Friday, December 12, 2014

'Extortion group, not BIFF, behind Bukidnon bus bombing

From the Philippine Star (Dec 12): 'Extortion group, not BIFF, behind Bukidnon bus bombing

Security officials are convinced a big extortion ring, not the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), is behind Tuesday’s deadly bus bombing in Maramag, Bukidnon.

Ten passengers were killed and 20 more were injured in the explosion.
There are big extortion gangs in Central Mindanao, among them the Al-Khobar, preying on transportation companies and commercial establishments in the region.

The Al-Khobar had been implicated in more than 20 bus bombings in the adjoining Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and South Cotabato provinces between 2003 and 2013.

Key members of the Region 12 peace and order council said the police should investigate deeper on Tuesday’s bombing of a unit of the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI) in Maramag.

“If we immediately point an accusing finger to the BIFF we could possibly end up allowing the real culprits to go scot-free,” one of the sources said.

Another source, who also requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said that while the BIFF has hundreds of members, it has limited capability to operate in Bukidnon, which is a predominantly Christian area.

“Even before the BIFF emerged in 2010, the Al-Khobar was already operating with impunity in many areas in Central Mindanao and some of its members charged with criminal offenses in connection with the group’s activity are Visayans,” said a local official.

The spokesman of BIFF, Abu Misry Mama, on Friday denied insinuations that they were behind the bombing.

“Most of our men are facing various cases in different courts, mostly trumped up charges, so how can they go out of the towns where we operate?  We have become the convenient `whipping boy’ for all atrocities that we didn’t get involved with,” Misry said in Maguindanao dialect.

Authorities in Bukidnon and Davao City announced on Thursday that a BIFF leader named Garnet Lintang and a certain Dawtin Gendang had been charged in connection with the bus bombing, the MRTI’s second since last month.

Four passengers of an MRTI bus were slightly injured in a previous  attack, also in Maramag town, the gateway to Bukidnon.

The bus company serves the Tacurong City-Maguindanao-North Cotabato-Bukidnon-Cagayan de Oro route.

Local officials in Bukidnon believe extortionists were responsible for the bombings of the two MRTI buses.

Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri said local officials had reached a consensus, during an emergency meeting with the military and police Wednesday, that extortionists could be responsible for the attacks.

“We are one to believe that it was extortion,” Zubiri said.

The governor said they had discussed all the angles of the latest bombing incident during the emergency security meeting.

Malik alive, back in Sulu – MNLF leader

From the Philippine Star (Dec 12): Malik alive, back in Sulu – MNLF leader

A year after he was reported dead, Ustadz Habier Malik has allegedy returned to Sulu and reunited with fugitive Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari, a source said yesterday.

The source, a member of the MNLF central committee, told The STAR in a telephone interview that he personally met Malik somewhere in Sulu during a gathering of MNLF commanders two months ago.

“Malik has recovered from injuries he suffered during the Zamboanga seige,” the source said, adding the MNLF leader showed him blackened muscle tissue from injuries he sustained when a mortar shell blasted a concrete wall at the height of the Zamboanga fighting.

The source said Malik and some 30 MNLF guerrillas slipped out of a military cordon in Zamboanga City and went island-hopping to evade pursuing police and soldiers.

Malik reportedly left his bag, which contained his identification card, and other personal document with a follower who was killed in an explosion. The military recovered his ID card.

The source said Malik stayed for several months on one of the islands, where he underwent physical therapy for his muscle and bone injuries.

Malik is busy training new MNLF recruits from Basilan and Sulu, the source said.

“The recruits are taught how to operate firearms, which include anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and Barrett sniper rifles, recently acquired by the MNLF,” the source said.

He declined to reveal how the MNLF acquired the US-made weapons.
In January, the military reported that Malik, who led the MNLF forces in Zamboanga siege last year, died in the fighting.

NPA asks for 6% levy on infra projects in N. Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Dec 12): NPA asks for 6% levy on infra projects in N. Cotabato

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines - The New People’s Army (NPA) is imposing a “6-percent levy” on budgets earmarked for each infrastructure project being implemented by contractors in hinterland towns in North Cotabato and its capital, Kidapawan City.

Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista on Friday told reporters he has been receiving persistent feedback that the NPA has been forcing contractors to shell out at least 6 percent of the total budget for each project as “protection money.”

A group of NPAs on Sunday burned some P20 million worth of road-building equipment of the Jargon Construction Company in Barangay Mua-an in Kidapawan City after its owner rejected monetary demands by rebels.

The construction firm is involved in costly road projects straddling through farming enclaves in Kidapawan City.

It was the NPA’s second arson attack on the firm’s equipment depot in the past four months.

Evangelista said the road projects being implemented by the beleaguered contractor will continue, but under tighter security.

The NPA has reportedly been is asking for P11 million worth of protection money from the project contractor.

Army intelligence sources said the NPA has also threatened to harass other construction firms engaged in infrastructure projects in highland towns in North Cotabato if demands are not met.

Lt. Col. Nilo Vinluan, commanding officer of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, said rebels have collected no less than P100 million worth of revolutionary taxes from local traders, politicians, construction companies and operators of public conveyances in the past 24 months.

The 5th IB has jurisdiction over Kidapawan City and North Cotabato’s nearby Makilala, Magpet, Arakan and President Roxas towns.

Vinluan said giving in to the extortion demands of the NPA will only embolden the group to escalate its illegal activity, meant to sustain its operation in the province.

Aquino scouting for new PNP chief

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 13): Aquino scouting for new PNP chief

President Aquino yesterday said he is already scouting for a new police chief following the suspension of Director General Alan Purisima by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Aquino said it is automatic for the Philippine National Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina to take over the PNP as officer-in-charge (OIC) since Purisima is facing a six-month preventive suspension order after being implicated in the alleged anomalous gun license delivery deal with a private company in 2011.

Earlier, Senate President Franklin Drilon urged the President to appoint an acting PNP chief to ensure that government’s security preparations during Pope Francis’ visit and the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit next year will not be affected by a leadership hiatus in the PNP. Drilon claimed an OIC “has a limited power to effect changes and reforms in the PNP.”

“In an organization such as the Philippine National Police where authority and leadership is strictly observed, Purisima’s suspension from his post would turn it into a ‘headless’ body,” Drilon said in a statement.

“That situation is what we wanted to prevent, especially in light of the forthcoming hosting of the Philippines of two high-profile events next year which would require a full-time PNP chief to be on top of all security preparations,” he pointed out.


Sen. Francis Escudero also sought the appointment of an acting PNP chief, saying the unclear chain of command following the suspension of Purisima would “destabilize” the PNP as an institution.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Finance proposed that an acting PNP chief should be appointed, instead of designating an officer-in-charge to ensure the seamless implementation of activities and programs in the PNP.

