Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Troops tricked to free boat in smuggling

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 30): Troops tricked to free boat in smuggling

Soldiers guarding one of four vessels carrying smuggled rice were tricked into allowing the vessel to leave the city port for Sulu province, according to results of a military investigation.

ML Ayang, one of four boats that were carrying smuggled rice, was able to leave the city port on Dec. 16, shortly after it and three other vessels were intercepted by the Philippine Navy for carrying contraband.

Investigators, according to Col. Andrelino Colina, head of Task Force Zamboanga (a police-military force dealing with crimes in the city), said five soldiers guarding the apprehended vessels here were hoodwinked into releasing ML Ayang.


On Dec. 16, Colina said, unidentified men on board a boat arrived at the city port, introduced themselves as Customs officials and told the soldiers to release ML Ayang.

According to Colina, quoting investigation results, when the soldiers refused, one of the unidentified men made a phone call to their supposed boss at the Customs bureau and gave the phone to one of the soldiers.

“The man who spoke with my officer on the phone claimed the papers were OK. That led to the boat sailing out of the port,” Colina said.

“They were tricked into releasing the boat,” he said.

ML Ayang was later intercepted again as it was unloading its rice cargo in Sulu. It was brought back to the city, escorted by the Navy.
No training on smuggling

Colina defended the five soldiers, although, he said, they had been restricted to the barracks as the investigation continued. He said the soldiers had not been trained properly on handling cases of smuggling.

He pinned the blame on the Bureau of Customs here, which had not deployed anyone to the area where the vessels were being held.

“They could have deployed one of their policemen,” Colina said. He said the area where the vessels were being held was very near a Customs office.

Miguel Saquisami, Customs district collector here, insisted that ML Ayang and its crew “escaped.”

Not sleeping on job

Saquisami said he did not want to speak further about the controversy and that there should be “no pinpointing.”

“We are not sleeping on the job, but the number of our Customs policemen is limited. I hope you can understand us,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the Naval Forces Western Mindanao was coordinating with the Bureau of Customs in the investigation.


Esscom refutes claims of gunfire exchanges in east coast Sabah

From the New Straits Times (Dec 31): Esscom refutes claims of gunfire exchanges in east coast Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) has refuted claims that Malaysian security forces were involved in gunfire exchanges with Filipino gunmen in Sabah's east coast.

Its commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said the rumours were not true, stressing the people to remain calm.

"The situation in Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone) is under control, especially in Sandakan and Semporna," he said.

The rumours were circulated through social network sites including Facebook, causing panic among the netizens.

The rumours claimed a group of gunmen from the southern Philippines had landed at Kampung Luboh, Batu 12 Sungai Manila in Sandakan‎ on Dec 25.

A recent rumour mentioned about shooting incidents in Semporna, which is said to have been occurred last night.

Rashid said action would be taken against those spreading such rumours and advised the public to contact nearest police station to verify claim.


Sea dispute with China tested Philippines’ resolve

From the Manila Times (Dec 29): Sea dispute with China tested Philippines’ resolve

The passing year put to test the resolve of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to pursue the government’s arbitration case against China while continuing to develop relations with Asia’s economic tiger, and at the same time assess its strategic alliance with the United States.

The dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) has long been simmering but it wasn’t until two years ago that the world took notice of the newest potential military flashpoint in Southeast Asia. The naval standoff between the Philippines and China at the disputed Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal shook the otherwise friendly relations between Beijing and Manila.

In March this year, the Philippines submitted its Memorial, an annex of evidences, to the five-member arbitral tribunal in the United Nations-backed International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos) to invalidate China’s claim in the West Philippine Sea that stretches as far as the territories of the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei Darussalam.

China was given until December 15 this year to submit its counter-Memorial, but Beijing has refused to take part in the process, insisting that it will only negotiate with claimant-countries bilaterally. It also accused the Philippines of violating international maritime laws, as well as the 2002 Declaration on the Code of Conduct (DOC), which pointed out that disputes in the region should be resolved through bilateral negotiations.

It also warned other countries not to interfere in the regional dispute.

Amid all of these, the Foreign Affairs department tried to cultivate a relationship with a regional giant that has grown sour and an alliance with a global superpower that continues to be challenged by issues such as the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude in Olongapo City allegedly by US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.

The case, which is reminiscent of the rape case that involved Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, again examined the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries. Militant groups castigated the department for its failure to secure the physical custody of Pemberton, who is now languishing in a makeshift detention cell inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Although he is inside a Philippine military camp, US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg insisted that custody over Pemberton remains with the US until the “completion of all judicial proceedings.” The Olongapo Regional Trial Court filed murder raps against the US serviceman early this month.

The Foreign Affairs department tried to seek custody of Pemberton but its bid was rejected on the same day the warrant was issued. It, however, said that the jurisdiction of the case will remain with the Philippines because Pemberton will be tried by “Philippine courts under Philippine laws.”

Pemberton’s was one of the troops who took part in the Amphibious Landing Exercises (Phiblex), a joint annual military training under the VFA, the same agreement that anti-US groups are now asking to be abrogated.

The Phiblex is also being seen as a preparation for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which the Philippines signed in April before the official state visit of US President Barack Obama. The EDCA, which will increase US military presence in the country and is now a subject of review by the Supreme Court, was agreed upon amid increasing tensions with Beijing, which has begun massive reclamation projects in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in five Philippine-claimed reefs—Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, Malvar (Eldad) Reef, Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef, Burgos (Gaven) Reef and Kennan (Hughes) Reef—as well as an oil drilling operation near Vietnam.

Relations between the Philippines and China have suffered tremendously in the past two years because of the sea disputes. The US has shown concern because it has always maintained a “strategic interest” in seeing peace and stability in the region, a vital waterway that holds more than $5 billion of world trade annually, $1 billion of which belongs to the United States.

It remains to be seen, however, how the more important relationship between the US and China will eclipse Washington’s promises to the Philippines, which has held strong to a decades-old treaty, the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), in case an armed conflict with China arises.


Palace optimistic Bangsamoro bill will be passed by early 2015

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 29): Palace optimistic Bangsamoro bill will be passed by early 2015
Malacañang on Monday said it is optimistic that the Bangsamoro basic bill will be passed by Congress during the first quarter of next year.

“Hopefully, first quarter mapasa ‘yon tapos, magkakaroon ng plebiscite and then during that time after the plebiscite magkakaroon ng capacity building so that in time by 2016, maisabay na sa synchronized elections ‘yung bagong Bangsamoro Juridical Entity,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a Palace briefing.

(Hopefully, it will be passed during the first quarter, then we’ll have a plebiscite and after that there will be capacity building activities so that by 2016, we’ll be able to synchronize the elections for the new Bangsamoro Juridical Entity with that of the national government.)

Lacierda said the Bangsamoro law is among the priorities of the Aquino administration for 2015.

“There are lot of possible opportunities in the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), so many untapped opportunities that have not been fully utilized,” he explained.

The Bangsamoro bill is a product of the final peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It will pave the way for a Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the current ARMM.

Earlier in the day, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate will also prioritize the Bangsamoro bill. However, he said the committee report on the bill is expected in the first week of February. The Senate has been conducting hearings and consultations on the measure.

