Sunday, May 10, 2015

Blog intermittant

I continue to have a great deal of pain associated with back and knee conditions. The pain meds often leave me groggy and unable to concentrate. My general level of pain and discomfort on a day-to-day basis determines how much work gets done on the blog. Hang in there with me and hopefully things with begin to normalize in a couple of weeks.

Best regards,
Retired Analayst

“Vote for our future, Vote for Peace,” House Committee urged as it votes on BBL

From MindaNews (May 11): “Vote for our future, Vote for Peace,” House Committee urged as it votes on BBL

“The future of Mindanao and the Philippines is in your hands,” a Catholic priest said as he and other supporters of the peace process urged the 75 members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law to cast their vote in favor of a Bangamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is faithful to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that the peace panels of the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Font (MILF) signed after 17 years of negotiations.

The Committee will begin voting on May 11 and 12, and according to Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the AHCBBL, May 13, “if necessary.”

Once approved, the Committee Report is expected to be brought to the Plenary on May 18 for debates.

Monday’s voting, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. in open session, will be greeted by a mass action of peace groups marching from St. Peter’s Parish along Commonwealth Avenue to the House of Representatives from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Fr. Amado Picardal, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Basic Ecclesial Communities, said the BBL “is the fruit of the peace negotiation between the government and the MILF that can lead to a lasting peace based on justice in Mindanao. The future of Mindanao and the Philippines is in your hands. Please pass the BBL without watering it down. We are all tired of war. Peace is our only option.”

Last week, Mindanao’s lone Cardinal, Orlando B. Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, said legislators “are the key holders to a just and lasting peace in the Southern Philippines.”

“In the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the peace process of more than 15 years is in their hands. They can lock the door to lasting peace if they so emasculate the BBL as to make the Bangsamoro self-determination a meaningless word. Or they can unlock the door to a just peace if they act as the final crowning peacemakers who will create a Bangsamoro self-determining territory worth its name, as part and parcel of the Philippine republic,” he said.

An entire nation’s future

Addressing the Committee members, Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and co-convenor of the Mindanao Peaceweavers, said: “One is not given such a rare opportunity in his or her lifetime to help shape someone’s, nay, an entire people’s– an entire nation’s future.  That is where you are at today. But even with such an awesome responsibility and a ton of expectations either way, you are already blessed,” he said, adding he prays that “you will pass on your blessing to Mindanao as you soberly deliberate and decide on passing an inclusive and just Bangsamoro Basic Law that not only adheres to the spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, but that will also finally unshackle the Bangsamoro people from the bondage of bigotry, the barnacles of underdevelopment and the cuffs of colonialism.”

“May you be guided by the divine wisdom that reside in the tears of the mothers and widows in Maguindanao, the wry wrinkles and dry throats of evacuees in the makeshift camps in Pikit and Parang, the calloused fingers and throbbing hearts of soldiers and mujahideens in the fastness of Lanao and Sulu, and the smiles and soft laughter of the children in the fields, backyards, classrooms and streets all over Mindanao. Pass the BBL. It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Historic opportunity

Samira Gutoc of the Young Moro Professionals and Friends of Peace, has a simple message to the legislators: “Let your name carve out in memory as one who pushed and  signed the basic bill that fundamentally altered the lives of conflict-battered civilians.”

Government peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer is asking Congress to “please make a good BBL your legacy to the country” while MILF peace panel and concurrent BTC chair Mohagher Iqbal says legislators “should rise above selves and respond to the call of peace by passing a good BBL.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said the country is“faced with the historic opportunity to finally fulfill the constitutional  mandate and promise of true autonomy; bring to an end four decades of violent conflict in Mindanao; install and strengthen democratic institutions to overcome deprivation and lawlessness; and  collectively embrace and celebrate the richness of our multiple identities, cultures, and narratives.”

She said she hopes legislators will “wholeheartedly claim – and not deny nor squander – their key role in fulfilling this opportunity that may not come again within our lifetime.”

“We need a BBL that will embody our best hopes and not give in to our worst fears. In the coming vote on the BBL, please let the children be the focus of attention and concern – their lives, their future – the children of Mamasapano equally with the children of Metro Manila.”


For Datu Michael Mastura, a former congressman of Maguindanao and an active member of the MILF negotiating peace panel until November 2012, “it’s not for the 75 representatives to decide the future political status of the Bangsamoro people. That right belongs properly to the Bangsamoro only.”

