Thursday, June 11, 2015

NPA claims soldiers killed, wounded in Bukidnon clash

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Jun 11): NPA claims soldiers killed, wounded in Bukidnon clash

THE New People’s Army (NPA) said on Wednesday its fighters killed and wounded a number of soldiers during a battle in a town in Bukidnon.

Isabel Santiago, spokesperson for NPA’s North Cotabato Bukidnon Operation Command said in a text message to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Wednesday reported that the 52nd Scout Ranger suffered heavy casualties during the clash with the NPA Front 53 SMR in Barangay Kalapaton, Kibawe.
Santiago said the NPA attack was in retaliation for the death of a villager in Kibawe who was beaten up by soldiers.

“Daghan ang casualties, dili pa ma-ihap ang wounded in action og killed in action,” she said.
She said two military helicopters picked up the dead and wounded troopers.

Captain Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, denied to Cagayan de Oro there were soldiers killed in the clash, but confirmed that there were many who were wounded.

Santiago said 12 soldiers from the 23rd Infantry Battalion beat to death Emilio Ruplo, 60, last May 3.
Edelisa Ruplo, 50, the wife of Emilio, said: “Kung wala to siya (Emilio) gikulata, dili to siya mamatay.” Edelisa is a barangay kagawad (village councilor) of Kalapaton.

Edelisa said the troopers claimed that Emilio was an NPA rebel.

“After the soldiers were done with Emilio, they took my husband to my mother’s house,” she said. They forced her mother to sign a paper to certify that Emilio was untouched.

Martinez said: “If it were true that the soldiers did it, the military doesn’t tolerate such kind of act. We are still verifying the cause of Emilio’s death.”

Soldier killed, 7 others hurt in Bukidnon clash

From ABS-CBN (Jun 11): Soldier killed, 7 others hurt in Bukidnon clash

A soldier was killed while seven others were hurt in an encounter between members of the 8th Infantry Battalion and the New People's Army (NPA) Wednesday morning in Barangay Calapaton, Kitaotao in Bukidnon.

The clash, which started past 10 a.m., lasted for an hour.

According to 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Patrick Martinez, the clash started Tuesday after military troops discovered the camp of the Guerilla Front 53 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee in the area.

The body of the soldier killed in the encounter was brought to Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro while the other wounded soldiers were sent to a hospital for treatment.

Clearing operations in the area is ongoing.

12 NPA men face raps for murder

From the Sun Star-Davao (Jun 11): 12 NPA men face raps for murder

POLICE filed charges before the City Prosecutor's Office (CPO) against 12 suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) who clashed with Army troops at Sitio Islid, Barangay Daladag in Calinan district last May 6.

Facing charges for murder and frustrated murder are Benjack Banan, Jerwin Montajes, Junriel Durante, while Arfel Casanillo alias Bobot, Cocoy Rolian, Gualberto Aligato, Berdan Ramos, Aida Seisa, Arnold Montajes alias Jong-jong, Leonilo Gonzales, Ariel Badiang, and Leoncio Pitao were charged for frustrated murder.

All accused are of legal age and transient residents of Barangay Dominga in Calinan.

It can be recalled that members of the 69th Infantry Battalion were patrolling the area when they encountered with members of the NPA under the Pulang Bagani Command 1 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Command headed by Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago.

Records showed that the encounter resulted to the death of four soldiers and the wounding of eight others.

The case has yet to be resolved by Prosecutor Faizal Padate.

Abu Sayyaf bandit killed, 2 soldiers injured in clash

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jun 11): Abu Sayyaf bandit killed, 2 soldiers injured in clash

A MEMBER of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed and two soldiers were wounded in a firefight in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official announced Thursday.

Colonel Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the firefight broke out around 10:45 a.m. Thursday in the village of Sawaki, Indanan while the troops were in pursuit of Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Arrojado said prior to the firefight, the troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion have recovered two unregistered motorcycles that were abandoned by Abu Sayyaf bandits upon sensing the troops’ arrival in the village of Sawaki.

Arrojado said the firefight broke out as troops, led by Major Ibni Saddama, chanced upon more or less 30 Abu Sayyaf bandits as they pursued the bandits who abandoned the motorcycles.

Arrojado said the slain ASG member, who remain unidentified, was a follower of ASG sub-leader Jul Aksan alias Halimao.

He said the wounded soldiers, who belong to the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion, were taken to the Trauma Hospital at Camp General Bautista.

He said Abu Sayyaf bandits that figured in the firefight scampered to different directions as the troops outmaneuvered them.

He said blocking positions were established following report that some 70 Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Alhabsy Misaya and Alden Bagade were planning to reinforce the group of Aksan.

The troops have discovered a hastily abandoned camp of the bandits around 1:10 p.m. in the village of Sawaki, Indanan, he said.

He added that the Scout Ranger Battalion troops were scouring the hinterlands when they discovered the abandoned camp that has 117 bunkers, four kitchens, and four latrines that can accommodate more or less 300 persons.

There were indications that the camp was abandoned few hours before the troops arrived in the area, according to Arrojado.

MILF: T’boli community in Sarangani receives water system and post harvest facilities under MTF Programme

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 11): T’boli community in Sarangani receives water system and post harvest facilities under MTF Programme

T’boli community in Sarangani receives water system and post harvest facilities under MTF Programme

A T’boli community in Sarangani Province now enjoys sufficient supply of clean water and the convenience of shelling and drying corn, their primary crop.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) turned-over on June 9, 2015 a Spring Development Project, a mobile corn sheller and 15m by 20m solar drier to the people’s organization of Barangay Lumasal, Maasim Sarangani Province, development projects under the Mindanao Trust Fund Reconstruction and Development Programme (MTFRDP).

The development interventions are aimed to provide the basic need and improve the socio-economic condition of its beneficiaries.

Majority of the beneficiaries are members of T’boli tribe living in the hinterland area of the barangay. The community members experienced displacement during the 2008 conflict.

There are fifteen communal faucets provided by the water system project distributed in three puroks of the Barangay.

BDA staff from Southern Mindanao Regional Management Office and Central Management Office facilitated the turn-over ceremony which was graced by Maasim Vice mayor Uttoh Salem Cutan and local officials.

Cutan, also an active peace advocate, thanked the BDA and the MTFRDP for the development assistance that could help provide the needs of the constituents for their economic growth.

