitted erring in the attack, which killed four civilians and wounded two others.

In a statement, Jorge Madlos, NDF Mindanao spokesperson, said it is “most unfortunate” that civilians were killed in the guerrilla attack in the town of Rosario, Agusan del Sur province.

Madlos said a unit of the New People’s Army, the NDF’s armed component, was targeting “a notorious armed barangay captain, together with his escorts” and militiamen.

The military said the ambulance was carrying 11 government soldiers, militiamen and civilians when it was attacked by guerrillas as it passed by Sitio Talay in Barangay Maril.

The civilians killed in the attack were identified as 27-year-old Neljoy Cerna, 51-year-old Alfredo Cerna, 51-year-old Nonie Mabong and 30-year-old Vanessa Sabas.

Two other civilians were also wounded. They include 8-year-old Mac Roselyn Adonis and 47-year-old Liza Castilla.

The target of the attack, Jun Solidor, village chief of Maril, was wounded. Also wounded were Sgt. Diryun Mordeno and militiamen Expedito Sabado and Reynaldo Austral.

Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, head of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, condemned the attack, saying it violated international humanitarian law.

The NPA had accused Solidor of protecting illegal logging and using militiamen to grab lands from farmers.

Malaya said the NPA was unaware that Solidor had allowed civilians to hitch a ride in the ambulance that the village chief uses.

Lowy report: Chinese rivalries risk spiralling conflict in South China Sea

Posted to WA Today (Dec 10): Lowy report: Chinese rivalries risk spiralling conflict in South China Sea

 Chinese fishing vessels near the disputed Meiji reef in the South China Sea in July 2012.

Chinese fishing vessels near the disputed Meiji reef in the South China Sea in July 2012. Photo: AP

Fierce rivalry between Chinese civilian, paramilitary and military agencies has created a "genuine risk" of conflict in the South China Sea, says a new report.

Reopening one of the great debates of Chinese foreign policy, analyst Linda Jakobson argues that President Xi Jinping is not a dominating leader and there is no "grand plan" of tailored territorial coercion.

Rather, she says, local governments, state oil companies, fishermen and as many as five maritime surveillance agencies are furiously competing to expand bureaucratic turf under the "pretext" of general nationalist policy directions from above.

A February 2014 photo taken by surveillance planes for the Philippines government shows Chinese construction work on Johnson Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands.

A February 2014 photo taken by surveillance planes for the Philippines government shows Chinese construction work on Johnson Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands. Photo: Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs

And her model of bureaucratic competition could be even more dangerous than any grand territorial plan.

"A 'grand plan' would in fact be less threatening than the uncertainty caused by a situation in which various Chinese actors are pursuing ad hoc measures in their own Interests," says Dr Jakobson in her report, China's Unpredictable Maritime Security Actors, to be released by the Lowy Institute today.

"Consequently, there is a genuine risk of an incident at sea (or in the air) spiralling out of control."

Confrontation: Philippine Marines and a television reporter gesture defiantly to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel after the Philippines successfully resupplied its base on Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands in March.

Confrontation: Philippine Marines and a television reporter gesture defiantly to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel after the Philippines successfully resupplied its base on Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands in March. Photo: Reuters

Dr Jakobson's views are likely to spark renewed debate about the nature of politics and policymaking in China.

Many defence officials in the region believe China is engaging in a systematic program of "salami slicing" to swallow bite-sized pieces of territory that are too incremental to trigger war.

A fortnight ago a military magazine, IHS Jane's, obtained satellite imagery that showed Chinese land reclamation work to build a large runway-and-port-shaped structure on what was a fully-submerged atoll.

The three-kilometre-long man-made island on the Fiery Cross Reef was by far the largest of four reclamation projects that China has undertaken in the Spratly Islands in the past 18 months.

These developments, combined with "stunning" advances in military technology, could enable China to project air power thousands of kilometres from the mainland, say defence officials.

One defence official told Fairfax that the South China Sea was rapidly turning into "a Chinese lake".

Experts agree that territorial disputes in the South China Sea will remain "volatile" despite recent moves by Mr Xi to re-emphasise economic diplomacy.

