Thursday, June 18, 2015

Davao council to investigate incident that killed three men, hurt 12-year-old

From Business World (Jun 18): Davao council to investigate incident that killed three men, hurt 12-year-old

The city council is set to investigate the death of three men and the wounding of a 12-year old in what the military calls an encounter but human rights group Karapatan asserts as a “massacre”.

“We will conduct an ocular inspection and a committee hearing on the massacre this week or maybe next week,” said Councilor Karlo S. Bello, chair of the committee on human rights.

A separate investigation will be conducted by Karapatan on June 19 and 20.

Mr. Bello said “massacre” could be the appropriate word for the incident considering that the victims were reportedly killed while attending a birthday party in a house located along a main road in Paquibato District, a remote part of Davao City with communities of indigenous peoples (IPs) and where the communist New People’s Army (NPA) is believed to have a base.

“Both the military and the lumads (IPs) have different versions, but what we can be sure of is that three people are dead so we will investigate this,” Mr. Bello said.

The incident took place midnight of June 14 when still unidentified members of the 69th Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines allegedly strafed the residence of peasant and IP leader Aida Seisa.

Three who died from the shooting were identified as DatuRuben Enlog, Randy Carnasa, and Garyo Quimbo, all farmers residing within Paquibato, according to Karapatan. Mr. Enlog, an IP, was the leader of NAGKALUPA (Nagkahiusang Lumad Maguumasa Paquibato -- United Peasant Farmers of Paquibato); Mr. Carnasa was a religious leader and former head of a village sub-zone; and Mr. Quimbo was a church guitarist.

The wife of Mr. Enlog, Josefina, told the council during its regular session earlier this week: “My husband is not an NPA rebel.” On the other hand, the wife of Mr. Carnasa is an overseas Filipino worker and has yet to arrive home from Saudi Arabia.

The child of Ms. Seisa was also wounded in the incident.

Earlier this year, Ms. Seisa, the secretary-general of the Paquibato District Peasant Alliance (PADIPA) and vice-chairperson of SABOKAHAN Confederation of Lumad Women, asked the city council’s help for alleged harassment by members of the military who were in the area to contain the NPA.

On the other hand, Lt. Col. Rodney Intal, 69th Infantry Brigade commander, insisted that the three men were NPA members and that they were killed in an exchange of fire.

“It is not a massacre. These armed men fired at us first so we returned fire,” said Mr. Intal, adding that they went to the area after they received a report that rebel leader Kumander Parago and Nelson Algo alias “Upaw,” both of whom have existing warrants of arrest for murder, were in the house of Ms. Seisa.

‘Great Wall of Sea’ hit

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 18): ‘Great Wall of Sea’ hit

Security expert: China now illegally occupying parts of the Philippines

“China has effectively put up its own Great Wall of the Sea.”

China’s statement on Tuesday that it would soon start building infrastructure on its artificial islands in the South China Sea drew condemnation from the Philippines, Japan and the United States on Wednesday.

Manila said it was considering asking the United Nations arbitral tribunal to issue a provisional measure to stop Beijing from pursuing its expansion into disputed parts of the South China Sea.

Recent satellite images showed land reclamation on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Calderon (Cuarteron), Burgos (Gaven), Mabini (Johnson South), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi) and McKennan (Hughes) reefs in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

With its massive and rapid building of artificial islands and infrastructure on those reefs, China has “illegally occupied” the Philippines, Chester Cabalza, a Filipino security expert, said on Wednesday.“ It has effectively put up its own Great Wall of the Sea,” Cabalza added.

“They are occupying our territory rapidly because they have a timeline that they need to meet. This is already an illegal occupation by China through their construction of infrastructure and as a result, we lose a lot of our resources,” Cabalza, a professor at the National Defense College of the Philippines, told the Inquirer on the phone.

Cabalza said that by building artificial islands in the South China Sea, China was now carrying out its Anti-Access Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy, a military doctrine used to deny foreign militaries access to a certain area. By using A2/AD, China is denying other militaries access to the South China Sea and impinging on other countries’ freedom of navigation, he said.

“The more China blocks access to the South China Sea, [the more power it gets] in the region, as [it controls] the area,” Cabalza said.

Japan warned Beijing that its extensive land reclamation does not make its ownership of the South China Sea “a done deal.”

Washington said it was aware that China intended to complete some reclamation work in the South China Sea in the coming days, but Beijing’s plans for further construction work would not ease tensions in the heavily disputed sea.

China announced on Tuesday that it would soon complete some of its land reclamation on reefs in the Spratly Islands in the middle of the South China Sea and follow up with building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.

The announcement indicates China’s intention to seal its claim to almost the entire South China Sea ahead of a ruling from the UN arbitral tribunal on a Philippine challenge to that claim filed in 2013.

Int’l court action

On Monday, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court urged the government to ask the international court to stop China’s land reclamation.

“It is not yet too late,” Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said on Wednesday in response to Carpio’s call. “We can still do that . . . hopefully immediately after July.”

Jose explained that the government considered it premature to file a request for a provisional measure because the arbitral court had yet to determine whether it had jurisdiction over the Philippine case.

The UN court has scheduled oral arguments for July 7 to 13 after which it will decide on jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippine case, Jose said.