Mastura said the Committee’s draft bill “must reflect but not supplant three intertwined documents,” citing the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), CAB and BBL.

“A full House debate must be substantial on the negotiated provisions,” he asid.

The Committee Report, he stressed, “must contain various legal due diligence review by the Office of the President and take into consideration the Ad Referendum by GPH and MILF negotiating panels to their respective principals.”

“A plenary debate is essential to give broader constituency perspectives. To engage in a line by line voting is a form of ‘vetocracy’ that arrogates to a few House members the cut and paste process of legislative mill,” he said.

Mastura explained that during the negotiations, he insisted that the President certifies the bill as urgent; and that a congressional resolution be passed to support the BBL “as enabling means to flesh out the negotiated provisions.”

“Both resolutions expressing ‘the sense’ of Congress were passed, though not jointly but separately. This was done when now Justice (Marvic) Leonen (then government peace panel chair) and I were actively serving in the opposite sides of the Peace Panels! I am putting this on record as an important reminder to that honorable ‘sense’ of both Chambers of Congress where once I sat as an elected member.”

Congressional resolutions, Certified Urgent

The FAB, signed October 15, 2012, provided for the creation of the Transition Commission, the body that would draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law, “through an Executive Order and supported by Congressional Resolutions.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives passed resolutions separately but on the same day – on December 19, 2012 – House Resolution 971 and Senate Resolution 922 — in support of the December 17 Executive Order creating the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), the 15-member, MILF-led GPH-MILF body tasked to draft the Basic Law.

The FAB also provided under Article VII, Section 7 that the draft BBL submitted by the BTC “shall be certified as an urgent bill by the President.”

Congress resumed sessions on May 4, after a six-week break to deliberate on priority legislations, including the BBL. But Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. told MindaNews on May 4 that President Aquino has yet to issue a certificate of urgency on the matter of the BBL.

“I think he wants to take a look at it first before he does. As of now, wala pa,” Belmonte said.

Rodriguez told MindaNews last month that he expected the certificate of urgency to be issued by the President “when sessions resume.”

MindaNews’ sources privy to the Bangsamoro peace process said Murad met with the President on January 13 this year to express concern over the absence of a written certificate of urgency. At that time, Congress was expected to pass the BBL before Congress took a break in the third week of March.


Fr. Roberto Layson, OMI, head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate’s Inter-Religious Dialogue and co-convenor of the Grassroots Peace Monitors Network, urged Committee members to “please, listen to your heart first before you make your decision, a heart full of compassion and not full of hatred.   I hope the BBL is not diluted in substance but just refined in words to make it constitutional and acceptable to the MILF and the government and also to Lumads, Muslims and Christians. It should be a win-win solution for all.”

In addressing the lawmakers, Dean Tony Lavina of the Ateneo School of Government and the Xavier University’s College of Law, said: “This is a critical decision you are about to make. Mindanao is so ready to move forward, to fulfill its promise, to fly like the Philippine Eagle it is home to. Please make that happen. The wrong vote that leads to the wrong BBL will stop that and ground us again in war conflict and despair.”

On the kind of BBL he hopes the Committee would pass, Lavina said, “I would like an improved BBL that preserves most of the ideas in the draft and that complies substantially with the CAB. I do expect changes, even deletions, but hopefully not too many and especially not the provisions on power and revenue sharing if lowered, form of governance and fiscal autonomy. I would like an elaboration of IP (Indigenous Peoples) rights, an assurance that IPRA (Indigenous Peoples Rights Act) rights would be recognized and not diminished and that FPIC (Free and Prior Informed Consent) of lumads be followed. At the very least, the BBL should strengthen and expand ARMM’s autonomy and not reduce it. Any reduction of the current powers of ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) makes the BBL a failure and, if that happens, let’s just keep the ARMM law and amend it piece meal.”

Social justice

Christian Monsod, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted what would be the 1987 Constitution and a former chair of the Commission on Elections, said the BBL vote by the Committee “will decide if it will die an early death  or will move on to plenary.”

“A BBL which gives real autonomy is part of the social justice reason for Bangsamoro. Without that as the platform, the more difficult part of the Bangsamoro story, the human development of its peoples, will not happen. The good men and women of the House Committee, and there are many of them, are aware of this and I believe that they will give the BBL the chance it deserves,” he said.