In addition to the Bangsamoro bill, Lacierda said the administration is also pushing for greater government spending to bolster growth.

He said the country was guilty of underspending last year.

“Our overall purpose is really to provide inclusive growth for all. So any specific measures will be lay it all out in the coming year,” he said.


Cops probing source of internal leak on 'attack'

From the Daily Express (Dec 30): Cops probing source of internal leak on 'attack'

KOTA KINABALU: Police will investigate the source of the alleged leak of an internal report of a planned attack on Sandakan by a son of former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader, Nur Misuari.
State Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Malik Harun on Monday said the police information leak, which went viral on WhatsApp and Facebook, has stirred perceptions linking the planned attack and an illegal immigrant swoop held in Sandakan on Saturday.     The source of the purported report came from police intelligence over a village chief in Sandakan who claimed that some 36 armed men led by Misuari's son had landed in Sandakan by boat on Dec. 25.     In was in the process of disseminating the report to the nearby police stations, it was released to civilians and went viral a day before the integrated operation led by the Eastern Sabah Security Command was held on Dec 27.     "It's an offence and disciplinary action can be taken against the personnel who leaked such the information the same against any civilian who had done it," said Abdul Malek, certain it was done by someone in the force.     He also noted that prior to the illegal immigrant operation, Esscom had also organised an anti-intrusion exercise called Ops Pasak 1 from Dec. 24 to 26.     Abdul Malek said these incidents were unrelated, adding that also not of a grave concern as such exercise and operations like the one conducted by Esscom, and the disseminating of information by police were standard procedures.     This included beefing up the security of police stations in the event of an impending attack. Nonetheless, he said investigations on the armed men landed in Sandakan were also found to be false including the existence of the so-called village chief. "When my men went to the place to look for the village chief, we found that no such man existed and the name of the real village chief was different," he said.      A statement issued by Esscom Commander Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun also denied any armed men landed in Sandakan, nor shooting incidents.     "I urge the public to remain calm as the situation is safe in Eastern Security Sabah Zone especially in Sandakan and Semporna," he said.     On Saturday, Esscom launched a massive illegal immigrant swoop in Sandakan involving various other agencies which saw 315 men being hauled up and after thorough investigation 120 were held back under immigration offences, while two others were remanded for drug offences.     According to Abdul Malek although that was a real opearation, the public should not be alarmed and felt threatened.     He advised those who received such information in the future to contact the authorities for verification and stop spreading them through social media or WhatsApp.     A 24-hour hotline is also available for the public to receive and provide such information to Esscom at 089-863181 alternately, fax to 089 – 863 181.


Palace: CPP rejects long truce for fear of losing combatants

From the Sun Star (Dec 29): Palace: CPP rejects long truce for fear of losing combatants

MALACANANG said Monday that the leadership of the Maoist group did not want a prolonged ceasefire for fear that it could lose its combatants.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing that the government can even extend the current month-long truce with the New People's Army (NPA).

"The government is willing to go extra mile. However, the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front) only declared certain dates for ceasefire. Strategic sa kanila 'yan because when the rebels go down and take a break, some of them don't want to go up anymore," he said.

The Philippine government has declared a unilateral ceasefire from December 19 to January 19 next year, while the CPP's was staggered: on December 24 to 26; December 31 to January 1, 2015; and on January 15 to 19, 2015.

Lacierda said that it would be better to resume the peace talks with the communist group if there is a ceasefire, similar to what happened between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"Siyempre, mas maganda kung maayos lahat tulad nang nangyari sa MILF na maayos ang pag-uusap. But again, that would depend on both sides, especially the CPP-NPA-NDF," he said.

At the same time, Lacierda said that the government will not consider any precondition for the resumption of peace talks with the leftist group.

“Our emphasis is always -- walang preconditions when it comes to talks. We have said that before. We have always said that when we come to talks with either party -- NDF or MILF -- there are no preconditions with the talks. This is something we have said time and time again,” he said.

Lacierda was responding to a question on whether the government would consider CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s request to release Benito and Wilma Tiamzon before the peace talks resume.

He explained that there is a pending criminal case against Benito Tiamzon and his release is out of the question.

Benito Tiamzon is one of the top leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF, while his spouse, Wilma, is the group's Secretary General. Both were arrested in Carcar, Cebu last March 22.

Malacanang said at that time that their arrest was not covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee, signed with the CPP-NDF in 1995.

"Now, there is a possibility of a resumption of talks. What (Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) Secretary Ging Deles has always emphasized is, 'Let's have a resumption of talks where it is doable and time-bound; and there are certain issues that we need to clarify further,'" Lacierda said.


No official word yet from the President on peace talks with the NDF

From the Business World (Dec 29): No official word yet from the President on peace talks with the NDF

PRESIDENT Benigno S. C. Aquino III has yet to make an announcement regarding whether the government is open to resuming peace talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin S. Lacierda made these remarks after Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Q. Deles raised the possibility of opening the talks with the NDF.

“Just to be clear, there is still no official word from the President regarding the possibility of resuming talks or a one-on-one meeting with Mr. Jose Ma. Sison,” Mr. Lacierda told reporters in a briefing Monday.

The Palace official noted the government has yet to ascertain the possibility of resuming the peace talks after several attempts in the past did not prosper.

"We have no information yet as to the statement of Mr. Sison. Any announcement that will be forthcoming from the Palace will bear the mark of an official announcement. Right now, we have no information to that effect. So, let's see first if we can resume the talks and then let's make sure the talks are doable and time-bound before we discuss anything else," he added.

"Number one, we need to make sure that again... previously we have several experiences with CPP-NPA-NDF. We had a formal track and the informal track. Both didn't seem to move forward."

News reports earlier quoted Mr. Sison, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder currently in political asylum in the Netherlands, as saying the CPP is open to resuming peace negotiations with the government, adding that the on-and-off peace talks between the government and the NDFP may start again after Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines in January.

While remaining pragmatic about the possibility of the two parties reaching a final peace agreement before the President bows out of office in 2016, Mr. Sison had said the two parties could reach agreements on social and economic front, including a possible ceasefire.

Earlier, Secretary Deles has said there is possibility of the government returning to the peace negotiating table with the NDF, composed of the CCP and its armed group the New People's Army (NPA).

Ms. 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," she said, adding 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."

Informal talks on the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels are ongoing, although "there have been no meetings between the Philippine government and 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," she added.

In its 46th founding anniversary statement on Dec. 26, the CPP, however, expressed doubt about the peace talks, saying the negotiations are not likely to yield results that will address the country's problems, even accusing the government of using the peace negotiations "to pacify the revolutionary forces."

"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 basis for a just and lasting peace," it said.

Meanwhile, the Palace official said the government will not allow any "preconditions" for the resumption of peace talks with the NDF.

"Our emphasis has been always walang preconditions when it comes to talks. We have said that before. We've always said that when it comes to talks with another party, there are no preconditions. This is something that we have said time and time again," Mr. Lacierda said.

He also said the Tiamzons are facing multiple charges before the Quezon City regional trial court including kidnapping and serious illegal detention. The Tiamzons, who have supposedly taken over the leadership of the CPP, were arrested in Cebu last March.