China has spurned the proceedings, insisting it has “undisputed sovereignty” over the South China Sea, but has been ordered by the tribunal to comment on the Philippine case just the same.

Jose added that the government was confident the five-member court headed by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana would rule in favor of the Philippines.

Jose said China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea had become a concern not just for the Philippines but the international community as well.

Besides the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have claims that overlap with China’s in the South China Sea, a vital waterway where $5 trillion in global cargo passes every year.

Int’l pressure

Malacañang said the government would continue pursuing a resolution of the territorial dispute with China in accordance with international law, but the Department of National Defense (DND) said the Philippines should intensify its efforts to put international pressure on China.

Peter Paul Galvez, spokesman for the DND, said there was no indication that China would stop building artificial islands and infrastructure in the South China Sea.

“I think we just need some more [pressure]. We just have to continue . . . informing . . . the international community [about] what’s happening,” Galvez said.

“Let’s not discount the value of informing and telling people, making them understand what’s really happening, because we need to counter the lies behind these claims,” he said.

Galvez said the DND was pleased with the strong support of the United States, European Union, Group of Seven, Australia and Japan.

“That should be enough for [China] to realize that what [it is] doing is really contrary to international law. So we call on [China]: Come on, wake up to the truth,” he said.

Galvez said the airstrip that China was building on Kagitingan Reef was 75-percent complete. He said the airstrip was big enough to receive large cargo and military aircraft.

At the DFA, Jose said the government had launched a massive information campaign to inform the public on developments in the South China Sea.

PH documentary

On Friday, the DFA released a 20-minute documentary film, “Karapatan sa Karagatan” (Maritime Rights), dealing with the economic losses that the Philippines incurs due to the territorial dispute with China.

The documentary, hosted by Lourd de Veyra and Jun Sabayton and directed by RA Rivera, was aired by PTV 4. It was the first of a four-part series on the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA, however, is not supporting any campaign for a boycott of Chinese goods, Jose said.

Filipinos in the United States last week called for a boycott of Chinese goods to pressure China into giving up its claim to Philippine territory in the South China Sea.

The United States has called for an “immediate and lasting” halt to China’s island-building in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, Washington said it “noted” Beijing’s announcement of the completion of some land reclamation work, but expressed concern that its plans for more construction work, including for defense, would not ease tensions in the region.

“China’s stated plans do not contribute to a reduction in tensions, support the emergence of diplomatic and peaceful solutions, or bolster China’s disputed maritime claims,” said a spokesperson for the US state department.–

China stopping reclamation activities because of upcoming US-China S&D Dialogue?

Posted to Ang Malaya (Jun 18): China stopping reclamation activities because of upcoming US-China S&D Dialogue?

Speculations rise that China is stopping its reclamation activities in West Philippine Sea due to international pressure and ahead of the yearly United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. US-China S&D Dialogue is set to be held in in Washington, D.C. on June 23-24.

US-China S&D Dialogue is a high-level dialogue for the United States and China to discuss a wide range of regional and global strategic and economic issues between both countries.

A reporter asked US State Department’s spokesperson John Kirby in a daily press briefing June 17. “They chose to make this announcement shortly before this S&ED conference here in Washington, D.C.,” the reporter said. “Does it tell you something about the Chinese posture about this issue?”

The US State department spokesman said “as for the timing of their announcement, you have to talk to them about that.” However, he said, US will continue to press China with its behavior. “I know it will come up next week. And again, Secretary Kerry will continue to press the same concerns that we’ve been pressing throughout.”

“We’ve seen the announcement that they’re going to stop land reclamation. We also saw that they intend to continue to militarizing the ones that they’ve reclaimed,” Kirby said.

“And we’ve made it very clear privately and publicly that that only increases tensions, that – and that it’s unhelpful, and we continue to call for a cessation of land reclamation and militarization of them in the region. It doesn’t do anything to increase the stability and security,” the American spokesperson explained.

US Navy littoral combat ship sent for maritime exercise in West Philippine Sea

From Ang Malaya (Jun 18): US Navy littoral combat ship sent for maritime exercise in West Philippine Sea

The annual bilateral maritime exercise between Philippines and United States, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), was officially opened today in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. US Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth is scheduled to participate in the said maritime exercise.

USS Fort Worth will play a prominent role in the CARAT 2015 exercise series this year with many of our partner nations, US Navy Logistics Group Western Pacific said.

Fort Worth employs the surface warfare (SUW) mission package for her entire deployment which provides the capability to detect, classify, track, and engage multiple groups of small boats, and it can be configured with the Maritime Security Module (MSM) for Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS), drug and counter piracy operation.

CARAT 2015 public affairs officer Lt. Liezl M. Vidallon said the maritime training “will strengthen both navies’ combined capabilities in amphibious operations, special operations, surface warfare, and modern naval warfare; enhance information sharing; and will promote relationship and goodwill.”

BRP Ramon Alcaraz will also participate in drills to be conducted in West Philippine Sea. CARAT-Philippines 2015 will end June 30.

