Friday, December 26, 2014

What went before: Peace talks between government and communist rebels

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27): What went before: Peace talks between government and communist rebels

Peace talks between the government and communist rebels have been on and off for nearly three decades, with negotiations getting suspended several times.

In May, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Ma. Sison said he “remained willing” to meet with President Benigno Aquino III to help jump-start the stalled peace talks despite the arrest of alleged top CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma Austria, in March.

Sison made the remarks via Skype at a forum in Hong Kong, which was attended by an audience of mostly domestic workers. At the time, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said “any serious proposal toward resuming peace talks should be coursed through our third-party facilitator and not through the media.”


Deles was referring to Norway, which is brokering the peace negotiations between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

It was the second time that Sison spoke about his willingness to meet with Mr. Aquino to revive peace talks with the communist insurgents, following the administration’s successful peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The government and the MILF signed a peace agreement in March, ending more than four decades of conflict.

In July, the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP, released four policemen who were captured when the insurgents raided the Alegria municipal hall in Surigao del Norte province.

Malacañang said the release was a welcome development. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “We hope this is a groundbreaking event where the NDF-CPP-NPA would look forward to pursuing the peace process without any conditions. We have always stated government is ready to sit down with them. We are hopeful the peace table would move forward with respect to the left.”

Calls to resume talks

On April 1, Luis Jalandoni, chair of the peace panel of the NDFP, said the communist insurgents had long been calling for the resumption of peace talks, contrary to statements attributed to government peace negotiator Alex Padilla that the rebels revived calls for a return to the negotiating table only after the arrest of Tiamzon and Austria.

Jalandoni, in an e-mail statement, said he and Padilla met on Feb. 27 and Padilla at that time knew that the insurgents had wanted to resume the talks. The Tiamzons and five other alleged members of the CPP Central Committee were arrested three weeks later in Carcar City, south of Cebu City.

The insurgents’ recent call for the resumption of peace talks was a reversal of their statement in December last year. On its 45th anniversary, the CPP declared it would no longer pursue negotiations because of the Aquino administration’s “unwillingness to negotiate a just peace.”

“It has no choice but to wait for the next regime to engage in serious negotiations,” the CPP said.

Despite the party’s declaration that it would not be returning to the negotiating table during the Aquino administration, the government said that it remained committed to forging peace with the communist insurgents.

Talks ‘killed’

According to Sison, it was the administration that decided to terminate peace negotiations, but Deles said it was the NDFP, the political arm of the CPP, that “killed” the talks because of its insistence on preconditions before negotiations could resume.

In February 2011, the two parties met in Norway but failed to reach a settlement, particularly on such issues as the release of detained communist insurgents and the declaration of a longer ceasefire. The peace process has not moved since then.

In October 2010, the Aquino administration expressed desire to revive the negotiations with the formation of a new panel to talk with the NDFP and the NPA.

During the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the peace talks also broke down.

In June 2001, the government unilaterally suspended the negotiations to protest the assassination, allegedly by the NPA, of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Quezon Rep. Marcial Punzalan.

In 2002, then Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jose Mabanta said a faction led by Tiamzon, who then headed the NPA, opposed peace talks with the government, adding that the leadership struggle was blocking the resumption of peace talks.

List of ‘terrorists’

In 2004, negotiations were scuttled anew with the NDFP accusing the Arroyo administration of “sabotaging” the talks by pressing for the insurgents’ surrender upon the signing of a final peace agreement.

Jalandoni said in a 2005 interview that the government wanted the NDFP to sign a “prolonged ceasefire” before the talks resumed, as well as a final peace agreement that would mean the surrender of the NPA.

He accused the government of being behind the listing of the NDFP as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union in 2002, and of using the terrorist tag to force it to sign the agreement.

Jalandoni said the NDFP would rather wait for a new administration than resume talks with the “crumbling” Arroyo administration.

All-out war

In June 2006, then President Arroyo declared an all-out war on the communist rebels and set aside P1 billion for the military and the police to crush the insurgency.

In early 2007, Jalandoni said Norway was again willing to host exploratory peace talks in Oslo, but the Philippine government insisted that the NDFP first agree to a ceasefire before talks could resume.

In July that year, both Jalandoni and Sison rejected a proposal for a three-year ceasefire as a condition for resuming the talks. This aimed to “crush” the communist insurgency without dealing with the roots of the conflict, they said.

Sison said formal talks could resume only after the government did the following: stop extrajudicial killings, abductions, tortures, mass displacement of people and other human rights violations; stop the terrorist blacklisting of the CPP, NDFP and the NPA; and indemnify victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime.

In 2008, the government negotiating panel asked the NDFP to agree to a ceasefire as a condition but was rejected anew. The NDFP feared that as soon as it approved a prolonged ceasefire, the Arroyo administration would deem all previously signed agreements superseded, and surrender negotiations would take the place of substantive talks on basic reforms. Inquirer Research.

Joma Sison says peace talks may resume next year

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27): Joma Sison says peace talks may resume next year
The on-and-off peace talks between the government and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may start again as early as the second half of next month.

In a podcast posted on his website, Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said both parties might resume talks probably after Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in January.

Sison, who is in exile in the Netherlands, is also the chief political consultant of the NDFP, the political arm of the CPP that had been engaged in peace talks with the government for the past 27 years.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said on Friday that formal meetings had yet to happen for a possible resumption of the peace talks, but both parties were amenable to returning to the negotiating table to end more than four decades of communist insurgency.

“I must state categorically that there have been no meetings between the GPH (government of the Philippines) and the NDF to discuss the possible resumption of talks. It is true, however, that friends of the process have been shuttling between the two parties to explore possible parameters for restarting talks at the earliest time possible,” Deles said in a statement released by Malacañang.

Sison remained pragmatic that the two parties would not be able to reach a final peace agreement within the Aquino administration, which will end in June 2016.

But at the very least, Sison told the Inquirer in a message that the two parties could reach agreements for social and economic reforms and a ceasefire.

“I think there is ample time to arrive at a Comprehensive Agreement of Social and Economic Reforms and a Truce and Cooperation Agreement on the basis of a general declaration of mutual intent,” Sison said.

“There is little time left to make all the agreements up to the final peace agreement, which is the Comprehensive Agreement on the End of Hostilities and Deployment of Forces,” he added.

To the question if the NDFP wanted a final peace agreement with the Aquino administration like what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) did, Sison replied:

“The NDFP view is not like the MILF placing all hopes for a final peace agreement on the Aquino administration. At any rate, the two sides will still discuss how to accomplish more than what we can reasonably expect now.”


The New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing, has been waging a Maoist-inspired war against the government for the past 45 years, considered one of the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.

The protracted war has claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures. Despite a series of peace talks by successive presidents, peace remains elusive.

The peace negotiations have been stalled since 2004, with both parties adamant in pushing for their respective preconditions before the start of the negotiations.

The last breakdown of the talks occurred in February last year.

Positive feedback

Deles said “feedback has been positive” on the possible resumption of the talks, “but there remain matters to be clarified in order to ensure that, if ever we do resume talks, it will not go the same way of an early, major impasse that has happened too often in the past.”

“As we have repeatedly stated since the special negotiations track broke down in February, 2013, we want to resume talks on the basis of a doable and time-bound agenda,” Deles said.

“In keeping with the spirit and hope of the Christmas season, I would like to think that Mr. Sison’s very positive remarks indicate that common ground between the two parties may indeed be broadening toward the achievement of a just and durable peace that our people desire and deserve,” she said.

In its 46th founding anniversary statement on Dec. 26, the CPP said it did not expect a final agreement with the government during the term of President Aquino.