“As you cast your vote tomorrow, vote with the heart of a mother. Like a mother, vote to nurture, protect and stand for the happiness and well being of your children,” lawyer Mary Ann Arnado of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus said.

Arnado said she hopes the Committee members will “pass a BBL that is consistent, faithful and compliant with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. Anything short of that will be an exercise in futility. BBL will legalize the peace formula. If you remove one ingredient or add another that will destroy the formula, that will be a recipe for disaster.”

Addressing roots of conflict

Drieza Liningding of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development urged Committee members to seriously consider the sentiments and suggestions of the Bangsamoro People during the hearings they conducted. “They should pass a BBL reflective of what the FAB and CAB contains. The Bangsamoro People will be the ones affected by this law, not those living outside – -Moro sentiments should weigh more than those who oppose who have no interest in the Bangsamoro. BBL is meant to solve the  conflict in Mindanao that has claimed more than a hundred thousand lives already.”

Liningding said Committee “should pass a BBL in the spirit of CAB or the draft that the BTC Submitted to the President and Congress. They should bear in mind that the CAB is the result of decades old negotiation and hard bargaining. Any deletion of important provisions like the provision on inland waters is tantamount to treachery.”

Guiamel Alim, a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsmaoro Civil Society (CBCS) said he would like to appeal to the Committee members “that their version of the BBL must do the following: address the roots of the Mindanao conflict; provide appropriate  response to the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro; address the historical  social injustices against the Bangsamoro; and address the need for harmonious co-existence of the peoples in Mindanao. The BBL must therefore be attuned to that. The draft BBL is consistent with that goal.”

Naval drills with JMSDF good practice for CUES

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10): Naval drills with JMSDF good practice for CUES

Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jesus Millan said on Sunday the scheduled naval exercises with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) on May 12 is a good practice for the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

This will be done during the conduct of the so-called "passing exercise" or "Passex" in naval parlance.

"The passing exercise is a good opportunity to practice the CUES, especially to our sailors. This protocol developed by (the) Western Pacific Naval Symposium (member navies) is very useful for the safety of military vessels meeting at sea," Millan added.

Participating in the naval drills with the PN are JMSDF ships JDS Harusame (DD-102) and JDS Amigiri (DD-154).

The two ships and their 600 officers and enlisted personnel arrived at the Manila South Harbor last May 9.

Millan said the Japanese contingent is headed by Capt. Masatoshi Kashihara, JMSDF commander of Escort Division Two.

PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna earlier said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) and her AW-109E naval helicopter will participate in the exercise which will be held off the waters of Subic Bay and Manila Bay.

"The exercises we will be having are aimed at fostering camaraderie, as well as enhancing cooperation and interoperability," he added.

The navies will be participating in on-ship helicopter operations, cross-deck training, in-port ship store, discussions on practices, and a passing exercise at sea.

Lincuna said that the passing exercise will be held in waters of the West Philippine Sea, between Manila and Subic Bay, on Tuesday as the Japanese ships return home.

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to undock this week --PN chief

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10): BRP Gregorio Del Pilar to undock this week --PN chief
The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), one of the Philippine Navy's most capable warships, is scheduled to undock this week.

This was disclosed by Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jesus Millan in a message to the PNA Saturday.

He also said the dry-docking of the ship is meant to "preserve hull conditions and servicing of machineries."

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar went into drydock during the first quarter of 2015.

The PN acquired the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) in May 2011 while its sister ship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, followed suit in May 2012.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar was commissioned in December 2011 while BRP Ramon Alcaraz was activated in December 2013.

Hundreds flee N. Cotabato town to escape clash between military, rebels

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 9): Hundreds flee N. Cotabato town to escape clash between military, rebels

At least 200 persons fled their homes in Arakan, North Cotabato when Army soldiers clashed with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The clash ensued when soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion pursued rebels responsible for Wednesday’s landmine blast in Barangay (village) Kabalantian that killed three government troops and wounded another soldier, Charlie Segucal, the village chair, said.

Segucal said 28 families fled Purok Tikuyac on Wednesday evening and sought shelter in the village center.

About 15 other families from Sitio Aguilar also abandoned their homes when soldiers and NPA rebels clashed following the landmine incident.

Segucal said the evacuees had feared full-blown military operation and decided to leave home to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

Segucal said the incident, which was somewhat isolated, had dismayed officials because it put in jeopardy the development projects that an international organization has been implementing.

Kabalantian is a beneficiary of Action Against Hunger of ACF-International’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project, he added.