US Navy to introduce RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile to Filipino sailors for familiarization

From Ang Malaya (Jun 18): US Navy to introduce RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile to Filipino sailors for familiarization

Filipino sailors will be given a chance to see personally and get familiarized with the American RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile during the June 18 to 30 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Philippines 2015. CARAT 2015 public affairs officer Lt. Liezl M. Vidallon said the US Navy will be introducing the weapon to our sailors for familiarization purposes, according to a state news report.

RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) is a small, lightweight, infrared homing surface-to-air missile.

Aside from the gunnery exercises, Filipino and American sailors will also conduct helicopter crash and salvage drills, deck-landing qualifications, visit, board, search-and-seizure and weapon system training.

CARAT-Philippines 2015 was officially started today and will be formally opened on June 22, 1:30 pm at the Naval Station Apolinario Jalandoni at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Vidallon added that the said maritime exercise will “strengthen both navies’ combined capabilities in amphibious operations, special operations, surface warfare, and modern naval warfare; enhance information sharing; and will promote relationship and goodwill.”

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) will participate in the said training. US Navy’s Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth is also set to join the said maritime exercise.

USS Fort Worth is known to be equipped with BAE Systems 57 mm main gun, Raytheon RIM-116 RAM launcher and two Mk 46 Mod 2 Bushmaster 30 mm guns.

Ex-NPA rebel falls in guns, ammo raid

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 18): Ex-NPA rebel falls in guns, ammo raid

A cache of firearms and ammunition was recovered Tuesday by the police during a raid at the residence of a former member of the New People's Army in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
Armed with a search warrant issued Judge Dialinda Dominguez, a combined team of policemen and operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group swooped down on the house of Benjamen Baliguat, alias Ben, in Sitio Abtao, Brgy. Tapi, Kabankalan City.
Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, Kabankalan City police officer-in-charge, said the raid yielded a .45 caliber Colt pistol with three magazines containing 25 live ammunition, a 9mm KG9 Luger pistol with two magazines filled with 25 bullets, a KG 9 gun silencer, a homemade 12 guage shotgun with nine ammunition, 23 ammunition for 22 pistol and 357 magnum revolver, as well as an empty magazine of M14 assault rifle.
Baliguat, a former NPA member, failed to present documents, allowing him to possess the firearms, Corpuz said.
The raid and arrest of Baliguat was an offshoot of complaints that he engaged in indiscriminate firing, he added.
Corpuz said Baliguat was denied bail, after he was charged yesterday by CIDG for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition before the Negros Occidental Provincial Prosecutor's Office.
A day earlier, operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and policemen conducted a joint stake-out operation in Purok Sunflower, Brgy. Poblacion, Bago City.
The anti-drug operation yielded a sachet of suspected shabu and two motorcycles.
However, the subject of the police operation, identified as Rolly Magbanua, alias Amik, managed to escape.

2 NPA rebels killed in Davao

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 18): 2 NPA rebels killed in Davao

Two New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were killed while five other members of the maoist group and five soldiers were wounded in an encounter in Paquibato, Davao City Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Alberto Caber, chief, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) public affairs office, said the fighting occurred around3:45 p.m. in in Purok Manga, Paquibato District.

Troops from the 69th Infantry Battalion (69IB), 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army were on security patrol in the area when they were engaged by a group of about 50 NPA gunmen.

Caber said an hour-long exchange of fire ensued, resulting in the death of two communist rebels and wounding of five other NPA members.

“Five soldiers suffered minor shrapnel wounds. They are now on stable condition,” said Caber, adding that the  troops were still on on pursuit operations as of press time.

Caber said it was the fourth encounter between soldiers of 69IB and the NPA in the area in four days.

69IB Commander Lt. Col. Rodney Intal said that security patrol is part of the peace and development activities in the area to protect residents from the NPA.

Army helps rehabilitate mosque in Mamasapano as gift of peace for Ramadhan

From MindaNews (Jun 18): Army helps rehabilitate mosque in Mamasapano as gift of peace for Ramadhan

As the month-long observance of Ramadhan starts today (Thursday), Muslims here can now pray more comfortably as soldiers and local residents rushed day in and day out the rehabilitation and beautification of a mosque right in the place where the infamous “Mamasapano Encounter” took place.

“A perfect gift for peace and healing,” said Tukanalipao barangay chairman Esmael Hashim.
Hashim, together with his constituents, were so thankful that despite the recent dark experience in their community, hope still exists.

Last January 25, this village became the focus of the country’s attention as a bloody encounter between elite police commandos out on a counterterrorism operation and local armed groups took place, almost breaking down the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

When the smoke cleared, 44 from the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force, 17 MILF combatants and five civilians were killed. The incident triggered several investigations, including those in both houses of Congress.

Five months later, and two days before the start of Ramadhan, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Province of Maguindanao and the Army’s 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division inaugurated and turned over the rehabilitated mosque, which was already dilapidated before work began.

The mosque is situated near the highway, just 200 meters from the cornfields where the battle raged.

Major Gen. Edmundo R. Pangilinan, commander of the 6ID that provided military personnel to help in the construction work, was overwhelmed by the success of the project.

He pledged to continue working for peace and progress in the region in partnership with other stakeholders.