“There should be no illusion that the ongoing peace negotiations with the reactionary government will soon lead to comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political problems as bases for a just and lasting peace,” it said.

The NPA’s strength has dwindled to 4,000 fighters from a peak of more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, according to the military.

Goodwill gesture

In a goodwill gesture amid a Christmas ceasefire, the rebels on Friday released two soldiers held captive for four months in Bukidnon province, said military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.

Rebel spokesperson Jorge Madlos said three more soldiers would be freed by January as a goodwill gesture.

But the NPA marked the anniversary of its founding on Friday with a call to intensify its guerilla campaign.

“(We) must seize and control the initiative by launching more frequent and sustained tactical offensives with occasional blows to the head of the enemy,” the NPA said in a statement.


The military declared a monthlong ceasefire with the NPA for the Christmas holidays and Pope Francis’s scheduled visit. The rebels said they would observe a shorter truce.

For negotiations between the government and communist rebels to succeed, the latter must prove their sincerity in seeking peace, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes, a former Navy officer, said he did not want the talks to be used as a tactical maneuver by the CPP.

For peace talks to succeed, it must be based on mutual trust, he said. “I don’t see that right now. The CPP-NPA-NDF should demonstrate more sincerity in their pursuit of peace. Otherwise, these talks would just be a tactical maneuver for them,” he said in a text message, when sought for his views on the prospect of the talks.

In Lucena City, the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), on Christmas Day, called on the NPA to abandon the armed struggle to solve the ills of society.

No winner

“It has been proven that nobody is a real winner in bloody armed conflicts. We are witness to the endless misery experienced by our own people, who are caught in the crossfire,” said Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Solcom chief.

Last month, Visaya acknowledged that although the number of guerrillas in Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions continued to drop, the armed group remains a serious threat in southern Luzon.

He noted that civilians were killed in an attack staged by rebels in Paluan town in Occidental Mindoro province in November and in Pasacao town in Camarines Sur province in December.

Visaya recalled that a woman was hit by NPA fire in Guinobatan town, Albay province, while attacking a military truck and that people were hurt in a grenade blast in Masbate province.

Suspected rebels also torched construction equipment in Paracale town, Camarines Norte province, on Dec. 22.

“We must reflect why we have allowed ourselves and our communities to endure 46 years of violence and senseless deaths among fellow Filipinos,” Visaya said.

CPP members, supporters mark party’s 46th year

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 27): CPP members, supporters mark party’s 46th year

In front of a big stage in a coconut-farming community in Surigao del Sur, thousands of members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) gathered to celebrate its 46th anniversary and to conduct a Mindanao-wide peace consultation.

Fidel Agcaoili of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the CPP, addressed the crowd and received a copy of the Mindanao peace agenda presented by people’s organizations.

Jorge Madlos, NDF spokesperson, gave an update on the armed struggle the group was waging.

“We have maintained the 46 guerrilla fronts despite the relentless fascist attacks by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), which has now more than 55 infantry battalions engaged in counter-revolutionary suppression campaigns in Mindanao. Not one front was destroyed by the enemy,” he said.

Madlos said the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the CPP, staged more than 300 tactical offensives, confiscated hundreds of firearms and inflicted casualties of more than a battalion on the AFP in 2014.

“It is undoubted that the NPA is expanding and gaining strength,” he said.

But Madlos, also known as Ka Oris said he favored the resumption of the peace talks.

He said he might not be able to witness the end of the talks in his lifetime but that “the difficult situations in addressing the conflict are the reason why both parties should pursue it.”

Agcaoili said the NDF was still enthusiastic to resume the talks but he added that the government should respect and adhere to previously signed agreements.

Madlos said the NDF remained hopeful of a renewed peace talks with the government but would not lay down arms until its aim of social reforms for the country was met.

“The advance of the armed struggle does not necessarily depend on the peace talks. With or without peace talks, the armed struggle advances,” Madlos said.

He added that the NPA would continue to launch more offensives against the government.

Madlos challenged the government to show sincerity should peace negotiations resume.

“We will continue to show interest in the peace talks,” he said, citing the recent release of several captive soldiers and policemen as a gesture of confidence building on the side of the communist movement.

“These are confidence-building measures and we hope they also show signs of sincerity,” Madlos said.

Singapore, Malaysia are Buying Aerostats for Surveillance

From AIN Online (Dec 26): Singapore, Malaysia are Buying Aerostats for Surveillance

TCOM aerostat

A TCOM aerostat in the 55-meter class will provide air and maritime surveillance in Singapore. (Photo: MINDEF Singapore)

Recent new export orders for aerostat-mounted surveillance systems have encouraged TCOM to suggest that the market share for lighter-than-air (LTA) systems is expanding, at the expense of conventional airborne solutions. The American LTA specialist company is providing a large, radar-carrying aerostat to the Singapore Ministry of Defence early next year, and also recently logged orders for smaller aerostats from neighboring Malaysia. TCOM also provides the very large aerostat for the JLens airborne threat detection system that is entering a three-year evaluation by NORAD on the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Singapore’s defense minister said the country could save $27 million in annual operating costs by using the 55-meter (180 foot) class aerostat for airspace and maritime surveillance, although the country has no plans to retire its four-strong fleet of IAI Conformal Airborne Early Warning & control (CAEW) aircraft based on the Gulfstream G550 airframe. AIN believes that the Elta division of IAI is providing the multimode surveillance radar for the new Singapore aerostat; the Israeli company previously provided radars for aerostats deployed in India and Israel. Singapore does not officially acknowledge its use of Israeli defense systems, in deference to its Muslim-majority neighbors.

Aerostats manufactured by TCOM and other LTA providers have found widespread application in the U.S. and the Middle East, but not many carry large surveillance radars. Singapore said that its aerostat would be tethered at 2,000 feet to provide 24/7 low-level coverage at ranges of up to 125 miles, thereby overcoming the obstructions to clear line-of-sight that construction of tall buildings has created to the island’s ground-based radar system. It would be operated by a crew of eight. The Ministry of Defence acknowledged the potential problems to aerostat operations that would be posed by the congested local airspace and the frequency of thunderstorms, but said that measures to ensure safe operation have been devised. The aerostat will be tethered inside military territory on the northwest side of the island, and can be raised and lowered fairly rapidly by winch lines and a strong tether made of Kevlar. Some aerostat systems (including Jlens) include a dedicated weather radar to warn operators of approaching turbulence or electrical discharges. 

Malaysia will deploy smaller TCOM aerostats in the 12-to-17-meter class for maritime surveillance in its Eastern Sabah Security Zone. They will “solve critical domain awareness challenges in an area where armed incursions are common,” TCOM said. The type of sensor they will carry was not disclosed.

TCOM president Ron Bendlin noted that a new market research report suggests that the aerostat systems market will rise from $3.93 billion in 2014 to $9.96 billion by 2020.

MILF negotiator warns about cases vs Bangsamoro law in Supreme Court

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 25): MILF negotiator warns about cases vs Bangsamoro law in Supreme Court

The chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front sees a post-legislation hindrance to establishing a Bangsamoro autonomous government from those who will raise constitutional questions before the Supreme Court.

Mohagher Iqbal, also the head of the MILF information office, told a huge gathering here of Moros earlier in the week that he knew one or more groups who would go to the high court to question the constitutionality of a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passed as an organic act by Congress.

Iqbal was also named one of five vice chairpersons of the newly formed United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. AP FILE PHOTO
While support from various sectors overwhelmed the MILF leadership, Iqbal said anybody with organization and resources could question an enacted BBL before the high tribunal, and that he knew somebody would.