But the President said Purisima’s suspension and Espina’s taking the top PNP post in a temporary capacity is no big deal even with the upcoming visit of Pope Francis in January and the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Meetings next year, according to the President.

Since Purisima is suspended, Aquino said it should be Espina “who should be leading” and taking over the security preparations for these two major events in 2015.

But the President said whatever the concept of an OIC maybe, Espina remains the “head” of the PNP at this point in time.

“He is supposed to run (the PNP). If somebody doesn’t follow him, that person gets removed. So whatever we put in place should not be dependent on one person,” Aquino said during a press briefing  in Busan where he participated in the 25th ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit.

Describing the current state of affairs at the PNP, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said “we are under unique circumstances and still in a normal course of business.”

Roxas stressed that the PNP remains committed to fulfilling its duties in fighting crimes.

“The PNP remains strong. Its chain of command remains intact,” he said.


But Aquino admitted he is now scouting for a new PNP chief.

“General Espina…will not be in the service that much longer. And General Purisima will reach 56 by 2015. So, regardless, with or without this issue, naghahanap na din tayo dito. Titingnan natin ‘yung track record ng (we are now looking already. We are all looking at the track record of) all of the contenders,” Aquino said.

But when asked if keeping Purisima at the PNP is detrimental to the institution, Aquino said he believes the embattled police chief has the right to due process and to defend himself from the allegations.

He also confirmed talking with Purisima.

“The last time I talked to him he said he has kept himself to his quarters,” the president said.

But Sen. Miriam Santiago said Purisima should move out of his official quarters in Camp Crame “out of delicadeza” by virtue of his suspension which he has already acknowledged.

“Bottom line is, may utos ‘yung Ombudsman, he will have to undergo the processes and one of them is this preventive suspension. And the other aspect is that like any other citizen, he has the right to defend himself,” Aquino pointed out.

Landmine planted by NPA rebels in Bicol

From the Manila Times (Dec 12): Landmine planted by NPA rebels in Bicol

AN improvised landmine was planted by suspected communist
rebels on a road in a remote village in Ragay town, Camarines Sur, police reports said on Friday.

The Camarines Sur police chief, Senior Supt. Primo Golingay, said the mine was discovered in Zone 1, Barangay Baya in Ragay by a retired fireman, whose name was withheld for security reasons, at around 9 a.m. Thursday.

Golingay said the explosive device was made up of an improvised blasting cap and a 70-meter long electric wire. It was disarmed by soldiers from the Army 22nd Infantry Battalion and was brought to the Ragay police station for proper disposition.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) maintains a considerable presence in Camarines Sur, and clashes with government forces had increased recent years.

Last year, NPA guerrillas killed two soldiers and two militiamen in separate attacks.

Last November, a group of rebels ambushed a team of militiamen and soldiers who were responding to reports that the NPA had killed a civilian in Pasacao town. A militiaman was killed in the 30-minute encounter.

Who’s behind the Bukidnon bus blast?

From MindaNews (Dec 12): Who’s behind the Bukidnon bus blast?

Who’s behind Tuesday’s bombing inside a passenger bus in Maramag, Bukidnon?

Less than 24 hours after the blast that killed 10 persons, five of them students of the Central Mindanao University, and injured 42 others, newspaper and television reports quoted military officials as saying the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a Maguindanao-based armed group wanted by the military, was the perpetrator.

The BIFF, however, denied it had a hand in the bombing of Rural Transit of Mindanao, Inc. bus 2460 in Barangay Dologon, Maramag town, about a kilometer away from the CMU, even as the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City maintained the improvised explosive device (IED) used was a “signature bomb” of the BIFF, fashioned from an 81-mm mortar.

BIFF spokesperson Abu Misry Mama condemned the attack. He said they only knew of the incident when a Bukidnon-based broadcaster reached him for comment on the military’s claims that his group carried out the bombing.

In a telephone interview, Mama instead blamed the military.

“We cannot even pass Army checkpoints because most of our members are wanted, how could we bring bomb in that area? It should be investigated properly,” Mama told MindaNews.

Mama recalled that former Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who led the Oakwood Mutiny on July 27, 2003 to demand reforms in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, had alleged then that the military was involved in a spate of bombings in parts of Mindanao which were blamed on anti-government forces.

The BIFF claimed it has forces in Lanao Del Sur and Bukidnon but Mama said attacking non-combatants is not part of their plan.


The BIFF is a breakaway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was founded around March 2010 by Ustadz Amiril Umra Kato, three months after he tendered his resignation as commander of the 105th Base Command of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF).

The MILF has signed a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on March 27, 2014 and is now awaiting the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.

In Bukidnon, Inspector Joselle Longakit, information officer of the Bukidnon Police, confirmed to radio station dxDB-Malaybalay on Thursday morning that the bomb was fashioned out of an 81mm mortar with a mobile phone as detonator.

Longakit said that aside from extortion, they have not ruled out terrorism as the possible motive.

She said they already have a lead but refused to provide details citing the need for confidentiality as the investigation was still ongoing.

She added they will release the identities of the suspects only after the filing of charges against them.

In Davao City, Lt. Col. Jake Obligado, acting spokesperson of the EastMinCom, told MindaNews on Friday morning that the basis for pointing to the BIFF as suspects was “the signature of previous bombings.”

Obligado quickly added: “But we said that we are not discounting other possibilities of either business rivalry related or extortion.”

“Other groups being eyed are the Al Khobar group and Abdul Basit Usman’s group,” Obligado said, adding Usman is “a former member of BIFF who has broken away and formed his owned group.”

A Philippine Star report datelined North Cotabato said on Friday morning that the Al Khobar, a group engaged in extortion, “had been implicated in more than 20 bus bombings in the adjoining Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and South Cotabato provinces between 2003 and 2013.”

Obligado cited four other bombing incidents that allegedly bore the BIFF “signature”:
  • the November 6 blast at 12:30 noon involving the same bus company, RTMI, also in Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon, coming from Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province, injuring 4 of the passengers;
  • the November 16 blast at an overpass in front of the Pilot School in Kabacan, North Cotabato, at 6:50 pm., killing a woman and wounding several passengers;
  • the November 20 blast along Sinsuat Avenue corner Gen. Luna St. in front of Malibacao Petron, Cotabato City at 6 p.m.; and
  • the November 23 blast at the Public Plaza of M’lang, North Cotabato at 7:45 p.m., killing two persons and injuring several others.
RTMI plies the Cagayan de Oro City-General Santos City route via Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato. It also services the Cagayan de Oro-Banisilan (North Cotabato) route via Bukidnon and Wao, Lanao Sur.

