Monday, January 5, 2015

AFP to deploy 7,000 soldiers for Pope Francis visit

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 6); AFP to deploy 7,000 soldiers for Pope Francis visit

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy about 7,000 soldiers for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.

“There will be about 6 to 7,000 soldiers. We are also mobilizing about 5,000 reservists,” AFP chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. told reporters on Tuesday at Camp Aguinaldo.

Air cover and sniper teams will also be posted along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

“Air cover means security air patrols to ensure that all the routes that will be undertaken or will be availed by the pope will be secured,” said Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado.

“Most likely we’ll limit the air space for air cover,” he said.

Catapang said the preparations for the pope’s visit was a “challenge.”

“It is a security challenge in a way, but we can handle it. We will just make do of available forces, we’ll join forces with the [Philippine National Police]. The PNP is the biggest contingent,” Catapang said.

There have been no security threats on the pope’s visit except for the crowd surge, the AFP chief noted.

“Our greatest worry is the surge of people,” he said.

“This year will be the greatest security challenge that we can have. We have the pope visit. The upcoming Apec (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) is also a challenge because we will see about state visitors or head of states coming in,” Catapang said.

Search for the 2015 outstanding Philippine soldiers begins

From Rappler (Jan 6): Search for the 2015 outstanding Philippine soldiers begins

Do you know who any outstanding soldier?

The Metrobank Foundation Search for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) is a nationwide search that honors the career achievements of soldiers.

The search includes those in the Commissioned Officers and Enlisted Personnel from the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Air Force, and Technical and Administrative Service (Medical Corps, Nurse Corps, Dental Service, Veterinary Corps, Judge Advocate General Service, Corps of Professors, Medical Administrative Corps, Chaplain Service) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The search is open to all Commissioned Officers with the rank of Captain up to Colonel and Enlisted Personnel who have been active in the service for at least 7 years.

Each awardee will receive P400,000.00 cash prize, TOPS Trophy, Metrobank Foundation Medallion, and a Command Plaque from their respective Major Branch of Service. Nomination Forms are available in all Metrobank branches nationwide, or download them online.

Peace milestones seen

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jan 6): Peace milestones seen

Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles expressed hope and faith in achieving more milestones in the peace process in 2015.
In a statement issued by OPAPP, Deles was quoted as saying that the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa- Pilipinas- Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, a splinter group of the New People’s Army, is set to sign a closure agreement with the government, and, through the party-list Abang Lingkod, has chosen to take the road to peace by pursuing political and social change without the use of arms.
The RPM-RPA-ABB Tabara-Paduano Group is now known as Kapatiran, which is a requirement to transform itself into a legitimate socio economic organization.
“This 2015 will not be an easy year. But definitely like 2014, it can be full of rewards. It can be full of high points and milestones." Deles said in the statement.
She expressed hopefulness for positive strides in all the peace tables handled by OPAPP, including the resumption of peace talks of the government with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front.
“Of course, we would like that we are able to move this (peace table with the CPP/NPA/NDF) substantially (before the end of the PNoy administration); that this internal armed conflict (reach the possibility of a political settlement),” Deles said.
“We don’t want (the) problem of internal armed conflict to remain a major thing that has to be managed or resolved by the next administration,” she said.

20 suspected BIFF members injured in Maguindanao clash –military

From GMA News (Jan 6): 20 suspected BIFF members injured in Maguindanao clash –military

Some 20 suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were hurt as government troops overran its camp in Maguindanao on Monday, a military official said Tuesday.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, public affairs office chief of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said concerned citizens reported that they saw around 20 people, believed to be BIFF members, being carried by their retreating companions.

None from the government side was reported injured.

In a press statement, Petinglay said the government soldiers were able to capture on Monday morning the headquarters of the 2nd Division of the BIFF at Sitio Pedtad, Brgy Midpandacan, General Salipada K. Pendatun after hours of firefight.

She said they found within the camp about 50 huts with barricades, running trenches, and concrete post with overhead bunkers.

They also recovered improvised explosion device-making sketches and components believed to be used for IED making.

“It is believed that the incident is a big blow on the part of the terror group as the camp they lost is considered one of their main encampments where they conduct military and possibly IED-making training,” Petinglay said.

She added government soldiers are now occupying the BIFF camp and will be conducting pursuit operation against the group in the coming days.

BIFM-RIB: News (Jan 05)

Posted to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement-Research & Information Bureau Website (Jan 5): News (Jan 05)

BIFF - Making these are series of activities undertaken by the Islamic Workers manifesting their honorable goal to regain their Usurped Ancestral Homeland from the hands of the neocolonial government of the Philippines.

