Thursday, July 23, 2015

AFP conducts Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response exercises

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 23): AFP conducts Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response exercises

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) commenced today its three-day humanitarian assistance and disaster response exercise (HADRX) to further enhance the capabilities of its responders in handling situations related to natural calamities.

In accordance with AFP’s Contingency Plan, “Pagyanig”, formulated in anticipation of the threat of a magnitude 7 earthquake which experts say might originate from the West Valley Fault, the HADRX concentrates on Joint Operations Planning and Simulated Execution of the Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) Operations of the AFP.

The following capabilities of the AFP will also be tested in the course of the HADRX: AFP Battle Staff in managing the operations including the running of Multi-National and Coordinating Council (MNCC) and Civil Military Coordination Center (CMCC); Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) and Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) in providing command and control among troops deployed in respective sectors; Communications, Electronics, and Information Systems Service AFP (CEISSAFP) in providing communications during a 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake scenario; Major Services in providing forces for Search, Rescue and Retrieval (SRR) as well as engineer units in support to HADR operations; Unified Commands and Joint Task Force in providing follow on forces.

The HADRX is expected to help AFP refine its tasked units’ implementing plan, which will be the basis for the conduct of a separate Mobilization Exercise (MOBEX) scheduled on 28 July 2015.

A total of 100 participants composed of personnel from the training audiences (AFP Battle Staff, HADR Crisis Action Team, Unified Commands, Major Services, and AFP-Wide Service Support Units), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), panelists, facilitators and support staff will partake in the exercises.

Prior to the HADRX, the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (JTF NCR) had its Earthquake and Landslide Search and Rescue Orientation Course (ELSAROC) in June to ensure that military responders will be able to respond to communities, which might be affected by calamities.

AFP officers and enlisted personnel also underwent Flood Incident and Response Training (FIRST), Emergency Response Training (ERT) and Incident Command System (ICS) Training in May to prepare for flood incidents and other calamities.

The JTF-NCR also has an existing HADR Plan “Sagip Tulong 2”, an Implementing Plan to GHQ; AFP Operational Plan “TULONG-BAYANIHAN” alongside Contingency Plan “Pagyanig”.

AFP preps 2,500 soldiers for possible alerts on Pres. Aquino’s last SONA

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 24): AFP preps 2,500 soldiers for possible alerts on Pres. Aquino’s last SONA

This coming Monday, 2,500 personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be on stand-by as President Benigno Aquino III delivers his final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

On Wednesday, AFP public affairs chief, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, said that the soldiers will not be deployed but will only be alerted in their camps.

The General Headquarters, Philippine Army, Air Force, Navy and the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division based in Rizal, will have a battalion or about 500 soldiers each.

The units will include K-9, Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams and Medical Corps.

Detoyato also said they have not monitored any security threat in relation to SONA.

“We do not want to assume anything violent but we are just preparing our troops so if they are requested they will be immediately alerted,” he said.

Notably, the military will only provide support to the PNP, the lead unit for SONA’s security preparations.

“They will be deployed only when requested and necessary because we are only in the support role to the Philippine National Police,” he said.

As to whether they will raise their security alert level, Detoyato said it will be determined later. (AFP).

Capiz residents benefit from Pacific Partnership 2015 projects

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 22): Capiz residents benefit from Pacific Partnership 2015 projects

Capiz residents are grateful for the new school buildings and a health facility built through the efforts of the Pacific Partnership 2015.

One of the humanitarian and civic engagements by the United States Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic mission in the Philippines, particularly in Capiz, is their engineering civic action program.

Two schools in the province, particularly the Basiao Elementary School in Ivisan town and the Roxas City School for Philippine Craftsmen in Lanot, Roxas City as well as the Talon Health Center in Roxas City were chosen as the areas for engineering works.

The super typhoon-damaged 2-classroom buildings in Basiao Elementary School will be replaced with new roofing which will include light weight steel trusses and purlins.
Additional repairs will include a fiber reinforced ceiling, new windows, new steel doors, and electrical upgrades as required.