But they differ widely on the underlying causes, thanks largely to the extreme opacity of the Chinese policymaking process.

Andrew Chubb, an expert on Chinese military propaganda and the South China Sea, said Chinese agencies often acted without coordination but they rarely acted without direction at times when they were being territorially "assertive".

"The most assertive actions usually seem to be the most coordinated," said Mr Chubb, a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia, citing land reclamation, legal amendments and the movement of a billion-dollar oil rig into highly disputed waters earlier this year.

Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said she saw "considerable evidence of a strategy to bolster Chinese claims and assert greater control".

"The recent reports and satellite imagery of China's land reclamation activities in the Spratlys, for example, suggest to me a grand strategy to strengthen China's sovereignty claims and to exert greater control over the southern reaches of the South China Sea."

Philippine blast aimed at derailing peace deal, say army officials

From the Word Bulletin (Dec 10): Philippine blast aimed at derailing peace deal, say army officials

As army blames the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters for the latest attack, the group dismissed the army statement as a fabrication intended to malign it

Philippine blast aimed at derailing peace deal, say army officials

A bomb attack in the southern Philippines that killed 10 bus passengers, mostly students, and injured 42, was intended to derail a peace deal with Muslim rebels, two army officials said on Wednesday.

The Philippines signed a peace deal in March with its largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), aimed at ending four decades of conflict that killed more than 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

The rebels agreed to disband their resistance army and give up their weapons in exchange for more autonomy for the Muslim-dominated region. A new autonomous government is expected to be set up next year.

A rebel splinter group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, was responsible for Tuesday's attack, a senior army commander told Reuters, adding that the rebels responsible recently received training in the use of bombs on the southern island of Mindanao.

"They want to undermine the peace process," said the commander, who accused the rebels of opposing the legal framework for autonomy, the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

"This is an act of terrorism," added the commander, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Another army official said the BIFF opposed the government's pact with its rivals. "They don't want the peace process to succeed," said the officer, who also sought anonymity as he was not allowed to speak publicly.

The rebels used an 81-mm mortar, remotely detonated by a mobile phone, the senior commander said, saying the technique was one favoured by a student of Abdul Basit Usman, for whom the U.S. State Department has offered a bounty of $1 million.

A spokesman for the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters dismissed the army statement as a fabrication intended to malign it. "Bombing civilians would not benefit us," said Abu Misri Mama.

Extortion has not been ruled out as a motive for Tuesday's crime, because the bus company had faced threats for refusing to pay "taxes" to the rebels, said Lieutenant-General Aurelio Baladad, the military commander in the eastern part of Mindanao.

"The al Khobar extortion gang has bombed several buses for refusing to heed their demand," he added.

Bukidnon bombers are ‘BIFF new recruits on test mission’

From the Sun Star-Davao: Bukidnon bombers are ‘BIFF new recruits on test mission’

Authorities identified Wednesday the suspect in Tuesday's bombing of a Rural Transit bus in Maramag, Bukidnon that killed 11 passengers and wounded 31 others.

Brigadier General Alexander Balutan, deputy commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command, identified the suspect as one Garnet Lintang, commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) operating in Central Mindanao.

 Balutan said the BIFF was conducting a test mission for their new graduates.

He said that based on the forensic investigation, the improvised explosive device used was an 81-millimeter mortar, which was command detonated with the use of a mobile phone.

BIFF is a breakaway group opposed to the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Balutan said their unit, in coordination with the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division and the Bukidnon provincial police, already launched a massive manhunt against Lintag and his cohorts, as multiple murder charges are set to be filed against them before the provincial prosecutor's office.

Reports also said the suspects were captured by a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera in Maramag where the bus left before proceeding to Cagayan de Oro City.

[Video report: Cagayan de Oro, Davao alerto human sa bus bombing]

The incident took place around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday in Maramag, Bukidnon. Most of the victims were students.