Reds recovering, gaining more ground

From the pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Dec 30): Reds recovering, gaining more ground

Reds recovering, gaining more ground

SOMEWHERE IN NORTH COTABATO – During the 46th year anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, a communist leader here said “the revolutionary struggle continues to grow ever stronger toward victory in the southernmost region of the country.”

Ka Efren Aksasato, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the Far South Mindanao Region, said “we were able to launch 84 tactical offensives and confiscate 21 high powered rifles from the AFP.”

He said that they have already positioned their forces in the region’s strategic areas.

The revolutionary forces in the Far South Mindanao region celebrated the Party’s 46th year with the theme “Pakusgon ang armado ug pangmasang pakigbisog aron palagputun ang masumpoong rehimeng US-Aquino ug tukuron ang gahum sa katawhan alang sa tinuod nga demokrasya ug nasudnong kalingkawasan! (Intensify the armed and mass struggle to oust the oppressive US-Aquino and establish the people’s government for genuine democracy and national liberation!)”

“About 60 AFP and PNP members were killed in combat while 50 were wounded. This number is equal to a company sized paralysis in the reactionary forces and a 20% increase in the number of new recruits,” said Aksasato.

Aksasato also said that their program for agrarian revolution has been rapidly implemented through out the region and their campaigns against land grabbing and large scale mining by multinational companies continue to intensify.

In a previous statement, the New People’s Army said that Far South Mindanao was one of its recovery areas.

The NDF leader  said they had formulated a two year plan for the region.

“For two years, we want to reach that 100% increase in the number of areas for organizing. In its first year implementation, we have seen that we have reached a high number in our targets in the two year plan, reaching our target municipalities for this year. We are also working on the requisites for consolidating our mass bases especially the establishment of the barrio revolutionary committees in the region,” he said.

Aksasato also shared that their program for agrarian revolution is an integral part of consolidating their areas.

“In 2013, through our program, the production in the area steadily increased and the area is now very productive. In some areas, we have also implemented the maximum program which is the confiscation of lands from landlords. We have distributed these among the poor farmers without any form of payment in return,” he added.

In previous years, the Armed Forces of the Philippines declared that it will make the CPP-NPA-NDF irrelevant before the end of the Aquino administration.

To Ka Efren said, “the mere fact that the reactionary government has already deployed more than 60% of the military forces here in Mindanao is a recognition that we are growing stronger.”


CPP: Keep the revolutionary flame raging, achieve more victories

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 26): Keep the revolutionary flame raging, achieve more victories

Norsen Mangubat
CPP North Central Mindanao Regional Committee
The entire revolutionary forces and the masses of North Central Mindanao Region is brimming with revolutionary fervour as we celebrate the 46th founding anniversary of the re-established Communist Party of the Philippines.

Most importantly let us offer this celebration to all revolutionary martyrs and heroes, including the seven Red fighters who offered their lives this year. We also salute all Party cadres and members, Red commanders and fighters, and all those who offered their time and lives fulfilling the demanding tasks of advancing the revolution.

We scored victories making 2014 a full year. This is NCMR’s hard fought contribution to the over-all national effort in advancing the democratic revolution to the strategic stalemate stage.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party in the region, we made our share in frustrating the US-BS Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan, the AFP’s largest offensive ever in the entire history of Mindanao. The seven battalions of the reactionary armed forces deployed in our region failed in vain to crush even a single militia unit, destroy our mass base and disrupt the continuing advance of our revolutionary tasks practically in all fields.

The enemy’s widespread and simultaneous combat and COPD operations in almost all of our guerrilla fronts have not deprived us the flexibility to maneuver and launch basic tactical offensives in far wider areas left unoccupied by their overextended forces. In areas covered by combat operations, our guerrilla units and the people’s militia actively resisted the counterrevolutionary attacks of the enemy. A total of 102 military actions have been launched against forces of the AFP, PNP, CAA and paramilitary groups. This includes punitive actions against oppressive, exploitative and environmentally-destructive companies, criminals and other undesirable elements. From these military actions, we have seized 55 assorted firearms and inflicted 183 casualties to enemy troops, with 103 killed and 80 wounded. We also rendered unserviceable six military vehicles and fired at air force helicopter in three separate instances. A brigade commander and a battalion commander were both relieved from their position for heavy losses suffered by their troops in the field. We have captured and detained as prisoners of war two 8th IB soldiers, Pfc. Marnel Cinches and Pfc. Jerrel Yorong. In the more than four months of their captivity, the 403rd BDE attempts to rescue them were all in vain.

Under the leadership of the NPA’s regional command, providing our forces with proper training, maintaining an offensive posture and the determination to resist and engage the enemy, resulted in the overall decrease of the NPA’s defensive actions. It is down to seven this year where we lost five Red fighters as opposed to 11 incidents last year.

Despite the intensified enemy onslaughts, our army increased by 6% and our guerrilla platoons by 12%. Firearms enough to arm additional company-size troops have been added to our arsenal. Our people’s militia increased by 57%, organized in company formations in barrio clusters and battalions in municipalities. 21 tactical offensives or 20% of the total military actions in the region this year were launched independently by the units of the people’s militia.

The most disgraceful thing the regime has achieved so far in its ala-martial law militarization in our region is the dislocation of the rural population disrupting their normal lives and livelihood, forcing entire communities to evacuate, subsequently increasing the roster of military abuses and human rights violations from year to year.

In advancing the peasant war, the Party stressed the vitalization of the agrarian struggle against feudal and semi-feudal exploitation and oppression. The second regional consultation of Party cadres on agrarian revolution was convened to deepen our understanding of the land problem and the prevalent relations of production and drew plan for concrete measures to advance the anti-feudal struggle to a higher stage.
Taking off from generally limited experience of sporadic barrio-level anti-feudal actions in relatively new fronts, Party cadres and committees correctly grasped the importance of launching the anti-feudal mass movement in the cluster level and even in the municipal and inter-municipal levels. Despite the enemy’s relentless combat operations, we have launched 18 anti-feudal struggles in 58 barrios covering 13 municipalities in three provinces. In courageously standing up against their landlords, buyers, usurers and owners of farm machinery, the peasants won increase in wages, reduced milling fees, increase in farm-gate prices and the reduction of interest rates on loans. Daily wages have been raised from P150 to P200, milling charges decreased by P.20 to P.50 per kilo and prices for abaca fiber, rice and other products have been increased. More than 3,400 families or almost 20,000 individuals benefited from these and in a way provided a small measure of relief to their poverty. On a certain level, we have carried out confiscation of land from landlords and the occupation and cultivation of abandoned or vacant lands and in various ways, we have prevented the ejection of peasants en-masse from their dwellings and the lands they till.

We have broadened our campaign in the countryside to develop a self-sufficient economy taking concrete form in the setting up of agrarian cooperation through labor-exchange teams, cooperative and communal farming, animal-raising and fish culture. We also campaigned against the spread of destructive imperialist genetically modified seeds as RR, Decalb, Sige-sige and Golden Rice as well as against the expansion of agribusiness plantations and the entry of mining companies.

Amidst the scourge of fascism, Lumad communities in one voice stood up to defend and assert their rights. They resorted to organized evacuation to make their issues heard and win powerful support to sustain their struggle until the time they can return to their homes safely. This includes lobbying support from the local government, dialogues with the LGU and the military, the exposition of the abuses committed against them in the quad-media, filing charges against the perpetrator and joining the Manilakbayan.