Painting of all the interior and exterior surfaces will likewise as part of the engineering work, which project has an estimated cost of $30,000 USD.

One new concrete and hollow block  two-classroom building in the Roxas City School for Philippine Craftsmen will likewise be constructed with an estimated project cost of $78,000 USD.

Included in the said engineering work for the construction of the building is the prefabricated steel truss roof and sheet metal roofing, interior lighting, fans, and electrical outlets, four attached toilets and interior and exterior surface painting.

According to Philippine Army 1Lt. Krystle Rose Abay, Task Force Panay Action Officer for the Pacific Partnership 2015, a new concrete barangay health center in Talon with an estimated project cost of $38,000 USD is in consonance with the design of the Department of Health.

Abay, during her briefing, said that the new building will be made of prefabricated steel truss roof and sheet metal roofing, with  interior lighting, fans, and electrical outlets, with its interior and exterior surfaces fully painted.

She added that the new health center will include one restroom and a delivery room.
The engineering works, she said, has started in the middle of June  in partnership with the Philippine Army.

Mediamen tour USNS Mercy

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 22): Mediamen tour USNS Mercy

Twenty – four mediamen from Iloilo and Capiz were privileged to tour around the key sections of the United States Naval Hospital Ship (USNS Mercy) currently docked near Culasi Port in Roxas City for the 2015 Pacific Partnership mission.

The hour-long tour in the 272 – meter long hospital ship involved taking elevator rides to get to the various facilities and departments of the hospital ship.

The tour included a visit to the optometry, dental, Intensive Care Unit, physical therapy as well as burn care, radiological services and blood bank departments.

The tour guides, who were US Navy personnel, also took the print and broadcast media practitioners to the ship captain’s control room and viewing deck.

Some of the USNS Mercy civilian and military staff gamely posed for souvenir photos and gladly interacted with local mediamen during the tour.

The hospital ship arrived here last July 18, with more than 900 personnel that include volunteers from non-government organizations, for the first half of its mission stop in the country for a two-week humanitarian mission in view of the Pacific Partnership 2015.

It  also anchored off Jolo in Mindanao during the Pacific Partnership 2006.

While in Roxas City, medical staff aboard Mercy will perform surgical procedures and will host community health engagements in identified locations throughout the province.

The USNS Mercy’s disaster response team will also train local rescuers and emergency responders to enhance the skills and capabilities of the local disaster response teams in the region.

Mercy will depart from Roxas City on Aug. 4 and transit to Subic Bay to continue its mission in the country.

Pacific Partnership kicks off with various activities, engagements

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 22): Pacific Partnership kicks off with various activities, engagements

The different humanitarian and civic engagements in Capiz in view of the Pacific Partnership 2015 in the Philippines has officially started.

The opening ceremonies here, July 20, came after the arrival of the Unites States Naval Hospital Ship Mercy in Roxas City last July 18.

The Pacific Partnership 2015 mission in the Philippines as host country covers the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, engineering civic action program, cooperative health engagements, civil military operations and cooperative surgical engagement on board USNS Mercy.

Particularly, the medical, surgical, dental as well as veterinary services, engineering works and disaster preparedness training are the focus of this engagement.

According to Mission Commander Capt. Christopher Engdahl, the 4-week mission in Capiz so far is their longest humanitarian and civic action stay.

Engdahl said that almost 1,000 personnel from the United States, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand including volunteers from the different non-government organizations are joining the US Naval Hospital Ship Mercy for the Visayas-leg humanitarian and civic activities of the Pacific Partnership 2015 in the Philippines.

The annual US Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission aims to strengthen cooperation, sharing of expertise, exchange of knowledge and expertise and prepare people in the Pacific region to be responsive, resilient and a coordinated response effort in times of natural disaster.

On the other hand, Capiz Governor Victor Tanco conveyed his appreciation to the men and women of the 2015 Pacific Partnership for the valuable contribution it will bring to the Capiceños through the various socio-civic activities which will last until Aug. 1.

Tanco said that this event in the country which is hosted by the province of Capiz will provide a spark to unity, oneness and solidarity in the path top progress.