The Rural Transit bus had picked up passengers, mostly students, and was passing near the main gate of Central Mindanao University in Maramag when the powerful blast sent shrapnel and debris flying through the vehicle, Maramag safety officer Alejandro Navarro said.

Authorities also believe the incident had something to do with the demands of the BIFF to the said bus company.

The Rural Transit has been receiving extortion letters from the group asking for protection money, Balutan said.

He added that aside from extortion as motive, the information gathered showed that the group was also conducting a test mission for their new graduates.

Killed in the incident were Emma Valiente, Ken Valiente, Anita Santillan, Catherine Villahermosa, John Bernard Cunahap, Jonathan Balida, Mariel Pachacoso, Michelle Gonzaga, Michael Buctos, John Rey Valdesco, and one remain unidentified.

"We are trying to secure the main routes in Bukidnon. Meron naman kaming checkpoints from Davao to Bukidnon to Cagayan de Oro kaya lang mahirap talaga minsan idetermine when these elements strike," Balutan said.

A special investigation task group, named "RTMI 2640" and composed of various police units, was also formed Wednesday to focus on probing the bus bombing.

Davao on alert

But with the incident, Police Regional Office (PRO)-Davao spokesperson Antonio E. Rivera said the police have placed Davao Region under red alert status. He added that they have implemented enhanced visibility and strengthened their security measures.

In a memo dated December 9, 2014, PRO Director Wendy Rosario directed the city and provincial police to intensify target hardening measures and ensure that all the field units will also intensify their security measures to preempt similar incident and planned atrocities and other threat groups against vital installations in Davao.

Act of terrorism

Meanwhile, Armed Forces information chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc was blunt, saying the incident is an act of terrorism.

"Terrorism cannot be justified on any ground or for any purpose. The Filipino people must strongly condemn every act of terrorism and senseless violence against our fellowmen," Cabunoc said, adding 403rd Brigade commander Colonel Jesse Alvarez has been sent to the area to help in the police investigation.

Asked if the latest bomb attack could lead to a stricter security for Pope Francis when he visits the Philippines in January, Abigael Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said, "I can tell you that even without this event, the preparations for the visit of His Holiness do take into consideration all humanly possible situations."

She added the government is ready to extend assistance to the victims.

China not pleased with US’ study on South China Sea claims

From Ang Malaya (Dec 10): China not pleased with US’ study on South China Sea claims

“The US report turns a blind eye to basic facts and international jurisprudence. It is a violation of the US commitment of not taking position or taking sides on the South China Sea issue, and will by no means help resolve the South China Sea disputes or contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry of China said in a briefing commenting on US State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs study entitled, China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea.

China reiterates its, what it claims, long-standing commitment to solve maritime disputes in South China Sea through direct negotiations and friendly consultations with countries involved with respect to historical facts and international law.

“China urges the US side to strictly honor its commitment, be prudent in words and deeds, and approach and handle the relevant issues in an objective and impartial manner.”

US government believes, based on the mentioned study, “China has not clarified its maritime claims associated with the dashed-line maps in a manner consistent with international law.”

US added that “the law of the sea does not permit those entitlements to be overridden by an other State’s maritime claims that are based on history.”

NPA torches backhoe, 3 dump trucks in Eastern Samar

From InterAksyon (Dec 11): NPA torches backhoe, 3 dump trucks in Eastern Samar

Reports reaching Manila indicated that a backhoe and three dump trucks of a quarry company were torched Wednesday by around 20 fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Vigan, Gen. MacArthur in Eastern Samar, the military said Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the rebels swooped down the Hanjin-Yakal quarrying site along Binalay River at around 9 a.m.

He said the rebels spared the seven workers of the company from harm.

"After a brief talk with the workers, the NPA rebels told them to leave the area. The heavy equipment were subsequently burned by the rebels," Velarmino said.

Hanjin-Yakal is a joint venture owned by Millennium Challenge Account Philippines, which started construction projects in Eastern Samar in April 2013.

It is currently undertaking a road widening project worth P19 million, which stretches from the municipality of Llorente down to Guiuan, Eastern Samar in the south.

Currently, it is estimated that the construction firm has completed 30 percent of the project.