The military has vowed to pursue the rebels, who were suspected to have fled towards the direction of Kitaotao town in nearby Bukidnon.

Army troops overrun NPA camp, two suspected rebels killed in Bukidnon

From InterAksyon (May 9): Army troops overrun NPA camp, two suspected rebels killed in Bukidnon

Two suspected communist rebels were killed after an armed encounter with elements of the 1st Special Forces Battalion who overran their encampment early Friday morning.

The New People's Army camp was situated in Sitio Alawon, Barangay Sil-ipon, Libona, Bukidnon, according to Col. Jesse Alvarez, commander of the 403rd Infantry Brigade.

Alvarez said the firefight lasted for 15 minutes before the rebels, believed to number more than 40, managed to slip away at around 2:29 a.m.

He said the rebels belonged to Guerrilla Front-4B under the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee operating in the hinter barangays of Lantapan, Pangantucan, Baungon, Libona and Manolo Fortich all within the Kitanglad Mountain Range in Bukidnon.

"After the firefight, the rebels escaped carrying their wounded comrades. Our troops recovered two dead rebels. Their camp can accommodate more or less 40 individuals. Also recovered were personal belongings, war materiel and subversive documents with high intelligence value," Alvarez said.

AFP chief tells military units in 'Dodong'-threatened areas to coordinate with local officials

From the Philippine News Agency (May 10): AFP chief tells military units in 'Dodong'-threatened areas to coordinate with local officials

With typhoon "Dodong" expected to make landfall at Cagayan Sunday afternoon and possible two- meter high storm surges, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang has directed all military units in the area to closely coordinate with local government officials for possible pre-emptive evacuation of local residents.

This was disclosed by 7th Civil Relations Group commander Major Emmanuel Garcia in a message to the Philippines News Agency.

He added that in Sta. Ana and Gonzaga towns, troopers from the 17th Infantry Battalion, Naval Forces Northern Luzon, and their police counterparts are now conducting pre-emptive evacuations at some shoreline barangays.

AFP: IEDs, ‘Shahadah’ flags recovered from Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

From GMA News (May 9): AFP: IEDs, ‘Shahadah’ flags recovered from Abu Sayyaf in Basilan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines recovered two Shahadah flags and improvised explosive devices in Basilan after an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits on Thursday.

The Shahada is a testament to the faith of Muslims. Its use in flags has been popular among Sunni Islamist militant groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda although the Shahada is not exclusively used by militants.

In a statement released on Thursday, the AFP Western Mindanao Command said combined elements of the 19th Special Forces Company and Civilian Volunteer Organization encountered the bandits in Barangay Tuburan in Hadji Mohammad Ajul town.
The firefight lasted for 45 minutes, it added. It however did not say if there were casualties on either side.
The recovered items have been turned over to the Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi).
Also on Thursday, two Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in an encounter with combined elements of the 4th Special Forces Battalion and Civilian Volunteer Organization.

US official: China island building now totals 800 hectares

From the Japan News (May 10): US official: China island building now totals 800 hectares

China’s rapidly expanding campaign to construct artificial islands, potentially for military use or airstrips, now totals about 800 hectares and could far outstrip that amount as the year goes on, a senior defense official said Friday.

The new estimate, disclosed for the first time, comes as the Pentagon released its annual report on China’s military power. The report warns that while the intent of Beijing’s construction in contested islands in the South China Sea intent is unclear, five emerging outposts could be used for surveillance systems, harbors, an airfield and logistical support.

The wide-ranging report also details Chinese government-backed cyberattacks against the U.S. government to collect intelligence and steal high-tech data from defense programs to support China’s industry. And it warns that China now “boasts the most dynamic space program in the world today.”

The document also repeats persistent U.S. concerns about China’s growing capacity to project military power beyond its borders, with continued investments in new missiles, ships and aircraft as well as cyber, space and electronic warfare. That military modernization, the report said, “has the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages.”

For the first time, however, the report describes the “extensive” land reclamation at five outposts in the Spratly Islands, adding that at four of the sites the work has shifted to mainly development and construction.

The report says China had reclaimed about 200 hectares as of late last December, underscoring the dramatic increase in the past four months. The defense official said the construction has been methodical and continuous since December. The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the report, China’s government says the projects “are mainly for improving the living and working conditions of those stationed on the islands. However, most analysts outside China believe that China is attempting to change facts on the ground by improving its defense infrastructure in the South China Sea.”