Like the Pacific Partnership  that is guided by the principle of service and social responsibility, the same is also in line with his battle cry “Labi sa Tanan ang Tawo,” (Above all is People)  that champions the best service for the Capiceños.

Also in attendance during the opening ceremonies here were Task Force 73 Commander Rear Admiral Charlie Williams, Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Commander Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar, Office of the Civil Defense Regional Director Rosario Cabrera, Philippine Army 3rd Infantry Division Commander Rey Leonardo Guerrero and Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin, among others.

Police eye ASG as the ones behind Zamboanga City bomb explosion

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Police eye ASG as the ones behind Zamboanga City bomb explosion

The police believed that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) are the ones responsible in late Thursday’s bombing that killed one person and injured 10 others in this city.

The bomb exploded around 9:47 p.m. Thursday inside a KTV bar and massage parlor at the junction of M. Calixto Street and San Jose Road, this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, disclosed the ASG has threatened to stage attacks against government forces who are on rest and recreation in this city.

Casimiro said the attacks are in retaliation to the continuous law enforcement operations against the ASG in the province of Sulu.

He said the possible targets of the ASG are gathering places such as night spots, massage parlors and others.

Casimiro said they have already forewarned the owners of night establishments and other gathering places to strengthen security measures.

He disclosed that initial finding of the explosive and ordnance demolition (EOD) showed the improvised bomb that exploded was ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO)

He said the bomb scare on Wednesday at a food court appeared to be a test on the response time of the security forces.

The authorities have closed the road leading to the food court at the Puericulture Center as they rendered safe procedure and disrupted an unattended baggage.

The content of the baggage, which was left by a customer, turned out to be clothes.

Upgraded APCs to be fitted with remote-controlled .50 caliber machine guns

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 24): Upgraded APCs to be fitted with remote-controlled .50 caliber machine guns

The six upgraded armored personnel carriers (APCs), which were delivered from Israel last month, will be fitted and armed with remote-controlled .50 machine guns.

"The six M-113s are now at the headquarters of the Mechanized Division (in Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac). They are now ready for the installation of their guns which are now being processed for release," Mechanized Division spokesperson Major Filemon I. Tan Jr. told the PNA on Friday.

Tan expects commissioning of the APCs to take place this coming Sept. 11, which is the Mechanized Division's eighth founding anniversary.

The six APCs were transported to Tarlac last July 8.They will be followed by 18 other units and four more by August.

Fourteen of the M-113s have been 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 were supplied by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd.

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

Upgrades included installation of 25mm unmanned turrets, 12.7mm (.50 caliber machine guns) remote-controlled weapon stations (RCWS) and fire control systems (FCS) for 90mm turrets.

The Philippine Army operates around 343 AFVs (armored fighting vehicles) and APCs.

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

At least 150 of these are the United Kingdom-built GKN "Simba," with the remaining AFVs consisting of US-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 companies for deployment with regular units.

Civilians trapped as military, BIFF clash in Maguindanao town

From InterAksyon (Jul 24): Civilians trapped as military, BIFF clash in Maguindanao town

A number of civilians are trapped in an ongoing clash between government troops and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Talayan, Maguindanao that began Thursday night.

One of the residents said occasional bursts of fire could still be heard Friday morning.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misri Mama blamed the military for triggering the hostilities when troops entered Barangay Damabalak and encountered their fighters led by Ustadz Khadaffy.

It is unclear if any civilians have been hurt in the fighting.

6th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Joan Petinglay said the operation in Talayan is part of their continuing campaign to neutralize the BIFF.

Meanwhile, a grenade launcher was fired at a detachment of the 40th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tukanalipao, Mamasapano Thursday night.

No one was injured in the incident.

Tukanalipao is the village where most of the 44 police Special Action Force commandos who died in a clash that broke out during the covert operation to get Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” on January 25 were killed.

The clash also left 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and three civilians dead and almost scuttled the peace agreement between the government and MILF.