“It was indeed a very promising day which brought new light to the lives of the people of Tukanalipao. I hope that the scars of the wounds created by an unfortunate incident that occurred in the area five months ago will totally be healed so that the people of Tukanalipao can celebrate Ramadhan more meaningfully and peacefully,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan was the commander whose confirmation as major general was delayed after he was challenged before the bicameral Commission on Appointment on the issue of the Army’s alleged failure to reinforce the surrounded police commandos. But he eventually got his two stars after the lawmakers were convinced of his decision.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman, who was one of the guest of honors during the inauguration, described the effort as a military-civilian collaboration on a bayanihan spirit.
“This is what we need to mend fences and differences, a unity that would promote peace, harmony and coexistence, he said.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who was also present at the activity, expressed gratitude for the opportunity of becoming a part of the project.

“We are all out supportive of this very touching effort. Let love, respect and forgiveness reign from there on,” he said.

Palace praises PCG for defending exclusive economic zone in sea near Taiwan

From GMA News (Jun 18): Palace praises PCG for defending exclusive economic zone in sea near Taiwan

The Palace praised the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for protecting the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) against Taiwanese Coast Guard, a report on GMA News TV's State of the Nation with Jessica Soho said on Wednesday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Sonny Coloma said that the PCG was just upholding the laws when it sent a warning to the Taiwanese Coast Guard to leave the Philippine EEZ. 
"Kaya naman nila ini-enforce iyong ang ating mga batas. Kapag meron silang natunton o nakita na lumalabag dito ay sinisita at isinasagawa iyon ayon sa batas," he explained. 
The standoff happened 23 nautical miles east of Itbayat Island in Batanes. But the Taiwanese insisted that they are patrolling their area. 
Below is the the exchange of radio communications of the two coast guards: 
  • Taiwanese Coast Guard: This is Taiwan Coast Guard.
  • PCG: What is your intention? You said you are now leaving? Why are you still here?
  • Taiwanese Coast Guard: we are not leaving. We are not leaving. 
  • PCG: This is our territory. You do not have any rights here.
  • Taiwanese Coast Guard: This is our Exclusive Economic Zone. This is our Exclusive Economic Zone. We have rights to stay here. We are not leaving.
After two hours of standoff, Taiwanese Coast Guard left the area. 
However, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) said that the incident happened in the two countries' overlapping EEZs and not in Philippines' territorial waters. 
"Therefore, the Taiwanese Coast Guard is entitled to exercise its rights and to do obligation to protect Taiwanese fishing vessels in the EEZs," a TECO statement said.  
It also noted that the encounter between the officers were "friendly and amicable" despite language barriers and miscommunications. 
Overlapping EEZs: Cause of confrontation 
In an interview with GMA News TV's News To Go on Wednesday morning, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis Perez said that the overlapping EEZs between Philippines' and Taiwan's respective territories have been the cause of standoffs. 
However, the Philippines does not have a direct diplomatic relations with Taiwan because of the One-China policy. 
"Hindi ganoon ka-simple ang usapin sa Taipei. Wala tayong existing diplomatic relations with them... Doon sa puntong iyon, iyon ang kailangang ayusin in a different way at iyong mga informal na usapan lang ang nangyayari diyan," Perez said.

But, the two countries may sign a law enforcement and fisheries agreement before the year ends. 

Relations between the two country soured in 2013 when a PCG killed a fisherman after it opened fire on a Taiwanese fishing boat.

PHL sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers

From GMA News (Jun 18): PHL sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers

The Philippines will hold simultaneous naval drills next week with key allies the United States and Japan, the military said Thursday, as Chinese building continues on the disputed South China Sea reefs.
The annual joint maneuvers with the United States will include a P3-Orion spy plane flight and a helicopter crash and rescue simulation near disputed waters, officials said.
The exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, only the second ever, will be staged separately, but in the same week as the US exercise, Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.
Lincuna could not immediately provide details of the second exercise but Japanese media, quoting unnamed official sources, said it would be staged in the South China Sea.
The Japanese media also said Japan would field a P3 surveillance aircraft. 
"The joint training will help capacitate and familiarise our troops with modern equipment. There will be sharing of information, techniques and best practices on the tactical level," Lincuna told AFP.
He said the twin joint maneuvers were not directed against China, which has built artificial islands on South China Sea reefs claimed by the Philippines.
"They are regularly planned and scheduled exercises. With Japan, the focus is on search and rescue and disaster relief," Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose told AFP.
The US joint maneuvers, Lincuna said, would be held near the island of Palawan, though off the eastern coast rather than the South China Sea-facing west.
The Philippines held landmark naval exercises with its World War II foe Japan only last month on the South China Sea, less than 300 kilometers (186 miles) from a Philippine-claimed shoal now under Chinese control.
The United States is the Philippines' longest-standing military ally, with the two countries bound by a 64-year-old mutual defense treaty and a separate visiting forces agreement.
An agreement that would allow the US to rotate more troops in Philippine military bases was signed last year, but will not be implemented until the Supreme Court decides on its legality.
Earlier this month, President Benigno Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to start negotiations for the transfer of defence equipment, including anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology. 
China said on Tuesday that land reclamation in the disputed Spratly islands would finish soon but be followed by "facility construction," as it reasserted its claim over almost the entire South China Sea.
Philippine military surveillance revealed that a giant runway on one of the reefs was "75-percent complete," potentially giving Beijing longer military reach, Defense Department spokesman Peter Galvez had said.
China is separately engaged in a long-standing dispute with Japan over an island chain in the East Sea.
China's claims in the South China Sea overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
The Philippines has challenged China's claims before a United Nations-backed arbitration tribunal, where it is expected to argue its case at the court's first hearing next month.
China has refused to participate in the arbitration.