Chinese officials have defended the land reclamation by saying it is Beijing’s territory, adding that the buildings and infrastructure are for public service use and to support fishermen. It accuses the Philippines, Vietnam and others of carrying out their own building work on other islands.

The Obama administration says land reclamation risks exacerbating tensions in the South China Sea, where China and five other claimants contest sovereignty of tiny islands and reefs. Last summer, the U.S. called for a moratorium on construction work by the various claimants, but China has only doubled down.

U.S. officials are concerned China’s activities could be a prelude to enforcing a possible air defense identification zone over the South China Sea, similar to one it declared over disputed Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea in 2013.

Although it is unclear what will ultimately be built on these expanded outposts, the report says, “China will be able to use them as persistent civil-military bases of operation to enhance its presence significantly in disputed areas.”

China’s reclamation program dwarfs that of any other nation and has inflamed tensions in the region. Last month, the Philippines urged its fellow Southeast Asian countries to take immediate steps to halt the building, warning that failure to do so will allow Beijing to take “de facto control” of the area.

According to the defense official, Vietnam has reclaimed about 25 hectares of land since 2009. The report said Taiwan began a “modest land reclamation effort” on Itu Aba Island last year, and has reclaimed about 2 hectares near the island’s airstrip. There are reports that Taiwan is building a $100 million port near the airstrip that could accommodate naval frigates and coast guard cutters, the Pentagon said.

Opinion: PH and US soldiers gave Palawan children a better future

Letter to the Editor of the Manila Times (May 9): PH and US soldiers gave Palawan children a better future

I JUST want to express my gratitude to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United States Armed Forces for the successful Balikatan Exercise 2015. It made the children of Palawan have a better and brighter future. I want to thank them with all my heart for the help and support they provided to us.

I’ve spent almost my entire life in a barangay in Palawan and I can see the need for more schools, classrooms and educational materials. My life as a volunteer inspires me more to help and assist the children especially in rural areas. They need our support.

And because of the Balikatan Exercise last month, I am very thankful that they (the soldiers) were able to build more classrooms for the children in a school in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It is an answer of God to our prayers.

I don’t know much about Balikatan Exercise, I heard it only from the news. What I know is it is a big help not only for the Philippine military but for the local Filipinos as well. Others may think this is only a military activity but if we dig deeper the very essence of this annual activity provides lasting support and benefit to our “kababayans.”

I am lucky enough that I had a chance to meet one of them. The US soldiers are very friendly unlike what I had wrongly expected. They are eager to share their skills and knowledge. I can feel their sincere willingness to help us. They were not merely doing their job without really caring for us and the children.

People of two nations helping shoulder-to-shoulder inspire me more to help my “kababayans” even in a simple way. Even though Balikatan has ended, the friendship, efforts and memories will be treasured and live in the hearts of all Filipinos forever.

Helena J. Marquinez

1 killed as firefight erupts between 2 groups in Sulu

From GMA News (May 10): 1 killed as firefight erupts between 2 groups in Sulu

At least one person was killed after two armed groups engaged in a firefight in Indanan town in Sulu province Sunday afternoon.

The incident occurred at about 2 p.m. in Sitio Lugma in Barangay Bunot in Indanan, GMA News correspondent Peewee Bacuño reported.

An initial investigation showed a group of armed men led by one Jul Ajiri was attacked by some 40 followers of one Abdusalam Ajul a.k.a. Rambo.

After several minutes, some 20 armed men led by one Gafur Puti reinforced Ajiri's group.

After an hour-long firefight, a certain Jul Ladja was killed while a man said to be Ladja's son was wounded. The two were reportedly from the side of Ajiri.

Police cited initial information indicating the motive of the attack may have been a long-standing family feud or a land dispute.

Gunmen free retired sergeant taken hostage last Easter

From GMA News (May 11): Gunmen free retired sergeant taken hostage last Easter

A retired soldier who was abducted last Easter was freed in Indanan town, Sulu Sunday morning, police said.

The released hostage, retired Master Sergeant Renato Fernandez, was brought to Camp Bautista in Sulu for a medical check-up and a debriefing, GMA News correspondent Peewee Bacuño reported.

Police investigators were are still determining the identities of the kidnappers, and the motive for the abduction.

Last April 5, armed men abducted Fernandez off Patukunan Island in Tahil town.