Iqbal lamented that he could not say what would happen if the Supreme Court would rule the BBL as unconstitutional.

“I know that there are those who will go to the Supreme Court to raise constitutional questions against the BBL. But I wouldn’t know what could happen then if the court ruled it unconstitutional,” he said in a 30-minute speech explaining to some 100,000 people the UBJP objectives, the MILF transformation into a civilian political organization, and briefly, the stages the BBL would go through.

In August 2008, a faction from the MILF staged a series of offensives, after the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) signed by the government and the MILF panels of negotiators.

Also in December 1990, two Muslim lawyers petitioned the Supreme Court to declare null and void the results of the Nov. 19, 1990, plebiscite on Republic Act No. 6734, creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“All our years in the revolutionary movement, there have been two kinds of people that we had to deal with more often: Those who were with us through thick and thin and the covert adversaries, informants among them, who monitored us and told the enemy of our whereabouts,” Iqbal said.

But he said the MILF has reached another stage in its history, when it could reap the fruits of its sacrifices.  Iqbal said now could be the time of harvest, “not only for old comrades” of the MILF, but to the new generation of members.

“But we are not taken aback by this development,” said Iqbal of moves to block the BBL at the Surpeme Court, adding, “we are happy instead that many are coming in to give their support in attaining peace.”

Iqbal said the MILF has started to transform itself from a revolutionary to a democratic organization and from handling firearms to casting votes, without giving up the Moro struggle.

MILF: UBJP garners 117,025 volunteers on its 1st General Assembly

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 27): UBJP garners 117,025 volunteers on its 1st General Assembly

The United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) garnered 117,025 volunteers during its first general assembly on December 23-25, 2014 held at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
This political party, according to many volunteers, is first of its kind in the country, being “a Principled Political Party”. The multitude crowd shouted full support to the UBJP and chanted “my party, your party, our party”.

The conglomeration composes of cross sections of our society residing in all over the Bangsamoro core territory and its neighbouring provinces. Ranking public officials present in the assembly were: Congressman Jesus Sacdalan of North Cotabato, former Cong. Didagen P. Dilangalen of Maguindanao, former Cong. Jerry Salapuddin of Basilan, former Cong. Datu Michael O. Mastura of Maguindanao, Mayor Datu Nathaniel Midtimbang of Talayan, Maguindanao, former Mayor Datu Tocao O. Mastura, former Mayor Hadji Datu Ali Midtimbang of Talayan, Mayor Datu Midpantao Midtimbang of Guindulongan, USM Professors Dr. Palasig U. Ampang, Dr. Alimen Sencil, Dr. Abubakar A. Murray, Prof. Abhoud Sayed Lingga of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, Atty. Mary Ann Arnado of Mindanao Peoples Caucus, and many others who did not showed up on the stage but joined the crowd.

Day one was marred by traffic congestion as several hundreds of motor vehicles ferrying the participants over flowed on the streets going to the venue. Many people had to walk two kilometers going to the hub of the assembly as vehicles moved like ‘turtles’.

There were more or less 57 speakers that addressed the crowd as follows:

1)    Ustadz Zainudin Bato of Northern Mindanao who expounded to the crowd that we are now on the hinge of leaving “jihad sager” or small jihad, meaning armed struggle; towards “jihad kabir” or bigger jihad, meaning struggle against one’s own-self. He termed political struggle as essentially a struggle against one’s own-self.

2)    Munzier Salahudin in his welcome address implored thousands of goodness and thousands of blessings upon the crowd in arriving at the site of the gathering.

3)    Former Mayor Datu Tucao  O. Mastura of Sultan Kudarat recalled that there was no single encounter between the AFP and the BIAF during his incumbency as mayor of the town. That symbolizes his ever willingness to accommodate such a gathering led by the MILF in his hometown. He said, we are now leaving the handling of metals, meaning guns in favour of ball pens or peace.

4)    UBJP Secretary General Sammy Al Mansour briefed the crowd on the history of the founding of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) until the convening of the instant gathering taking placed.

5)    UBJP Vice President for Southern Mindanao Mohagher Iqbal in his speech lectured the crowd on our now entirely new horizon, new struggle. During our armed struggle days, we have only two companions: the sincere ones and the informer ones. Now, we have multi-sector companions whom we do not know who are our friends and who are our foes. Politics in the Philippine is divisive and we are humanizing it. Our party has ideology which is unity for the Bangsamoro and for everybody. Our political party is service oriented, not self-interest.

6)    The Secretary General of the Haiatul Ulama, Ustadz Said Salendab represented by Ustadz Abdulrasad expressed full support to the UBJP.

7)    Prof. Abhoud Sayed Linga of the professional sector assured full support to the UBJP on three reasons, namely: It is principled; One of its aims is to continue the unfinished agenda of the Bangsamoro struggle; and it is for unity.

8)     The Academe sector represented by Dr. Palasig U. Ampang, Vice President of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) who expressed full support the UBJP.

9)    Datu Abdulnasser Ismael representing the Sultanates sector expressed full support to the UBJP.
10)    Atty. Raissa Jajurie, representing the women sector gave full support to the UBJP.

11)    Marjani Mimbantas, the son of the late MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs Alim Abdul Aziz Mimbantas, after saying touching words on his experiences in the jungle with his late father assured of everlasting full support to the UBJP.

12)    Datu Lukes or oldman of Talayan former Mayor Hadji Datu Ali Midtimbang of Talayan gave full support to the UBJP.

13)    Representative of PaZamBaSulTa non-government organization gave full support to the UBJP.

14)    Dr. Abdulmanan Gayak of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace after narrating his led mass actions for peace in Mindanao gave strong and full support to the UBJP.

15)    Commissioner Timuay Melanio Ulama , who represents the Teduray Tribe pronounced full support to the UBJP such that it is a symbol of unity.

16)    Atty. Mary Ann Arnado, a former leader of the Mindanao peoples Caucus, after learning of the new form of politics waged by the UBJP registered full support to it.

17)    Hadji Nor Mangatong representing the OFW’s assured support to the UBJP in the coming years.

18)    Hadji Abdulrakman Datudacula representing the senior citizens categorically said that they fully support the UBJP.

19)    Labor Sector Representative Hadji Abdullah Said fully support the UBJP.

20)    Transport Leader Bai Linang Ayunan promised full support to the UBJP, speaking on behalf of the transport sector and her barangay constituents of Mother Kalanganan, Cotabato City.

21)    Former Congressman Jerry Salapuddin of Basilan, the author of RA 9054, Organic Act of ARMM, saluted the good vision of the MILF in the new political party which the MNLF had not done hence he supports and saluted the MILF and the UBJP.

22)    Von Al Haq, former Chairman of the Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) assured his strong full support to the UBJP.

23)    Ustadz Abdulhadie Gumander representing the religious sector and the OFWs declared full support to the UBJP.

24)    Commander Jack Abbas of the MILF declared full support of his entire command to the UBJP.

25)    Front Commander Jordan speaking for the 104th, 106th and 107th Base Commands promised full support to the UBJP.

26)    Commander Bravo (Hadji Abdullah), represented by his Deputy on Planning assured 100% support to the UBJP by his Base Commands in North Western Mindanao.

27)    Commander Jannati Mimbantas of the North Eastern Mindanao, in representation of his Base Commands, namely: 101st, 103rd, Busra, and National Defense declared full support to the UBJP. He quoted a saying of a famous person, read as follows: If there are 1,000 best persons, be one of them; If there are 500 best persons, be one of them also; If there are 100 best persons, be one of them also; and If there is one best person, be that one best person”. That is how he is best supporting the UBJP.