China tells builders to make civilian ships suitable for military use

From GMA News (Jun 18): China tells builders to make civilian ships suitable for military use

The government of China has approved a plan requiring all civilian shipbuilders to design their new vessels to be "suitable for military use" in case of an "emergency," a state-owned newspaper said.

Citing the China Classification Society, China Daily reported that the implementation of the plan "will enable China to convert the considerable potential of its civilian fleet into military strength."

The development comes as China said it will soon complete some of its land reclamation projects in the disputed South China Sea, parts of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

According to the report, the plan also seeks to "greatly enhance the PLA's (People's Liberation Army) strategic projection and maritime support capabilities."

"Modern naval warfare often requires the mobilization and deployment of a large number of ships while the mass production of naval ships in peacetime is not economically sensible," the report quoted Cao Weidong, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, as saying.

"Therefore, it is a common practice that shipbuilders reserve some military application platforms on their civilian vessels so they can serve the navy in wartime," he said.

The Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements is the result of the five-year joint effort by the society's Shanghai Specifications Institute and ship experts from the People's Liberation Army's Nanjing Military Command, the report said.

The approved guidelines cover five categories of vessels - container, roll-on/roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk.

Shipbuilders will receive funds to cover the additional costs of building ships suitable for military use as well as insurance in case of damage, the report said, once the National Defense Transport Law is enacted.

The Philippine government has repeatedly expressed its concern over the reclamation projects of China in the South China Sea.

Aside from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam also have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy has begun its naval exercises under the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2015 from June 18 to June 30 with the United States Navy.

Pinoy fishermen tell of aggressive Chinese navy in West PHL Sea; Magdalo urges PHL ship patrols

From GMA News (Jun 18): Pinoy fishermen tell of aggressive Chinese navy in West PHL Sea; Magdalo urges PHL ship patrols

Diplomatic protests are not enough to stop Chinese navy ships' harassment of Filipino fishermen, the Magdalo partylist said on Thursday as fisherfolk from Bataan and Iloilo told GMA News of recent and ongoing Chinese intrusions into their fishing grounds.
Magdalo partylist Congressman Francisco Asher Acedillo said the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard should send out patrols to protect Filipino fishing vessels that need to harvest fish from the reefs and shoals of the West Philippine Sea that are teeming with marine life.
Acedillo issued the call to the PN and PCG after learning of the aggression Filipino fishermen encounter from Chinese ships, as well as from Vietnamese vessels.

[Video report]
Donie Cabacungan, skipper of the fishing boat Denmark said the Chinese ships they encounter sail as close as five nautical miles to the Rizal Reef, also known as Commodore Reef.
Cabacungan also relayed the experience of fellow fishermen who came from as far as Iloilo. He said the ship Chinese Navy 29 chased Iloilo fishermen away from the Rizal Reef.
Cabacungan's report is no different from that of Valeriano Quimson, skipper of the fishing boat John Alex, who said their livelihood is adversely affected whenever they are unable to fish in the water of Scarborough Shoal.
China has become aggressive in patrolling the West Philippine Sea, according to Professor Rommel Banlaoi of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, because China may be fearing the expansion of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone if and when the Philippines wins its case before the United Nations abritral tribunal.

EDCA’s fate lies with SC — Palace

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 19): EDCA’s fate lies with SC — Palace

Malacañang yesterday left at the hands of the Supreme Court (SC) the determination of the Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement’s (EDCA) validity, as the measure is left with another debacle after 13 senators recently signed a draft resolution saying that Senate ratification of the pact is needed, assailing its form as a treaty.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a statement, said that the defense agreement between the United States and the Philippines will be left to the high tribunal, pointing out Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s statement that the document will be submitted to the high court if adopted by the Senate.

“Issues regarding the EDCA are still pending resolution before the Supreme Court…. Accordingly, we will wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the EDCA,” Coloma said.

Santiago drafted the Senate resolution, which is scheduled to be filed this week as signed by majority of Senators, stating that EDCA is “invalid and ineffective” unless submitted to the Senate for concurrence, as treaties, according to the Constitution, shall not be valid or effective “unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

The position of Malacanang on the military agreement between Manila and Washington was that its implementation is only in line with fulfilling earlier pacts entered by the Philippine government with the Federal government, namely the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Critics have earlier questioned EDCA’s adherence with the Constitution, tagging the pact as in violation of the country’s sovereignty as it gives US troops wide access to local military bases and approval to build facilities to store fuel and equipment for maritime security.

Militant solons and other groups challenged its constitutionality in the SC last year, shortly after the 10-year defense pact was inked which allows an enlarged rotational presence of American troops in the country.