"It is very unfortunate that the NPA rebels are still very incessant in imposing violence even during calamities. It is very apparent that they have taken advantage of the situation even as rescue, relief and humanitarian operations in the area are still ongoing," Velarmino lamented.

3ID, PA fosters closer ties with media

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 11): 3ID, PA fosters closer ties with media

The 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based at Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz brought its officers and men closer to the members of the Iloilo media during a fellowship event held December 10 here.

3ID Commander Major General Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero led key officers and men of the said Army unit for the event that was intended “to further enhance the unity and camaraderie among  beat reporters assigned in the military and to foster harmonious working relationship between the media and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

MGen. Guerrero enthused that he was looking forward to a “productive and healthy working relationship” with the media community especially in line with the thrust of the government towards peace and security that is supportive of development.

Nony Basco of ABS-CBN introduced and spoke in behalf of the members of the local media community.

The event was organized by the 3ID, PA through the 3rd Division Public Affairs Office headed by Major Ray C. Tiongson.

As part of the event, the 3ID, PA launched the 3ID Website at, which provides “real-time” information about the Division and its programs and activities.

Abus release Malaysian-Chinese in Sulu

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 12): Abus release Malaysian-Chinese in Sulu

A Malaysian-Chinese kidnap victim was freed by Abu Sayyaf bandits after negotiations facilitated by Muslim leaders in Sulu and immediately left for Malaysia without undergoing debriefing from police and military authorities.

Capt. Rowena Muyuela, public information officer of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said that kidnap victim Kun Mun Hua, also known as Chan Sai Chuin, was released by his abductors at around 11 p.m. Tuesday along Sitio Timahu, Barangay Tubig Dakula, Indanan.

Muyuela said that Hadji Mamih Sangkula and Hadji Mandi Sangkula negotiated for the release of the kidnap victim.

“Accordingly, after the release, the KV (kidnap victim) boarded a speed boat and proceeded to Malaysia,” Muyuela said a in text message.

Muyuela did not identify the group behind Hua’s kidnapping but reports tagged the terrorist Abu Sayyaf as responsible in the abduction.

But previous reports said that Hua was forcibly taken by Abu Sayyaf terrorists during a raid in his farm in Kunak, Sabah last June. He was kept under captivity in Sulu, a known bailiwick of Abu Sayyaf bandits.

There were reports stating that more than P30 million ransom was paid to the Abu Sayyaf in exchange to the freedom of Hua.

Meanwhile, elements of the Jolo Internal Defense Force (JIDF) secured a student of Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade after being kidnapped by still unidentified individuals.

Col. Allan Arrojado, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said that 16-year-old Ibrahim Patrasa reported his kidnapping by individuals aboard a white van at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday while he was leaving school located along Barangay Asturias, Jolo.

Arrojado said that elements of the JIDF, led by a certain Major Saddama, managed to secure the kidnap victim after conducting security patrol in the area.

During custodial debriefing, Arrojado said that the victim told lawmen that the kidnap men were holding several female kidnap victims.

Entry of ISIS group to RP imminent — UN

From the Daily Tribune (Dec 12): Entry of ISIS group to RP imminent — UN

The country is vulnerable to being the next area of operations of the Muslim extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a United Nations (UN) terror expert said yesterday.

UN counter-terrorism committee (CTC) executive director John Paul Laborde said the threat of entry into the country of members of the dreaded extremist group from the Middle East remains, so the government should still intensify preventive measures.

“There’s no evidence that they (ISIS) are already in the Philippines. But they will try as much as they can so it’s possible one day they will come,” he warned at a press conference at the Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday during a courtesy call with the government’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force.

Laborde acknowledged that ISIS already plans to “extend to the East Asia region.” “This is why we are in this region – to help in preventive measures,” he explained.
The UN executive recommends improved legislation, military disciplinary approach and prevention of flight to Iraq and Syria.
The UN official stressed that while the Philippines has “made a lot of progress” in the anti-terrorism issue, the ISIS has posed “new challenges” which now require “improvements to be made.”