We have likewise broadened our campaign for the rehabilitation and defense of the environment by disseminating and studying the primer on global warming.
Nevertheless, more effort is needed in the field of propaganda and education in order to instill the campaign to our organized masses, especially those who live in forested areas and continue to make their living out of small-scale logging activities. Majority of our guerrilla platoons are now conscious in limiting the felling of trees when setting up camp. Other platoons regularly collect seeds, plant trees and bamboo and launch regular assessments of the trees planted and grown.

The revolution’s mass base has widened and deepened, now numbering in the tens of thousands. In the countryside, from the accumulated strength of peasant and Lumad organizations, local organs of political power continue to grow through the establishment of more barrio revolutionary committees and raising these to the sub-section level. We have also established revolutionary mass organizations in the municipal level through the guidance of sub-section committees of the Party. Local Party leadership in the barangay level is further expanded as people’s organizations down the purok and sitio grew tightly-knit following each successful anti-feudal struggle.

The intensification of the revolutionary movement in the countryside closely influenced the urban poor sector in the cities of the region who aspire eagerly for genuine change of their situation, especially those who fell victim to demolitions, injustices and the reactionary government’s neglect. The open mass movements in the cities of the region continue to grow and broadcast issues, condemn the rottenness of the ruling system, the brazen plunder of people’s money by those in power, incompetence to solve injustices and inability to provide the badly needed assistance to calamity victims, and the utter puppetry of the president to US imperialism while our national sovereignty has been trampled upon. In solidarity with the people in the whole country, they call for the immediate ouster of the reactionary BS-Aquino government.
These legal-democratic movements in the cities continue to serve as wellspring of activists and youth and semi-proletarian cadres who find fulfilment in serving the people by joining the armed struggle in the countryside.

In all these political victories, ideological and organizational building is essential. We have overcome the conservatism of the past years. We aptly learned to advance warfare through warfare no matter how harsh the condition has become as we strived hard to advance to the strategic stalemate. We have laboriously discarded our unnecessary baggage and generally we have steered and kept our machine running along the right track.

Party members in the localities played fully their creativity by conducting staggard sessions of the Basic Party Course – successfully completing the course right before the very noses of the enemy. Three batches of Intermediate Party Course for Party were also successfully completed. Party membership increased by 10%. Youthful cadres are trained in assuming leadership task in the different fields of Party work. We correctly practice collective leadership in Party committees and every Party member conscientiously upholds our organizational line of democratic centralism.

However, one year is only a speck in the more than four decades of our life-and-death struggle, and the efforts wielded in the past year proved insufficient to accomplish our share in completing the requisites in attaining the strategic stalemate. We have to double our effort in the coming year to keep the flame of the revolution raging and aim for more victories in order to move forward. We must persistently pursue the study of revolutionary theory; hone our study of history and the concrete situation of our respective area and assignment. We must collectively implement plans and rectify our errors and shortcoming and overcome weaknesses. We must fully discard our unnecessary baggage and dare to take on the many sacrifices as we hold on to our collective conviction that final victory and socialism belongs to the oppressed and exploited.

Long live the 46th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines!


CPP: Struggle against Aquino’s worsening policies during its last year in office

Propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 30): Struggle against Aquino’s worsening policies during its last year in office

Communist Party of the Philippines
The Aquino regime is set to become ever more corrupt and implement its worst policies ever in the coming year as it prepares to fill-up its election warchest, ensure compliance with contracts with allied big compradors and partner foreign capitalists, serve more the needs of the US military in the country and unleash desperate acts of suppression to stymie the growth of the revolutionary movement.

The ruling reactionary system seeks to draw the people early into the election carnival of 2016. However, the toiling masses of workers, peasants, semi-proletariat and low-income employees and professionals will have to be busy with waging struggles to defend and advance their welfare amid worsening socio-economic conditions.

In the face of worsening socio-economic conditions, the Filipino people must raise the level of their resistance and surpass the intensity and breadth of their struggles over the past three decades. They must be able to launch ever bigger and successive multisectoral and nationwide economic struggles, political battles and propaganda campaigns.

The Aquino regime has set the stage for a major battle over its plan to increase metrorail fares on January 4 by nearly 90% to comply with the contracts the Philippine government entered into with the Ayala and Pangilinan consortium. The planned increase in train fares is an additional burden on the workers, students and ordinary people who ride the train everyday. They must frustrate the plan of the Aquino regime to increase metrorail fares this January and oppose the contract which will allow the big comprador consortiums to annually increase metrorail fares to ensure high profits.

The struggle to oppose the metrorail fare increases is inextricably linked with the struggle to demand a substantial rollback in petroleum prices, electricity and water rates, as well as fares and fees in air, sea and longhaul land travel amid large price reduction of crude oil in the international market. In refusing to pull down prices, big comprador capitalists are raking in huge profits at the expense of the people.

Amid rising prices of goods and costs of services, it is just for the Filipino people to demand a national minimum wage of P16,000 a month. To advance and intensify this struggle, it is absolutely necessary for all sectors to unite and wage mass struggles to demand a national minimum wage increase, an end to the policy of wage regionalization and Aquino’s “two-tiered” wage system, an end to contractualization as well as other flexible employment schemes.

The Filipino people must intensify their struggle to demand the abrogation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and oppose the setting up of US military bases and facilities benignly called Agreed Locations. While their ever-reliable puppet Aquino is in power, the US would want to firm-up arrangements for the docking of US warships and stationing of US troops and war materiél in these facilities, particularly in AFP military camps in Palawan, Subic and Nueva Ecija.
The Filipino people must extend all-out support to the struggle of the family of Jennifer Laude to attain justice for her murder suspected to have been perpetrated by US serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton. They must condemn the Aquino regime for bowing to the US over the matter of custody of the suspect and raise the demand for the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which allows US authority to extend over the Philippines in violation of Philippine sovereignty.

The Filipino people must expose the Aquino regime as a national traitor for having served as a puppet of the US military. They must fire up their patriotic fervor of the current generation of youth by recalling the historic struggles for national freedom, the genocide and brutalities committed in the course of US colonialism and the heroic armed resistance of the Filipino people. The students and intellectuals must lead in the propaganda war to expose and oppose the pro-US and pro-imperialist ideas being perpetrated by the Aquino regime as justification for its neoliberal policies.

The Filipino people must raise their vigilance and resist Aquino and his henchmen’s plans for a last minute dash to push for amending the 1987 constitution. Aquino’s primary aim is to remove the provisions that protect national patrimony in order to allow foreign ownership of land, the full liberalization of foreign investments as well as the inflow and outflow of foreign capital and trade. The removal of such provisions have been demanded by the US government as condition for Philippine entry into the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. The charter change scheme also aim to remove the provision prohibiting foreign military facilties in order to completely remove legal impediments to establishing US military presence in the country.