         January 02, 2015, Barangay Pagangan, Aleosan, North Cotabato was hit with one head dead on the spot, an element of the Philippine Army.

         January 03, 2015, Barangay Silik, Midsayap, North Cotabato also hit by the same group, leaving two army personnel instantly killed with two paramilitary personnel or CAFGU members.

         Also on January 03, 2015, Barangay Sumilalaw, S.K. Pendatun, Maguindanao and Barangay Kulasi, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, both received for the New Year of 2015.

                    a- Barangay Sumilalaw- Army checkpoint washed-out.
                    b- Barangay Kulasi with 5 Casualties on enemy side.

         January 05, 2015- Shelling started at about 7:00 am., Stopped at about 8:00 am. With 62 rounds of 105mm. ALHAMDULILLAH, none of the Mujahideen hit by these mortal shelling of the AFP. Reliable sources revealed that there were at least 6 Army personnel instantly killed out of the about an hour fire fight at Barangay Mibpandakan, S.K. Pindatun, Maguindanao.

         Lastly as BIFM New Year’s resolution for (1436) 2015, we inform the public specially the armed forces of the Philippines, appropriately named as a occupation forces of the neocolonial government of Manila that if the harassment made by the BIFF the AFP detachments falls within the level of terroristic act, we also declared that.

         If Major Gen. Pangilan of 6th ID qualified as terroristic act the BIFF harassment to his occupation forces at the different military detachments, the BIFM leadership also declared as its New Year’s resolution for (1436) 2015 that the Usurpation of the two Moro sultanate territories of Maguindanao and Sulu Archipelago these illegally and unjustly annexed to the republic of the Philippines (by virtue of the infamous, the Treaty of Paris signed by Spain or America on December 10, 1898 is the WORST FORM OF TERRORISM.

CPP/NPA: Guerrilla war of the masses intensify amid AFP clearing operations for large-scale mining in Mabini

NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jan 4): Guerrilla war of the masses intensify amid AFP clearing operations for large-scale mining in Mabini

Daniel Ibarra
NPA ComVal-Davao Gulf Sub-region Sub-regional Command
A unit of the people’s militia ambushed the troops led by 1st Lt. Ronald Bautista who headed some 80 soldiers belonging to the 71st Infantry Battalion of the AFP in sitio Barigyan, Brgy. Candinuyan, Mabini, Comval at 10 am last December 29, 2014.

The militia attack was part of the guerrilla war of the masses campaign to foil the sinister plan of the 71st IB-10th Infantry Division to impose “no man’s land” in Mabini, Compostela Valley, specifically in the villages of Darot, Linaw, Mascareg, Palali, Manasa, Anitapan, Panamin and Candinuyan.

Under the deceptive cover of a GPH (Government of the Philippines) month-long ceasefire, the ongoing deployment, combat manoeuvre, build-up and continuing Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) operations of the 71st IB-10th ID are actually clearing operations to pave the way for the destructive large-scale mining operations of Australian owned One Asia Resources in Mabini.

Contrary to the lies and deceit of 10th ID chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Bautista and two other soldiers killed in the December 29 ambush were not preparing for holiday break but were geared towards full combat operations in Palali, Mascareg and Linaw and Darot.

Bautista was not returning home to reunite with his family during the Christmas truce in Bohol, as claimed by the military spin doctors, but like his men, was armed with handgun and grenade when he was ambushed by the people’s militia.

Bautista and his troops manned a military detachment in Barangay Anitapan, Mabini to conduct combat operations and witch-hunting of peasant leaders in Palali, Panamin and Mascareg even during the period of GPH truce declaration and Christmas holidays.

The December 29 ambush was clearly not in violation of any truce but a form of revolutionary justice to frustrate the PDOP and human rights abuses of a fascist Army unit which was also responsible for the cold-blooded murder of child peasant Roque Antivo in 2013. It was a legitimate politico-military action by the masses that have long suffered and bore the brunt of fascism and economic dislocation as a result of foreign large-scale mining.

The units of the NPA and people’s militia vow to conduct more attritive and annihilative actions against the fascist troops that have become private armies of foreign and large-scale mining not only to defend the territories of the People’s Democratic Government but also to protect the livelihood of the people and the environment. The people also effectively expose and oppose the systematic psywar and intelligence operations of the deceptive PDOP within civilian communities and infrastructures.

One Asia Resources is one of the big foreign mining corporations that are financially backing up the 71st IB’s triad operations of noncombat, intel and combat activities in order to suppress the people’s resistance to large-scale mining and human rights abuses. One Asia Resources is hell-bent in pushing through with its exploration and exploitation in the area this year.

The fascist mercenaries are conducting vilification campaigns against community leaders that are leading the communities’ fight against foreign mining and military aggressions and for uplifting their livelihood such as raising farm production and farm gate prices of agricultural products.