UN-CTC senior legal officer Sue Takasu agreed that the country has responded well to the global campaign against terrorism.

“There have been a lot of developments, especially in legislation side,” she said, citing the Human Security Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9372) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

Takasu also lauded the government for creating an anti-terrorism council and special task force to investigate terrorism cases.

Laborde and Takasu arrived in the country last Wednesday to conduct an assessment of the government’s anti-terrorism program. They said they would come up with a set of recommendations at the conclusion of their visit.

Video Report: Extortionists suspected in Bukidnon blast

ANC video report posted to ABS-CBN (Dec 10): Extortionists suspected in Bukidnon blast

[Video report]
Authorities are blaming extortionists for Tuesday's deadly bus bombing in Bukidnon. But it's also possible an extremist group is behind the attack. - ANC, Prime Time, December 10, 2014

Abu Sayyaf releases Malaysian fish breeder

From ABS-CBN (Dec 11): Abu Sayyaf releases Malaysian fish breeder

Filipino militant group Abu Sayyaf has released a Malaysian hostage, a Malaysian news report said.

A report by Malaysia's The Star Online said Chan Sai Chuin, a fish breeder from Kunak town in Sabah state, was brought back to Malaysia by a group of Malaysian and Filipino negotiators on Wednesday after being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf for almost half a year.

Chan, 32, was snatched by Abu Sayyaf bandits from his farm in Kampung Sapong in Kunak on June 16. He was freed before midnight Tuesday, the Star Online reported.

The news website, however, said there is no confirmation if a 3 million Malaysian ringgit (roughly P38.3 million) ransom demand, euphemistically called ''board and lodging fee'', was paid for Chan's release.

Chan underwent a medical examination and was given a debriefing by the police. He is set to return to his fish farm, which he built roughly three months before he was abducted.

The report said negotiations are also ongoing for the release of another hostage, marine policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, who was snatched from Mabul island, also in Sabah, last July 12.

Another 3 million Malaysian ringgit was allegedly demanded by the Abu Sayyaf for his release.

2 BIFF men killed in Maguindanao

From ABS-CBN (Dec 11): 2 BIFF men killed in Maguindanao

Two members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in an encounter with government soldiers in Datu Unsay town, Maguindanao on Wednesday.

Capt. Joan Petinglay, spokesperson of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division, said Sapitula Unsi alias Jonex and Totoc Lucong were killed after engaging soldiers in a gunbattle in Barangay Maitumaig.

Petinglay said the BIFF soldiers, on board a motorcycle, fired shots at members of the 45th Infantry Battalion along a national highway. This forced the government soldiers to fire back.

One of the slain bandits was also confirmed to have participated in the attack at the Maguindanao Integrated Provincial Health Office last October which left two security guards dead.

Soldiers recovered a pistol and a grenade from the slain suspects.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has forged a peace pact with the government for the creation of the Bangsamoro entity.

LOOK: Van, guns believed used in ambush torched

From ABS-CBN (Dec 11): LOOK: Van, guns believed used in ambush torched

MISAMIS ORIENTAL - A van and weapons believed to have been used by assailants in the failed ambush of Iligan Rep. Vicente Belmonte was found torched and abandoned just a kilometer away from the site of the attack.

Initial reports from ABS-CBN correspondent Roxanne Arevalo said the scorched remains of the van were found in Barangay Liberty, Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, around a kilometer away from the crime scene.

Police said weapons were found inside the scorched van.

Belmonte earlier told ANC he arrived at the Laguindingan Airport at 1:30 p.m. and was en route to Iligan City when his convoy was blocked by a white van.

He said unidentified assailants opened the side door of their L300 van and shot at their vehicle with automatic weapons.

Several assailants hiding in the grassy portion beside the road also shot at their vehicles.

Belmonte escaped unharmed except for minor cuts from the shattered windshield. He said at least three of his companions were killed in the incident.

The congressman said the attack was politically motivated.

Photos by Roxanne Roble Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao.

Photos by Roxanne Roble Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao.

Photos by Roxanne Roble Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao.

Photos by Roxanne Roble Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao.