With or without charter change, Aquino is set to allow the operations of more mining and plantation companies in exchange for payouts. The Filipino people must unite to defend the country’s patrimony and environment. They must also denounce the Aquino regime’s plan to allow foreign capital to bring in obsolete dirty coal-fired power plants under the guise of addressing supposed power shortages which favor the Cojuangcos and other allied big compradors.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel is exerting all-out effort to revive the stalled peace negotiations with the Aquino regime in order to address the roots of the civil war and forge agreements on socio-economic reforms as well as disposition of forces. The Aquino regime, however, remains adamant to undo the NDFP-GPH agreements since 1992, use peace negotiations as a pacification instrument or to inveigle the revolutionary armed forces to surrender their arms. The Filipino people must unite to push the Aquino regime to uphold and respect all past agreements and cause the release of incarcerated NDFP peace consultants.

They can draw the attention of Pope Francis to their outstanding issues on the occasion of his visit on January 2015. They must expose the brutalities of the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan, demand respect for human rights and struggle to make the Aquino regime and its officials culpable for the crimes committed by its armed forces over the past five years.

In the face of the broad range of problems and issues, the Filipino people have no other recourse but to raise their democratic mass struggles and resistance to new heights. They must strive to intensify their struggles in order to build up the strength to oust the Aquino regime.

In support of the Filipino people’s struggle against the Aquino regime, the CPP calls on the New People’s Army to continue intensifying the revolutionary armed struggle by launching bigger tactical offensives against the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and other armed organizations of the reactionary state. These tactical offensives must be carried out across the archipelago in order to further stretch the limited resources of the AFP and disable it from concentrating its forces in one region over a period of time. Through the leadership of the CPP, the revolutionary armed struggle is bound to achieve bigger victories in the next year or two.


MILF: IOM – KDFI conduct series of advocacies on understanding CAB and BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 31): IOM – KDFI conduct series of advocacies on understanding CAB and BBL

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Kalilintad Development Foundation Incorporated (KDFI) and support from OIM-partner local non-government organizations such as MOSEP-Mindanao Organization for Social-Economic Progress; Muslim Youth religious Organization, Inc. (MYROi); the Central Mindanao Integrated Livelihood Assistance and Resource Development (CEMILARDEF); and the Mindanao Tulong Bakwet, Inc. (MTB) founded by Canada conducted series of advocacies on Understanding the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The simultaneous advocacies were held in the provinces of Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao and Lanao Del Norte. Similar programs were held at Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

The advocacies in Balabagan, Lanao Del Sur, Mindanao State University-Maguindanao, Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat and at Igabai, Kapatagan, Lanao Del Norte were held on December 17, 2014. 

On December 18, 2014, the team of peace advocates held similar activities at the Municipality of Magsaysay, Lanao, Del Norte and Municipality of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.

On December 19, 2014, advocacy programs were also held at Munai, Lanao, Del Norte and Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat. On December 22, 2014, they conducted another advocacy General Salipada K. Pendatun, Maguindanao.

The indefatigable Prof. Esmael A. Abdula, Training Officer and member of the Steering Committee of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) and KDFI- Senior Program Officer and Training Consultant was the main speaker in some of these activities, while Mr. Edres S. Rasul of Iranon Province and Mr. Nasser S. Pulindao of Kutawato were the speakers in other activities.

They focused their presentations on the GPH-MIL Peace Process, the FAB and its four annexes; the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and salient provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Mr. Felix P. Bandojo, Munai’s Municipal Development Risk reduction management Officer (MPDC-MDRRMO) said that some individuals missed important things in their lives for not attending the advocacies. He expressed his gratitude for the information and knowledge that were clearly explained by the speakers during the program.

 He requested for the conduct of similar activities for further understanding of the CAB and BBL by local residents in other villages of the municipality.  

Prof. Monir Bajunaid, IOM Consultant related the background of IOM and its role in Mindanao peace building in support to the GPH-MILF Peace Process.

“Alhamdullillah” and “Shukor” to the Almighty “Allah” (SWT) for the honor and privileges of being invited here in your community as a team with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Kalilintad Development Foundation Incorporated (KDFI)”,  Salik A. Abdullah, KDFI Administrative Staff said in his closing remarks during the closing program at Munai, Lanao, Del Norte.

MILF: BLMI, Conciliation Resources hold Campaign Management Training

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 30): BLMI, Conciliation Resources hold Campaign Management Training

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in partnership with the MILF Central Committee on Information with support from Conciliation Resources held a three-day Campaign Management Training from December 26-28, 2014 at the BLMI Training Center at Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
The activity dubbed as ‘Local Campaign Managers’ (LCM) was aimed at formulating viable strategies and enhancing the participants potentials in disseminating  accurate information relative to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The 76 participants were MILF Provincial Information Committee Directors and Municipal Information Officers from the Island Provinces of Taw-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, and from Cotabato city and Zamboanga City.

Mr. Arman Armada, Secretary of MILF Information Committee presented the overview of the program followed by Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director who delivered Islamic orientations. “Cultural diversity and tribal affiliations are not hindrance for unity instead they are elements that can strengthen Islamic Brotherhood and understanding which Islam encouraged”, Director Mahmod said.

On day one, Commissioner Abdulla Camlian of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) gave a brief background of the struggle of the Moro people and cited its root cause/s and the events that followed.

BTC Chairman and MILF Peace Panel head, Mohagher Iqbal shared valuable updates concerning the BBL and the GPH-MILF Peace process. He also underlined the key factors attributed to the impoverishment and decadence in the Moro regions.

Chairman Iqbal also presented the key elements and concepts of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) and the two difficult things to handle by men, ‘self-interest and the common interest’, he stressed.

Eng. Muhajirin Ali lectured on the BBL, discussed thoroughly the BBL 18 articles and its corresponding sections.

On day two, Atty. Sheriff M. Abas lectured on election strategies, concepts and practices. He expounded on the key elements of electoral process and the machineries being employed; and cited some practices of politicians in Moro localities. 

Dr. Zul Qarnyn M. Abas lectured on campaign planning and elucidated on the essential elements of political machinery and resources. He discussed the significant principles and applications that suit to the upcoming Bangsamoro Government.

Atty. Mike Mamukit lectured on political campaign preparation by sorting out its various components. He mentioned that election is a science that involves techniques, tools and intensive research to ensure its success.

On day three, Dr. Abas expounded on the concept of polity and campaign planning and on how to implement political strategies.

In his closing message, Commissioner Al Camlian appealed to the participants to stay focused on the conduct of plebiscite and ensure that ‘Yes” vote shall win in their respective areas; work hand in hand to attain viable and positive changes in Bangsamoro.

Chairman Iqbal instilled valuable knowledge to the participants concerning the BBL. He also mentioned the reasons why BBL must be enacted and cited the impoverished condition of the Bangsamoro due to political upheaval, power and economic inequity. “The political and economic landscape in the Bangsamoro must be changed in order for the Bangsamoro to realize tangible changes when it replace the ARMM, Chairman Iqbal stressed.

The program was supported and funded by European Union (EU) through the Conciliation Resources (CR), an International Non- Government Organization that had been assisting the GPH and the MILF in peace-building in Mindanao.


MNLF group worried about 1996 truce once Bangsamoro region takes over

From the Philippine Star (Dec 30): MNLF group worried about 1996 truce once Bangsamoro region takes over

The largest faction in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Tuesday said it is worried about its Sept. 2, 1996 truce with government once the Bangsamoro government is in place.