Bukidnon bus bombing: Bus firm management got text messages to pay up or else…

From MindaNews (Dec 12): Bukidnon bus bombing: Bus firm management got text messages to pay up or else…

The Rural Transit in Mindanao Inc. received a flurry of text messages from unknown persons to pay P50 thousand a month or one of their buses would be bombed, police and military officials said.

An RTMI bus bearing body number 2640 was bombed late Tuesday afternoon in Barangay Dologon, Maramag town in Bukidnon killing 10 people and wounding 42 others.

Maj. Christian Uy, public information officer of the 4th Infantry Division said the bus company told members of the Regional Peace and Order Council in a closed-door briefing Wednesday in Cagayan de Oro City that they have indeed received extortion threats.

The RTMI management, however, did not inform the police or the military of the extortion threats, Uy said.

“The first text message was received through the RTMI hotline in Davao before their first bus was bombed on Nov. 6,” he said.

Last Nov. 6, an RTMI bus traveling from Tacurong City to Cagayan de Oro was bombed in the same town of Maramag, Bukidnon, wounding four passengers.

Uy said after the Nov. 6 bombing the RTMI management received another text message warning them that “a bigger bomb will be exploded in one of their buses if their demands are not met.”

This was confirmed by a well-placed source working in the PNP Task Force RTMI 2640, a special investigation team tasked to solve the Dec. 9 bus bombing.

“The text message was received this time by the RTMI hotline in Cagayan de Oro,” the PNP official said.

Uy said that like the threatening text message before the Nov. 6 bombing, the RTMI management ignored it and did not inform the authorities.

He said the last text message came about 30 minutes before improvised explosive device made of an 81-mm mortar went off inside bus number 2640 after it picked up passengers and students in front of the Central Mindanao University, about a kilometres away from the blast site.

“The text message told the bus company of the big explosion,” Uy said.

Police filed multiple murder and frustrated murder charges against a certain Macmod Manibpil alias “Mang” before the Bukidnon Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Malaybalay City Thursday.

Police said Manibpil is a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The BIFF has denied involvement in the bombing.

Ex-US Marine survives ambush in Surigao City

From MindaNews (Dec 12): Ex-US Marine survives ambush in Surigao City

Surigao City: A retired U.S. Marine survived an ambush attempt Tuesday in a remote village in this city.

A police report said Mark Ernest Southworth, 56, was riding his Toyota Hi-Lux from his residence in Barangay Balibayon and was ambushed upon reaching Escalon Bridge in the said village.

Five heavily armed men clad in military uniforms tried to flag him down, but he instead sped off. The attackers then fired at the car’s tires.

Southworth, who was his family and two housemaids, drove his vehicle to the Surigao Memorial Park where they hid.

He went afterwards to the police to report the incident. Nobody was hurt.

At the time of the incident, nine unidentified armed men reportedly barged into the house of the former Marine.

Police investigators said the door of the house was forcibly using an axe.

Police said Southworth’s passbook and undetermined worth of jewelries were taken by the armed men who were believed to be communist rebels.

On Wednesday, a certain Ka Edron who claimed to be an official of the New People’s Army told dxKS-RPN news anchor Jun Clerigo that the rebel group was responsible of the incident.

Ka Edron accused Southworth of committing abuses. He, however, said they were only after his guns and did not intend to harm the ex-Marine and his family.

The rebel leader said a section of Front Committee 16-B was looking for the M16 rifle allegedly owned by Southworth but only found binoculars and a sniper scope.

Ka Edron also denied the accusation that their members took the American’s passbook and jewelries.

A CCTV footage provided by the victim to the police showed that nine armed men forcibly opened the door lock and searched his house.

Supt. Ruben Delos Santos, chief of police in Surigao City has provided security to the victim and his family.

Village chair Reneboy Aquino told reporter today that before he assumed his position he had heard many complaints against Southworth from the residents.

Aquino said among the complaints were poking a gun at children, fencing of mangroves, and failing to register as a resident of the barangay.

MindaNews tried to get comments from the American but failed, as he and his family were hiding in an undisclosed location for their safety.

Bukidnon bus bomb suspect also tagged in 2006 Kabacan blast

From MindaNews (Dec 12): Bukidnon bus bomb suspect also tagged in 2006 Kabacan blast

Multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges were filed Thursday against an escapee for Tuesday’s bus bombing outside Central Mindanao University in Maramag, Bukidnon that killed 10 people and wounded 42 others, police said.

Jiselle Lou Longakit, Bukidnon police spokesperson, said that in a press briefing Thursday, police provincial director Supt. Glenn dela Torre named the suspect as Macmod Manibpil, an escapee who is also a suspect in the 2006 bombing in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Longakit said a sketch based on the testimony of two witnesses matched the photo of Manibpil in the police gallery.

“He was arrested and jailed in Kidapawan City Jail where he escaped,” Longakit said.

She added the suspect is a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The BIFF has denied involvement in the bombing.

Longakit said the police are looking into three possible motives for the bombing: extortion, business rivalry, and “furtherance of their (BIFF) cause.”

She said the third motive could be linked to the failure of the Nov. 6 bombing, which injured four people but killed no one. The earlier bombing occurred in Dologon, a kilometer away from CMU.

Police said the suspect in the Nov. 6 bombing is also a BIFF member identified as Dawtin Gendang, who has been charged for violating the anti-terrorism law qualified by multiple frustrated murder.

Both Gendang ang Manibpil are still at large.

Longakit, however, admitted they have yet to establish that the two bombings were related.

Hansel Echavez, head of the Provincial Public Affairs, Information and Assistance office, said Bukidnon Gov. Jose. Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. was yet to give a statement on the identification of the suspect.

Leo Aribal, public information officer of CMU said they will wait for the official copy of the investigation report before issuing any statement.

Bus blast suspect facing raps

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Dec 12): Bus blast suspect facing raps

AUTHORITIES have filed charges against the suspect in the bombing of a passenger bus that claimed the lives of 10 persons and injured 42 others across the main gate of Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Barangay Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon.

Bukidnon Provincial Police Chief Glenn dela Torre said the complaints against suspect Macmod Manibpil, alias “Mang,” were filed before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Malaybalay City Thursday afternoon.

The complaints were docketed under IS-X-10-INV-14L-00463.

Senior Inspector Rodolfo Dongiapon, provincial investigation officer of Bukidnon police, said Manibpil is facing multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges for the explosion

Dela Torre said Manibpil was identified through the testimonies of a driver of a Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) who was onboard the RTMI bus number 2640 and who saw the suspect, as well as other passengers who got a closer look of the alleged perpetrator.

Dela Torre added the suspect boarded somewhere in Barangay Barandias, Pangantucan, Bukidnon and get off from the bus a few meters away from the CMU bus stop before the explosion.

He said the driver, whom police did not identify, saw Manibpil getting a battery from a “sako bag” placed in the overhead baggage rack.

The driver said a bottle of mineral water fell from the bag when the suspect opened it.