Through EDCA, US forces will be authorized to train, refuel aircraft and pre-position their supplies within the Philippine territory with the permission of the government. However, specifics on the facilities involved are yet to be agreed upon by both parties which was the point of argument of those seeking it to be junked.

Nabbed NPA leader accuses military, cops of making money out of his arrest

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 19): Nabbed NPA leader accuses military, cops of making money out of his arrest

A captured communist leader is refuting military tag that he is the current highest-ranking commander of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the country, accusing police and military of trying to make money out of his arrest.

Adelberto Silva, in a statement released through Karapatan, claimed that he is a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in its peace negotiations with the government of the Philippines since 1987.

“I am a consultant of the NDFP in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government. I helped prepare the labor and economic agenda in the 1987 peace negotiation and in the current peace talks between the GRP and NDFP,” Silva stated.

“I am committed to the struggle for a just and lasting peace, pave a path by which our country can lift itself out of the quagmire of crisis, poverty, mendicancy and corruption we currently find ourselves in,” he added.

Silva was captured by combined police and military operatives in Bacoor, Cavite last June 1, along with his wife Rosanna Cabusao and Isidro de Lima.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) tagged Silva as the secretary general of the CPP-Central Committee and the current highest-ranking....

Silva belied the AFP tag and accused the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of trying to make money out of his arrest.

I surmised that I was made to appear as the new secretary general of CPP so that the AFP and PNP could collect higher monetary reward or bounty for my arrest and for psywar operations,” said Silva.

“I categorically deny any involvement in the trumped-up multiple charges against me. All accusations hurled against me, my wife Rosanna Cabusao and my companion Isidro de Lima, are false, malicious and baseless,” he added.

Silva, 67, claimed he is a holder of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) documentation of identification with the assumed named “Percival Rojo” and with Document of Identification number ND 978229. Silva is described as a trade union organizer since the Martial Law period while Cabusao is a researcher/consultant of the Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center and a founding member of Gabriela.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said that Silva’s arrest and continued detention is another proof of the Aquino government’s disregard to previous agreements between the NDFP and government peace panels.

“The GRP and the AFP have consistently disregarded and violated the GRP-NDFP Jasig. Wala namang kinilala o in-acknowledge na peace consultant ang mga yan,” Palabay said.

2 rebels slain, 10 others hurt in Davao encounter

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 19): 2 rebels slain, 10 others hurt in Davao encounter

Two New People's Army (NPA) bandits were killed while 10 others —five rebels and five troopers — were wounded during an encounter at Purok Manga, Paquibato District, Davao City yesterday afternoon.

Five of the wounded soldiers are from the 69th Infantry Battalion, said Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs chief Capt. Alberto Caber.

The clash with rebel forces took place at 3:45 p.m.

He added that government troops were conducting security patrols when they chanced upon the NPA band, triggering a brief firefight, which killed two rebels and wounded five others.

Caber said the wounded soldiers are now in stable condition.

He added that the pursuing troops recovered assorted ammunition from the encounter scene.

Residents in the area reported there are five wounded NPA bandits who were carried by their companion in their escape.

Efforts are now underway to identify the slain rebels who were abandoned by their comrades.

Moro rebels gave up more deadly firearms than expected, gov’t says

From the Business World (Jun 17): Moro rebels gave up more deadly firearms than expected, gov’t says

MORO REBEL fighters turned over fewer high-powered firearms but more crew-serve weapons -- which are reportedly deadlier -- than was previously announced, authorities said.

Officials inspect weapons handed over by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group for decommissioning in Sultan Kudarat on June 16. -- AFP
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) lay down 51 high-powered guns -- lower than the 55 it promised -- but surrendered 24 crew-serve weapons (which require more than one person to operate), higher than the 20 that was earlier expected.

“These decommissioned firearms were secured by the Verification and Monitoring Assistance Team under the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) with a unit from the Joint Peace and Security Team composed of elements from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces,” the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said.

The government was already aware of the discrepancy, government peace panel chair Miriam C. Ferrer said.

“The IDB completed its inspection and registration early morning yesterday so I got a copy of the list when I arrived yesterday,” Ms. Ferrer said in an interview.

The IDB, under a protocol signed in January, will conduct inventory and will validate the arms list submitted by the MILF. It is chaired by Turkish diplomat Haydar Berk and among its members are retired Brig. Gen. Jan Erik Wilhelmsen of Norway and Major Muhammad Aimman Syazwi bin Haji Abdul Rahim of Brunei.

“It was in fact better that they turned in more crew serve as these are more deadly. In any case this was approved by the IDB,” she said.

President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on Tuesday witnessed the ceremonial decommissioning of 75 weapons and 145 combatants at the old provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

“The Norwegian team leader of the Verification and Monitoring Assistance Team (VMAT) of the Independent Decommissioning Body locked up the storage facility of the weapons turned over,” the OPAPP said.

The VMAT will secure the storage facility in Camp Iranun in Maguindanao.

“IDB chair Ambassador Haydar Berk of Turkey entrusts the key to the storage facility to the Norwegian VMAT team leader in charge of securing the area,” it said.