The creation of the Bangsamoro self-governing mechanism, expected to happen in 2015 via the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), is based on the final peace compact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, dubbed March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB).

The draft BBL is now in Congress, expected to be enacted into law and ratified via a plebiscite in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory by first quarter of 2015.

Former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, chair of the most politically active MNLF faction, said while they are not opposed to the dealings of President Benigno Aquino III with the MILF, they will be badly hurt with their now 18-year peace pact with government getting overtaken and invalidated by the CAB’s implementation.

The 1996 government-MNLF truce was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including petroleum-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We also want to clarify that this MNLF group is not an enemy of the MILF. We are not at war with the MILF. We can never be at war with the MILF because we have the same peace and development objectives for the Bangsamoro people,” Sema said.

However, Sema said the national government and the MNLF, from where the MILF had splintered from in the early 1980s, should bilaterally protect the 1996 peace accord and preserve its gains.

“The area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was, in fact, expanded in 2001 in keeping with the September 2, 1996 GPH-MNLF final peace agreement,” Sema said.

The ARMM originally covered only Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The region’s coverage expanded to Basilan and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi following the amendment of its charter, the Republic Act 6734 to R.A. 9054, via a referendum in 2001.

“One of the tangible results of our peace agreement with the national government is the restoration of normalcy in areas where our forces thrive and the integration of thousands of MNLF fighters into the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police,” Sema said.

The more than 6,000 MNLF members taken in by the Philippine Army have turned in their firearms too as a requisite to their enlistment into the military service.

At least 2,500 combatants of the MNLF have also been absorbed by the PNP and are now assigned in different parts of the country.

Sema said they look up to the impending replacement of ARMM with a new Bangsamoro political entity with “deep sadness” and heavy feeling of despondency.

The passage of the draft BBL will, as a legal consequence, deactivate the ARMM to pave the way for the setting up of an MILF-led Bangsamoro government.

It’s very saddening because the ARMM’s creation was paid in blood, sweat and tears of the Moro guerillas that fought for Moro land and people during the 1970s until the forging of the GPH-MNLF peace agreement in 1996,” Sema said.

Unlike the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari, Sema’s group, which has more than a dozen “revolutionary states” scattered across Mindanao, is not hostile to the MILF.
Misuari has accused President Aquino of abrogating the GPH-MNLF peace agreement by forging the CAB with the MILF.

Misuari is now wanted for allegedly instigating the deadly September 2013 siege in Zamboanga City in protest of Malacañang’s peace initiatives with the MILF.


Abu Sayyaf strengthens in 2014

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Abu Sayyaf strengthens in 2014

The strength of the Abu Sayyaf rose in 2014 despite previous military claims that the capability and membership of the local terrorist group have been significantly reduced.

Military data released on Tuesday showed that the number of Abu Sayyaf members stood at 423, higher than the figures reported since 2009.

According to previous military statements, the strength of the Abu Sayyaf stood at 390 in 2009 and 340 in 2010. The group’s membership was pegged at 381 in 2011 and at 398 in 2012.

In 2013, security officials reported that the Abu Sayyaf’s strength stood at around 385.

In an interview with reporters last month, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. admitted that the number of people aligned with the bandit group remained at around 400. He said majority of the militants are operating in Sulu.

The military, nevertheless, claimed that the Abu Sayyaf is weaker now compared to more than a decade ago.

“Their (Abu Sayyaf) manpower continued to dwindle from their original number in 2000 at 1,270 to 423 in 2014,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Cabunoc said the combat operations against the Abu Sayyaf resulted in the death and capture of a total of 69 bandits in the first nine months of 2014. A total of 36 firearms were recovered from the terrorist group during the period.

The number of violent incidents involving the bandits totaled 72 this year.

“However, their kidnapping activities remain a major concern,” Cabunoc said.

Three foreigners kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf were released this year namely German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrite Dielen and Swiss wildlife photographer Lorenzo Vinciguerra.

Officials claimed the release of the kidnap victims were due to the military’s operations but rumors that ransom were paid to secure their release persist.


Palace: No conditions

From the Manila Standard Today (Dec 30): Palace: No conditions

Pending cases prevent release of arrested Reds’
Wilma and Benito Tiamzon
THE Palace said Monday it will not accept any conditions for the resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels.

“We have always said there will be no preconditions when it comes to talks with either party,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, referring to the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Muslim insurgents. “This is something we have said time and again.”

Lacierda was responding to a question on whether the government would consider the request from Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), to release Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, top leaders of the rebel movement, before peace talks resume.

Lacierda said there was a pending criminal case against Benito Tiamzon and his release is out of the question.

Tiamzon, chairman of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), and his wife Wilma, the secretary-general of the group, were arrested in Carcar, Cebu on March 22.

Malacañang said at the time that they not covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee, signed with the CPP-NDF in 1995.

Sison on Monday said the CCP-NDF is seeking the release of 14 consultants and 500 political prisoners under an existing human rights agreement between the rebel group and the government.

In an interview, Sison said this was conveyed by NDF negotiating panel spokesman Fidel Agcaoili to former Agrarian Reform secretary Hernani Braganza, one of the “friends of the peace process” doing backchannel work, during the 46th anniversary rites of the CPP in Surigao del Sur last week.

“They (Agcaoili and Braganza) talked about how to iron out some kinks before the formal talks of the two panels next month,” he said.

“We need one more informal [meeting] between the special representatives of the government and the NDF to firm up the agenda and clarify when and how to free the 14 NDF consultants under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantes and the first batch of the 500 political prisoners to be released under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Sison added.

He said, however, that the releases were not a condition to resume peace talks, which have been stalled for three years.

The 14 consultants include the Tiamzons. While Sison did not identify the other consultants, other high-ranking communist leaders who are still detained are Tirso Alcantara, Alan Jazmines, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Paterno Opo, Dario Tomada, and Marilyn Badayos-Condes.

In a separate interview, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said if the peace talks are going well, “many things can happen.”

“There being no preconditions, releases will be appropriately talked about as necessitated by developments on the peace table,” Deles said.

But Deles said she is not aware of any list of 500 political prisoners who need to be freed under the human rights accord.

A source privy to past negotiations between the government and the CPP-NDF, however, said the list of political prisoners needs to be examined closely as some of the names included were members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“We have to define what political prisoners mean because the government has been denying and will continue to deny that there are political prisoners,” the source said.
Lacierda said the agenda of the formal talks, once it is scheduled, must be doable and time-bound, and talks on the release of NDF consultants can come later.

“Let’s see first if we can resume the talks and then let’s make sure the talks are doable and time-bound before we discuss anything else,” Lacierda said.

Sison said the Tiamzon couple —tagged as the head of the NPA —are needed for talks on a truce and cooperation agreement with the government.

In an earlier interview, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla insisted that the Tiamzons, arrested for pending frustrated murder and murder cases, are not covered by the immunity agreement.

“To sustain their claim is ridiculous because that would mean they can wage war and violence and when caught, can claim Jasig protection and expect to be released,” he added.

But NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni insisted that the couple are “NDF consultants who have fulfilled and are fulfilling highly significant tasks in the peace negotiations between the government and the NDF.”