28)    Commander Gordon of the 105th, 118th and the Interior Command of Central Mindanao declared full support to the UBJP.

29)    National Guard Commander Hadji Samir Hashim, the brother of the late MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim represented by Anwar Alamada expressed voluntary support to the UBJP as my party, your party and our party.

30)    Front Commander of Western Mindanao Mushawirin Abubakar on behalf of the 113rd, 114th, 115th and 117th Base Commands declared unconditional full support to the UBJP.

31)    Base Commander Alibaba (Jerry Davao) Abdullah promised 100% support to the UBJP.

32)    Base Commander Ulim Kasan of the 106th Base Command committed full support to the UBJP because it is a principled political party in contrast with others.

33)    Base Commander Suaib Acob of the 113rd Base Command, Western Mindanao  declared full support to the UBJP.

34)    Base Commander Castro Imran of the 104th Base Command assured full support to the UBJP.

35)    Base Commmander Abdulwahid Tundok of the 118th Base Command assured that no one under his command will be against the UBJP.

36)    GHQ Base Commander Abdulkuddos Balitok expressed full and unconditional support to the UBJP.

37)    UBJP Vice President for Western Mindanao Hadji Mahmor Estino assured full support of his constituents to the UBJP.

38)    Social Welfare Committee Chairperson represented by Engr. Aida Silongan assured all concerned that the women under them are fully supportive and behind the men of the UBJP in support of the principled UBJP.

39)    Hadji Rashi Iklaman promised full support to the UBJP.

40)    Executive Officer of the UBJP from Davao (known as Arafat) declared all out support to the UBJP.

41)    Engr. Cesar Alid of Sulu also declared full support to the UNJP.

42)    Engr. Mohmin Tomawis promised full support to the UBJP because it would no longer be a failed government.

43)    Ustadz Zainudin Bato of Lanao Norte promised all out support to the UBJP. He said, we were beside you in the battlefront and now we will also be beside you in the political struggle.

44)    A speaker known as Brother Saidal from Davao del Sur also expressed full support to the UBJP.

45)    A certain Brother Jamadil of Zamboanga City, amidst Political opposition to the Bangsamoro in his city, expressed very strong support to the UBJP and the BBL.

46)    Utto Taik of Tawi Tawi declared all out support to the UBJP.

47)    Board Member Manny Pidtamanan of North Cotabato, though residing outside of the Bangsamoro Core Territory, expressed unconditional support to the UBJP.

48)    Atty. Abdul Dataya, an Executive Officer of the UBJP- Maguindanao Province, after pronouncing all out support to the UBJP reported that his entire provincial political setup already filled. He invited the crowd to give attention to COMELEC registration.

49)    Alim Ali Solaiman, in his opening statement in the afternoon affairs gave assessment to the women’s participation as having accomplished their part. Accordingly, its now the turn of the MILF Panel to exert its utmost efforts for the success of the undertaking.

50)    Abu Huraira Udasan, MILF Grand Mufti explained Islam as not only a religion but a complete way of life. Hence, we need a political party to realize our vision in enjoying life under Shari’ah.

51)    UBJP Vice President for Eastern Mindanao Hussin Muñoz spoke delving on the Qur’anic verse: “Verily, Allah will not change the condition of the people, unless they change it themselves”.

52)    UBJP Advisory Council Chairman Datu Michael O. Mastura, counselled the audience in speaking that we must not be afraid of “jihad” being used as a term for terrorist in the CNN because it is our home-grown custom to use it in our legitimate struggle. We are now moving from armed struggle to parliamentary struggle.

53)    Oath taking of the President, Vice Presidents, and other executive officers of the UBJP followed. Thereafter, mass oath taking of the volunteers came next. The Head of the Shari’ah of the MILF administered the activity.

54)    The Chairman of the MILF and now concurrent President of the UBJP, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim addressed the mammoth crowd reciting the last revealed verse in the Holy Qur’an with the explanation that Islam is not antagonistic to other religions in the world. We need this new formed political party as our vehicle to transport us to the mainstream Philippine politics. But this is not the end of our struggle. Our struggle has to be continued so that it will bear fruits to the benefit of everyone. Our political party differs from other political parties on the following:

a)    It serves as our vehicle towards our vision and mission in the UBJP.
b)    As principled political party, it aims to change the present political system of “three Gs or gold, guns and goons”, and

c)    It aims to transform our electoral system to real democratic and Islamic way.
Had this gathering now of volunteers been done by other politicians, it would cost them around millions or even billion but we spent nothing for it. The people voluntarily brought with them their food and ate them here.
Concerning news that there are some who are recruiting for the UBJP membership for money, do not believe on them because they are fake officers or members, and I warn them. Also those recruiting for allegedly Bangsamoro Police, do not believe on them, and I warn them because not even the qualification for police had yet been set. We will take appropriate action against them if complaint is brought before us.

55. Cong. Jesus Sacdalan of the 1st District of North Cotabato apprised the crowd about the     status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress with expression of his support to the UBJP.

56. Another speaker declared the same strong support to the UBJP.

57. MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar and now concurrent UBJP Vice Chairman for Central Mindanao closed the program with address to everyone for strong and unconditional support to the new political party. He talked to his comrades as the youth of yesterday and now mostly with white hairs to support the UBJP. He talked to the Honorable men of Congress with a very touching appeal to see to it that the cause on the occurrence of widows and orphans be stopped, and it now depends in their hands as legislators.

The affair was very peaceful. The fatality of one dead was not a criminal act but due to cardiac arrest. And the fainting of few individuals were due to the heat of the glazing sun but were instantly revived by numerous medical volunteers that assisted them.

CPP/NPA: Lubos nga Paslawon ang Oplan Bayanihan, Pamunuan ang Hublag sa Pagbangon kag Mag-amot sa Pag-abanse sang Rebolusyon sa Isla sang Panay

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 26): Lubos nga Paslawon ang Oplan Bayanihan, Pamunuan ang Hublag sa Pagbangon kag Mag-amot sa Pag-abanse sang Rebolusyon sa Isla sang Panay (Frustrate Oplan Bayanihan, Lead the Recovery Movement and make a contribution to the advancement of the Revolution in the island of Panay)

Jurie Guerrero
NPA Central Panay Front Operations Command (Jose Percival Estocada Command)
Ang organisasyon sang PKP, BHB kag baseng masa sini sa Central Panay nagaupod sa organisasyon sang PKP sa bilog nga pungsod sa pagsaulog sang ika-46 nga anibersaryo sini subong nga Disyembre 26, 2014. Nagasaludo kag ginahatag sini ang pinakamataas nga pagpasidungog sa mga rebolusyonaryo nga martir nga naghalad sang ila kabuhi para sa pag-abanse sang rebolusyon.

Sa pagpamuno sang Partido sa Central Panay nag-ani sang dalagku nga mga kadalag-an ang rebolusyonaryo nga hublag sa prente subong nga tuig.

Nagapanguna sa kadalag-an sini ang paglab-ot sang kahublagan sa pagbangon sang masobra 1,500 ka pamilya nga nadalasa sang superbagyo Yolanda paagi sa pagkaayo sang ila nasamad nga mga puluy-an kag pangabuhian samtang padayon ang pagpanukot sang ayuda sa inutil nga rehimen ni BS Aquino. Sa pagpamuno sang mga sanga sang partido ginlunsar ang lainlain nga organisado nga aktibidad pang-ekonomiya kag pangpulitika sang kahublagan sa pagbangon. Liwat nga napamatud-an sang masa nga ang PKP ang tunay nga partido nila kag indi ang garuk nga partido pulitikal sang nagahari nga sahi nga makadumdum lang sa ila sa panahon sang eleksyon.