Mohalikin D. Piang, BDA SouthMin Regional Manager reminded the beneficiaries that the development interventions brought to their community must be reciprocated with commitment to sustain the said project so the upcoming generation will still enjoy the benefits.

Mrs. Pasignasigna, the head of Lumasal People’s Organization, vowed to do their best and urged her fellow PO members to devote their time and efforts for the project sustainability.

She underscored the importance of clean water for personal hygiene, cooking and cleanliness of the households especially that the classes have just begun.

Lumasal is a tri-people community with fishing and farming as their mains sources of income. The barangay has initially received fishing vessels under the MTFRDP in the first cycle of project implementation.

There is a total of nine barangays of Sarangani benefitting the MTFRDP projects on which three are dominated by Indigenous Peoples namely Barangays Tiulab in Maitum, Amsipit in Maasim and Libi in Malapatan.

MTFRDP project implementations are managed by the respective PO which has undergone various capability-building trainings conducted by the BDA staff in order to equip the grassroot organizations with skills in implementing and managing projects.

MILF: Malacaňang Palace is hopeful BBL would be passed in July

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 11): Malacaňang Palace is hopeful BBL would be passed in July

Malacaňang Palace said it hopes the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be enacted when Congress reconvenes in July.

In a report by Philippine Information Agency, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr said in a note issued on Tuesday, “the Congress leaders’ decision to continue working on the BBL beyond the current session, provides an opportunity to gain broader support for achieving long-term peace, stability and progress in Mindanao.”

The secretary said “Through continuing dialogue, differing viewpoints may be harmonized in crafting the law that, we hope, may be enacted shortly after Congress reconvenes in July.”

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process has been active in information drive employing various strategies to popularize the BBL and increase public awareness on the proposed measure.

Civil society organizations and peace advocates group have been pressing the lawmakers to pass the BBL which was agreed upon by the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiating panels under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The BBL once enacted will pave way for the establishment of an autonomous political entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao with more powers and shall have parliamentary system of governance.

President Aquino had asked the lawmakers to pass the BBL by June, however it is still in the committee level of the Senate to date.

The House of Representatives and the Senate adjourn on June 11 for a break and will reconvene on July 20.

MILF: UNYPAD Leads Mass Mobilization in Support to BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 11): UNYPAD Leads Mass Mobilization in Support to BBL

UNYPAD Leads Mass Mobilization in Support to BBL

The National Capital Region (NCR) Chapter of the United Youth Peace and Development (UNYPAD) spearheaded a peaceful demonstration in support to the passage of the undiluted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) outside the House of the Senate on June 3, 2015.

UNYPAD-NCR Chapter Chairman Sajid Tula said, “together with other peace advocate groups in Metro Manila, we have staged this rally outside the Senate to show support and to call on Senators to expedite the passage of the undiluted Bangsamoro Basic Law.” 

“On 01 June, our group participated in a thanks-giving rally at south-wing of House of Representatives after majority of the ad hoc committee members secured the “yes” vote in favor of the BBL,” he added.

The majority committee members voted the BBL: 50 for yes, 17 no and 1 has abstained.
“This is a response to our lawmakers who supported the BBL, we thanked them but we, at the same time, strongly call on them to bring back the removed substance of the agreed version,” Tula said.

Kamim Macmod, UNYPAD Regional Coordinator for Luzon Cluster, said that the congress should not mangle the agreed version of the BBL as it is a product of the long and painstaking negotiations between the government and MILF, and what is going to be resolved is the Bangsamoro question.
“The government should seize the moment that Bangsamoro now accept a solution short of their original aspiration,” Kamim said.

“I don’t know what will happen if the already watered BBL will still be watered down,” he added.

The UNYPAD has continued appeal to the legislators to support the passage of the undiluted BBL.
“On May 18, the UNYPAD-NCR and other peace groups marched from the south wing of the House of the Representatives to the north wing, and Quezon City,” Kamim disclosed.

Badrudin Ali, Luzon Regional Cluster Secretary, said in a radio interview at 99.0 VoiceFm Cotabato in Cotabato City that they will continue to fight for the agreed version submitted to the office of the President.

“We continue to stage peaceful gatherings until a BBL that is based on the letter and spirit of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) is passed,” he pointed out.

MILF: Bangsamoro leaders urge MILF to revert to independence if a diluted BBL is passed by Congress

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 11): Bangsamoro leaders urge MILF to revert to independence if a diluted BBL is passed by Congress

Bangsamoro leaders urge MILF to revert to independence if a diluted BBL is passed by Congress

Some 137 Bangsamoro leaders who attended the Bangsamoro Leaders Peace Summit at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, Cotabato City on June 7, 2015 issued and signed a petition addressed to Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) urging the Moro Front to revert to its former objective for the independence of the Bangsamoro should a diluted or watered down Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed by congress.

Below is the petition of the group in its complete text and language:

The chronology of events that led the Filipino nation into eventual recognition of the Bangsamoro’s Right to Self-Determination, an internationally recognized right, was not without painful sacrifices on the part of the Bangsamoro. History had accounted the countless massacres, loss of lives and properties due to protracted wars in Mindanao that resulted in the neglect, extreme poverty, and societal plagues that greatly affected the growth of the Bangsamoro, socially, economically and politically. Needless to say, the Bangsamoro never felt safe and secure under the Philippine Government.

In its determination to seek a peaceful solution to the Bangsamoro Question, the Bangsamoro has been negotiating with the Government of the Philippines (GPH) for several decades. However, previous negotiation with the GPH were all in vain. The 1976 Tripoli agreement, the 1996 Final Peace agreement and the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain all failed.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) kindled the FINAL hope of the nation towards genuine peace and development. Consequently, the BBL has embodied workable solutions to the Mindanao Problem even as it compromised the Bangsamoro’s bid to regain their to independence. It must be passed according to the provisions of the CAB’ in order to achieve Peace and to ensure bright future for the Bangsamoro through a negotiated political settlement.

The Bangsamoro believed that elimination of salient BBL provisions which are enshrined under the CAB would degrade the international reputation and integrity of the country and would be a great insult to the participating countries and international bodies in the GPH-MILF Peace Process. Further, diluted BBL would destry the faith and complancency of both the Filipino and the Bangsamoro societies towards peace negotiations and agreements and would breed another distrust and animosity among our societies leading to anarchy and protracted conflicts.