Indeed, peace process presidential adviser Teresita Deles is standing on feeble ground when she qualified the December 29 ambush as a breach of the GPH’s unilateral truce. She peddled such a falsehood to discredit the revolutionary movement in an attempt to scuttle the resumption of the GPH-NDF peace negotiations and further muddle the substantive issues that should be resolved in the peace talks.

Insurgency curbed in Capiz – Army

From the Manila Bulletin (Jan 5): Insurgency curbed in Capiz – Army

Capiz—Communist insurgency has been curbed in Capiz province, declared the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and the Police Regional Office in Western Visayas (PRO-6), which similarly stated that the province is now “peaceful and ready for further development.”

The PA’s 3ID Commander, Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero; PRO-6 Director, Police Chief Superintendent Josephus Angan; and Capiz Governor Victor Tanco Sr. signed a joint declaration based on such declaration in a recent ceremony in Capiz provincial capital, Roxas City.

“Capiz can now move forward towards faster development. Our gains in peace efforts must be sustained by working closer together with stakeholders in pursuing our goal for this province to become insurgency-free,” said Guerrero,

The joint declaration means efforts of the army, the police, the provincial government, and other stakeholders have been able to clamp down effectively on activities of the New People’s Army (NPA) in this province in northern Panay Island.

For years, the NPA have sowed terror in Capiz, particularly in the mountainous villages of Tapaz town.

“We will continue with our Bayanihan Team Activities (BTAs) in the hinterland villages of Capiz together with our partners,” said Colonel Eric Uchida, Commander of the PA’s 301st Infantry Brigade (301 IB), which oversees the entire Panay Island.

Roxas City was also declared as a “peaceful and ready for further development city.”

Gov't troops capture another BIFF camp

From the Philippine Star (Jan 6): Gov't troops capture another BIFF camp

MAGUINDANAO - Soldiers on Monday hoisted the Philippine flag on another stronghold of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following ground and artillery attacks.

The fallen BIFF camp at Sitio Pedtad, a secluded area in Barangay Midpantakan in northeast of Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun town, was raided by soldiers led by Lt. Col. Markton Abo following Saturday’s attacks by bandits on peasant enclaves at the municipality’s border with President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.

The contingent that overran the BIFF lair raised the national flag at its center on Monday afternoon, in the presence of Abo, who is commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, and other officers of the unit.

Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade, which has jurisdiction over several towns in the second district of Maguindanao, Tacurong City and Sultan Kudarat, said not a single soldier was hurt in the takeover of the BIFF camp.

Feliciano said the operation was closely coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Villagers, some of them relatives of local MILF commanders, have confirmed that the BIFF lost three men in Monday's Army counter-offensive.

The sources said four other bandits were also wounded when an 81-millimeter mortar projectile, fired by advancing soldiers, landed near them.

The BIFF, which is led by radical clerics who studied Islamic theology in secular schools in the Middle East and North Africa, does not recognize the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF.

Feliciano, who supervised the latest operation against the BIFF, said he had tasked a company of soldiers to help Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu attend to the needs of villagers affected by the BIFF’s harassment of military positions in Gen. S.K. Pendatun last weekend.

Lynette Estandarte, who is Mangudadatu’s chief budget management staff, said the governor convened the mayors of Gen. S.K. Pendatun and surrounding towns immediately after the incident to plan out contingencies needed to alleviate the plight of internally displaced people.

“The provincial government will extend relief and rehabilitation services to these people,” Estandarte said.

Farmers tilling lands around the former BIFF bastion in Gen. S.K. Pendatun have complained of excessive mulcting of “revolutionary tax” by bandits.

The group had also enforced a ruthless justice system in total disregard of the presence of barangay governments implementing domestic pacification programs under the “Katarungang Pambarangay,” as provided for by the Local Government Code.

The BIFF camp in Gen. S.K. Pendatun fell about eleven months after combatants of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the 1st Mechanized Brigade cleared from the group’s control a bigger and well-fortified guerrilla stronghold in Ganta District at the border of Maguindanao’s adjoining Datu Piang and Sharif Saidona towns.

Military attacks BIFF lairs

From the Philippine Star (Jan 6): Military attacks BIFF lairs

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Philippines –The military on Sunday fired cannons on the suspected lairs of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) at the border of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

Members of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Markton Abo, also launched a ground offensive against the BIFF in retaliation for the bandit group’s attacks on military detachments in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat and in Gen. S.K. Pendatun, Maguindanao last Wednesday.

A soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the BIFF attack.

BIFF bandits reportedly frequented agricultural settlements along the Liguasan Delta to collect “zakat” (alms) to sustain their need for food and ammunition.

Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said their actions against the BIFF were coordinated with the joint ceasefire committee of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Abo, in a report to Pangilinan yesterday, said intelligence operatives have uncovered a plot by the BIFF to launch more attacks to intimidate villagers.

MNLF leader laments entity

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 6): MNLF leader laments entity

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao—The leader of a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)  said on Monday he was badly hurt by the creation of a Bangsamoro political entity, which has invalidated their 18-year-old peace pact with the government.

Former city mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the MNLF group in central Mindanao, said they were not opposed to President Aquino dealing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke away from the MNLF, but Aquino failed to acknowledge the gains of the peace pact.

“We view with deep sadness and heavy feeling of despondency the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the new Bangsamoro political entity,” Sema said.

“It is lamentable because the ARMM’s creation was paid in blood, sweat and tears of the Moro guerrillas, who fought for Moro people,” he said.

The 1996 agreement between the MNLF was brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a block of more than 50 Muslim countries, including the petroleum exporting nations in Middle East and North Africa.

The agreement brought peace in Mindanao as 6,000 MNLF guerrillas were integrated into armed forces and 3,000 to the Philippine National Police.

Sema said that unlike the MNLF faction led by Nur Misuari in Sulu, his group was not hostile to the MILF. “We are not at war with the MILF because we have the same peace and development objectives for the Bangsamoro people,” Sema said.

Palace to Reds: Prove your sincerity

From ABS-CBN (Jan 5): Palace to Reds: Prove your sincerity

Malacanang said it is up to the Communist Party of the Philippines to prove that it is sincere in conducting peace talks with the government following attacks of the New People's Army amid a ceasefire.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the attacks were unjustified.

"If your spirit is to negotiate, if your spirit is to start the peace process, then it behooves you to make sure that the people on the ground are also earnestly seeking the restarting or the resumption of the peace talks," Lacierda said.

Despite the holiday ceasefire declared by the military, three soldiers were ambushed by suspected NPA rebels in Compostela Valley on last December 29.

First Lieutenant Vergel Lacambra, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division, said the soldiers -- one lieutenant, one private first class, one Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member -- were all unarmed when about 8 suspected NPA rebels shot them dead.

He said the victims were riding a motorcycle in the town of Mabini when they were shot by the suspects.

The soldiers were all shot in the head by the suspects after they fell from the motorcycle because of the initial shots.

The incident happened while the military's ceasefire or SOMO (Suspension of Offensive Military Operations) was in effect.

The SOMO runs from midnight of December 18, 2014 to midnight of January 19, 2015.

Meanwhile, the staggered ceasefire declared by the NPA runs from December 24-26, 2014 and December 31, 2014 to January 1, 15-19, 2015.

Photo: US target drone found in Quezon islet

From the Journal Online (Jan 5): Photo: US target drone found in Quezon islet

US target drone found in Quezon islet

PATNANUNGAN, Quezon — A remote-controlled aerial target drone believed to be owned by the United States Navy was found floating near the shoreline of an islet in this island town.
The discovery of BQM-74E (orange color with serial numbers BQ55079) at Sitio Katakian, Bgy. Busdak, was reported to the local police last Friday but was retrieved by the authorities only last Sunday due to bad weather.
“Masama po ang kondisyon ng panahon at malalaki ang alon sa dagat kaya hindi agad napuntahan ng aking mga pulis iyong islet,” town police commander Insp. Rolando de Luna said.

The aerial target drone was discovered by fishermen at an islet in northern Quezon facing the Pacific Ocean.
He said the discovery of the target drone caused  fear  among  the village folk, suspecting it was a kind of bomb or warhead delivered by a missile or torpedo.
“Natakot po ang mga tao roon sa islet nang makita iyong drone dahil sa pag-aakalang isang uri iyon ng bomba,” de Luna told this writer.
He said that the target drone has some oysters growing around it, an indication that it has been floating off the sea for more than a month.
The police chief said the target drone is now being kept at the police station.

Quezon police director Sr. Supt. Ronaldo Ylagan said he has no idea where the target drone came from, but said they will be coordinating with concerned agencies.
BQM-74E is used primarily by the US Navy as an aerial target capable of simulating enemy threats. It is also used in missile training exercises.
On January 6, 2013, a group of fishermen recovered a target drone of the same kind floating off Masbate waters.
The US Embassy in Manila said the target drone was fired during American naval exercises off Guam and was just washed ashore to the Philippines by ocean currents.
Human rights groups and left wing-inclined organizations have either condemned or called for an investigation regarding the discovery. They said target drones can be used for surveillance or for actual combat operations. They added that it can also be used to spy on the activities of the New People’s Army in the area.
Armed Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said his office hasn’t received yet any information about the target drone, but said he would verify the report.