Photos by Roxanne Roble Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao

ISIS still not in PHL -- UN expert

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): ISIS still not in PHL -- UN expert

Amid reports of recruitment in southern Philippines, an expert of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UNCTED) on Thursday said that there is still no evidence that Jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reached the Philippines.

However, UNCTED Executive Director John Paul LaBorde said that there are indications that the terror group is extending to the east.

“There is no evidence that they are in the Philippines,” LaBorde said in a press conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday.

LaBorde said that with the series of counter-terrorism operations against ISIS, the group has lost fighters prompting it to expand to the east to recruit more members.

“The leaders of this organization want to expand to the east. Some indications say that they are trying to expand to the east,” LaBorde said.

“They will try to get [in] as much as they can,” he said by recruiting fighters and providing financial support.

“It is possible that one day they will come to our country,” LaBorde added.

The UN expert said that it is important to alert the civil society to be vigilant.

”Improve legislation to complement terrorism efforts of the government and dry up financial resources of suspected terrorist cells in the country,” LaBorde said.

483 wounded Army troopers, militiamen to receive Christmas gifts

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): 483 wounded Army troopers, militiamen to receive Christmas gifts
In line with efforts to boost the morale of its personnel wounded in battle, Philippine Army (PA) commander Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri will lead the Christmas gift-giving activities to 483 Army personnel and Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAAs) confined at AFP Medical Center in Quezon City this Friday.

The activity will start at 10 a.m., Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said.

He added that Iriberri will personally hand over the grocery items to Army and CAFGU battle casualties and non-battle casualties confined at AFP Medical Center.

Recently, 183 Army personnel confined at Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City have also benefited from the PA's Christmas gift-giving activities.

Detoyato said their giving activities is part of the Army’s morale and welfare program through the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, OG1, PA to boost the morale of Army personnel and CAFGU’s confined in military hospitals.

Students, teachers condemn brazen NPA attack vs. gov't troops engaged in peace, dev't works in Mt. Province

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Students, teachers condemn brazen NPA attack vs. gov't troops engaged in peace, dev't works in Mt. Province

Students from various Mt. Province schools marched Wednesday to protest the brazen attack conducted by New People's Army (NPA) rebels against government troops conducting peace and development works in Sagada town last Nov. 30

In the said attack, two soldiers from the 54th Infantry Battalion were killed and other troopers wounded.

1st Lt. Randy Sta. Maria, 5th Infantry Division spokesperson, said 300 students and teachers from the Sagada National High School, Namatec National High School of Sabangan Municipality, Mt Province Polytechnic State College of Bontoc Municipality, participated in the indignation rally which started 3 p.m. and ended 6 p.m.

Mt. Province Gov. Leonardo Mayaen also attended the event which took place at the Provincial capitol Plaza at Poblacion, Bontoc.

“From the officialdom of Mt Province, together with my family, we condemn the NPA for destroying the image of the peace loving people of Mt. Province," Mayaen said.

Joint Task Group Sulu safely recovers kidnap victim

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Joint Task Group Sulu safely recovers kidnap victim

Units of Joint Task Group Sulu have successfully rescued a kidnap victim during pursuit operations in Sulu last Dec. 9.

Col. Allan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the rescued victim as 16-year-old Ibrahim M. Patrasa, single and a student of Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trade.

The victim was kidnapped by heavily-armed and unidentified men 2 p.m. of Dec. 9

He added that he was on his way to school in Barangay Asturias, Jolo town when the suspects appeared out of nowhere and shoved him at gunpoint inside a white van with capital "S" markings.

Upon learning of the incident, mobile units of Joint Task Group Sulu immediately conducted pursuit operations and managed to recover the victim and drove away his abductors after a brief encounter.

Pursuit operations conducted by military and police units on 3 p.m. Dec. 10 eventually resulted in the recovery of one M-4 assault rifle with an M-203 grenade launcher, a 9mm pistol and one .45 caliber pistol in Barangay Mangis, Indanan town.