He said the suspect was with a woman and a child when he got off.

Manibpil, dela Torre said, had a standing warrant of arrest, and was one of the 49 prisoners who escaped when a special operations group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) broke them out of a detention facility in Kidapawan City in 2007.

He added Manibpil is a member of the Bangsamo Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who was responsible for the November 6 bombing of another RTMI bus, which injured four passengers. No one was killed in that incident.

Same bomb detonated at Ketkai’s Kyla’s

PO3 Dominic Lumbay, a bomb expert and member of the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) RTMI 2640 (referring to the body number of the bombed bus), said the improvised explosive device (IED) used in last Tuesday’s bombing was the same that was detonated outside Kyla’s Bistro inside the Lim Ket Kai complex last year.

Based on the fragments found by investigators on the scene of the incident, the IED was composed of an 81-millimeter mortar, which weighs about three to four kilograms, and a cellular phone, which acted as the bomb’s trigger device.

Lumbay said the mortar used in another RTMI bus bombing on November 6 was a 60mm type, and the latest IED had more explosive power and impact. “The 81 mm mortar has more intensity,” he added.

Aside from extortion, other the possible motives established by the investigators include trade competition, furtherance of their cause, to embarrass the government, retaliation after the police filed a case against the suspect in the November 6 explosion, dela Torre said.

He said it’s also possible the inclusion of more routes of the RTMI has threatened other public utility vehicles plying the Bukidnon area and may have caused some individuals to sabotage the operations of the bus company.

Soldier accused of rape on Awol, to face charges

From the Sun Star-Davao (Dec 11): Soldier accused of rape on Awol, to face charges

THE Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) will file charges against the soldier accused of raping a 16-year-old mother inside her house in Kitaotao town in Bukidnon last month.

"Definitely, we will file charges both administrative and criminal against him [PFC Benjie Blancada]," Eastmincom deputy commander Brigadier General Alexander Balutan said.

Blancada, who has been a member of the Philippine Army's 84th Infantry Battalion, has been absent without leave (Awol) since last week, Balutan said, adding that until now, he is nowhere to be found.

"Kasalukuyan na siyang pinaghahanap ngayon ng mga kasama niya. We will never tolerate such misdeed lalo na’t makakasira lang sa pangalan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yan," Balutan said.

Balutan said if Blancada will not appear before their office after 11 days, his name will be automatically dropped from the list of their personnel.

"This is a personal problem. There are reports that this is a love triangle issue. Ganun pa man, kailangan pa rin harapin ni Blancado ang ginawa niya. If he will not show up, he will become a fugitive," he added.

Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division's Civil Military Operations Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Llewellyn Binasoy, meanwhile, said the military will issue a nationwide alert to locate Blancada.

Jessa (not her real name) was allegedly raped in Barangay Sinuda in Kitaotao last November 17. She said the suspect only waited for her husband to leave before he raped her.

The Gabriela-Southern Mindanao recounted the ordeal of the victim and condemned the crime, said Mary Ann Sapar, secretary-general of the Gabriela-Southern Mindanao.

"Our first call is that we wanted Benjie Blancada to be persecuted. Second, for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop its encampment in communities," Sapar earlier said.

South Korean President mentions corvette, rubber boats donataion to PHL

From Ang Malaya (Dec 12): South Korean President mentions corvette, rubber boats donataion to PHL

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, during a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III, affirmed her countries defense cooperation with Philippines.

According to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., President Park noted that “the Philippines initiated the acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, transport equipment and raw materials for the government arsenal, and is receiving a donation of a patrol combat corvette, a landing craft utility and 16 rubber boats.”

Earlier this year South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwang-jin committed one Pohang-class corvette to Philippine Navy in form of donation. The said ship is expected to be donated with intact armament and sensors.

President Aquino scheduled to check on FA-50

From Ang Malaya (Dec 12): President Aquino scheduled to check on FA-50

President Benigno S. Aquino III, before heading back to Manila today, is scheduled to meet Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) President and Chief Executive Officer Sung Yong-ha and other Republic of Korea (SoKor) Air Force official to inspect FA-50 fighter jets.

According to report, KAI will be presenting to President Aquino some capabilities of the said aircraft. Philippines already ordered twelve units of FA-50, delivery is set to start September 2015.

FA-50 was co-developed by KAI and U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin. It is the most advance variant in T-50 family.

FA-50 can load up to 4.5 tons of weapons and has a wide-range of armament system. It has a 20 mm three-barrel gun that can fire at extremely high rate internally installed.

It can be fitted with AIM-9 Sidewinder, a short-range air-to-air missile; AGM-65, an air-to-surface missile designed for close-air support missions; cluster bombs and rocket launchers.

The Fighting Eagle is equipped with Multimode Airborne Fire Control Radar system designed to accomplish air-to-air and airstrike missions.

US Navy Laser Weapon System now operational, ready to destroy threat

From Ang Malaya (Dec 12): US Navy Laser Weapon System now operational, ready to destroy threat

United States Navy said its 30 kW-class Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is operational, fully integrated in a US Navy vessel and ready for action. “This is the first time in recorded history that a directed energy weapons system has ever deployed on anything,” said head of the Office of Naval Research Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder.

“We’re not testing it any more. This is operational. It’s on a ship in the Persian Gulf,” Klunder said as reported in a US Navy publication.

“While we haven’t physically destroyed some other threat or adversaries’ vessel or aircraft, we could, if it came to self defence,” Rear Adm Klunder noted. “The reality is, it’s ready.”

US Navy described LaWS as “a cutting-edge weapon that brings significant new capabilities to America’s Sailors and Marines.” It is estimated that one shot of LaWS costs around less than a dollar.

“With affordability a serious concern for our defense budgets, this will more effectively manage resources to ensure our Sailors and Marines are never in a fair fight,” Klunder said.

Editorial: Bombing in Bukidnon

Editorial from the Philippine Star (Dec 12): Editorial - Bombing in Bukidnon


Until yesterday, no one had claimed responsibility for the bus bombing last Tuesday in Bukidnon that killed 10 people, including six students of the Central Mindanao University, and wounded at least 11 other students.

A commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has been charged for the attack, although some Bukidnon officials expressed doubts about BIFF involvement. Extortion is believed to be the motive for the bombing of the Rural Transit Mindanao bus – a common problem among transport operators who refuse to pay “revolutionary taxes” to the New People’s Army. The NPA does not own up to bomb attacks on buses, telecommunications towers and private estates in its extortion activities. A representative of the RTM bus company, however, said they had received no demand for money.

Regardless of the motive, the attack has raised valid concern over more bombings. This gives urgency to the arrest of the perpetrators. There is widespread mourning at the CMU over the loss of so many students and wounding of several others. The victims must get justice.