US Navy drone recovered in Quezon province

From Ang Malaya (Jan 5): US Navy drone recovered in Quezon province

Patnanungan Municipal Police recovers a BQM-74E, a United States Navy target drone at Sitio Katakian, Barangay Busdak, Patnanungan town, Quezon at around 4 p.m. of January 4, 2015. The said drone has a serial number BQ55079.

Currently, the target drone is in the custody of Patnanungan Police. This is a second reported recovery of a US Navy drone within Philippine territory.

The first time was last January 2013 at Sitio Tacdugan, San Jacinto, Masbate. US Embassy in Manila said that the target drone recovered in Masbate was deployed several months ago in Guam during a US Naval exercise.

BQM-74s are primarily used as aerial target during simulation. These target drones are capable of simulating enemy threats for gunnery and missile training exercises.

Army launches artillery attacks vs BIFF camp in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 5): Army launches artillery attacks vs BIFF camp in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines–The military on Monday launched artillery attacks against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) believed to be responsible for the harassment of two Army detachments in the borders of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat that left two soldiers dead and three others wounded, the Army said.

Lieutenant Colonel Markton Abu, commanding officer of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, said his men were conducting clearing operations in the marshy portion of Gen. SK Pendatun town in Maguindanao where the BIFF maintained a camp.

Abu said the offensive was an offshoot of the harassment Saturday morning by BIFF forces in two Army detachments in Barangay Katiko, President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat.

“We have reliable information the BIFFs are threatening the civilians because it is harvest time,” Abu told reporters.

“We have persistent information that they are just roaming around the woodland and marshy area and anytime, they will attack the civilian farmers as harvest time is coming. They used to steal the harvest from unarmed farmers and for that, we are securing the civilians,” he said.

About 50 BIFF rebels simultaneously attacked the detachment in Barangay Kulasi in General Salipada K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao and Sumilalao detachment in Barangay Katiku, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat province, where one soldier was killed and three others were wounded.

As the rebels retreated, they attacked another Army detachment in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, leaving another soldier dead.

Abu Misri Mama, speaking for the BIFF, admitted his men attacked the two Army detachments on Saturday.

On Monday morning, Mama said dozens of howitzers hit the marshland but none of his companions were killed in the offensive.

“It rained mortars here, we are on the defensive position,” he said in a phone interview.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division, has called on the civilians to provide the Army with information about the presence of BIFF forces in their communities to preempt lawless elements’ attempts to extort from farmers.

Pangilinan did not say how many BIFF rebels were killed or wounded in the Army offensive.

“These people are spoilers of peace and they continue to destroy the Army’s peace initiatives and reach-out programs to poor people of Maguindanao,” Pangilinan lamented.

On Sunday, Pangilinan led his men in according heroic honors to two slain soldiers before they were sent to their respective families.

Bata patay sa crossfire sa Maguindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Jan 6): Bata patay sa crossfire sa Maguindanao (Child killed in crossfire in Maguindanao)

MAGUINDANAO – Mistulang ‘Wild, Wild West’ na ang Maguindanao, isa sa 5 lalawigan ng magulong Muslim autonomous region sa Mindanao – dahil sa walang humpay na kaguluhan doon dulot ng sagupaan sa pagitan ng militar at rebeldeng grupo, at banatan ng mga warring political clan.

Sa kabila ng paghihigpit ng militar at pulisya ay patuloy pa rin ang karahasan at tigib sa takot ang mga sibilyan dahil sa pangambang madamay sila sa gulo. At nitong Enero 5 lamang, isang batang babae ang nasawi matapos itong maipit sa labanan sa pagitan ng mga parak at isang kilabot na lalaking wanted sa kasong pagpatay.

Aarestuhin sana ng pulisya si Kadar Dagadas sa isang bahay sa Barangay Gumagandon sa bayan ng Parang ng ratratin nito ang mga parak kung kaya’t nagkaroon ng sagupaan. Napatay umano ang bata matapos na paulanan ng bala ng mga parak ang lugar kung saan nagtatago umano si Kadar, ngunit bigo naman ang pulisya na madakip ito.

Magsasampa umano ng kaso ang pamilya ng bata laban sa mga parak.

Ilang beses na rin umatake ang Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters sa Maguindanao at target nito ang mga sundalo naka-destino doon. Maraming bomba na rin ang pinasabog ng rebelde grupo sa naturang lalawigan na kilalang kuta ng BIFF.

Military operation launched vs BIFF in Maguindanao and SK

From MindaNews (Jan 5): Military operation launched vs BIFF in Maguindanao and SK

Government forces on Monday launched a massive military operation against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the marshy area between the border of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Lt.Col. Markton Abu, commanding officer of 33rd Infantry Battalion described the offensive as “clearing operation” saying they received information the BIFF threatened to attack civilians.