VIRAL: Soldier buys food for street children in Cebu

From ABS-CBN (Jul 23): VIRAL: Soldier buys food for street children in Cebu

Government Website · 26,532 Likes
Yesterday at 12:07am
One act of kindness.
A friend took these photos of a man from the Philippine Air Force buying chickenjoy meals for these two street children in Jollibee, Gaisano Capital, Lapu-Lapu City.
Salute to you sir! smile emoticon

CEBU -- A photo of a soldier who bought food for two street children in Lapu-Lapu City is making the rounds online.

The photo was posted on the official Facebook page of Lapu-Lapu City.

The soldier was identified as Airman Mario Teadila, a member of the 560th Air Base Wing of the Philippine Air Force.

The 21-year-old Teadila is originally from Lipa City in Batangas.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, Teadila said he had just sent money to his family in Batangas when he saw the two boys sleeping near a mall.

He woke up the boys and asked if they had eaten. Teadilla took them to a fast food chain and talked to them.

When asked why he bought food for the boys, Teadilla said it was because how he was raised by his parents.

Teadilla came from a poor family and is the third of four children. His parents do not have stable jobs.

At age 19, he started working as a promodiser, leaving his college education behind.

He decided to become a soldier to help his family.

Lumads refuse to leave Davao evacuation center

From MindaNews (Jul 23): Lumads refuse to leave Davao evacuation center

Amid a commotion as policemen in antiriot gear stormed the Haran Evacuation Center where lumads have holed up for months, the evacuees refused to leave during the interagency rescue operation held Thursday.

In a phone interview, Kerlan D. Fanaqel, secretary general of the Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organization in Southern Mindanao, said the lumads maintained their stand to stay because the problem on militarization in their communities the group has been demanding to be stopped has not yet been granted.

A lumad prepares to clash with antiriot policemen with nothing but a rattan stick during a confrontation at the UCCP’s Haran Compound along Father Selga St. in Davao City Thursday morning (23 July 2015). An interagency government group said it wanted to rescue the lumads and let them return to their homes, but only two of the 700 or so lumads went home. The lumads have been staying at the compound for three months after allegedly leaving their communities due to militarization. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

A lumad prepares to clash with antiriot policemen with nothing but a rattan stick during the confrontation at the UCCP’s Haran Compound. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The interagency group that conducted the rescue operation is composed of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Davao City Police Office (DCPO).

Some 700 lumads fled their homes in Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte and San Fernando in Bukidnon after allegedly displaced by military operations and sought refuge at the facility run by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

Fanaqel lambasted the so-called rescue operation, saying the eviction was done in the guise of saving mothers, children, and the persons with disabilities (PWDs).

He said the operation did not go through a proper process and contradicted an earlier agreement. “They did it despite the existing agreement between us, officials of the DSWD, and the religious group that we will not be forced to go home,” he said.

The interagency group arrived at the center around 6:30 a.m. and left almost 1 p.m. only after Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte mediated when the commotion between authorities and lumads ensued.

Fanaqel added that Rep. Nancy Catamco, who has been barred from entering the evacuation center after she had been declared persona non grata by the lumads on Wednesday, was seen inside a vehicle nearby but did not go out until Duterte arrived.

The lumads blocked the gate when authorities forced their way in. Some 20 lumads were reportedly injured while two policemen were seriously hurt. Senior Insp. Milgrace Driz, DCPO spokesperson, said one of the policemen vomited blood.

“We only defended ourselves. We made it a point not to hurt anybody,” Fanaqel said.

Driz said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte provided 10 buses and 12 trucks coming from the local government units where the lumads come from.

All but two lumads refused to leave. Driz said a mother and her daughter voluntarily went out of the evacuation center because they were suffering from illness after almost three months of staying there.
“They also wanted to leave because no one was looking after their home,” she added.

“The DCPO is just doing our job as mandated by law, we are just securing both parties and since we are requested by the DSWD and the NCIP to assist them on their mandate with the rescue operation, we deployed our [Women and Children’s Protection Desk] to assist in the rescue,” she said in a text message.

The DCPO deployed around 500 cops, 150 of them from the WCPD.

Driz appealed to the groups behind this not to force the lumads to stay if they want to leave.