There is no other alternative for the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro has always supported the GPH-MILF peace talks, but if the BBL will be diluted and consequently render the future Bangsamoro Government ineffective, we urge the MILF Leadership being the vanguard of the Bangsamoro People to reject the watered down BBL and pursue the original aspiration of the Bangsamoro for INDEPENDENCE.

The petition was submitted to the Office of MILF Chairman Al haj Murad in a letter dated June 8, 2015 signed by Dr. Ombra Imam, Deputy Secretary General for External Affairs of the League of Bangsamoro Organization (LBO).

The peace summit was attended by 500 delegates from various sectors comprising the academe, business groups, youth, women and leaders of Mindanao’s prominent civil society groups and non-government organizations.


The press conference shall be held today, June 11 at 10:00 am the Max Restaurant, Quezon City Memorial Circle.

CPP/NDF: The Filipino people must stand on their own in defending Philippine territory and sovereignty

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jun11): The Filipino people must stand on their own in defending Philippine territory and sovereignty
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Statement on the recent build-up of US and China military forces in Philippine territorial waters and Aquino puppetry to the US
Central Committee, Communist Party of the Philippines
May 31, 2015

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the governments of the US and China for the continuing build-up of their military forces in the South China Sea within the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Increasing presence of foreign military forces in these areas are in outright violation of Philippine territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The CPP further condemns the security and defense officials of the US and China governments for their saber-rattling and exchange of threats to escalate armed confrontations over the past few days. The Filipino people and the international community of peace-loving peoples must denounce both China and the US for raising the war temperature by drum-beating and expanding their military presence in the South China Sea (also referred to as the West Philippine Sea).

The CPP calls on the Filipino people to stand on their own and oppose both China and the US for their efforts to establish a foothold in Philippine territorial waters and gain exclusive control of the Philippine sea trade route in order to use this as economic and political leverage in their increasing antagonisms.

The CPP calls on the Filipino people to stand against increasing incursions by the Chinese military in Philippine territorial waters and land formations in the South China Sea. China’s large-scale land reclamation and construction of airstrips, docks and other military facilities in the Spratly islands are in outright disregard of the Philippine’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf as stipulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).

The Filipino people must condemn the Chinese government for its increased military naval presence in the area and its brash assertions of exclusive rights. (Determination by historical data and standing international laws including the UNCLOS belie such claims.) They must also denounce the deployment of Chinese coast guard gunboats which have made more and more aggressive transgressions into Philippine territorial waters protecting big Chinese boats in Philippine fishing areas.

At the same time, the CPP and the Filipino people must condemn the US government and military for deploying a growing number of troops, warships, jetfighters, drones, surveillance planes, submarines, nuclear weapons and other war materiél in the South China Sea and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. By deploying as much as 60% of its naval forces and 50% of its army and air forces in Asia under the so-called pivot or rebalancing, the US is raising the possibility of armed confrontation and war in the region.

The CPP further condemns the US for using Philippine military camps, civilian airports and naval facilities as a base for its sea reconnaisance and overflights for surveillance, power-projection and provocations in the South China Sea.

The CPP condemns the puppet Aquino regime for making use of the conflicting claims in the South China Sea to surrender Philippine sovereignty to the US by signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which allows the US military to establish bases and facilities in so-called Agreed Locations within Philippine military camps.

It has also secured similar agreements or arrangements with Australia, Singapore and other compliant states in order to use these countries as military bases and staging areas for US military operations.
Over the past few days, the US has been hyping-up China’s incursions into the Philippine EEZ by “exposing” China’s land reclamations and construction of military facilities and making provocations by flying a P-8 Poseidon surveillance warplane near Chinese facilities to which China responded with radio warnings.

The US has subsequently issued public statements declaring that they will use their military might to deter any country or force from curtailing supposed “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. The US has set its biggest aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, for sail to the Pacific Sea, with much histrionics.

Clearly, the aim of the US-coordinated media drama is to sow anti-China fear among the Filipino people and dupe them with the hoax of “US-Philippine special relations” being spun by US public opinion expert manipulators cum psy-war spinmasters and their counterparts in the Philippines.

It is obvious that the media hype being whipped up by the US and the puppet Aquino regime is being timed in anticipation of the Supreme Court resolution of the petition filed against the EDCA over issues of violations of the 1987 Philippine constitution prohibiting the establishment of foreign military bases and facilities in the country.

Rabid pro-US apologists in the Aquino regime and big corporate media have gone the lengths of making the claim that China would not have dared establish its military presence had there been US military bases in the Philippines.

The Filipino people must reject this completely unfounded propaganda line. They must also repudiate the baseless claim of the Aquino puppet regime that US military presence in the country is a deterrent to Chinaese intrusions into the Philippine EEZ and territorial waters. On the contrary, it is clear that the presence of US warships and military forces in the Philippines and in the Pacific and South China Sea is a magnet to Chinaese aggression.

The Filipino people must also dispute the claims of the puppet Aquino regime that the US will defend the Philippine’s territorial claims over areas of the Spratly islands. Die-hard pro-US apologists cite US President Obama’s 2014 rhetorical Manila speech claiming “iron clad” commitment to their treaties. However, as recent as last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry and top US officials who visited China reiterated the US position of “not taking sides” on the South China Sea disputes.
The Aquino regime and its pro-US officials are delusional in thinking that the US is building-up its military presence in the South China Sea in preparation for going to war to defend Philippine sovereignty. The US government itself declared last February in its National Security Strategy (NSS) that “the threshold for military action is higher when our interests are not directly threatened”.

The US has repeatedly asserted that it is establishing its presence in the South China Sea to ensure “freedom of navigation” which is nothing more than ensuring the free flow of US commodities from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and into the vast markets of China and the rest of Asia. (It is extremely hypocritical, in fact, for the US to dress itself up as the defender of “freedom of navigation” as it has been among the most zealous in imposing trade sanctions and economic blockades against countries which have stood up against US dictates and setting up protectionist barriers around its own economy.)

When the US military engaged the Spanish colonial forces in a mock battle at Manila Bay more than one hundred years ago, it was not for “benevolence” or generosity for the Filipino people, rather to serve the needs of the US capitalists who were in search of markets, cheap labor and raw materials. In the event that the US will engage in direct military action in the South China Sea, trust that it will not be in defense of Philippine sovereignty, but rather in pursuit of US economic and geo-political interests.

As an upstart imperialist power, China has become increasingly aggressive in defending and expanding its national territory, its markets and areas of investment and sources of oil and other resources. It is rapidly building up its military capability, even though it has yet to carry out any wars of aggression or occupation. It has, however, used its military strength as leverage in international diplomatic tussles in order to defend its interests and alliances.