“Wilma Austria is holder of NDF Document of Identification ND978226 under her real name. Benito Tiamzon is likewise the holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND 978227 under the assumed name Crising Banaag,” Jalandoni said.

Padilla disputed Jalandoni’s claim.

“The CPP-NPA is well aware of the effects of the failed verification. But they only have themselves to blame for rendering the JASIG inoperative for most of their alleged consultants. If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the JASIG,” Padilla said.

“Wilma Austria, on the other hand, jumped bail when she escaped from detention on Dec. 26, 1989, when there were no peace talks, and six years before the JASIG came into effect. This makes her ineligible for JASIG protection, even assuming she was identified in the JASIG list by her real name,” Padilla added.

Despite the talk of peace, the military said Monday three soldiers were shot point blank by a group of eight NPA rebels, who stopped them at gunpoint along the national highway in Sitio Barigyan, Barangay Candinuiyan, Mabini, Compostela Valley.

First Lt. Vergel Lacambra, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said the soldiers were unarmed and in civilian clothes when they were waylaid at about 9:45 a.m.

“We strongly condemn this]treacherous attack by NPA bandits. Our soldiers were on their way from Barangay Anitapan for Christmas break when they were mercilessly waylaid and shot point blank by the rebels,” Lacambra said.

He did not name the victims as their families had not yet been notified.

“The soldiers also bore multiple gunshot wounds and were all already dead when found by responding troops,” Lacambra said.

Earlier, both the military and the NPA had declared a ceasefire for the Christmas season.


Three Marine brigades to be equipped with force protection

From Ang Malaya (Dec 29): Three Marine brigades to be equipped with force protection

Three Marine brigades will be equipped with Force Protection Equipment in 2015. According to Philippine Navy the acquisition project is currently in the opening of Letter of Credit phase.

“The force protection equipment for the Marines is to protect them from injuries caused by projectiles and shrapnel with minimal restriction to their movement,” Navy Vice-Commander Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad said as quoted by the government-run news agency.

It has been announced earlier that a joint venture between Israeli Achidatex Nazareth Elite and local firm Colorado Shipyard Corp. won the bidding for 44,080 sets of force protection equipment initiated by Department of National Defense.

Acquired protection equipment will be distributed to Philippine Marine Corp and Philippine Army front-liners.


4ID welcomes two comrades in arms

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 27): 4ID welcomes two comrades in arms

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro – Army’s Fourth Infantry Division welcomed anew its two comrades in arms.

Governor Yevgeny Vincente B. Emano, provincial governor of Misamis Oriental through his provincial administrator Jun Pacamalan formally turned-over the two soldiers to Lt. Col. Lennon G Babilonia, commanding officer, 8th Infantry Battalion at the Bishop’s residence, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City on December 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Private First Class Mamel T Cinches and Jerrel H Yorong (unarmed and wearing civilian clothes) were kidnapped by four fully armed New People’s Army NPA members of SECOM-89 while they were conducting Bayanihan Activities for Peace and Development, a program that will bring the government services closer to the people, at barangay Bontongon, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon last August 22, 2014.

A medical check-up was followed by the station doctor afterwhich the soldiers rode the military ambulance and headed to 4ID headquarters in Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro city with their families. They will be given further medical attention in the military hospital to ensure their fast health recovery.  

Col Jesse Alvarez, commanding officer, 403rd Infantry Brigade, said they are grateful to the almighty that the two gallant soldiers have been released and are now back in our organization; and that they would also like to thank for their families to the fortitude they have showed while their loved ones were still in captivity.

The soldiers will have a thorough medical check-up and will be given the needed care in order to bring back their normal state of health, he added.

MGen Oscar T Lactao, 4ID commander said they would like to thank all the stakeholders who have been involved in the negotiation that led to the release of the soldiers.

The Bayanihan spirit still lives in each and every Filipino. With the concerted efforts of the church, the local government units (LGU’s), families and the whole community, we have been successful in the peaceful return of the soldiers, MGen Lactao said.

He added that they also encourage the NPA’s to be part of the Bayanihan spirit and together we will end this senseless armed struggle and help in the eradication of poverty in our country.


1CMO recognizes role of stakeholders in promoting peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 29): 1CMO recognizes role of stakeholders in promoting peace

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur – The 1st Civil Military Operations (1CMO) “Mahigalaon” battalion, Philippine Army has underscored the vital role of stakeholders in achieving its mission to promote peace in Zamboanga Peninsula.

In his message delivered during a Christmas party held at the battalion headquarters here recently, Lt. Col. Aude Mangao, 1CMO battalion commander, invited various stakeholders such as the local government units, media, civil society and people’s organizations to help in accomplishing ICMO’s mission by actively supporting the programs and activities pursued by the battalion.

Mangao greatly valued the role of stakeholders in the successful implementation of Philippine Army’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) ‘Bayanihan” campaign saying that “without their active support and help, the campaign would not be successful.”

The 1CMO personnel also conducted in said gathering an audio-visual presentation on the Tabak troopers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes as civic or Bayanihan operators, the Tabak nowadays, Army Transformation Roadmap and IPSP Bayanihan.

Mangao said he considered this year’s celebration a unique one for the following reasons: first, the “Mahigalaon” troopers, which are composed of almost 70 percent Muslims, have decided to celebrate Christmas, second, the activity highlights the empowerment of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) who planned and prepared for the activity, and, third, the “Mahigalaon” troopers have showcased their singing and dance talents to the delight of the stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Col. Loreto Magundayao who represented Tabak Commander BGen. Gerardo Barrientos congratulated Mangao for actively performing his role as 1CMO battalion commander though he was just barely one month in office.

Sumptuous “Halal” foods were served during the party.

This year’s Christmas celebration carries the theme,  “Thanksgiving for Stakeholders and Tabak Troopers United Towards Peaceful, Progressive and Prosperous ZamPeLan (Zamboanga Peninsula and Basilan) provinces.”


No precondition for resumption of peace talks with communist rebels, says Palace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 30): No precondition for resumption of peace talks with communist rebels, says Palace

The Palace on Monday reiterated that the government will not consider any precondition for the resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“Our emphasis is always -- walang preconditions when it comes to talks. We have said that before. We have always said that when we come to talks with either party -- NDF or MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) -- there are no preconditions with the talks. This is something we have said time and time again,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Secretary Lacierda was responding to a question on whether the government would consider CPP founder Jose Maria Sison’s request to release Benito and Wilma Tiamzon before the peace talks resume.

He explained that there is a pending criminal case against Benito Tiamzon and his release is out of the question.

Benito Tiamzon is one of the top leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF, while his spouse, Wilma, is the group’s Secretary General.

Both were arrested in Carcar, Cebu last March 22.Malacañang said at that time that their arrest was not covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee, signed with the CPP-NDF in 1995.

“Now, there is a possibility of a resumption of talks. What (Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) Secretary Ging Deles has always emphasized is, ‘Let’s have a resumption of talks where it is doable and time-bound; and there are certain issues that we need to clarify further,’” Lacierda said.


3 ex-rebels in Sorsogon get Php65,000 worth of assistance

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): 3 ex-rebels in Sorsogon get Php65,000 worth of assistance

With the year now drawing to a close, three former New People's Army (NPA) fighters, wanting to live in peace with their loved ones, were given Php65,000 each worth of livelihood assistance by the government's Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) Monday.