“I hope they will not be detained or padlocked [in the evacuation center. If they want to leave, let them go,” she said, adding that the lumads are apparently being exploited.

KARAPATAN-SMR: Progressive Groups to “SLAPP-back”

Posted to the KARAPATAN-Southern Mindanao Region Facebook page (Jul 21): Progressive Groups to “SLAPP-back”

LAUGHING IT OFF Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, chuckles as she reads the names of the persons filed with trumped up cases of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and human trafficking by the CIDG 11 and suspected military cohorts. (Photo and caption by Samuel dela Cruz, Karapatan-SMR)

LAUGHING IT OFF Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, chuckles as she reads the names of the persons filed with trumped up cases of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and human trafficking by the CIDG 11 and suspected military cohorts. (Photo and caption by Samuel dela Cruz, Karapatan-SMR)

JULY14 2015

DAVAO CITY- Progressive groups slammed the trumped-up charges filed by the CIDG against leaders of progressive organizations involved in the evacuation of hundreds of lumads from Talaingod.

On May 12,2015 formal complaints were filed at the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office against 15 leaders from different progressive organizations who were involved in the issue of evacuation of lumads in the region. All of them were accused of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and human trafficking of lumad evacuees to Davao City.

Included in the list of accused are: Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of KARAPATAN-SMR; Rev. Jurie Jaime of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR)-SMR; Sheena Duazo of BAYAN-SMR; Ryan Lariba of BAYAN-Socsksargen; Tony Salubre of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR; Mary Ann Sapar of Gabriela-SMR; Jaja Necosia of RCPA Productions-Broadcasting; Kerlan Fanagel, secretary general of the Lumad group PASAKA; Sr. Stella Matutina of PANALIPDAN-Mindanao; Isidro Indao, spokesperson of PASAKA; Kharlo Manano, national secretary general of SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns and spokesperson of the Save Our Schools network; Rius Valle of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center-SMR; Jimboy Marciano of SAMA-AKO-KMU, Pedro Arnado, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubkid ng Pilipinas-SMR, along with John Does.

The complainants are Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG XI), Angkomog brothers, ALAMARA paramilitary group, backed-up by Nestor Apas, known racketeer and collaborator of the AFP, and 68th IB-10th ID-Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP.

Hanimay Suazo of Karapatan-SMR immediately brushed off the trumped-up charges, saying that these were all concoctions to hinder their work and meant to intimidate the human rights defenders.

“This is a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) against human rights defenders. The purpose of this is to silence the critics of the government, especially those from progressive groups and victims of human rights violations. This is one of the dirty tactics under the Oplan Bayanihan.”

Suazo said that the filing of trumped-up charges has become a common occurrence.

“Lumad leader Jomorito Guaynon from Bukidnon and staff members of Karapatan-SOCKSSARGEN have also become recent victims of SLAPP.”

Kailo Buntolan, member of the Salugupungan, said that they were not harmed by the progressive groups in the course of the evacuation.

“Wala man mi nila gipasakitan. Unsa man ni sila, military? Sila pa gani ang nasakitan, kay sila ang mainitan sa pag-luto sa amo pagkaon” (“They did not hurt us. Why would they hurt us, just are they, the military? They are the ones who get hurt, because they get burns from cooking our food”), Buntolan said.

Asked for what their next steps would be, Suazo said that they will not stop in advancing and defending human rights and determined to pursue justice.

“We will SLAPP back and we will fight for justice,” Suazo ended.

Farmers belie Noy claim, warn to file charges after his term

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 24): Farmers belie Noy claim, warn to file charges after his term

Launching their nationwide protest dubbed “Kadenang Magsasaka” highlighted by protest actions, noise barrage, human chain and other activities across the country, the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) yesterday belied claims of President Aquino that his administration failed to achieve rice self-sufficiency because of the natural calamities which plagued the country, as they bared the real state of farmers and the Filipino people ahead of the President’s last State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday.

“Massive landlessness continues to plague the farmers. From seven out of 10 farmers landless in the previous regimes, figures show that under Aquino nine out of 10 are landless,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores, citing figures Land Bank of the Philippines showing that only 9.7 percent of the sham Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries have fully paid amortizations.”