Abu said the group was poised to attack farmers now that harvest time is coming like it allegedly di in the past.

Last January 3,  BIFF rebels  simultaneously attacked a detachment in Barangay Kulasi in General Salipada K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao and Sumilalao detachment in Barangay Katiku, President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat province. One soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the attack.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama said the military fired dozens of howitzers, but added they did not engage the soldiers and remained in defensive positions.

He admitted however that they launched attacks and liquidation of military personnel in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

Maj. General Edmundo Pangilinan, commanding general of the 6th Infantry Division has called on the civilian communities to give information on the location and activities of the BIFF in order to preempt the “atrocities” of the group.

He called the BIFF “spoilers of peace in Mindanao”.

The BIFF, which had declared an alliance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has been accused by police and military authorities as having staged some bombings in Mindanao.

In 2014, nine improvised bombs exploded in various parts of Mindanao killing 15 persons and injuring at least 120 others.

The BIFF however denied any involvement in those incidents.

Soon in schools: West Philippine Sea 101?

From Rappler (Jan 6): Soon in schools: West Philippine Sea 101?

The DFA wants students to learn about the Philippines' marine wealth and maritime claims by incorporating the West Philippine Sea in the curriculum

 'VALUE RESOURCES.' Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose says his department's proposed West Philippine Sea curriculum aims to teach students to value the Philippines' marine resources. Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler
'VALUE RESOURCES.' Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose says his department's proposed West Philippine Sea curriculum aims to teach students to value the Philippines' marine resources. Photo by Ayee Macaraig/Rappler

Why limit the discussion on the Philippines’ maritime claims to policymakers and experts?

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) wants Filipinos to learn about the country’s marine resources at an early age by including the West Philippine Sea in the school curriculum for elementary and high school. Manila uses the term to refer to parts of the disputed South China Sea that it claims.

DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose told Rappler that the proposal will complement the Philippines’ legal strategy against China by harnessing education and information.

The Philippines filed a historic arbitration case against China before a United Nations-backed tribunal to nullify Beijing’s controversial 9-dash line under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (READ: Rough seas: Will PH 'lawfare' work vs China?)

“Of course, students must learn about our maritime entitlements under UNCLOS because there is a threat that these will be diminished,” Jose said in an interview on Monday, January 5.

He was referring to China’s growing aggressiveness and claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. The strategic sea is a major global shipping route, a rich fishing ground, and supposedly the site of vast deposits of oil and gas.

UNCLOS grants a 200-nautical mile zone within which coastal states like the Philippines have the exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources like oil and fish.

“We are hoping for a positive outcome from arbitration but then, we should already start students young with this kind of information and education,” Jose said in Filipino.
Still, the assistant secretary said that the maritime dispute is not the sole focus of the planned curriculum.

“There are many things to be learned. The Philippines being an archipelagic country, Filipinos especially children should understand the wealth or our waters, and how dependent we are on the riches and resources from the sea,” Jose said.

Besides the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the South China Sea. Hanoi refers to the waters as the “East Sea.”

DISPUTED SEA. A screengrab from Google Maps of the disputed features in the South China Sea, known as West Philippine Sea in the Philippines.

DISPUTED SEA. A screengrab from Google Maps of the disputed features in the South China Sea, known as West Philippine Sea in the Philippines.
‘Education, not brainwashing’

The foreign affairs spokesman said that the proposal is still in the initial stages, and it will be up to the Department of Education (DepEd) to develop the concept, and later on to teachers to craft their lesson plans.

He said the plan is to have the West Philippine Sea incorporated in subjects like geography and history.

‘We will not force students to think that the Spratlys, the Kalayaan Island Group, is ours. It’s more of an appreciation of marine wealth: how to use it, how to conserve, how to protect and how to manage.’
- DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose

Asked how the DFA came up with the idea, Jose said, “Here, there are many who do not appreciate our [marine] wealth. We said why not teach this so many will be informed?”

The Philippines is located at the apex of the Coral Triangle, an area marine ecologists recognize as a global center of marine biodiversity.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB) report shows that the coastal waters of this vast marine expanse “contain a wider range of species of corals, [fish], seagrass, and mangroves than anywhere else in the world.”

Millions of Filipinos depend on coral reefs for both food and income, including small-scale and commercial fishermen. The coastal ecosystems also contribute to the country’s tourism sector.

Jose said that the purpose of the proposed West Philippine Sea curriculum is to educate Filipinos, not to “brainwash” them to claim disputed reefs and shoals.