Subsequent search also resulted in the recovery of M-15 automatic rifles,one AK-47 rifle, another M-4 assault rifle and three M-14, one Browning automatic rifle, and assorted ammunition and several bandoleers.

Arrojado said Patrasa was immediately placed under their protective custody and made to undergo debriefing.

During their questioning, Ibrahim revealed to government security forces that several female kidnap victims are still in the hands of the kidnappers.

Torture victims in Bataan light candles to mark International Human Rights Day

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Torture victims in Bataan light candles to mark International Human Rights Day

Some torture victims and their sympathizers held Wednesday night a candle-lighting activity in this city to mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the International Human Rights Day.

They displayed streamers denouncing torture and violations of human rights.

"We are doing this as a reminder to the government because despite some laws, there are still torture and violations against human rights," said Derek Cabe, spokesperson of the Kilusang Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD) in Bataan.

"We hope for the respect and recognition of the human rights be implemented for the dignity of the people," Cabe said.

Cabe, quoting reports of the Commission on Human Rights, claimed that from January 2014 to this date, there are 28 cases of torture in the Philippines, 23 allegedly military-perpetrated.

Danilo Castro, 63, of Morong town, said he was tortured by members of the then Philippine Constabulary in 1973.

Former Vice Mayor Leonardo Cruz of Dinalupihan town said he was suspected of being an NPA supporter which he said he was not.

Miguela Orpilla, 67, of Abucay town, said she was suspected of feeding the rebels in 1978 and imprisoned for two months.

Some members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community joined the candle-lighting activity at the Plaza Mayor in Balanga City.

They claimed they were also victims of human rights violation in the form of discrimination.

Officials eye extortion in Bukidnon bus bombing, stricter measures in place

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Officials eye extortion in Bukidnon bus bombing, stricter measures in place

Local officials here today said the bombing of a Rural Transit bus that left 11 people dead and 43 others wounded, was carried out by extortion gang operating in the province and nearby areas.

Bukidnon Gov. Jose Maria Zubiri told reporters after a security briefing with security officials that extortion was the most likely motive of the December 9 bomb attack that also destroyed the bus few meters from the main entrance of the Central Mindanao University.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the bomb was fashioned from 81 or 60 mm mortar with mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

Zubiri said the same make of IED was used against the same bus firm on November 6, also in Maramag, that left four persons wounded.

The firm with routes from Cagayan de Oro City to Bukidnon to North Cotabato and Tacurong City, had been subjected to similar bomb attacks in the past.

The Bukidnon police office is now reviewing the CCTV footage at the Maramag public terminal to determine the facial features of the man who boarded the bus but later alighted.

Police said the firm has also been receiving extortion demands from lawless elements, including al-Khobar extortion gang, operating in North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces.

The ill-fated bus left Banisilan in North Cotabato to Wao in Lanao del Sur en route to Cagayan de Oro City via Maramag, Bukidnon.

Many of the fatalities and wounded were students who boarded the bus as it passed by and parked in front of the main gate of the state university.

Zubiri said he is waiting for the police and military to complete their investigation before concluding the motive.

Rural Transit Mindanao Incorporated, the operator of Rural Bus, was said to be paying "protection money" to ensure the safety of its units traversing critical areas in its routes.

Police initially focused its eyes on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an outlawed group operating mainly in Maguindanao and had been engaging the military in several skirmishes.

But the BIFF denied it was involved saying the group does not attack civilians.

Following the incident, Gov.Zubiri directed the police to implement preventive measures, among them the deployment of plainclothesmen in the bus or stricter inspection at bus terminals.

The police also directed the bus firm not to take in passengers in between terminals to ensure all incoming passengers are properly checked.

Army promoting, protecting human rights, says general

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): Army promoting, protecting human rights, says general

Human rights groups said the country's security sectors remained as the leading human rights violators in the country but an Army general said the situation has greatly improved.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th Infantry Division commander, said unlike during martial law years, the military has considered promotion and protection of human rights as its advocacy.

The Philippine Army, Pangilinan said, has adopted and promoted the International Human Rights Law. In fact it has been integrated and institutionalized in Army training and advocacy, he said.