As the crisis of the world capitalist system protracts and worsens, the US and China imperialist powers are becoming increasingly at odds with each other. Both sides seek to establish exclusive control over the South China Sea trade route with the aim of securing the flow of their commodities, ensure the continued expansion of markets, source of cheap raw materials and spheres of influence and investments, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

A redivision of the world through war is inevitable. Even now, proxy wars are breaking out in different parts of the world as the imperialist powers seek to secure and control oil and gas reserves, oil pipelines and trade routes, sources of rare earth, gold and other precious minerals, markets and investment areas.

The US monopoly capitalists are exerting diplomatic and politico-military pressure on China in a bid to further break down state capitalism in China and allow further expansion of the China market for US goods. In its NSS, the US self-righteously declares it “reject(s) the inevitability of confrontation” with China, but at the same time asserts it will “manage competion (with China) from a position of strength” which is nothing but a byword for expanding US military presence.

The US and Chinese imperialists and their giant militaries are no more than bullies seeking to outdo the other in establishing a foothold inside Philippine sovereign territory.

On the other hand, while engaging in saber-rattling, the imperialist powers of the US and China are united in exploiting and oppressing the proletariat and peoples of the world. The finance oligarchs and monopoly capitalists in the US and China mutually benefit from the neo-colonial drive to completely open-up the economies of the Philippines and other backward, agrarian and non-industrial countries.

In the face of such inter-imperialist rivalries and collusion, the Filipino people must stand firmly for patriotism and national freedom and oppose heightening Chinese and US militray presence within Philippine territory.

The Filipino people must defend Philippine sovereignty and demand the immediate pull-out of Chinese and US military forces in the Philippine EEZ and territorial waters. They must demand the immediate pull-out of American troops stationed in various military camps and training grounds. They must demand the immediate abrogation of the EDCA, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). It is but fitting for the Filipino people to mark next year the 25th anniversary of the historic rejection by the Philippine Senate of the Military Bases Agreement in September 17, 1991.

The Filipino people must struggle to put an end to the neo-colonial puppet state currently headed by top American stooge Benigno Aquino III. By perpetuating the semi-colonial and semifeudal system in the Philippines, the puppet rulers in the Philippines have neither modernized the economy nor built the capability to defend its borders and national territory.

The ruling neo-colonial state has subordinated Philippine foreign policy to US geo-political interests, relegated the Philippine economy to perpetual foreign dependence, backwardness and crisis and caused the Filipino masses to suffer from widespread poverty, oppression and exploitation.

The Filipino people must reject the war-mongering and prospective armed conflicts between the US and China military forces within the Philippines and its territorial waters. In such eventuality, the task of the Filipino people and its revolutionary forces is to further intensify the people’s war for national and social liberation.

Condemn the US and China for building up its military forces in Philippine territorial waters in the South China Sea!

Condemn Aquino’s puppetry to US imperialism!

Struggle for national and social liberation! Advance the people’s war!

Militants’ independence day protests target China, US

From GMA News (Jun 11): Militants’ independence day protests target China, US

As the nation marks its 117th Independence Day on Friday, militants will hold protest actions in the cities of Makati and Manila, targeting China and the United States.

Umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said the protests are in defense of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a statement, Bayan added the rallies, to be held in response to a call by Pilipinong Nagkakaisa para sa Soberanya (P1NAS), will involve a caravan from Makati City – where the Chinese consulate is located - to the US Embassy.

The caravan is to start 10:30 a.m.

Bayan added it will lead demonstrations in the Philippines and abroad – including New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the US, as well as Europe, Hong Kong, and Canada.

"No one will defend Philippine sovereignty except Filipinos. The Filipino people must rise up and be heard. Today we send a message to China and the US that we will not allow our country to be the rope in a vicious imperialist tug-of-war in Southeast Asia. We will not allow foreign powers to tear apart our country," said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr.

“The Philippines is caught between two rival imperialist powers, neither of whom respect our sovereignty and national interest. China is a fast rising imperialist power that is determined to rob us of waters and islands that belong to our exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf. The US on the other hand seeks to exploit the situation so that it could justify the return of US bases in the Philippines as part of its pivot to Asia,” he added.


Bayan said it expects Friday’s protest to be the biggest one yet in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City.

It said this is amid massive reclamation efforts in areas of the South China Sea, some parts of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

The militants also noted incidents of harassment of Filipino fishermen by Chinese patrol boats.

Also, Bayan scored the Philippine government for failing to undertake needed measures to defend Philippine sovereignty.

“It has become the policy of this government to rely on foreign powers to uphold the most basic thing such as sovereignty. It has no strategic plan for developing the economy and our capacity for external defense. It has no independent foreign policy. It relies on quick fixes such as involving other imperialist powers such as US and Japan who have their own agendas,” Reyes said.

“The defense of sovereignty is a strategic matter that cannot be entrusted to foreign powers with their own narrow agendas. If we are to ever stand on our own two feet, if we are ever to be self-reliant, we have to start now. We have to start upholding the national and democratic interests of our people,” he added.

China’s ‘impossible’ demands reason why PHL refuses bilateral talks – DFA

From GMA News (Jun 11): China’s ‘impossible’ demands reason why PHL refuses bilateral talks – DFA

Amid reports that China has suggested anew a bilateral form of negotiation to settle territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday dismissed the possibility of one-on-one talks.

Speaking to reporters, DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said the Philippine government has "exhausted all reasonable effort" to resolve the issue through bilateral consultations as China demands. Talks failed, he said, because of the conditions set by China.

"Sinubukan na natin. And then may impossible pre-condition nga ang China sa bilateral talks na gusto nila. We should recognize 'yung indisputable sovereignty nila. I think that is an impossible pre-condition that we cannot accept," said Jose.

The Philippines has already submitted a formal protest to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in reaction to China's continued construction on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Asked about China's reported military exercises in Bashi Channel, Jose said the DFA has no confirmation if the military drills were done in Philippine territorial waters.

The DFA spokesperson said, however, that the Philippine government should be informed if China is to conduct military activities within Philippine territory.

Aquino says he can expand Bangsamoro law by executive order

From the Manila Standard Today (Jun 12): Aquino says he can expand Bangsamoro law by executive order

THE President has the power to expand the proposed Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao even without the opt-in close provided for in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law now pending in Congress, President Benigno Aquino III said in Iloilo City.