Arrested CPP-NPA leader claims to be NDF peace consultant

From the Business Mirror (Jun 17): Arrested CPP-NPA leader claims to be NDF peace consultant

A COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) leader who was arrested in Bacoor, Cavite, early this month said he is a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Adelberto Silva issued the statement on Wednesday through human-rights group Karapatan, belying earlier claims of the Armed Forces that Silva is currently the secretary-general of the CPP-NPA.

“I am a consultant of the NDF in its peace negotiations with the Philippine government. I helped prepare the labor and economic agenda in the 1987 peace negotiation and in the current peace talks between the government and NDF. I am committed to the struggle for a just and lasting peace, pave a path by which our country can lift itself out of the quagmire of crisis, poverty, mendicancy and corruption we currently find ourselves in,” the 67-year-old Silva said in his statement.

In a statement, the Armed Forces Public Affairs Office, headed by Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, said that Silva, who is facing criminal charges filed by family members of the victims of the alleged NPA purge in Leyte, was arrested by virtue of an arrest warrant for heinous crimes such as murder and frustrated murder. He was tagged as among those who had allegedly participated in the Inopacan Massacre, which claimed the lives of at least 400 people, according to Cabunoc.

In his statement, Silva claimed he is a holder of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) documentation of identification with the assumed named “Percival Rojo” and with Document of Identification ND 978229.

Silva, his wife Rosanna Cabusao and another companion, Isidro de Lima, were arrested in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite, by National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group agents.
Cabusao is a researcher-consultant of the Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center and a founding member of Gabriela.

Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay chided the government and the military for having consistently disregarded and violated the Jasig.

“Wala namang kinilala o in-acknowledge na peace consultant ang mga iyan. They always resort to criminalizing the work of peace consultants; arresting and detaining them on trumped-up criminal charges and planted guns and explosives,” she said.

Palabay said Silva showed the arresting group his Jasig ID.

“He should be protected from arrest and detention. His arrest and that of his wife activist Rosanna Cabusao and companion Isidro de Lima is illegal,” Palabay said.

“I surmised that I was made to appear as the new secretary general of Communist Party of the Philippines so that the Armed Forces and National Police could collect higher monetary reward or bounty for my arrest and for psychological warfare operations. I categorically deny trumped-up multiple charges against me.

Joint PHL-US naval exercise begins in Palawan

From the Business Mirror (Jun 18): Joint PHL-US naval exercise begins in Palawan

FILIPINO and American troops began the eight-day naval exercise in waters near the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, amid heightening tension with China following the Chinese military’s putting up of bouys within the country’s maritime waters.

The Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) has the Philippine Navy’s two biggest and newest vessels, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, working in tandem with the US Navy’s littoral combat ship, the USS Fort Worth, in the naval war games in Palawan.

The USS Forth Worth was the latest US littoral vessel of the US deployed in the Asia-Pacific region. It has an unrivaled maritime military capabilities, including in antisubmarine warfare, and it came as the US had warned China to stop from militarizing the South China Sea.

Lt. Liezel Vidallon, public-affairs officer of the Philippine fleet, said the Carat, which is an annual naval exercise between the US and the Philippines, has nothing to do with the maritime row between China and the country.

“It is being held in waters outside the disputed territory,” she said, although she admitted that the area was close to the territory which China is claiming against the country.

The exercise came as the government prepares to remove the bouys which China has put within the oil-rich Reed or Recto Bank, which is well within the country’s exclusive economic zone, and the reported sightings of a Chinese survey ship in the adjoining Amy Douglas Shoal.

Just last week, G-7 countries have asked China to stop its reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, a call that was made earlier by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Japan, the Asean and even defense officials who have attended the annual Shangri-La defense dialogue in Singapore.

Apparently feeling the pressure, China announced it will stop its development activity in some areas, a statement that was dismissed by the Department of National Defense, especially that it was followed by the discovery of markings in the Recto Bank.

Vidallon said that among the exercises that American and Filipino sailors would undertake are helicopter crash and salvage, gunnery, deck-landing qualification, board and seizure, and on weapon systems, including firing a missile.

“The exercise aims to conduct combined naval operations in order to enhance interoperability between the Philippine Navy and US naval forces. Furthermore, it will strengthen both navies’ combined capabilities in amphibious operations, special operations, surface warfare and modern naval warfare,” she said.

It would also enhance information sharing.

Aside from the Carat, Japanese forces and Navy personnel are also poised to conduct a separate naval exercise next week, also in Palawan, in a growing security cooperation between Japan and the Philippines. The exercise will include a Japanese maritime-surveillance plane.

Rights group demands pull out of “massacre troops” in Mindanao

From the pro-CPP Bicol Today (Jun 18): Rights group demands pull out of “massacre troops” in Mindanao 

Davao City. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Davao City. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Rights group Hustisya demanded the pull-out of the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Southern Mindanao, calling them “massacre troops” after the killing of an indigenous people leader, a purok (small village) leader and a farmer, while wounding a child and a woman farmer leader in Paquibato District, Davao City on June 14.

In a protest action infront of the AFP Headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo this morning, the group together with Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and KATRIBU, cried out justice for the victims, identified by Karapatan Southern Mindanao as Ruben Enlog, a datu (tribal leader) of Ata Manobos in Sitio Manipis, farmer Garyo Quimbo and Randy Carnasa, a purok leader in the community.