No ideology or cause can justify such violent attacks, especially when they take the lives of non-combatants. If extortion is the motive, every effort must be made to prevent the perpetrators from continuing the use of deadly violence to raise funds. NPA extortion has been one of the biggest hindrances to the development of poor areas. It is one of the top disincentives to the types of investments that can generate jobs and lift people from poverty in the countryside.

If the BIFF is behind the bombing, it should provide more impetus for state forces to intensify efforts to neutralize the group. The BIFF is committed to derailing the peace process with Islamic separatists. It must be thwarted decisively.

Report: RM780k ransom paid to Abu Sayyaf for Sabah kidnap victim’s release (VIDEO)

From the Malaysia Mail Online (Dec 12): Report: RM780k ransom paid to Abu Sayyaf for Sabah kidnap victim’s release (VIDEO)

[Video: Malaysian fish farm owner released by militants after 180 days of captivity]

About RM780,000 or 10 million pesos in ransom was believed to have been paid to terrorist group Abu Sayyaf  foto secure the release of Malaysian fish breeder Chan Sai Chuin on Tuesday, according to a news report.

A report on The Star Online quoted Philippines sources in Jolo island as saying negotiators deliver­ed the ransom to an Abu Say­yaf faction group, controlled by the Sa­­wadjan brothers and led by one Al-Habsi Misaya.

The report said a ransom of 30 million pesos (RM2.34 million) was demanded initially but was later reduced.

“You must also take into consideration the operational expenditure and money to pay off emissaries, local officials and different faction leaders for a safe passage,” said the anonymous source.

It was learnt that some 10 million pesos or so reached the hands of the group prior to Chan’s release on Tuesday night after some six months of captivity.

Chan was snatched from a Kunak fish farm on June 16 by armed rebels. He was reportedly released on Tuesday and reached the shores of Sandakan by boat at about 6.45am Wednesday morning.

Described as being healthy despite having lost weight, Chan was reunited with his wife Chin Pek Nyen later in the day. The two have since kept a low profile and avoided calls from the media.

Jalaluddin have remained tight lipped about the release, declining to make a statement. —  Photo courtesy of State police

Jalaluddin have remained tight lipped about the release, declining to make a statement.

Relatives said that the couple might be returning to Ipoh, Perak, where they come from, to take a break.

Police, including State police commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman have remained tight lipped about the release, declining to make a statement.

It is believed that the gag order is in place to help secure the release of another Malaysian hostage - marine policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip, 26, who was abducted from Mabul island on July 12 while on duty.

However, the news report  said that negotiations for Zakiah’s release hit a snag due to the disagreement over the amount of money delivered.

The sources said negotiations had re­­sumed for Zakiah and that  “it’s a question of money”.

Gov’t gives former rebels P1.95M

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 12): Gov’t gives former rebels P1.95M

Thirty-nine former communist rebels in Davao City have received a total of P1.95 million from the government under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Thursday.

The rebel returnees, who wore “I Love Peace” T-shirts, received P50,000 each during a ceremony attended by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the Grand Men Seng Hotel on Dec. 9.

“Never again support or participate in any form of armed struggle, especially now that you already have a reason to start a changed life, a good one,” Duterte said in his message to the former rebels.

Duterte has reportedly offered the returnees a housing resettlement area in Barangay (village) Los Amigos, about 30 kilometers from the city.

CLIP focuses on the integration of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front, who decide to abandon armed struggle and rejoin mainstream society.


Under CLIP, rebels who surrender to the government with their firearms are given monetary assistance of P15,000 and livelihood assistance of P50,000. Additional training and support are also accorded them and their dependents.

Implementation of CLIP is based on Joint Memorandum Circular dated May 15, 2014, between the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, 10th Infantry Division (ID) commander, lauded the local government and subordinate units of 10th ID for jointly facilitating the release of the assistance to the former rebels.

“These former rebels are our brothers, they were just victims, deceived and betrayed by the lawless armed group,” Año said.

In a report presented during the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting, a total of 138 former rebels had surrendered to the different units under the 10th ID and will be given government assistance.

Also present during the awarding of the cash assistance were Maria Luisa Bermudo, Davao City Social Services and Development Office head; Merilo Limbaro, head of the DILG-Davao City, and Wilhelm Suyko, regional director of DILG-XI.

US govt providing $750,000 aid for Ruby victims

From GMA News (Dec 12): US govt providing $750,000 aid for Ruby victims

The United States government is providing $750,000 (at least P33 million) in aid and emergency humanitarian assistance to victims of Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit).
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila also commended the Philippine government for its preparations for Ruby as well as its successful response in the cyclone's wake.
"In close coordination with the government of the Philippines, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development’s Office for Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), will provide aid for emergency humanitarian assistance. This assistance totals $750,000 (P33,408,750)," it said.
Ruby tore through Visayas and south Luzon, making landfall six times last weekend. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Ruby left at least 19 dead.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy lauded the Philippine government on its "extensive preparations" leading up to Ruby, and its "successful response."
It also offered condolences for the lives lost. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims," it said.
The embassy said it helped track the typhoon before it made landfall, and worked under the direction of the Philippines treaty ally in monitoring Ruby's trajectory.
Almost immediately after Ruby's first landfall, the embassy said USAID and US Pacific Command assessment teams were available to augment US Embassy Manila’s capabilities to monitor Ruby's impact.
"These teams also coordinated with government agencies and humanitarian organizations an emergency response on the ground. As President Obama stated last year in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda, '[W]hen our friends are in trouble, America helps,'” it said.
Also, the embassy said the successful response to Ruby featured close cooperation between representatives from USAID, the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the US military.
It said the US military "worked with the Philippine government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct initial assessments of conditions and needs in the hardest hit areas."
Such coordination "clearly showed that the repeated humanitarian and disaster assistance training and exercises between our two countries is an important part of our relationship," US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said.
Meanwhile, the embassy said the US government through USAID continues to work closely with the Philippine government and communities in hazard-prone areas to "better prepare for and respond to the effects of disasters."
In 2014, USAID/OFDA provided about $9.5 million (P423,177,500) for disaster risk reduction programs in the Philippines.
Such programs build community resilience and further strengthen national disaster management capacity.
This includes $500,000 (P22,272,500) in 2014 funding to the United Nations World Food Program to provide logistical support to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development to deliver relief to disaster-affected families.

Police arrest kidnap-for-ransom group leader in Zamboanga Sibugay

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Police arrest kidnap-for-ransom group leader in Zamboanga Sibugay

The police have arrested a suspected leader of a kidnap-for-ransom-group (KFRG) based in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, an official disclosed Friday.

Senior Supt. Robert Roy Bahian, Zamboanga Sibugay police director, identified the arrested suspect as Hassim Calon also known as Ging Calon and Hussein Ali, a sub-leader of the “dreaded” Barahami Ali KFRG.