“We will not force students [to think] that the Spratlys, the Kalayaan Island Group, is ours. It’s more of an appreciation of [marine] wealth: how to use it, how to conserve, how to protect and how to manage,” Jose said.

“What’s more important is that people learn that the Philippines is made up of waters, a bigger proportion than land. So people should appreciate that,” he added.

The spokesperson said that the curriculum aims to teach students their responsibilities on marine and environmental protection.

“We want our marine wealth to be sustainable because the livelihood of 5 million Filipinos depend on this, depend on the waters and seas.”

MARINE RESOURCES. Filipino fishermen wave from their fishing boat as they sail off from the port of Masinloc town, Zambales province, north of Manila on May 10, 2012, for a fishing expedition near Scarborough Shoal. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MARINE RESOURCES. Filipino fishermen wave from their fishing boat as they sail off from the port of Masinloc town, Zambales province, north of Manila on May 10, 2012, for a fishing expedition near Scarborough Shoal. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP
Part of info campaign

Jose first brought up the proposed curriculum in the DFA’s nationwide information campaign on the Philippines’ maritime claims.

The department is conducting press briefings in key cities in the Philippines, with the first legs done in Olongapo City, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and Iloilo last year, with more to be held this year.

In 2012, the Aquino administration officially renamed the South China Sea waters off the country’s west coast as “West Philippine Sea.”

Scholars have cited the value of education in promoting a strong tradition of nationalism in China, where the 9-dash line is “deeply engraved in the hearts and minds of the Chinese people.”

“The youth in China very early on are taught that these islands belong to them. If you go and look at the Chinese textbook, you will see these islands in their map,” former Ateneo Chinese Studies Program director Clark Alejandrino told Rappler in a previous interview.

“If you look at the DepEd textbook in the Philippines, most of them will not have the Kalayaan Island in them. It hasn’t been ingrained very strongly among the Filipino youth that these islands are a part of the Philippines,” Alejandrino added.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, an expert on the maritime dispute, earlier called for a greater appreciation of the Philippines’ marine resources.
He said, “As Filipinos blessed by the Almighty with the extensive marine resources of an archipelagic State, we must be faithful to our duty as stewards of these marine resources – to protect and preserve these marine resources in our [exclusive economic zone] for the present and future generations of Filipinos.”

Army captures BIFF training camp in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Army captures BIFF training camp in Maguindanao

The military captured on Monday a training camp of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) after hours of mortar shelling and ground assaults by the military, an Army official said.

The bandits have fled, leaving its camp situated in Sitio Pedtad, Barangay Midpantakan in Gen. Salipada K. Pendatun, Maguindanao around noon, according to Lt. Colonel Markton Abu, commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion.

Howitzers were fired toward the Liguasan marshland which was part of Salipada Pendatun town, sending Moro bandits to disperse to smaller groups toward the marshland.

Abu said the captured camp belonged to the 2nd division of the BIFF which served as its launching pad in attacking Army positions in SK Pendatun town and in President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat province.

A soldier was killed and three others were wounded Saturday when BIFF simultaneously attacked two Army bases in adjacent towns.

Abu could not say whether the BIFF suffered fatalities during the shelling which began before dawn.

He said the bandits have also been harassing civilians now that farmers are about to harvest crops.

A farmer who asked not to be named said they were forced to arm themselves in self defense since the BIFF had been making them 'target paper,' after sniping from the marshland.

"It always happen when harvest season comes," he said.

Abu vowed to provide enough forces to secure the farmers who will start harvesting crops next week.

In the past, the farmers were forced to shell out a sack or two every one hectare of harvested palay.

But farmers have been complaining because the BIFF demand was increasing and they were afraid they might end up with nothing.

”If we refuse to the BIFF demand, we are subjected to harassment forcing us to flee,” another farmer recalled. “When we return, our crops were all gone.”

US Navy target drone recovered in Quezon town

From Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): US Navy target drone recovered in Quezon town

Operatives of the Patnanungan Municipal Police Station have recovered a US Navy target drone at Sitio Katakian, Barangay Busdak, Patnanungan town, Quezon Sunday afternoon.

Recovered at about 4 p.m. Sunday was an aerial target drone, "BQM 74E", bearing serial number "BQ55079".

The drone was initially sighted by a barangay official of the locality but due to bad weather condition, could not reach the area at once.

The drone is now under the custody of the Patnanungan Municipal Police Station.

It was the second incident involving the recovery of a US Navy drone in Philippine territory.

In January 2013, a similar drone was recovered by the Philippine Navy in Sitio Tacdugan, San Jacinto, Masbate.

AFP, DND express commitment to 'Bayanihan' principles

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): AFP, DND express commitment to 'Bayanihan' principles

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) expressed its commitment to Internal Peace and Security Bayanihan "Bayanihan" as it welcomes the start of the working year Monday.