Hugot nga ginpamunuan sang Partido ang mga paghimakas sang pumuluyong Tumanduk sa pagpangapin sang duta sang ila kamal-aman batuk sa padayon nga pagpang-agaw sang 3rd ID kag sa magaumpisa na nga konstraksyon sang Jalaur megadam kag sa plano nga pagtukod sang Pan-ay megadam.

Padayon nga ginpaslaw ang plano sang 3rd ID kag 301st Bde sa pagpaluya kag pagdugmok sa NPA kag rebolusyonaryong baseng masa sa Central Panay. Ini sa pihak sang mas o menos duha ka batalyon sang gintingob nga pwersa sang PA, PNP-SAF kag PNP-PSC nga gintutok sa mga sona kag baseng gerilya sang prente. Umpisa sang Hulyo 2014 ginpunsok sang kaaway ang iya pwersa sa 18 ka kabaryuhanan sang Tapaz, Capiz kag Calinog, Iloilo sa diin mabaskog ang kahublagan sang pumuluyo sa pagbangon kag pagpanukot sa rehimeng Aquino sa halit sang superbagyo Yolanda kag sa pagpamatuk sang Jalaur megadam project. Halos wala man untat ang mga combat clearing operations sa lindero sang duha ka banwa kag probinsya.

Ang pagpaluya kag pagwasak sang rebolusyonaryong hublag sa Central Panay napasulod sa 2014 nga plano sang 3rd ID 301st Bde nga mangin “conflict manageable” ang probinsya sang Capiz sini nga tuig antes magsaylo sang pokus sa Iloilo sa 2015.
Kabahin ini sang sumbag sa bulan nga plano sang CentCom, PA nga mangin “insurgency free” ang Visayas pag-abot sang 2016. Pangunahon nga nagaserbe ini sa maga-umpisa na nga konstraksyon sang Jalaur megadam sa una nga kwarto sang 2015.

 Sa pihak sang pinasingki nga kampanya militar sang kaaway namentinar sang BHB sa prente ang iya inisyatiba kag padayon nga napasulong ang mga hilikuton sa pulitika kag militar. Nakalunsar ini sang siyam ka aksyon militar nga nagtuga sang isa ka iskwad nga kaswalti sa kaaway. Padayon man nga ginakonsolida ang baseng masa sini sa tunga sang halos wala untat nga operasyon militar kag ang pagpalapad sa mas paborable nga mga lugar sang Panay. Napangibabawan sini ang nagligad nga kahuyangan sa gerilya nga taktika nga nagtuga sang pagkitid sang lugar nga maniobrahan kag paghuyang sang inisyatiba sang nagligad nga mga tinuig.

Sa maabot nga 2015, lubos ang kumpyansa sang Partido sa Central Panay nga magaabanse ang mga hilikuton sini sa tanan nga patag kag makatubong sang daku sa pag-abanse sang rebolusyon sa isla. Ang masobra 40 ka tuig na nga ululupod nga kabuhi-kamatayon nga paghimakas sang PKP-BHB kag sang pumuluyo sa Central Panay ang indi maluka nga pundasyon sang tayuyon nga pagsulong nga indi mapunggan sang anuman nga Oplan sang kaaway.

NPA amazon returns to fold of the law on Christmas day

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 27): NPA amazon returns to fold of the law on Christmas day

It was perhaps the best Christmas gift that a 27-year-old rebel could give her family. On Christmas day, Rebecca Megew Timban, a former medic in the New People’s Army (NPA), walked out of the underground movement and back to the fold of the law.

“Ivy,” as she is known to friends, voluntarily surrendered to the Army 27th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tacunel, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, at about 3 p.m.

It was her brother-in-law who convinced the young female rebel to surrender, said a statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

Eastmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad lauded Timban’s surrender and called on other NPA members to follow.

“We welcome the surrender of Rebecca and the effort of his brother in-law in convincing her to live a peaceful life. Her coming down is the best gift for her family,” said Baladad.

“We are calling on the families of our deceived brothers and sisters to convince them to lay down their arms and leave the hard life of a rebel and embrace a peaceful life with their families,” he added.

Timban will go through a psychological debriefing as a part of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government. She will also receive financial, livelihood assistance and other benefits under the program.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) marked its 46th founding anniversary yesterday.


On the eve of the CPP anniversary, the AFP urged the rebels to abandon armed violence as a way to solve the country’s problems.

“It has been proven that nobody is a real winner in bloody armed conflicts. We are witneses to the endless misery experienced by our own people who are caught in the crossfire,” said the AFP in a statement.

The AFP noted that during the year, many civilians were victims of NPA atrocities carried out around the country. It cited two incidents of violent attacks that claimed the lives of civilians – one in Davao del Sur and another in the Caraga region.

In May, the rebels held hostage civilians in Mabini, Compostela Valley, traumatizing the people who were held at gunpoint for many hours. In Masbate, a grenade attack hurt innocent people in November.

“The senseless attacks perpetrated by the NPA against peaceful communities and infrastructure projects have caused more suffering and denied people development f in the countryside. We must reflect why we have allowed ourselves and our communities to endure 46 years of bloody violence and senseless deaths among fellow Filipinos,” said the AFP.

“We can have the choice between a better life for ourselves and our children by embracing peace or continued violence and poverty through bloody armed conflict.
The door for reconciliation and healing remains open to all our misguided brothers who want to embrace peace,” it added.

China a likely factor in North Korea cyber prowess: experts

From the Manila Times (Dec 26): China a likely factor in North Korea cyber prowess: experts

North Korea may be facing explosive hacking accusations, but analysts are questioning how an isolated, impoverished country with limited Internet access could wage cyber sabotage—and many experts believe China plays a role.

The US has accused Pyongyang of hacking Sony Pictures, which was intimidated into initially canceling the comedy film “The Interview” that mocks North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, before deciding to release it online and in selected US cinemas on Christmas Day.

While much of the focus has been on the so-called cyber warfare between Washington and Pyongyang—especially after North Korea’s Internet temporarily went down—many analysts speculate China is a necessary partner in facilitating any attack by the North.

“North Korea’s cyber capacity relies on Chinese support in terms of both hardware and software,” Willy Lam, a politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Agence France-Presse.

“Through this support the Chinese can maintain a certain level of control, he added.

“They want to maintain that position, so they won’t pull their support because of the hacking scandal.”

Experts say telecommunications giant China Unicom provides and maintains all Internet links with the North, and some estimate that thousands of North Korean hackers operate on Chinese soil.

Pyongyang angrily insisted that it had nothing to do with the theft and leaking of Sony company secrets or threats against moviegoers, and was silent on why its Internet went down for hours this week.

Attention has also turned to China after many doubted North Korea has the ability to mount such an attack from its territory, given its limited cyber infrastructure.

“The capacity of the Internet connection in North Korea is very poor, given the number of IP addresses in the country,” Masahiko Iimura, spokesman of Tokyo-based cyber security service company LAC, told Agence France-Presse.

The number of Internet protocol (IP) addresses—which correlates with the number of online devices—in North Korea is believed to be just over 1,000 compared with 1.5 billion in the United States and 200 million in Japan, he added.

Nonetheless, North Korea has an estimated 6,000 hackers, according to Lim Jong-In, a cyber expert at Korea University’s Center for Information Security Technologies, who described it as “one of the world’s top five countries” in cyber warfare capability.

Many of the hackers operate in Chinese border cities such as Dandong under software contractors hired by Pyongyang, he added.

North Korea only has connections to four Internet networks and they all run through China, operated by China Unicom.