Bahian said Calon was arrested around 1 p.m. Thursday in his hideout in Barangay Tenan, Ipil, the capital town of Zamboanga Sibugay.

Bahian said Calon is facing charges for kidnapping and serious illegal detention for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of Joel Indino Jr., a resident of Ipil municipality.

Indino was kidnapped on January 29, 2011 and was freed on April 16 of the same year in the town of Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Bahian said Calon was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 31 Judge Josefino Bael of Imelda, Zamboanga Sibugay.

He said Calon was turned over to the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch (PIDMB) of his command for documentation and proper disposition.

8 former rebels get financial assistance from Capiz provincial gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): 8 former rebels get financial assistance from Capiz provincial gov't

To expedite their transition to mainstream society, the Capiz provincial government gave Php15,000 each to eight former New People's Army (NPA) fighters Thursday.

Major Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson, said the surrenderees are former members of the Central Front, Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay (CF, KR-P).

He added that the ex-rebels received Php15, 000.00 each as initial cash assistance under the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) administered by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Capiz Gov. Victor Tanco, Sr., and 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, DILG Capiz provincial director Clyne Deocampo, 301st Infantry Brigade Col. Eric Uchida and 61st Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan welcomed the returnees.

All the ex-NPA fighters said that their decision to surrender was brought about by their desire to live with their families peacefully.

“We call on the NPAs to abandon the armed struggle and to live a life in peace. The AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the government will give you a chance to live with your families and will assist you to start a new life and give a better future for your children,” Guerrero said.

MILF prepares its political party ahead of 2016 elections in Bangsamoro gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): MILF prepares its political party ahead of 2016 elections in Bangsamoro gov't

After declaring it now recognizes Philippine electoral process, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is in the thick or preparations for its political party called United Bangsamoro Justice Party, an MILF official today, Friday, said.

Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chair for political affairs, said in a radio interview that several trainings and seminars for would-be political leaders from the ranks of the MILF have been conducted.

Previous to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the MILF has not participated in any political process in the country.

Jaafar said the MILF also trained volunteers who will serve during the election as watchers of political aspirants.

Jaafar said it was important for would-be political leaders to understand the electoral process for them to effectively perform the roles that will be assigned to them.

The United Bangsamoro Justice Party will be actively participating in the process by fielding its own candidates in the 2016 local elections.

By then, the Bangsamoro government will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which is composed of the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Once the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) becomes a law, a plebiscite will be conducted to determine its political composition with the current ARMM provinces as its core territory.

The MILF will participate actively in the election of Bangsamoro legislators, provincial governors, vice governors, provincial lawmakers down to village officials.

Under the BBL, the regional legislators will choose among them a prime minister who will become the regional political leader.

The draft BBL is still undergoing scrutiny by Philippine Congress.

Mountain Province rally condemns NPA atrocities

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Mountain Province rally condemns NPA atrocities

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte -- Local officials led by Mountain Province Governor Leonardo Mayaen and some 300 students and teachers condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) for their atrocities in a rally held at the public plaza of capital town Bontoc during the observance of Human Rights Day last Wednesday.

Capt. Randy R. Sta. Maria, chief of the public affairs office of the Army's 5th Infantry Division based at Camp Melchor F dela Cruz, Gamu, Isabela province, said the rally was attended by students and teachers from Sagada National High School, Namatec National High School of Sabangan town; Mountain Province Polytechnic State College of Bontoc town, local government units (LGUs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) of Mt. Province.

The rally personally spearheaded by Governor Mayaen started at 3:00pm until 6:00pm.

In his short speech, Governor Mayaen said, “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.”

Finch Luna, president of the Youth Leadership Summit in Sagada, Mt Province, added: “the barbaric acts of the NPA will greatly affect the tourism industry which is one of the main sources of income in our province.”

On November 30, 2014, troops from the Army's 54th IB were ambushed by NPA elements killing two soldiers and wounding five others. The incident happened after the troops conducted a three-day Youth Leadership Summit in Sagada town.

“It was an activity for peace and ironically, the NPA wanted to disrupt it which showed the anti-peace and development character of the rebels,” Sta. Maria said.

He added the four decades of armed struggle have brought senseless deaths and misery to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, that destroyed the future of many Filipino youth as well.

Cops eye BIFF in series of bombings in Maguindanao town

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Cops eye BIFF in series of bombings in Maguindanao town

The series of bombings in Shariff Aguak, Maguidanao was a sabotage on intensified police security efforts by lawless elements, a police official said Friday.

The police and Army are eyeing the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an outlawed group, for the series of violence in Maguindanao.

”Shariff Aguak has been quiet the past few days because of intensified police visibility but the lawless elements are trying to discredit the efforts,” Senior Inspector Jonathan de Gracia, Shariff Aguak police chief, said.

De Gracia said three bombing incidents occurred this week in the town. “Good enough nobody was hurt in the grenade throwing incidents,” he said.

First, unidentified men hurled two hand grenades inside the residential compound of former Maguindanao board member Yasser Ampatuan in Barangay Poblacion. The grenades did not explode and were properly retrieved by bomb experts.

It was followed by a grenade throwing incident against Army bomb experts defusing a suspected improvised bomb in Barnagay Labo-Labo. Nobody was hurt but the blast damaged a police car.

The third grenade throwing incident happened Thursday night in a residential home in Baragay Poblacion. The grenade did not explode.

Following the incidents, De Gracia appealed to the residents to help the police in preventing bombing incidents by reporting suspicious persons with explosives.

He said public cooperation is vital in maintaining law and order in a particular community.

De Gracia admitted the “culture of silence” among the locals prevent the police from solving bombing incidents but he was hopeful the public will fully cooperate.

Government troops recover high-powered guns in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Government troops recover high-powered guns in Sulu

Government forces have recovered 13 high-power firearms and ammunition as law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf brigands continue in the island province of Sulu, a military official announced Friday.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said the firearms were recovered Wednesday in Barangay Mangis, Indanan, Sulu.

Guerrero said among the firearms that were recovered by the Joint Task Group Sulu headed by Col. Alan Arrojado were the following: M-16 Armalite rifle with M-203 grenade launcher attached; one 9-mm pistol; one caliber .45 pistol; four M16 Armalite rifles; three M-14 rifles; one AK-47 assault rifle; one Barrett rifle; and, one M-4 rifle.

“Our troops continue to cordon the area to prevent extrication of lawless elements operating in Indanan, Sulu,” Guerrero said.

He said they are closely working with the police and local government units in the conduct of relentless law enforcement operations in the province of Sulu.

The law enforcement operations against the Abu Sayyaf brigands started after the release of the two German hostages.