“We cry out for justice for the victims. No words are enough to condemn this massacre. The massacre troops of the AFP, which falsely accused the victims as NPA members, should be pulled out in Mindanao. They will never cease to sow terror in the communities as long as the Aquino government allows these butchers in uniform to kill and silence people,” said Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general.

According to reports from human rights groups in the region, more than 55 battalions of the AFP are deployed in Mindanao under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. This is equivalent to almost 60 percent of the total number of AFP troops.

“There should be an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation on this massacre. We shall demand justice on this case along with the many cases in the past until these promoted Palparan-Aquino generals be brought behind bars.

Allowing human rights violators to prevail with impunity is tantamount to letting the cries of justice of the victims fall on deaf ears,” Guevarra said.

The 69th IBPA is under the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army under the command of Gen. Eduardo Año. Under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, Año was implicated in the abduction of peasant organizer Jonas Burgos.

The said military unit was also tagged as the “Palparan battalion,” with its elements previously under the command and training of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan, now charged before the courts for the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in Bulacan in the year 2006.

“The huge deployment of troops in Mindanao is meant to kill and silence the people in the region. With only a year in power, we will not let Pres. Aquino and his minions in the military go unpunished. The trail of blood of Aquino’s bloody straight path will follow them everywhere,” said Guevarra.

8 out of 10 Pinoys worry about armed conflict with China – SWS

From ABS-CBN (Jun 18): 8 out of 10 Pinoys worry about armed conflict with China – SWS

Majority of Filipinos worry about a possible armed conflict with China in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey said.

SWS said 84% of the respondents were worried (49% worried a great deal, 35% somewhat worried) that an armed conflict could erupt in the shoal – a part of the disputed South China Sea which Beijing seized from Manila in 2012.

SWS said the figures for this question were consistent with the results in the previous polls in September 2012, September 2013, and June 2014.

Meanwhile, the survey said 49% of the respondents approve (16% strongly approve, 33% somewhat approve) of the steps taken by the Philippine government regarding the tension in the Scarborough Shoal.

SWS said this is much lower than the 65% and 62% recorded in the September 2013 and June 2014 surveys, respectively.

Forty-six percent of the respondents said they somewhat or strongly disapprove of Manila's actions, much higher than the 27% and 32% recorded in the September 2013 and June 2014 surveys, respectively.

The March 2015 survey was conducted from March 20-23, 2015 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide. The result of the survey was first published by BusinessWorld.

4 killed in alleged BIFF attack in Maguindanao

From ABS-CBN (Jun 18): 4 killed in alleged BIFF attack in Maguindanao

Four people died in an ambush in Barangay Pamalian in Shariff Saydona Mustapha town on Wednesday morning.

Reports said the four victims, who remain unidentified, were on board a white Toyota Innova when they were fired upon by suspected members of the Bangsmoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Sitio Kapok at around 8 p.m.

The BIFF rebels were allegedly led by a certain ''Sala'', who is believed to be a son of the late BIFF founder Ameril Umbra Kato.

Police and military officials were still gathering information regarding the said incident. They have also yet to get the identities of the victims.

Cop uses own car to chase kidnappers, rescue businesswoman

From ABS-CBN (Jun 18): Cop uses own car to chase kidnappers, rescue businesswoman

Police in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay rescued a businesswoman hours after she was abducted in her residence in Barangay San Jose, Imelda town past 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Imelda municipal police station Chief Insp. Jervie Alonzo said five armed men forcibly entered the house of Kathy Grace Cunting and took the businesswoman.

The suspects tied the hands of Cunting's mother and other relatives.

They also took some of the family's personal belongings and even ordered Cunting to drive their car, which the suspects used as their getaway vehicle.

The abductors drove towards the direction of adjacent Kabasalan town.

Police were immediately alerted and established blocking points along the highway. They, however, failed to stop the vehicle of the suspects.

Alonzo, who was then driving his personal car, chased the suspects and bumped their getaway vehicle, prompting the abductors to stop.

The abductors then abandoned the car and fled on foot bringing along with them the victim.

Police engaged the suspects in a gun battle for a few minutes, which prompted them to leave Cunting behind while trying to escape.

Alonzo said they were able to rescue Cunting unharmed.

Cunting's family owns some businesses in Imelda town which include a lending firm.
Alonzo said they were not aware of any kidnapping threat on the Cunting family.


Kabasalan Mayor George Cainglet said the abductors also shot two civilians in Sitio Punawan, Barangay Santa Cruz, amid the hot pursuit operations of government forces.

One of the civilians, identified as 50-year-old Danny Gulmatico, died on the spot after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. His companion, 19-year-old Chrisian Cortel, survived the attack.

The hot pursuit operations ended late Wednesday night, with no suspects arrested or neutralized.

Police are still investigating what group the five armed men are affiliated with.

Last March 5, two teachers were abducted off Talusan municipality. One of the teachers was later released in Sulu province on May 14.

On April 6, Naga Mayor Gemma Adana was also abducted by alleged members of Abu Sayyaf Group.

Zamboanga Sibugay police provincial director Sr. Supt. Bayani Gucela said the abductors of Adana have demanded P10 million from the victim's family in exchange for her release.