The peasant group also belied government’s claims blaming its failure to achieve rice self-sufficiency to natural calamities, saying “Aquino’s continuing policy of rice importation and abandonment of agricultural support to farmers and corruption of agricultural funds remain as the main culprit in the dwindling production.”

“Aquino is the biggest political catastrophe to farmers and agriculture. He used and abused taxpayers’ money in overpriced rice importation instead of using public funds to support local palay procurement,” Flores said.

“The rice importation policy is killing the local rice industry,” he added, citing the 1.3 million metric tons of rice that entered the country in 2014.

Flores said after five years under Aquino, millions of farmers remain the poorest of the poor, hungry and neglected by the government. “Aquino is the single biggest enemy of the peasant masses. His only legacy that we know of is oppression and exploitation,” he said.

“We declare Aquino guilty and punishable for heinous crimes against the peasantry. His Sona on Monday is his last ditch effort to conceal the atrocities committed by his pro-landlord administration in the past five years,” Flores added.

“We have all reasons to protest on Aquino’s Sona on Monday. Farmers will join the nationally-coordinated peoples protest on Sona as calls for Aquino’s ouster will reverberate throughout the country,” said Flores, adding that after 2016, KMP will initiate actions to prosecute and file charges against Aquino.

Extortion eyed in South Cotabato bomb attack

From the Philippine Star (Jul 23): Extortion eyed in South Cotabato bomb attack

Police are eyeing extortion in the bomb attack on a bus terminal in Sto. Nino, South Cotabato last Saturday.

Senior Superintendent Jose Briones Jr., South Cotabato police director, said the perpetrators, who were also believed to be involved in previous bombings of bus terminals in Central Mindanao, have been extorting money from bus companies.

Briones said nobody was injured when an improvised explosive device went off inside a YBL bus at the Sto. Niño terminal. The attack occurred during Sto. Niño’s  49th founding anniversary celebration, which Senators Francis Escudero and Grace Poe attended.

The Al-Khobar group, which is reportedly linked to the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah had claimed responsibility for previous attacks against bus companies in the region.

PHL rejects China’s call for it to drop arbitration case

From GMA News (Jul 23): PHL rejects China’s call for it to drop arbitration case

The Philippines on Thursday rejected a Chinese ambassador’s call for Manila to drop its arbitration case against Beijing aimed at settling the territorial row between the two countries over resource-rich parts of the South China Sea.

At a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Philippines is determine to reach a final ruling on its case against China, filed before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands.

"Malinaw ang aming layunin na magkaroon ng ruling iyong Permanent Court of Arbitration para mabigyan ng sustansya ang nilalaman ng United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) kung saan signatory ang Pilipinas,” Coloma told reporters in Malacañang.

"Nasa atin din naman ang determinasyon na itaguyod yung pagiging makatwiran ng ating posisyon,” he added.

The Philippines is using the UNCLOS, a treaty signed by over 160 countries, defining nations’ rights to use the world’s oceans, as basis of its arbitration case against China.

China, which uses the so-called “nine-dash line” to assert its claim over the almost the entire South China Sea, has refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings.

'Pursue case to its logical conclusion'

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose also stood firm on pursuing arbitration proceedings to solve the territorial row between the Philippines and China.

"The Philippines is determined to pursue the arbitration case to its logical conclusion,” Jose said in a separate text message.

On Wednesday, Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said he hopes the Philippines will withdraw its arbitration case against China.

The Chinese envoy also once again called on Manila to engage Beijing in bilateral negotiations to address the territorial row.

Coloma however said that the Philippines’ “rules-based” and multilateral approach to settling the dispute remains unchanged.

This month, the Philippines presented its arguments before the arbitral tribunal in The Hague on why it should exercise its jurisdiction over the arbitration case against China.

AFP chief Iriberri gets fourth star

From GMA News (Jul 23): AFP chief Iriberri gets fourth star

Newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Hernando Iriberri has been promoted to full general, two weeks after he took the helm of the 125,000-strong military organization.