He said all it would take was an Executive Order to transfer and reorganize the country’s provinces and regions. He said he was able to unite the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into a single island-region by issuing an Executive Order.

“‘Yung opt-in in particular, meron tayong mga mechanisms in place that, at some point in time, may probinsiya na gustong sumama to a particular region. Currently, all it takes is an executive order, as what we did with Negros and what was done before my time in several instances,” Aquino said.

He made his statement even as Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., head of the Senate’s local government committee, said he was confident he could convince the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to see the need for changes he would be making on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law.

In separate statements, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and Malacañang again pushed Congress to adopt the draft BBL instead of preparing a substitute bill to what Marcos described as a flawed draft bill.

Marcos said they should be patient and wait for the version they would be drafting.

“They can be sure that we are not taking advantage of them and that we still consider them our partners in peace. We know that they are a necessary part of that peace process and we cannot do it without them,” Marcos said.

But various Muslim groups on Thursday slamnmed Marcos for proposing a substitute bill to replace the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Sheik Bin Laden of the Bangsamoro para sa Bayan said he had been talking with many MILF members who had raised concern over the BBL’s non-passage.

“We are afraid of the emergence of suicide bombers in different areas of Mindanao if the BBL is not passed,” he told reporters.

Under the opt-in clause of the proposed BBL, the provinces to the proposed Bangsamoro territory may decide to be part of the political entity through a plebiscite.  

But lawmakers are wary of that provision, warning of a potential “creeping” expansion by the Bangsamoro.

Aquino’s  made his statement after the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate chose to delete from the draft BBL the controversial provision allowing provinces to join the proposed Bangsamoro region after a plebiscite.

The BBL embodies the government’s peace agreement with the MILF. It seeks to create a new Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The draft BBL is still undergoing plenary debates in the House and committee deliberations in the Senate.

Aquino is urging the public to support the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law as it is getting delayed in Congress.

He cited the importance of enacting the measure that aims to establish a Bangsamoro political entity based on the peace deal between the government and the MILF.

Aquino said all he could do was convince Congress leaders to pass the bill.

“All I can do is try and convince the leaders of both chambers and their members of the importance of this particular bill and that it turns into a law. Sa dami namang nakakausap ko cognizant sila na talagang kailangan natin ito at kailangang maipatupad as soon as possible,” Aquino said.

He said both chambers had been working overtime to pass the BBL.

“The details of the draft bill are being scrutinized by both chambers. We held several meetings and there were    marathon sessions until     2:30  am. Was it Saturday or Sunday? Sunday, another meeting to discuss this and what we were supposed to do,” Aquino said.

China PLA Navy: Expect more Chinese warships, aircraft in Pacific Ocean

From Ang Malaya (Jun 11): China PLA Navy: Expect more Chinese warships, aircraft in Pacific Ocean

Days after a Taiwanese newspaper reported that China is dispatching surveillance vessels off the coast of Hawaii as a response to United States Navy’s operations in West Philippine Sea, China reports PLA Navy successfully conducted a coordinated training in West Pacific Ocean.

“The aviation force of the Chinese PLA Navy sent its aircraft on June 10 to the airspace over the sea area in east of the Bashi Channel, West Pacific Ocean,” Chinese Navy Spokesperson Liang Yang said. Bashi Channel is part of Luzon Strait in the Pacific Ocean, and is located between Batanes and Taiwan.

The Chinese naval spokesman added that goals of the said training was met. He noted that the exercise is routine and no country is being targeted. He added that “sending warships and aircraft to conduct open-sea coordinated training is the PLA Navy’s regular practice and also a common practice of world navies.”

Neighboring states and stakeholders can expect more activities such like this. “China will continue to carry out such training activities in the future,” Liang Yang said.

Last March, the PLA Air Force conducted its first military training using new-type bomber planes in Pacific Ocean via the same route the PLA Navy took.

In the 2015 annual report of US Defense Department to US Congress, US-DoD said “preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment; however, the PRC is increasing its emphasis on preparations for contingencies other than Taiwan, such as contingencies in the East China Sea and South China Sea.”

13 Senators sign resolution asserting EDCA invalid unless Senate concurs

From Ang Malaya (Jun 11): 13 Senators sign resolution asserting EDCA invalid unless Senate concurs

Thirteen senators, representing the majority of Senate, are asserting Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and United States falls into the category of treaty or international agreement and that the power to enter into it does not rest solely on the President but is shared with the Senate.

“Behold the Senate break its silence. The fact that we have not made a hue and cry about the EDCA has apparently been misconstrued as acquiescence. In this resolution, we are saying that we will not allow the power of the Senate to be eroded,” Senate committee on foreign relations chair Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said.

The resolution aims to express the strong sense of the Senate that unless concurred in by the upper legislative chamber, a treaty ratified by the President is not valid and effective. Senators Sonny Angara, Pia Cayetano, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada, TG Guingona, Lito Lapid, Bongbong Marcos, Serge Osmeña, Koko Pimentel, Ralph Recto, Bong Revilla, and Cynthia Villar signed the resolution.

If concurred, the resolution will be submitted to the Supreme Court.

“The only constitutional ground for the position taken by the Executive is the mere inclusion of the term ‘executive agreement’ as one of items included in the list of cases which the Supreme Court has power to decide,” the senators said.

“It is absurd to claim that the EDCA is an implementing agreement to the VFA, which, in the first place, is alleged to be the implementing agreement to the ancient Mutual Defense Treaty. Moreover, the U.S. does not even recognize the VFA as a treaty,” they added.