Incidentally, the AFP will conduct its annual New Year’s Call in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Key military and defense officials will gather in the Joint Department of National Defense (DND) and AFP New Year’s Call, a time-honored tradition where officers from the defense department and military establishments renew their commitment to their duties to the Filipino people.

Aside from the New Year’s Call at the Tejeros Hall of the AFP Commissioned Officers Club Tuesday, field units of the military will also conduct similar ceremonies in their respective headquarters.

The call on DND Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr., will be attended by defense undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and other key officials of the DND; and top level officers of the AFP down to the division level.

It will also include senior military advisers to President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Other attendees will include senior civilian employees of the General Headquarters; Defense Armed Forces Attaches; Foreign Armed Forces Attaches; the JUSMAG (Joint US Military Advisory Group) chief; presidents of AFP Financial Institutions; general officers of the Reserve Force; and senior AFP Sergeant Majors.

The DND-AFP New Year’s Call follows the tradition of levees or royal receptions popular in the Canadian military and government where they renew their pledge and celebrate the events of the past year and welcome the New Year.

Palace: Peace talks with NDF should be time-bound and doable

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Palace: Peace talks with NDF should be time-bound and doable

Malacanang on Monday reiterated the government is open to resuming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) provided that the dialogue is based on a time-bound and doable agenda.

“Only if they are time-bound and doable. We have always said that we are open to resuming talks provided that we avoid the mistakes of the past. And I think that’s not unreasonable request,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a Palace press briefing.

Lacierda said the government remains committed to pursuing peace with the communist rebels.

“We’d rather have peace than war. And we have proven our sincerity insofar as starting a peace dialogue. We’ve proven that in MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front),” he said.

Lacierda said the administration is also continuously working for the uplift of the lives of every Filipino.

“For us, our concern is to make sure that the welfare of every Filipino whether you’re a rebel, whether you’re a civilian, or whether you’re a law abiding citizen is taken cared for,” he said.

“So that means that if they are not willing to talk peace, we are going to continue to go to areas where we can help them. (We have) poverty intervention programs, other alleviation measures that we can do to help the poor and we also have ISP (Internal Security Plan),” he added.

PN to acquire two 40-footer rescue boats

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 6): PN to acquire two 40-footer rescue boats

In line with boosting its disaster response capabilities, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced it is acquiring two 40-footer rescue boats which are capable of transporting 20 persons in distress.

This was confirmed by Navy vice commander Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad in a briefing with reporters.

"The (two 40-footer rescue boats) will be utilized by the various disaster response and rescue units of the PN," he said.

Taccad said the project, which is worth Php20 million, is now for re-bidding by the PN Bids and Awards Committee.

Interested parties should have completed a similar project within five years.

Winning bidders are required to delivery the rescue boats within 180 calendar days within the opening of the letter of credit.

DND open to Senate probe on alleged QRF misuse

From the Philippine News Agency(Jan 5): DND open to Senate probe on alleged QRF misuse

The Department of National Defense (DND) has expressed willingness to be investigated by the Senate on the alleged misuse of large percentage its 2013 "Quick Reaction Fund" which amounted to Php352.5 million.

DND spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez also expressed confidence that they will be cleared in the investigation.

"Of course all these efforts are welcome, it's important for us to explain all these things, importante ring maikuwento namin sa taongbayan kung ano ba talaga nangyari diyan," he added.

Galvez issued this statement in wake of Sen. Francis Escudero's announcements that the DND must be investigated to determine whether it had misused its QRF.

The DND spokesperson also stressed that they can fully explain and shed light on the matter.

A Commission On Audit (COA) report earlier claimed that much of the DND's 2013 QRF was utilized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in paying for its fuel consumption and repairs of its offices rather than utilizing the money to help victims of natural disasters.

"We have actually coordinated this with the COA, we have already submitted our reply to them," Galvez said.

"This issue was, if I'm not mistaken, this was way back in April (and) we believe we will be cleared with this one," he stated.

The DND last Saturday released a statement denying reports that a big chunk of its emergency funding in 2013 had been misused by the military.

"We reiterate that the DND released and used its QRF in its mission to include capacitating stakeholders for disaster preparedness/mitigation and operations during the disaster itself. This is so that losses and damages may be limited and that conditions may be quickly normalized," Galvez said.

He explained that as defined under the Government Appropriations Act, the QRF is a built-in budgetary allocation that represents pre-disaster or standby funds for agencies in order to immediately assist areas stricken by catastrophes and crises.

The QRF allocated to the DND, as mandated, is used for mobilization and preparedness activities, Galvez pointed out.