“I don’t have any information that can be disclosed,” an official with the state-run company told Agence France-Presse when asked to comment about the Internet outage in North Korea.

Officials in South Korea are looking into the possibility that Pyongyang was behind a recent cyber attack against its nuclear power operator, with investigators saying a suspect used IP addresses based in the Chinese city of Shenyang, not far from the North Korean border.

China and the US have been embroiled in their own hacking row amid mutual accusations of cyber espionage.

FBI director James Comey accused Beijing in October of waging an aggressive cyber war that is costing American businesses billions of dollars.

China has dismissed such allegations as “fabricated out of thin air”, and was furious in May when it emerged that US prosecutors indicted five members of the Chinese military for alleged cyber espionage.

Beijing also accuses the US of hypocrisy, citing leaks by former US government contractor Edward Snowden alleging US cyber spying in China.

Given North Korea’s dependence on China to support its online infrastructure, analysts have speculated China may have been behind its Internet blackout this week, even amid rumors of US retaliation over Pyongyang’s alleged hacking of Sony.

Some have pointed to China’s increasing frustration over the erratic behavior of Kim, who since taking over after his father’s death in 2011 has ordered missile launches, a nuclear test and the execution of his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, who was a key conduit to Beijing.

Pyongyang’s nuclear development and reluctance to pursue economic reforms have added to the strain on close ties between the communist neighbors forged during the 1950-53 Korean War.

China could send a clear signal to the North by pulling the plug on its Internet, while at the same time shoring up ties with the United States, though analysts see that as unlikely.

“It could be China, but China has other ways to show it is unhappy with North Korea,” James Lewis, senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Agence France-Presse, suggesting hacktivists were a more likely culprit in the North’s Internet breakdown.

Beijing has consistently avoided directly addressing whether it had any involvement in aiding alleged North Korean hacking.

China is “opposed to all forms of cyber attack and cyber terrorism”, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

Still, China is unlikely to abandon its troublesome neighbor.

“The Chinese leadership isn’t happy with what North Korea is doing but they maintain the relationship in order to influence an already unstable country,” said Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Reds fail in recruitment drive

From the Philippine Star (Dec 25): Reds fail in recruitment drive

The Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has failed in its recruitment efforts, according to a military official.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman, said they have not monitored any recruitment or “exposure trips” despite the heightened recruitment of the rebel group, which is marking its 46th anniversary tomorrow.

The CPP brings recruits to the countryside for immersion activities with the NPA during these exposure trips. Authorities have warned that communist rebels take advantage of the suspension of police and military offensives for this activity.

“A lot of factors contributed to this. They have a leadership vacuum because of the arrest of their leaders,” Tiongson said.

He said financial constraints also limit the  rebel group’s engagement with government troops. “They have very limited combatants to stage an offensive,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tiongson said Roxas City in Capiz has been declared “peaceful and ready for further development” due to the improved security situation there.

Roxas City Mayor Angel Alan Celino, 61st Infantry Battalion chief Lt. Col. Victor Llapitan and Superintendent Julio Gustilo signed the joint memorandum on the declaration on Monday.

The military declares an area peaceful and ready for further development if the strength of rebels within its jurisdiction is too small.

The military has so far issued the same declaration in 50 provinces.

YEARENDER: Abus admit ransom payments

From the Philippine Star (Dec 26): YEARENDER: Abus admit ransom payments

Although tagged in several kidnappings, it was only recently that Abu Sayyaf bandits admitted receiving ransom in exchange for the freedom of their captives.

The bandit group released more than a dozen of their hostages in 2013, including a Taiwanese, two Malaysian-Chinese and a Jordanian journalist, but there was no mention of ransom payment.

In November, the Abu Sayyaf released a video showing what the bandits claimed to be P250 million paid to them in exchange for the freedom of German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. denied that ransom was paid, saying military pressure led to the freedom of Okonek and Dielen. The Germans were on a yacht in the high seas between Palawan and Malaysia in April 2014 when they were kidnapped.

Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, posted on Facebook a video clip of the stacks of cash to dispute reports that no ransom was paid.

“We counter the Philippine government when they said that no-ransom policy. And now for the sake of the shariyah Islamiyah the no-ransom policy will be lost at this moment,” Rami said in the video clip.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have called for an investigation into Rami’s claim.

Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin also expressed alarm over the ransom payment, saying it would embolden the Abu Sayyaf to continue its kidnapping activities. He also raised concern that the bandit group could afford to purchase high-powered firearms.

Ransom for Malaysian

Security officials based in Malaysia also claimed that three million ringgit was paid to secure the freedom of Malaysian-Chinese fish breeder Kun Mun Hua, alias Chan Sai Chuin. Kun was held captive in Sulu after he was kidnapped on June 17 in Kunak, Semporna in Sabah.

Military and police authorities have not commented on any ransom payment, saying only that Kun’s release came after negotiations conducted by two civilian emissaries with the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Despite the setback in the government’s no-ransom campaign, the military launched offensives that resulted in the death and wounding of scores of Abu Sayyaf militants.

Swiss hostage escapes

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero said the offensives led one of the European captives – Swiss birdwatcher Lorenzo Vinciguerra – to his freedom when he fought one of his captors.

Vinciguerra said his companion, Dutch Ewold Horn, was too weak to escape.

Guerrero said they are continuing pursuit operations to rescue the remaining hostages, including Japanese Toshio Ito; Chinese Dina Lim Iraham, 45, and her daughter Yahong Lim Tan, 19; and Malaysian policeman Kons Zakiah Aleip.

The Abu Sayyaf’s strategy of negotiating with the families of the victims will continue to test the government’s no-ransom policy.

Secessionists launch political party

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 27): Secessionists launch political party

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front said it finally launched its political party on Dec. 24 in its main camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao with more than 110,000 registered volunteers over the three-day assembly that gathered supporters from mainland Mindanao and the island provinces.

Called the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the regional mass-based party will serve as the front’s vehicle for participation in the elections that will be held for the establishment of the Bangsamoro government, the MILF said.

Sammy Almansoor, UBJP secretary-general, said the “UBJP will promote the interests of the Bangsamoro, particularly those that have not been achieved in the armed struggle.”

The “First Volunteers General Assembly” is, among others, preparatory to an official accreditation of the party by the Commission on Elections.

“We have to show the COMELEC that we have followers,” said Almansoor who is also the chief of staff of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.

Almansoor hailed the huge crowd of green-clad volunteers whom he described as the backbone of the new political party and critical for the success of the UBJP.

In explaining why the MILF is forming a political party, Almansoor said the UBJP will be a mechanism for transforming itself from a revolutionary movement to a political party that will engage in parliamentary struggle.

MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal admitted that the MILF has no experience in party formation over its past 42 years of armed struggle, and that the UBJP is an “entirely new horizon, a new struggle.”

“We know that politics can sometimes be divisive, but we hope that our establishment of a genuinely-principled political party will humanize the system,” said Iqbal who is also UBJP vice-president for Southern Mindanao.

Iqbal said the UBJP will be “owned, managed and led by the Bangsamoro people.”
“We have to face the challenge of transforming our bullets into ballots,” he said.
Several sectors aired their support to the creation of the UBJP.

A representative from the professionals appealed to the leadership of the nascent party that it must “continue the unfinished agenda of the  MILF and Bangsamoro.”

Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao People’s Caucus expressed hope that the party will usher in a “new form of politics.”

Abhoud Syed Lingga of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies appealed to the party volunteers to register now and vote along party-lines in the anticipated referendum for the Bangsamoro Basic Law so that “this assembly would not be meaningless.”