Department of Foreign Affairs says EDCA is an agreement between the Philippines and the United States which is envisioned to advance the implementation of the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

AFP creating Negros island reg'l command

From the Visayan Daily Star: AFP creating Negros island reg'l command

A Negros Island Region Command that will integrate the operations of all the armed services on the island will be created soon, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said yesterday.
The creation of the new command, to be headed by a general, is in line with President Benigno Aquino's recent creation of the NIR, composed of Negros Occidental and Oriental, Catapang said.
He announced the creation of the new command at rites held at the Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose Activity Center in Bacolod where Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. declared Negros Occidental a peaceful and ready for further development province.
The AFP will reconstitute its forces to operate throughout Negros Island under the new command, said Catapang, who will discuss the matter with Marañon.
Under the present set up, Negros Occidental is part of Army and police regional commands in Iloilo, and Negros Oriental of regional commands in Cebu.
One of the reasons cited for the creation of the NIR was to ensure better coordinated peace and order efforts.
Catapang said they are eyeing an area at the boundary of Negros Occidental and Oriental as site of the Negros Island Regional Command camp.
Marañon said the provincial government will provide the AFP with an area for its headquarters somewhere in the fifth district of Negros Occidental.
This will complement the NIR, the governor said.
Catapang said the NIR Command will be like an inter-agency peace and security organization that will harness all government agencies to maintain peace and security on the island.
It will include the Army, Air Force and Navy, in coordination with the Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency working closely together, Catapang said.
Meanwhile, Marañon said while he is happy that Siquijor has expressed interest in being part of the NIR, he does not believe it is possible anymore.
He said delegations from Negros Occidental and Oriental are to meet in Manila Monday with the Technical Working Group created by the president that is mapping out the details to make the NIR operational, he added.

Cops tag NPA rebels in torching of truck in South Cotabato town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): Cops tag NPA rebels in torching of truck in South Cotabato town

Police authorities in South Cotabato province tagged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) as behind the burning of a prime mover truck early Wednesday in the outskirts of Surallah town.

Supt. Benito Seron, Surallah police chief, said Thursday they received reports that the three suspects who torched the truck owned by foreign-backed banana firm Sumifru Philippines Inc. were NPA members operating in the area.

He said they are investigating reports that the rebels have been reportedly trying to extort “revolutionary taxes” from the company, which is based in T’boli town.

Based on their initial investigation, he said three unidentified men initially boarded the prime mover truck as it left Sumifru’s packing plant in Sitio Tabudtud, Barangay New Dumangas in T’boli at past midnight.

But after reaching Crossing Lambuntong in Barangay Lamsugod, Surallah, he said the suspects held the truck’s driver and commandeered the vehicle.

“They stopped the truck near a farm compound, ordered the driver to flee and then burned it,” he said in a radio interview.

The truck’s driver, who was identified as Roel Palara Araño of Barangay Bulacan, Malalag town in Davao del Sur, was not harmed by the rebels.

He told police that aside from the three suspects, seven other men were waiting at the scene of the incident.

“They were reportedly armed and identified themselves as NPA members,” the police official said.

Seron said the driver immediately fled from the scene and called for help from nearby residents.

Responding residents were able to put out the fire and saved the prime mover truck from getting totally burned.

The Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion immediately launched pursuit operations against the suspects in parts of Surallah and T’boli towns.

Army captures gun, camp of outlawed BIFF in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): Army captures gun, camp of outlawed BIFF in Maguindanao

The military here has announced the capture of a newly established camp of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.

Capt. Joan Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the camp was captured following a brief firefight with the military's Scout Rangers at 7 a.m. Wednesday in the villgae of Macalag, Datu Unsay town.

"Our Scout Rangers were able to repel the armed group who fled from the area to an unknown direction after a fifteen-minute firefight," Petinglay said.

After scouring the encounter area, an improvised Cal. 7.62 rifle was recovered by the operating troops believed to be left by the fleeing BIFF.

In another area just about a kilometer away, another group of rangers found an abandoned camp with about seven huts that can accommodate an estimated 60 persons.

The huts were already empty when the troops arrived.

Discovered by government forces were four jungle hammocks; two pairs battle dress Uniforms; one upper PNP SAF uniform with name cloth which reads “USMAN”; one bandoleer for M14; one bandoleer for M16 and one sweatshirt with the marking “BIFF”.

Petinglay said the operation was part of the continuing efforts of the 6th Infantry Division to go after the remnants of the BIFF after the group was displaced from their encampments and most of them killed during the all-out offensive conducted against them more than a month ago.

"The government forces will not allow the lawless group to establish new encampments that might be a future venue for IED fabrication," Petinglay said. The BIFF was known for manufacturing improvised bombs they used against the military and civilian targets.

Petinglay said the successful operation could be attributed to the concern of civilians who provide tips to the government forces about the lawless elements.

"It only manifests that majority if not all the people from Central Mindanao are joining the fight against a common enemy – terrorism," Petinglay said.

Earlier, the Army found and properly defused a powerful improviced bomb components in the village of Katalicanan, Aleosan, North Cotabato.

Members of the Army's 32nd Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Team responded to reports by concerned civilians about the presence of suspicious motorcycle parked and unattended at a roadside.

Post blast investigation reveal the following items were found in the IED: four rounds of cartridge of 60 mm high explosive; one support charge for 105 mm mortar, one booster charge of 60 mm; detonating cord, steel balls; bolt and knots.

However, no triggering device was found in the U-Box of the motorbike.

Police said two men arrived in the village on board a motorbike which encountered mechanical problem. When residents started to mill around and observed the duo, they left towards an unknown direction, raising suspicion among the villagers who alerted the police and the Army.

Petinglay said the Army believed the explosives are to be set off by the BIFF somewhere else but backed off when civilians became curious of their activities.

ASG member killed, soldier wounded in Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): ASG member killed, soldier wounded in Sulu clash

A member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed while a soldier was wounded in a firefight Thursday in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official said.

Col. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the firefight broke out around 10:45 a.m. Thursday in Barangay Sawaki, Indanan while the troops were in pursuit of ASG members.

Arrojado said prior to the firefight, the troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion have recovered two unregistered motorcycles that were abandoned by ASG members upon sensing the troops’ arrival in Barangay Sawaki, Indanan.

He said the firefight broke out as troops led by Major Ibni Saddama chanced upon about 30 ASG brigands as they pursued the group who abandoned the motorcycles.

Arrojado said the slain ASG member, who is still unidentified, was a follower of ASG sub-leader Jul Aksan alias "Halimao."

He said the wounded soldier belongs to the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion.

He said ASG brigands who figured in the firefight scampered to different directions as the troops outmaneuvered them.

He said that blocking positions were established following report that some 70 ASG members led by Alhabsy Misaya and Alden Bagade were planning to reinforce the group of Aksan.

He said the troops launched clearing operations around the clash site.

OPAPP: MILF set to start decommissioning process

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): OPAPP: MILF set to start decommissioning process
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), as a sign of commitment to peace, is set to handover 74 crew-served weapons to the Independent Decommissioning Body.

Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) told the Philippines News Agency that the weapons’ handover will be held anytime this month in Camp Darapanan.

Camp Darapanan, which is located in the municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, houses the main headquarters of the MILF.