As the country observes International Human Rights Day Thursday, the 6th ID conducted seminar workshop on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, the enabling law that will be the basis of the coming of new political entity in Muslim region.

URGENT’’’’(UPDATE)PNP, NBI mobilize in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): URGENT’’’’(UPDATE)PNP, NBI mobilize in Misamis Oriental

Tanks and armored vehicles back by about 100 police in full battle gear troop to Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental following the ambush of Lanao Del Norte Rep. Vicente “Barf” Belmonte Thursday afternoon.

Almost half of the Misamis Oriental provincial police command led by Pol. Senior Supt. Leonilo Cabog, responded to the ambush site shortly after the incident Thursday afternoon.

A team of fully armed members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) led by NBI officer Alex Cabornay of Iligan City also went to the ambush site to augment the reinforcement there.

The law enforcers are reportedly conducting hot pursuit operations in search of possible suspects believed to be still in Misamis Oriental and in Lanao Del Norte. Belmonte, who reportedly suffered a gunshot wound on the right leg, is still in the provincial hospital of Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.

The Congressman is now heavily guarded with road security being laid along the Misamis Oriental highway. Provincial Administrator Edmundo Pacamalan, Jr. of Misamis Oriental, who rushed to the Alubijid hospital, said that Belmonte is resting in the hospital.

He said that aside from the bodyguard who was killed on the spot in the ambush site, one of the bodyguards died of gunshot wounds in the hospital.

Pacamalan said that another two bodyguards who sustained gunshot wounds, one of them the personal driver of the Congressman, are also being treated in the hospital.Another bodyguard who was critically wounded was rushed to a hospital in Cagayan De Oro City, Pacamalan said.

He said that one of the bodyguards covered Belmonte saving his life.

An unconfirmed report said that four of Belmonte’s bodyguards were killed. One of the fatalities was identified as PO3 Marcos Antena Andres, a non-commissioned officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Belmonte’s two drivers, also members of the police force, were also reportedly killed, an unconfirmed report said. There names were not made available yet.

Members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) who is conducting an investigation are still looking at the motive of the ambuscade.

SOCO officials observed that the suspects had a blocking force which reportedly ambushed the car where Belmonte was on board ahead of the backup vehicle.

3 killed, 6 wounded in ambushed of Lanao Del Norte Solon

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 11): 3 killed, 6 wounded in ambushed of Lanao Del Norte Solon

Three were killed, and six others wounded, including the Lanao Del Norte Solon, in an ambush in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental Thursday afternoon.

Police identified the fatalities as PO3 Marcos A. Andres, a non-commissioned police officer, who was killed on the spot, Ian Dumaguing, 29, of Iligan City, and Philanan Eustique, 40, also of Iligan City. The victims died of gunshot wounds.

Both Dumaguing and Eustique died while being treated in the provincial hospital of Alubijid in Misamis Oriental.

Wounded were Rep. Vicente "Barf" Belmonte, of Lanao Del Norte's lone Congressional District. Belmonte sustained a gunshot wound on the right leg. The three other wounded were Ruel Tieho, 37, Don Rio, 52, and Noel Jo, 23, the driver.

Belmonte, however, is now out of danger. The heavily guarded Lanao Del Norte Solon went home to Iligan City after he was discharged from the Alubijid hospital about 4:30 Thursday afternoon.

Provincial Administrator Edmunod Pacamalan, Jr. of Misamis Oriental, who talked to Belmonte at the hospital, said that the Congressman could not say what the motive of the ambush was.

He said that Belmonte is on his last term as Congressman of the Lanao Del Norte's lone congressional district.

Investigators from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) are now conducting a probe into the ambuscade.

SOCO is trying to establish whether the burn vehicle, a van, with Plate No. KVW - 407 in the vicinity of Libertad, another adjacent town of Laguindingan, was part of the convoy that waylaid the Congressman's party.

Belmonte has just arrived on board a flight from Manila about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. He was met by his escorts at the Laguindingan Airport and was ambushed on their way to the main national highway, 3 kilometers from the airport.