Statements of support were also made by the ulama, business, women, indigenous peoples, youth, farmers, the academe, labor, transport, overseas workers, senior citizens and traditional leaders.

Several incumbent and previously elected politicians, like Gerry Salapuddin of Basilan and Benjamin Loong of Sulu, also graced the opening rites of the assembly that will culminate in the afternoon of Dec. 25.

Ustadz Khalifa Nando of the MILF Supreme Shariah Court administered the oath of office of the party officials in the closing program of the assembly.

The leadership of the party will be composed of the following:

President: Alhaj Murad Ebrahim

VP Western Mindanao: Mahmour Estino

VP Northern Mindanao: Aleem Ali Solaiman

VP Central Mindanao: Ghadzali Jaafar

VP Southern Mindanao: Mohagher Iqbal

VP Eastern Mindanao: Hussein Munoz

Secretary-General: Sammy Almansoor

The provincial executive officers for Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Davao Oriental are also expected to be sworn in as party officials.

Noy worse than Gloria, CPP says

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 27): Noy worse than Gloria, CPP says

But Reds free 2 soldiers ahead of negotiations

THE Communist Party of the Philippines accused the Aquino administration Friday of being worse than the Arroyo government in terms of violating human rights and immunity agreements.

The critical assessment was released on the CPP’s 46th anniversary despite the expected resumption of formal peace talks next month.

“The Aquino regime is definitely far worse than the Arroyo regime in imprisoning far more people on trumped-up multiple charges of rebellion and common crimes in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” the CPP said.

But while it criticized the Aquino administration, the communist rebels also released on Friday two military hostages they called “prisoners of war” to mark the CPP’s 46th anniversary.

The group said 14 consultants of the National Democratic Front have been jailed by the Aquino government, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

The communists also accused the administration of violating the so-called Hernandez doctrine that stemmed from a 1964 decision of the Supreme Court that rebellion cannot be complexed with other crimes such as murder, robbery and arson.

The Supreme Court at the time allowed the suspect, Amado Hernandez, to post bail and eventually acquitted him, saying crimes such as murder and arson were concomitant and inherent when rebellion is being waged.

“The Aquino regime is fundamentally as bad as the Arroyo regime in allowing illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations, land grabbing from the peasants and repression of workers and their trade unions. The gross and systematic human rights violations under Oplan Bayanihan have exposed the regime’s claims to peace and development as a farce and have pushed the people and revolutionary forces to intensify the resistance in various forms and ways,” the CPP added.

In 2011, months after formal peace negotiations bogged down, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees can no longer be invoked by arrested rebel leaders because the communists did not comply with its provisions.

Still, the CPP acknowledged that the National Democratic Front “continues to explore the possibility of peace negotiations in order to attain realizable goals for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

The longest-running insurgency movement in the region added that an indefinite ceasefire with the government can be eventually hammered out.

“What is good about the peace negotiations is that the NDF is able to... help bring about the victory of the revolution in the long run or before then help bring about truce and cooperation with a government that is not led by the party but which adopts patriotic and progressive policies to deal with the severe crisis brought about by imperialism and reaction,” the CPP said.

But in keeping with its annual tradition of calling for the downfall of any sitting government, the CPP also vowed to “support the people’s struggle to oust the Aquino regime as a step towards the overthrow of the entire ruling system or before the rise of a patriotic and progressive transition government.”

“(We must) intensify and advance the people’s war towards the stage of the strategic stalemate along the general line of the people’s democratic revolution,” the CPP said.
The CPP’s anniversary statement also acknowledged that the people’s war it has been waging is “developing unevenly.”

“The party’s central leadership is taking prompt and significant measures to address the disparities,” it added.

“All in all, the people’s war is developing unevenly in the various regions across the country and among sub-regions and fronts within a region...Some areas are confronted with problems of advance such as the training of commanders to effectively lead NPA platoons, companies and battalions, raising the capability and initiative of people’s militia units and commands, expanding and consolidating local party sections (among others),” the CPP said.

Earlier, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said formal peace talks may resume in January after the visit of Pope Francis.

Sison said agreements on social and economic reforms as well as on an indefinite truce can also be completed before President Benigno Aquino III steps down in 2016.

Malacañang welcomed Sison’s announcement, saying “dialog provides the most viable opportunity for attaining peace.”

Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said the government is equally committed to maximize the remaining one year and a half under the Aquino administration in moving the peace talks forward.

Sison said special teams of both sides have met several times in the Netherlands since September “to iron out kinks.”

“The consensus reached by the special teams concern the agenda and compliance with existing agreements,” the communist leader said.

“There shall be one more meeting of the special teams within the first half of January and then the resumption of formal talks of the panels shall be after the papal visit,” Sison added.

The CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army released two military hostages Friday to mark the party’s 46th anniversary.

The two kidnap victims, Army PFC’s Jerrel Young and Mamel Cinches were freed after four months to unidentified negotiators and religious leaders at about 10:55 a.m. in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon.

The hostages were taken by the rebels following an attack on a military post at Empasug-on, Bukidnon last Aug. 22. The release of Young and Cinches came barely a week after NPA rebels released two Army soldiers they held hostage last Dec. 2, at New Corella town in Davao del Norte.

Communist rebels disguised as workers abducted the two soldiers shortly after raiding a private plantation in Davao del Norte Monday morning.

Running for almost half a century, the communist insurgency has claimed 30,000 lives, according to military estimates.

The military declared a month-long ceasefire with the NPA for the Christmas holidays and Pope Francis’ scheduled visit in January. The rebels said they would observe a shorter truce.

The NPA’s strength has dwindled to 4,000 fighters from a peak of more than 26,000 in the late 1980s, according to the military.

Negotiations under Aquino faltered after the government turned down the rebels’ demands that their detained comrades be released.

Two soldiers freed by NPA now at military camp

From GMA News (Dec 26): Two soldiers freed by NPA now at military camp

Following their release by the New People's Army, two soldiers were brought to a military facility for medical examination.
Privates First Class Marnel Cinches and Jerel Yorong were brought to Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City following their release on Friday to mark the 46th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
A photo tweeted by GMA Northern Mindanao's Jeik Compo showed doctors and medical staff checking the two released soldiers. 
View image on Twitter
DZBB Super Radyo @dzbb
PHOTO: Nasa Camp Evangelista ang dalawang sundalong pinalaya ng NPA sa Bukidnon. | via @jeikcompo @gmanews

Pemberton case may compel PH to review VFA

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Dec 26): Pemberton case may compel PH to review VFA

The Philippine government may have to review its Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US in view of the deal’s “vague provisions” highlighted by the controversy over custody of Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine accused in the killing of a Filipino transgender, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.

De Lima said disagreement over custody has become an “inevitable and recurring problem” because of some unclear provisions in the VFA, signed in 1999.

“We are having these problems because vague provisions in the VFA are prone or susceptible to varying and differing implementations,” De Lima, a member of the government’s VFA commission, said.

Pemberton has been charged with murder for the death of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude last Oct. 11 in Olongapo City.

De Lima said both sides have tried to settle this issue by coming up with implementing guidelines for the VFA.

She said the VFA commission had been trying to iron out kinks in the VFA even before the Laude case emerged.

“One of the problems is until now, the implementing guidelines have not been completed. We tried working on it for two years or more, but there are certain aspects where both sides couldn’t agree,” she said.

In the absence of guidelines, she admitted the US cannot be compelled to surrender Pemberton to Philippine custody even if a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

She said she agrees with the suggestion of Senate President Franklin Drilon and other lawmakers for the government to revisit the provisions in the VFA on custody and detention.