Lorena said the handover of the weapons is part of the process of decommissioning of MILF forces and weapons, which will be implemented in four phases.

“It symbolizes their sincerity that they will not go back to war,” Lorena said of the weapons’ handover.

He said the weapons will be handed over to the Independent Decommissioning Body, which in turn will validate the MILF inventory of weapons.

He said the members of the Independent Decommissioning Body are from Norway, Brunei and Turkey.

He said crew-served weapons are high-powered firearms that are usually handled by more than one person.

The government and MILF negotiators have signed protocol on implementing the decommissioning of MILF arms and forces in a meeting on January 29 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

AFP to set up Negros Island Command – Catapang

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): AFP to set up Negros Island Command – Catapang

With the creation of the Negros Island Region (NIR), Armed Forces of the Philippines is expected to set up a regional command at the border of the two Negros provinces within the year.

“We will reconstitute our forces in the new region,” said Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., who was in Negros Occidental Wednesday to witness the declaration of the province as “peaceful and ready for further development.”

Catapang said he will discuss the plan with Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, chief of AFP Central Command.

“It will be an integrated approach together with other government agencies and units. It will be a joint command of the Army, the Air Forces, and the Navy. Hopefully, a general will be assigned here,” he added.

Executive Order 183, which was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on May 29, separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas, or Region 6, and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas, or Region 7.

The NIR command “will be an inter-agency peace and order committee or organization to include all armed services and it will harness all resources of the government to address and maintain peace and security in the area,” Catapang said.

“We will put up new camps in the middle of the two provinces to secure both sides,” he added.

Meanwhile, Frank Carbon, president of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), lauded the declaration of Negros Occidental as “peaceful and ready for further development.”

Advancing troops discover camp hastily abandoned by the Abu Sayyaf Group

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): Advancing troops discover camp hastily abandoned by the Abu Sayyaf Group

The government forces pursuing the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits have discovered a hastily abandoned camp of the bandits in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official announced Thursday.

Col. Alan Arrojado, Joitn Task Group Sulu commander, said the hastily abandoned ASG camp was discovered around 1:10 p.m. Thursday in the municipality of Indanan, Sulu.

Arrojado said the Scout Ranger Battalion troops were scouring the hinterlands of Indanan when they discovered the abandoned camp.

He said the camp has 117 bunkers, four kitchens, and four latrines that can accommodate more or less 300 persons.

He said there were indications that the camp was abandoned few hours before the troops arrived in the area.

The government forces are pursuing a group of brigands who figured in a clash earlier with the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Sawaki, Indanan.

A member of the ASG was killed while a soldier was wounded in the clash that took place around 10:45 a.m. Thursday.

Government troops overrun NPA camp in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): Government troops overrun NPA camp in Bukidnon

An Army soldier was killed when government troops overran a camp of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) after a firefight in the hinterlands of Bukidnon, a military report said Thursday.

In a report reaching here, Capt. Norman Tagros, the spokesperson of the Army's 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) based in Bukidnon, said that the armed encounter took place in the mountain of Kitao-tao, Bukidnon Wednesday morning.

Tagros identified the lone casualty as PFC Glen Rojay Bacas, of the 8IB.

He said that the soldiers recovered Improvised Explosive Device (IED), some detonating cords, empty shells of AK-47 rifle, foodstuffs, medical supplies and subversive documents in the rebel camp.

“We do not know how many casualties the rebels have had but blood stains were evident in the scattered medical kits in the camp,” he said.

Tagros said that the rebels fled toward different directions after the firefight.

He said that the Army, in coordination with the local police, conducts combat operations in the area in response to reports that an armed group has been threatening farmers through force taxation and extortion.

Lt. Col. Lennon Babilonia, commander of the 8IB, urged the farmers and residents to stay because the Army soldiers would be around to protect the peoples’ rights and interests.

“We call upon the nearby communities where our operations are being conducted not to panic and avoid listening to political cadres of the communist rebels to evacuate,” Babilonia said.

The 8th IB commander also exhorted the farmers and residents to be discerning in dealing with organizations that only aim to exploit their concerns and offer solutions through a violent nature.

5th Special Forces Battalion undergoes 2-day airborne sustainment training

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): 5th Special Forces Battalion undergoes 2-day airborne sustainment training

Troopers from the 5th Special Forces Battalion have completed a two-day airborne sustainment training last June 8 to 9.

The latter is a field unit of the Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division.

Around 120 officers and enlisted personnel from the unit participated in the training activity.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, in a statement Thursday said the troops assembled in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao and were released by batches on June 8.

Sixty troopers took part in this jump.

On June 9, another 60 troops participated in the training jump which included organic personnel of the 6th Infantry Division who were airborne qualified.

Petinglay said the activity was made possible with the arrival of a mobile training team from the Special Forces Airborne School.

However, the presence of qualified jump-masters and riggers among the 5th Special Forces Battalion troops facilitated the activity easier and systematic.

Proficiency jumps are intended to enhance the skills of the all airborne qualified soldiers who are receiving a “jump pay” which is equivalent to 50 per cent of his base pay.

A regular quarterly jump is a prerequisite for all airborne trained soldiers who are organic with the Special Operations Command such as the 5th Special Forces Battalion, in order to maintain their skills and to boost their confidence level.

Troops in Central Mindanao will continue to improve and harness their skills in order to maintain the highest degree of preparedness for any man-made or natural disaster.

It will also empower other stakeholders in order to have inter-operability in future operations within the region and nearby areas.

SSVs can act as command-and-control platforms, floating government centers -- Millan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): SSVs can act as command-and-control platforms, floating government centers -- Millan

Aside from improving the transport and logistics capability of the Philippine Navy (PN), the two strategic sea-lift vessels (SSVs) can also serve as command-and-control platforms or floating government centers during national emergencies.

This was disclosed by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan in a message to the PNA.

"(These ships can also be converted into) floating hospitals or evacuation centers," he added.

The first SSV had its steel-cutting ceremony last Jan. 22 and is slated for delivery in May 2016.

While the second SSV had its steel-cutting last June 6 and is scheduled for delivery in May 2017.

Both ships are being constructed by PT PAL (Persero), an Indonesian shipbuilder, at its Surabaya facility.

"The two SSVs will be a big boost to our transport capability once they will be phased-in/commissioned to our inventory. The SSVs will address our gaps on troop transport support for internal security and they could also improve our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities as these vessels are multi-role platforms," Millan stated.