1st Lt. Clint Antipala, 903rd Infantry Brigade spokesperson, said the ex-rebels formerly operated in Sorsogon and were among the many NPAs who surrendered to authorities in 2013.

He added that each of the three were given Php15,000 in cash and Php50,000 worth of livelihood assistance package for a total of Php65,000.

This is the first ever CLIP awarding for the 903rd Infantry Brigade, Antipala added.

The CLIP is a product of a Joint Memorandum Circular made by the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) where former rebels are the beneficiaries.

The program was created purposely to encourage former rebels to return to the mainstream society and become more productive citizens.

“With this first CLIP financial assistance for the former rebels in Sorsogon, it is evident that the government is serious in the implementation of the program. We hope that this will encourage and inspire communist insurgents to lay down their arms and leave the armed struggle for this is best way for them to return to the mainstream of society and live normal life," said 903rd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Cesar Idio.


Rebel attacks against 3 unarmed soldiers highlights disrespect for Yuletide Season, human life

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Rebel attacks against 3 unarmed soldiers highlights disrespect for Yuletide Season, human life
The rebel attack and subsequent killing of three unarmed government troopers at Sitio Candinuyan, Mabini town, Compostela Valley Monday afternoon only highlight the New People's Army (NPA) blatant disregard for ongoing Yuletide Season and human life.

Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said this in a statement.

"Our SOMO (suspension of military operation) was reciprocated by NPAs with violence. Their piece meal ceasefire is a smoke screen of their true intention and a blatant disregard of the communities' aspiration for a peaceful celebration of the holidays," Baladad said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been observing the month-long suspension of military operations since midnight Dec. 19 and has consequently shifted to community services until the end of the truce midnight Jan. 19, 2015.

While the NPAs declared a much shorter truce on Dec. 24, 25 and 26.

The attack against the three unarmed government troopers took place 9:45 a.m.

The fatalities were identified as 1st Lt. Ronald C. Bautista and Pfc. Albert M. Amor, both members of the 71st Infantry Battalion and militiaman, Renel G. Baluca.

The three were headed home to their families aboard a motorcycle when waylaid and shot at the head at point blank by eight NPA bandits.

Baladad said the NPAs stripped the victims of their clothes and belongings, including their motorcycle, and fled to unknown direction.

"We sympathize with the bereaved families of our slain personnel. It is so sad to note that they were killed while on their way to their waiting families who missed them during Christmas as they were tasked to ensure a peaceful yuletide celebration in Candinuyan. We will exert all efforts to bring to justice those responsible for this merciless and cowardly crime," Baladad said.


Army division prepares for landslides, floods as 'Seniang' enters Mindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Army division prepares for landslides, floods as 'Seniang' enters Mindanao
All Army units under the 6th Infantry Division have been placed on alert since Monday to respond to emergencies after Typhoon "Seniang" made land fall.

While the area of responsibility of the 6th Infantry “Kampilan” Division is not within the direct path of "Seniang", most of provinces still experience light to moderate rain since Sunday morning.

Captain Joanne Petinglay, chief of the 6th ID public affairs office, said all division rescue units are on standby for quick response.

Maguindanao, Cotabato City and North Cotabato are perennial flood area even if a typhoon is only hitting nearby provinces.

Maguindanao and its neighboring areas served as catch basin of flood waters from mountains of South Cotabato, Davao Occidental, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur with water flowing toward the 220,000 hectare Maguindanao marshland.

Petinglay said the 6th ID Rescue Task Group has been formed to quickly respond to emergencies and calamities since fighting and conflict in its area of responsibility had been reduced due to a ceasefire between soldiers and Moro rebels.

The Division Rescue Task Group is composed of all units of the 6th ID, including Army Special Forces, Army Engineers, Philippine Air Force and government agencies.

The Humanitarian Emergency Response Action Team of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM-HEART) was also placed on alert, ready to respond to calamities.

Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi are among the areas where tropical storm "Seniang" hit since Monday.

ARMM-HEART is now preparing food aid for families expected to be affected by the typhoon, according to ARMM-HEART officials.

The provincial disaster risk reduction and management offices in the region were also alerted.


3 arrested in bomb explosion in Zamboanga City

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): 3 arrested in bomb explosion in Zamboanga City

Operatives of the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) have arrested three people implicated in a bomb explosion late Monday in this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, ZCPO director, said in an interview Tuesday that the suspects were arrested in follow-up operations launched after an improvised bomb exploded at a massage parlor downtown.

Casimiro said no one was either injured or wounded when a bomb exploded around 8:50 p.m. Monday at the Princess massage parlor and videoke bar along Tomas Claudio Street downtown.

Chief Insp. Edilberto Alvarez, Police Station 11 deputy chief, identified the arrested suspects as Marcel Jumadil, Jumadan Dassan, 40, and Alshirif Sabdani, 41.

Alvarez said the suspects were arrested one after the other in follow-up operations they launched after the incident.

Casimiro said the suspects were positively identified by witnesses.

“We cannot still determine the affiliation of the group,” he added when asked if the suspects are members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Casimiro said the post-blast investigators have yet to determine the type of improvised bomb that exploded at the Princess massage parlor and videoke bar.

He said they have yet to establish the motive of the incident.

The Princess massage parlor and videoke bar is just beside the Deluxe massage parlor and videoke bar were two improvised bombs exploded one after the other last November 9.

A member of the ZCPO’s explosive ordnance demolition (EOD) and the K9 dog named “Diego” were wounded in the November 9 incident.


Malaysian delegates offer to help envisioned Bangsamoro gov't succeed

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 30): Malaysian delegates offer to help envisioned Bangsamoro gov't succeed

Optimism remained high about the envisioned Bangsamoro government after delegates from the Malaysian government expressed commitment and support to Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) for the implementation of the quick gains projects articulated in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP).

The envisioned Bangsamoro government is the final result of the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with the full backing of international communities.

Engr. Windel Diangcalan, BDA program division head, said the Malaysian delegates visited the BDA Central Management Office in Cotabato City Monday and met with BDA executive director Mohamad S. Yacob to express its support to the envisioned new political entity.

In the meeting, Diangcalan presented the BDP highlights, explaining that the formulation of the comprehensive BDP started way back in 2002 during the establishment of BDA, attempted in 2005 and produced Joint Needs Assessment with the World Bank and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

It attempted again on 2007 and came up a socio-economic development plan with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Diangcalan said only this time that the same will be realized through the backing of national government and various development partners.

Since then, the BDA buckled down to work in response to the clamor from the Bangsamoro people.

“The delivery of basic services and projects that will address the sources of dissatisfaction in the Bangsamoro communities are happening now,” he said.

Diangcalan said the Malaysian delegates were optimistic in extending its assistance to the BDA for the attainment of just, honorable, lasting peace and sustainable development in the Bangsamoro.

The delegation was led by Datuk Hasanah Abd Hamid, Director General of Prime Minister Department in Malaysia.

Executive director Yacob was overwhelmed for the genuine effort and commitment offered by the delegates, saying the Mindanao peace process have gone a long way.

He said the Bangsamoro leaders will never fail the confidence extended by the international community.