4 armed NPAs voluntarily surrender to Army units in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): 4 armed NPAs voluntarily surrender to Army units in Bukidnon

Tired of the incessant fighting, four heavily-armed New People's Army (NPA) rebels voluntarily surrender to troopers of the 68th Infantry Battalion in San Fernando town, Bukidnon last Dec. 9.

Reports forwarded by 1st Lt. Vergel Lacambra, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, Friday said the rebels also surrendered their weapons which consists of a M-16AI automatic rifle, two M-1 Garands and one Colt. 45 caliber pistol.

The four are now undergoing debriefing at Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Camp Panacan, Davao City.

He declined to give the names of the four for security reasons.

The surrender came less than a week after the troops of 68th Infantry Battalion encountered an estimated 80 fully armed NPA rebels in their attempt to burn the heavy equipments of Ulticon Builder’s Incorporated (UBI), the company that undertakes the San Fernando-Talaingod road project, at Barangay Magkalungay, San Fernando, Bukidnon which resulted to the death of two NPA fighters and wounding of an estimated 14 wounded.

Last Tuesday in Davao City , a total of Php1.95 million was given to 39 former rebels who received Php50,000 each in livelihood assistance.

Amidst the unbearable hardships and the mounting disillusionment in the lawless armed group, the government’s integration program provides opportunity for a better and peaceful life for the former rebels.

Rebels challenged to surrender perpetrators of Barangay Marfil massacre

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): Rebels challenged to surrender perpetrators of Barangay Marfil massacre

Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad has challenged the New People's Army (NPA) to surrender to authorities the perpetrators behind the bloody ambush, which killed four civilians and wounded four others at Barangay Marfil, Rosario town, Agusan Del Rosario last Nov. 30.

"No amount of sorry and indemnification is enough, we cannot bring the victims’ lives back especially Jenny and the child on her womb. Justice must be served. Surrender your men and subject them to the rule of law for violating the International Humanitarian Law and disrespect to Human Rights,” Baladad said.

He also questioned the sincerity of the apology extended by an NPA using a pseudonym and the inaction of the rebels in previous incidents where NPAs targeted and killed civilians deliberately.

“Who will believe them? They are extending an apology using pseudonym, who is she? What happens to NPAs who perpetrated the Bansalan, Davao Del Sur ambush on March 2, 2014 against a Disaster Response Ambulance? The Libay-libay, Maco massacre in 2011 and the Maragusan massacre in 2010? What responsibility has so far been made by the rebels on these murders?” the Eastern Mindanao Command chief asked.

The Barangay Marfil massacre took place when 20 NPA fighters fired on ambulance, carrying 11 civilians on their way back to Sitio Latay after attending a thanksgiving mass in Wayside Baptist Church, 5: 30 p.m. last Nov. 30.

US envoy calls Bukidnon bus attack “tragic”

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 12): US envoy calls Bukidnon bus attack “tragic”

America’s top envoy to the Philippines has denounced the deadly attack on a passenger bus in Bukidnon province that killed 10 and injured 41 others, calling the incident “tragic.”

In the latest terrorist attack on civilians, police said an improvised explosive device planted on a Rural Transit bus was detonated by a cellular phone, killing mostly students.

“It's clear we condemn any violence that takes place such as what we've seen in Mindanao,” US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said as he called for closer cooperation with the Philippines in the fight against terrorism.

“We all need to work together as we all do with the government of the Philippines to work against that kind of terror,” the envoy told reporters in an ambush interview.

Philippines-U.S. counter-terrorism cooperation has successfully led to the killing of key local terrorists from the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.

Since 2002, hundreds of US Special Forces have been deployed and scattered in the Zamboanga Peninsula and nearby islands of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Central Mindanao on a rotation basis to provide combat training and weapons to the Philippine military fighting extremist groups, blamed for country's worst terrorist attacks.

According to Goldberg, the US currently have “less of a presence” in Mindanao “than it has been.”“It's been a very successful presence,” he said. “Our special operations forces have worked together for a long time so we continue that effort against this horrible scourge of terrorism.”

CPP/Ang Bayan: Video -- Intensify mass struggles against repression

Ang Bayan propaganda video posted to the CPP Website (Dec 7): Video -- Intensify mass struggles against repression

The Communist Party of the Philippines salutes the Filipino people as they give their all in defending their human rights in the face of the US-Aquino regime's relentless Oplan Bayanihan campaign of suppression. The courage shown by the toiling masses, especially the peasantry and minority peoples in confronting the brutality of operating troops of the AFP is truly praiseworthy.

Of particular note is the struggle of the peasants and Lumad people of Mindanao to defend their human rights. Their militancy and determination are the correct response to brutal military operations, in order to defeat the AFP's attempts to intimidate and silence them to submission and retreat and pave the way for the plunder of the natural resources found in their uplands and plains.

Those who joined the almost month-long protest action dubbed Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2014 displayed commendable bravery and heroism. From Mindanao to the Visayas, from the Bicol region to Southern Tagalog, and from Mendiola to Liwasang Bonifacio in the national capital, about 300 Lumad leaders and representatives exposed and assailed the wanton trampling of their human rights and the destruction of the fruits of their efforts and struggle.

CPP: Ruby survivors must stand up against government neglect, economic backwardness, exploitation and environmental destruction

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 12): Ruby survivors must stand up against government neglect, economic backwardness, exploitation and environmental destruction

Communist Party of the Philippines
Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) battered the Philippines on December 7-9. While not as powerful as last year’s Yolanda (Haiyan), typhoon Ruby’s strong winds and torrential rains caused widespread damage along its path. The typhoon caused the biggest damage in Eastern Samar and parts of Northern Samar. It also caused damage in northern Panay, parts of Negros, the islands of Marinduque, Masbate and Mindoro and in Sorsogon, Batangas, Laguna and Quezon province.

It is the oppressed and exploited people who bore the brunt of the recent typhoon. Many of them, particularly those in Eastern Samar and Capiz province have yet to fully recover from typhoon Yolanda. Tens of thousands of small peasant families, small fisherfolk and rural and urban poor lost their homes and properties to strong winds and widespread flooding. Heavily silted rivers overflowed and inundated agricultural crops. Water rushing down from logged-over mountains buried entire villages in mud.

As in Yolanda and other calamities, government response to typhoon Ruby has been slow in coming. The Aquino regime deployed its officials but only to carry out nominal work for publicity in the town centers and highways. The social welfare department boasted of delivering planeloads of relief goods but, as before, distribution is limited and inefficient, making it vulnerable to thievery by bureaucrats.

In the majority of coastal and mountainous villages, the Aquino government’s presence and assistance range from non-existent to negligible. The people demand immediate food relief, as well as tools and materials to reconstruct their homes and financial assistance to immediately resume their livelihoods.