The Philippines has a two-SSV order with Persero for Php3,870,000,000 which is sourced from the AFP Modernization Fund.

The strategic sealift acquisition project for the PN was initiated upon the approval of Acquisition Decision Memorandum Number 2012-060 by the Secretary of National Defense last Oct. 30, 2013.

The Department of National Defense declared Persero as the Single Calculated Responsive Bidder with a bidding price of Php3,870,000,000 on Nov. 18, 2014.

The SSVs are programmed to be the PN’s floating command center carrying out their main purpose as military sealift and transport vessels and also for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Further, these vessels are critical assets for civil-military operations due to their capability of transporting large number of soldiers, logistics, and supplies.

Moreover, each SSV has the capacity to house three helicopters. The Navy’s Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board components of these vessels.

These forthcoming landing platform dock strategic sealift vessels will improve the transport capability of the PN and boost the defense capabilities of the country.

6th ID commander expresses thanks to public for CA confirmation

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): 6th ID commander expresses thanks to public for CA confirmation

Following his confirmation by the Commission on Appointment (CA) Wednesday, 6th Infantry Division commander Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan expressed his gratitude and thanks to the people for making his two-star rank a reality.

Pangilinan's confirmation was earlier put on hold by the CA last March because of questions about his role in the botched rescue of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members who died in an encounter with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25.

This also led to the death of 17 MILF members, five civilians and Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkipli Bin Hir.

"I thank everyone because I owe this to the people," Pangilinan said.

He also said that his confirmation cannot be called his vindication in wake of the Mamasapano fiasco as he personally believes that he was not at fault.

"As far as I am concerned and as commander of the 6th Infantry Division we were able to do our best in helping them (beleaguered SAF troopers)," Pangilinan said in Filipino.

The 6th Infantry Division was the military unit that aided in the extrication of the surviving SAF men.

It earlier claimed that it was not able to do more as the SAF did not cooperate its operations with them.

6 upgraded AFVs to arrive by June 18 --PA

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): 6 upgraded AFVs to arrive by June 18 --PA

"The first six units of the upgraded AFVs are arriving by June 18," Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, PA spokesperson, told the Philippines News Agency.

This lot will be followed by 18 other units and four more by July or August, he said.

Fourteen of the M-113s will be configured as fire support vehicles, four as infantry fighting vehicles, six as armored personnel carriers, and another four as armored recovery units.

The M-113s will be supplied by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd.

The contract, which is worth PhP882 million, was signed on June 22, 2014.

Upgrades include installation of 25mm unmanned turrets, 12.7mm remote controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and fire control systems (FCS) for 90mm turrets.

The PA operates around 343 AFVs (armored fighting vehicles) and APCs (armored personnel carriers).

Around 85 percent of these AFVs are on green status (fully mission capable), another 10 percent on yellow status (undergoing repair) and five percent on red (beyond repair)

About 150 of these are the United Kingdom-built GKN "Simba," with the remaining AFVs consisting of United States-designed V-150 and V-200 APCs, M-113s, Turkish made ACV-300s and British Scorpion CVRTs.

These vehicles give the PA its armor capability and are organized into a 14-vehicle mechanized infantry companion for deployment with regular units.

ASG camp seized in Indanan, Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): ASG camp seized in Indanan, Sulu

Pursuing government troopers captured an abandoned Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) camp in a forested section of Indanan, Sulu Thursday afternoon.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Alan Arrojado said the discovery took place at 1:10 p.m. as the troops from the 2nd Scout Ranger Company, 15th Scout Ranger Company and 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting pursuit operations against the ASG bandits.

The captured bandit base has an area of 300 x 300 square meters and is composed of 117 bunkers, with four kitchens and four comfort rooms. It can accommodate an estimated 300 ASG bandits.

Arrojado said that the camp looked freshly abandoned.

Earlier, government security forces killed an ASG bandit during an encounter at Barangay Sawaki, Indanan, Sulu Thursday morning.

In the same clash, a soldier from the 35th Infantry Battalion was wounded. The encounter took place at 10:45 a.m.

Arrojado said the firefight stemmed from law enforcement operations being conducted by soldiers commanded by Major Ibni Saddama which resulted in the seizure of two undocumented motorcycles believed to be abandoned by ASG bandits at 8 a.m.

He added that pursuing government troopers clashed with 30 ASG bandits commanded by sub-leader Jul Aksan.

In the issuing firefight, an ASG bandit was killed while a soldier was wounded.

Armed support was requested by 35th Infantry Battalion. With this, Combat Group A of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion conducted blocking operations east of the encounter scene as elements of Combat Group B made similar operations on the west side.

On the other hand, soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion conducted blocking operations on the south side.

Arrojado said that these deployments were made after they received reports that ASG bands under Alhabsy Misaya and Alden Bagade, numbering some 70, were planning to reinforce Aksan's group in their withdrawal attempt.

First episode of West Philippine Sea Documentary Airs on June 12

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 11): First episode of West Philippine Sea Documentary Airs on June 12

The Philippine government will launch on Friday a three-part documentary series on the West Philippine Sea amid growing disputes with China, which insists ownership of several features within Manila’s territory.

In partnership with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the Department of Foreign Affairs produced the documentary, called “Kalayaan” (Freedom).

Each episode focuses on a different angle of the issue: economic, historical and legal, a DFA statement on Thursday said.

The first episode is set to air on June 12, coinciding with the celebration of the 117th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the documentary is part of the nationwide Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign of the department to increase the level of public awareness and understanding of the issues relating to the West Philippine Sea.

Kalayaan is directed by RA Rivera, Jr. and hosted by multi-awarded broadcaster, Lourd de Veyra, together with Jun Sabayton.

A preview of episode 1, “Karapatan sa Karagatan” (Maritime Right) which highlights the economic angle, was shown to members of the media at the DFA on Thursday. News and video clips about the first episode are also being circulated on social media.

On June 12, at 4:00 p.m., the full video of episode 1 and links to it will be launched in government social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Episode 1 will continue to be aired on PTV-4 every 5:30 p.m. from June 15 to 19, with a replay every 10:30 p.m. The second and third episodes will be aired in late June and early July, respectively.

The Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in 2013 to denigrate China's massive claim which infringes on Philippine sovereignty.

South China Sea, a major shipping route and home to rich fishing grounds, vast mineral and oil and gas deposits, is claimed in part or in whole by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.