Heavily armed gunmen abducted Fernandez from his motor launch, the RJ Express, off Patukunan Island in Sulu province last April 5.

2 alleged NPA members killed in encounter

From ABS-CBN (May 10): 2 alleged NPA members killed in encounter

Two alleged members of the New People’s Army were killed in an encounter with the Army Special Forces in Barangay Sil-ipon, Libona, Bukidnon before sunrise on Friday.

The site of the encounter was hard to reach, so civilian volunteers were only able to recover the bodies on Saturday for examination by the scene-of-the-crime operatives (SOCO).

The bodies have yet to be identified.

Recovered from the victims were two bags containing bullets, magazines of high-powered firearms, grenades, and medicines, among others.

Gov't troops recover police station occupied by Sayyaf

From the Philippine Star posted to ABS-CBN (May 10): Gov't troops recover police station occupied by Sayyaf

Government troops and civilian volunteers have recovered a police station occupied by Abu Sayyaf rebels, who flew the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) flag in Tuburan town, Basilan, security officials confirmed.

Navy Captain Roy Vincent Trinidad, chief of staff for the Joint Task Group Zambasulta, said the rebel group occupied the unmanned police station in Sitio Project Site, Barangay Tuburan Proper on May 2 and hoisted ISIS black flags.

The rogue group also rigged the station and a nearby telecommunication cell site with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) before beheading worker Jakri Tarqi, he added.

In Maguindanao province, three soldiers were injured when some members of the terrorist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) detonated a roadside bomb when a Philippine Army truck passed by a secluded portion of the national highway in Sharif Aguak town.

The terrorist also fired at the soldiers using assault and grenade-launching rifles.

Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, Army 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the attackers were all adolescents who were forced to withdraw after soldiers returned fire.

Trinidad said the unidentified police station previously had two police officers, who had withdrawn and asked for support before engaging the Abu Sayyaf bandits in a firefight.

He added that troops from the Philippine Army’s 19th Special Forces Company and the Scout Rangers reinforced civilian volunteers in retaking the police station.

“The troops also pulled down two black flags hoisted by the Abu Sayyaf group,” Trinidad said.

The soldiers recovered the IEDs planted in the police station and at the cell site.

A local town official, who requested anonymity, said the Abu Sayyaf tried to sow terror by flying the ISIS flag and executing the 20-year-old Tarqi.

11-year-old NPA member surrenders

From ABS-CBN (May 10): 11-year-old NPA member surrenders

An alleged 11-year-old member of the New People's Army (NPA) surrendered to the soldiers of the 60th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Barangay Camansa, Asuncion town in Davao del Norte Saturday.

The boy's surrender was assisted by Barangay Camansa chairman Elizabeth Abad.

In an interview, the boy admitted that he has been part of the group for six years, and has been part of six encounters with the military in some parts of Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental.

He added that he has been ordered by their leader to lay landmines along civilian roads.

The boy said he was a resident of Barangay Don Enrique in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

60th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Roberto Bunagan brought the boy to Asuncion Mayor Joseph Nilo Parrenas and to the municipal police station for documentation and proper disposition.

However, the boy requested that he stay under the care of the soldiers.

Bunagan said they will coordinate and present the boy to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for further documentation and necessary assistance.

"We are already coordinating with concerned local officials in order to locate the parents of the boy," he added.

Three other young NPA members surrendered to the military in the past months.

According to one of the NPA leaders who were earlier arrested by the joint AFP-PNP elements on law enforcement operations, around 22% of their members are minors between the age of six and 18, while around 74% are indigenous people (IPs) or lumads in Eastern Mindanao area.

The boy is the 55th NPA surrenderee for the year.

Recruitment of minors

The NPA's recruitment of minors, harassment and exploitation of civilians, and deception of IPs are gross violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Furthermore, Part IV, Article 10 of the CARHRIHL specially provides that children should not be allowed to take part in hostilities.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) including the CPP-NPA is a signatory to the CARHRIHL but they continue violating human rights and promoting violence including the manufacture and use of landmines.

Meanwhile, Eastern Mindanao Command Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad commended the soldiers of 60th Infantry Battalion for facilitating the snowball of NPA surrenderees, who are minors, in their area.

He further directed Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, the commander of 10th Infantry Division to collaborate with concerned government agencies and other civil society organizations for the necessary intervention and assistance.

Baladad also thanked Asuncion for her concern and helping the boy return to government fold.

"The CARHRIHL provisions must be respected at all times," he said.