The people who suffered the brunt of typhoon Ruby are the ones who have long been suffering from government neglect, economic backwardness, feudal exploitation and the ravages of environmental destruction. The impact of the recent typhoon on their lives is several times more powerful as they suffer from grave poverty.

Over the past few days, the revolutionary and progressive forces have been responding to emergencies and extending relief assistance to the survivors of typhoon Ruby. Prior to the storm, units of the NPA and people’s militias, local branches of the CPP and mass organizations coordinated the evacuation of communities to ensure their safety.

Local mass organizations are working doubly hard to coordinate with relief agencies to facilitate the distribution of aid and assistance for survivors of typhoon Ruby. Agencies of the people’s democratic government, concerned committees of the CPP and revolutionary forces in the areas of devastation are coordinating efforts to collect donations and assistance to augment funds alloted for relief and emergency work.

In the long run, in order to effectively confront natural calamities, the Filipino people’s only recourse is to stand up against oppression and exploitation by the ruling classes of big landlords, big bourgeois compradors and their foreign overlords. They must be able to raise their economic status and their capacity to withstand typhoons by waging land reform campaigns to effect genuine distribution of land and the elimination of usury, raise the prices of their farm produce, improve productivity and generate additional income through cooperative work.

They must stand up against economic plunder and environmental destruction by foreign big mining and logging companies and their local cohorts. Even now, areas devastated by typhoon Ruby are being targeted by foreign companies for black sand mining and the extraction of other minerals.

The CPP urges the survivors of typhoon Ruby to unite with the survivors of past calamities and victims of the Aquino regime’s neglect. They must stand together to expose and fight the Aquino regime’s continuing failure to address the needs of survivors of natural calamities. They must defend their rights and seek remuneration from the ruling government for its failure to protect and guarantee their lives and livelihood.

CPP: Jeep fare cuts, unfair without bigger oil price rollback, wage hike and price cuts—CPP

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 12): Jeep fare cuts, unfair without bigger oil price rollback, wage hike and price cuts—CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the order to cut jeepney fares by one peso is unfair to the jeepney drivers when the Aquino regime has yet to carry out necessary measures to ensure that the sharp fall in international crude oil prices will have an all-sided impact on the domestic economy and to the particular benefit of the toiling masses.

“Instead of giving priority to regulating the large companies, such as the big oil subsidiaries, the mass transportation corporations and energy producers and suppliers, the Aquino regime is training its regulatory powers on jeepney fares in a cheap publicity stunt that is being done at the expense of the small toilers,” pointed out the CPP.

“Indeed, the jeepney fare cuts will benefit the ordinary riding public, but will result in a sharp fall in the income of jeepney drivers which is barely enough to sustain the daily expenditures of their families,” said the CPP.
“The savings of a few pesos for the commuters mean nothing amid the slow and insufficient rollback in the prices of petroleum products and the continuing rise or non-reduction of the prices of basic commodities and other services.”

“The big oil companies are boosting their profit rates by not rolling back local retail prices in correspondence with the sharp decrease in the international prices of crude oil,” added the CPP.

“The Filipino people must demand that the Aquino regime train its regulatory powers to compel the big oil subsidiaries to effect bigger rollbacks in prices of diesel, gasoline, LPG, kerosene and other petroleum products to correspond to the $65-$70 per barrel levels in the prices of crude oil in the international market over the past week,” added the CPP.

“The last time that international crude oil was at these levels, around 2007, domestic prices of diesel was around 25-30 pesos per liter while gasoline prices was just above P30 per liter,” pointed out the CPP. The latest round of oil price rollbacks has placed diesel at around P32-P34 per liter.

“The toiling masses of workers, including the jeepney drivers and ordinary income earners, students, small employees and professionals must unite in order to intensify their demand for substantial wage increases, a reduction in train fares, especially those owned or operated by the government, a reduction in air, sea and provincial bus fares, a big reduction in electricity and water rates and a substantial decrease in prices of basic commodities,” said the CPP.

MILF: BTC ComGroup attends web administration and social media training

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 12): BTC ComGroup attends web administration and social media training

Seven members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Communication Group led by Mr. Abdullah Cusain attended a two (2) day training on web administration and social media sponsored and handled by Mindanews held at Rue Mango Apartelle, Davao City last December 6-7, 2014.
The group was trained by Mindanews on how to develop and administer the, the official website of the BTC. The website is the mouthpiece of the commission where its activities and other undertakings are posted on line.

The BTC CommGroup members have different field of specializations but perform the same functions as ‘peace advocates’ and disseminator of information to the broad masses.  The training has become an avenue for members in developing their skills and expertise in web administration and proper use of social media for effective public information dissemination

The training was funded by the government of Canada.

MILF: ZC Political Committee, BLMI conduct advocacy on BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 10): ZC Political Committee, BLMI conduct advocacy on BBL

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Provincial Political Committee in Zamboanga City in cooperation with the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) is intensifying advocacy programs in various villages in the city to let local residents understand the provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). 

On December 4, 2014, community leaders of Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City organized and held a one-day advocacy program on BBL with speakers coming from the BLMI and the local political committee. 

Mr. Tirso Tahir, BLMI Research Officer and member of the institute’s Steering Committee elucidated on the 18 BBL Articles and corresponding sections by way of power point presentation.

Due to persistent request from community leaders and residents who were not able to attend a previous advocacy program on BBL, another one-day advocacy was held in Barangay Cawit on December 7. The Participants were mostly Fisher-folks and members of Urban Poor Associations. 

Mr. Tahir discussed the gains achieved in the GPH-MILF Peace process and the salient provisions of BBL and tackled them thoroughly.  He concentrated much on the annexes on Wealth-Sharing, Power-Sharing, and on contiguity and plebiscite. 

Another Advocacy program on BBL was also held at Barangay Arena Blanco on December 8 where Mr. Tahir was also the speaker, aided and joined by speakers from the MILF Provincial Political Committee, MAPAD and United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD).

Some Muslim Scholars also spoke and shared Islamic perspectives on the art of negotiation, struggle and governance. At the end of the program, the participants were fully apprised of their rights under the law and their inherent obligations in peace building endeavors. 

The peace advocates also attended a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) organized by Sheikh Abdulkarim Ladjamatlih and the MILF Provincial Political Committee on December 9 at the Grand Astoria Hotel, Zamboanga City.  It was attended by representatives of the BLMI, CSO’s, NGO’s, members of Urban Poor Associations, IP’s, journalists and academicians. 

The aim of the FGD was to consolidate efforts and technical expertise by working together in promoting peace and extending support to the BBL through advocacy and other mediums of information drive. The newly- organized People’s Organization (PO) is “Zamboanga Bangsamoro solidarity”.

More advocacies in various areas are on line as part of the group’s calibrating response to those who want to be informed of their constitutional right to participate in the plebiscite to ratify the BBL and determine the Bangsamoro Territory