“We really have a problem because of these vague provisions. Sen. Drilon has a point,” she said.

De Lima earlier called the Laude murder case an “extraordinary circumstance” that should justify Manila’s insistence on having Pemberton under its custody in accordance with Article V Paragraph 6 of the VFA.

Such provision states that in extraordinary cases, the Philippine government shall present its position to the US government regarding custody, which the latter shall take into full account.

But the US side insisted on keeping Pemberton inside the Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB) facility at Camp Aguinaldo, saying the VFA provides for its custody of American servicemen until completion of judicial proceedings.

The Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74 has suspended the trial for 60 days pending a Department of Justice decision on the Pemberton camp’s petition for review of the murder indictment.

Pemberton did not appear in the preliminary investigation of prosecutors into the killing of Laude, only to challenge their finding of probable cause after the filing of a murder case in court.

AFP eyes 2 more naval bases in Palawan

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (Dec 26): AFP eyes 2 more naval bases in Palawan

Aside from the Ulungan Bay naval base in Palawan, defense and military officials are eyeing construction of two more naval bases that could accommodate various types of vessels to help secure the West Philippine Sea.

The planned naval base is expected to be the home of new warships that would arrive starting next year from defense contractors abroad.

Aside from the guided missile boat Pohang Class corvette that South Korea is giving to the Philippine Navy (PN) for free, the government is also expecting delivery of two brand new frigates from the South Korean government and two strategic sealift vessels (SSV) and other vessels it procured from Indonesia.

“To avoid port congestion in the future, we are building more naval bases in Palawan,” an informed source bared, adding the military leadership is now looking to Japan to supply the Navy with patrol vessels after the country relaxed its export ban on military equipment.

At present the Navy is developing the Ulugan Bay Naval Base that would be home to its Naval Forces West (Navforwest) and transform the nearby Oyster Bay into a modern naval facility.

Ulungan Bay is directly facing the West Philippine Sea where tension has been mounting due to the massive maritime claim by China in line with its “creeping invasion” of almost the entire South China Sea.

The Philippines, with a weaker military, could only oppose China’s action through legal measures before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that Beijing has rejected.

For security reasons, the source declined to give the location in Palawan of the planned additional Navy facilities that would soon rise.

The source said once the naval facilities become operational it would be much easier for the Navy to respond to any kind of maritime disaster and security emergencies in the region.

The Ulugan Bay naval station is near Oyster Bay, an area facing the West Philippine Sea and one of the sites that the military wants to develop.

The AFP wants to offer Oyster Bay as a possible site for the US facilities to be built under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Military officials are hopeful that the EDCA, which provides US troops greater access to Philippine bases, will facilitate the development of the site.

The government has allotted P500 million to develop the Ulugan Bay base, including P313 million to improve the pier, harbor and support facilities at Oyster Bay.

National Defense has 3rd largest pie in 2015 budget

From Ang Malaya (Dec 26): National Defense has 3rd largest pie in 2015 budget

President Benigno S. Aquino III enacted the P2.606-trillion 2015 General Appropriations Act.

“We are at the doorstep of the Administration’s penultimate year, and the GAA duly reflects President Aquino’s development priorities for 2015. We’re pouring even more investments into the Administration’s anti-poverty and economic growth programs, as well as strengthening governance reforms we’ve helmed so far,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

Social services gets the largest pie in the said 2015 budget which according to DBM chief, shows the current “administration’s continuing pursuit of its antipoverty goals.” These include provisions for basic education and universal health care.

Economic services also have a major share with PhP700.2 billion allocated fund towards this sector aiming for the President’s inclusive growth campaign.

Top 3 departments with big share in next year’s budget are the Department of Education (DepEd) with P367.1 billion, P303.2 billion for Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and P144.5 billion goes to Department of Nation Defense (DND).

NPAs release 2 soldiers they abducted

From Rappler (Dec 26): NPAs release 2 soldiers they abducted

The victims, held captive for over 4 months, are expected to be turned over to the archbishop of Cagayan de Oro

ABDUCTORS. The New People's Army releases two soldiers in Bukidnon. File photo by Karlos Manlupig
ABDUCTORS. The New People's Army releases two soldiers in Bukidnon. File photo by Karlos Manlupig

Two kidnapped army soldiers were released in Bukidnon on Friday, December 26, by the New People’s Army (NPA).

The victims, Private First Class soldiers Jerrel H Yorong and Marnel T Cinches were released to civil authorities, religious leaders, and media personalities at about 1 pm, according to Public Affairs Officer Major Ezra Balagtey of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command.

Malaybalay City, where the two were released, is about two hours away from the city. As of 5:30 pm, the army said they hadn't gained custody of the two soldiers.

The two are currently traveling to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) with negotiators and are expected to be turned over to the city’s archbishop, before being confined at Camp Evangelista Station Hospital, Camp Evangelista, CDO City for medical check-up and stress debriefing.

“We are hopeful that the NPA will also free all other kidnap victims that they are currently holding,” Balagtey said in a text message to reporters.

The two soldiers were kidnapped in Impasugong, Bukidnon on August 22 while they were riding a motorcycle en route to Bgy Bontongon. At the time of their kidnap, they were detailed to the 8th IB and were reported to be unarmed and in civilian clothes. They were on their way to a livelihood mission.

In September, the military junked the demand of the NPA for a 10-day suspension of military and police operations in exchange for the release of the two soldiers, saying it does not negotiate with terrorists.

Nani Braganza, top rebel leaders hold initial talks

From Rappler (Dec 26): Nani Braganza, top rebel leaders hold initial talks

Former congressman Hernani Braganza, an emissary of the government, enters a camp of the New People's Army in Surigao del Norte

EMISSARY. Ex-congressman and former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza is the government's emissary with the communists. Photo from Braganza's Facebook account
EMISSARY. Ex-congressman and former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza is the government's emissary with the communists. Photo from Braganza's Facebook account

Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza met with key officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) in a rebel lair in Surigao del Norte on Friday, December 26.

Armed Forces spokesman Col Restituto Padilla said in a statement that the military facilitated the security of Braganza and members of his party who went to a rebel camp as government emissaries sent to "follow up peace talks with the movement." The CPP celebrated its 46th founding anniversary on Friday.

"The chief of staff, in a gesture of sincerity and our adherence to the SOMO, has requested General Aurelio Baladad of Eastern Mindanao Command to facilitate the attendance of the members of CPP-NPA-NDF.... and the safety of Secretary Hernani Braganza and members of his party who also attended as government emissaries who will follow up peace talks with the movement," Padilla said.

As of 6:15 pm, Braganza had left the camp and was on his way to the city, Rappler learned from a source who was at the camp.

Among the rebel leaders he met with were Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Mindanao, and Fidel Agcaoli, who lives in exile in Utrecht and is a key member of the NDF peace panel, the same Rappler source revealed.

The event was both a celebration of the party's anniversary and a peace talks "consultation" with Mindanao rebels, the source said.

The meeting came on the day the CPP announced it was holding negotiations with the Aquino government.

A former congressman and ex-agrarian reform secretary, Braganza has ties with some of the key CPP leaders because he was a former student activist under the National Union of Students of the Philippines.

Braganza's presence at the camp was also meant to facilitate the release of 3 policemen who are still being held captive by the NPA-Mindanao, the source said.

The NPA gave assurances the cops will be released soon, the source added.

Earlier, the NPA released two soldiers they abducted last August 22.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source from the diplomatic community earlier told Rappler that Braganza has been in talks with CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who also lives in exile in Utrecht.

A member of the Liberal Party, Braganza ran for governor of Pangasinan in the 2013 elections. He lost.