On Thursday, Iriberri got his fourth star, said Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato.

Iriberri's promotion to a four-star general will now be subjected to the approval of the bicameral Commission on Appointments.
Detoyato said the AFP is confident that Iriberri will get the CA's nod despite criminal and administrative cases filed against him with the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged failure to issue documents for three procurement projects worth P97.7 million.
He also said that organizations accusing the new AFP chief of human rights violations will "have to prove it."
Prior to being the 46th chief of the staff of the military Iriberri was the commanding general of the Philippine Army. He replaced now retired General Gregorio Pio Catapang.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, Iriberri is closely identified with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, for whom he served as spokesman and senior military assistant in the past. 
Iriberri previously served a commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade in the Cordillera region, and Chief of United Command Staff of the Southern Luzon Command.
With more than 30 years in active military service, he has received numerous awards, including five Distinguished Service Stars, two Gold Cross Medals, one Bronze Cross Medal, and several Military Merit Medals and Military Commendation Medals.

State Dept: US not neutral in dispute

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 23): State Dept: US not neutral in dispute

THE United States warned  Tuesday  that it will come down forcefully against any country that violates international laws, particularly in the South China Sea.

US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel also said the US would ensure that all parties adhere to the rules.

“We are not neutral when it comes to adhering to international law. We will come down forcefully when it comes to following the rules,” Russel said during a keynote speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Washington’s top diplomat for East Asia said the United States has repeatedly stated that while it takes no position on competing sovereignty claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea, it does want these maritime claims to be advanced in accordance with international law and without the use of coercion.

Russel also reiterated the US position that the South China Sea disputes wasn’t over rocks but about rules for the Asia-Pacific region.

“It’s about the kind of neighborhood we all want to live in,” he added.

In response to a question by a Chinese participant, Russel said the US was neutral only to the extent of competing claims, not the way these disputes were resolved.

He said the US was encouraging the parties involved to create an atmosphere and conditions needed to manage the disputes peacefully, diplomatically and lawfully, despite the escalating tensions partly caused by China’s reclamation of disputed areas in the South China Sea.

“We’re pushing the parties to revive the spirit of cooperation,” Russel said.

Russel also encouraged all participants, not just China, to cease actions that run contrary to this spirit, including reclaiming land, building facilities and militarizing features.

Russel said that US Secretary of State John Kerry would push for progress on this front at the upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum, which will be held next month in Malaysia, this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On the first peaceful path to resolving disputes, which is bilateral negotiations, Russel acknowledged it was challenging to pursue this course under the current atmosphere.

While not directly mentioning China by name, he noted that “absolutist” statements by certain countries that their claims were “indisputable” made going down this path even more challenging.

H also said there were several cases in the region where this had worked, including disputes between Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, and Bangladesh and Myanmar.

On the second path, which is arbitration, Russel specifically referred to the Philippines’ ongoing case against China at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands.

Russel saidthat regardless of the outcome, both Beijing and Manila had to abide by the court’s legally binding decision as they were both signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Meanwhile, Russel said that the United States would safeguard its own interests in various ways, including honoring its alliances and security commitments and aiding the development of effective regional organizations.

This included investing in maritime domain awareness for coastal states and carrying out freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Beijing starts military exercises

From the Manila Standard Today (Jul 24): Beijing starts military exercises
The Chinese navy kicked off 10-day military exercises in the disputed South China Sea amid heightened tensions in the region, especially with the US, the Economic Times reported on Thursday.

Playing down the significance of the exercises, the Chinese military said the drills, started in the east of Hainan Province, were not directed against neighbors.

“The drills are regular military exercises scheduled in the annual plan, without targeting any other country,” the Ministry of National Defense said.

In Manila, Malacañang on Thursday rejected the Chinese ambassador’s call to Manila to drop its arbitration case against Beijing to settle their territorial row in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines’ position has not changed—which is for a rules-based approach and a peaceful resolution to the maritime entitlement issues in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters.

He made his statement after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying asked Manila to drop its arbitration case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands.

Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua said China will not fight a war against the Philippines or seek any kind of military solution to the South China Sea dispute, as the door for bilateral negotiation remains open.

“It is China’s interest as well as in our neighbor’s interest to keep the South China Sea a sea of peace, a sea of cooperation and a sea of friendship,” Zhao said.

“We would like to continue our policy for the peaceful settlement of the disputes we have, not only with the Philippines but also with other claimants in South China Sea.”

Zhao seemed to be dismayed by the Philippines’ ignoring of China’s repeated call to settle the sea row through bilateral means, saying that before the Philippine side filed the arbitration case, the channels for bilateral consultation were open and working.

“To our surprise, with the decision to file the arbitration case, the Philippine side claimed that the bilateral negotiations were useless because, after so many years of talks and so many rounds of negotiations, nothing has been produced,” Zhao said.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose has repeatedly said that bringing the case to the UN tribunal is the only way to settle the conflict peacefully, since both the Philippines and China want the issue settled amicably.

Japan defense paper slams China's 'coercive' maritime demands

From InterAksyon (Jul 22): Japan defense paper slams China's 'coercive' maritime demands

Japan on Tuesday slammed Beijing's bid to reclaim land in the South China Sea as a "coercive attempt" to force sweeping maritime claims, in a defense paper that comes as Tokyo is expanding the role of its own military.

Tokyo said China was acting "unilaterally and without compromise", as it also highlighted concern about North Korea's nuclear program and Russian moves in violence-wracked Ukraine.

The white paper accused Beijing of "raising concerns among the international community" as it ramped up criticism from last year's report, an annual summary of Japan's official view on defense matters.

"China, particularly over maritime issues, continues to act in an assertive manner, including coercive attempts at changing the status quo, and is poised to fulfill its unilateral demands without compromise," said the report entitled "Defense of Japan 2015".

China is locked in disputes with several countries over its claims to almost the entire South China Sea and is currently pursuing a rapid program of artificial island construction in the region.

It is also embroiled in a separate row with Japan over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands -- which it calls the Diaoyus -- in the East China Sea, as Chinese ships and aircraft regularly test Japanese forces in the area.

While the Sino-Japanese spat has cooled considerably over the last 12 months or so, observers have warned that it could spiral into a limited armed conflict.

Separately, Japan has complained that China may have started offshore drilling for gas in the disputed waters.

"Japan has repeatedly lodged protests against China's unilateral development and demanded the termination of such works," the report said.

The document repeated Tokyo's concerns over China's growing assertiveness and widening naval reach in the Pacific and over what it calls the "opaqueness" of Beijing's sky-rocketing military budget.

But it also noted that China has worked to set up an emergency hotline with Tokyo to prevent unintended conflicts at sea.

'Harsher security environment'

Following the issuing of the Japanese white paper, Beijing criticized the document for playing up "the so-called 'China military threat'".

Chinese state news agency Xinhua said that a foreign ministry spokesman argued the white paper "ignores facts, makes irresponsible remarks... deliberately plays up the 'China threat' and stirs up tensions".

Last week, China criticized Tokyo after the lower house of parliament passed bills that could see Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since World War II, in provisions that allow for so-called "collective defense" -- coming to the aid of allies under attack.

A fraught mutual history makes Beijing particularly sensitive to any suggestion that Japan may abandon its pacifism.

Millions of Chinese died in the years after Japanese forces launched a full-scale invasion of the country in 1937.

But Tokyo's move to give greater leeway to its well-equipped and well-trained military is far from popular at home, and polls show approval ratings for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe -- the driving force behind the changes -- are plunging.

A new weekend poll showed just 35 percent of voters positively rated Abe, his lowest level since coming to power in 2012.

"We hope to explain to the public that the bills are necessary amid a harsher security environment around Japan," the government's top spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday, asked about unpopularity of the bills and the government.

Referring to the Ukraine crisis, the report said Russia "has engaged in so-called 'hybrid warfare' that is difficult to identify definitively as an armed attack by a country, and has attempted to change the status quo by force or coercion".

"The Russian attempt is considered to be a global security issue possibly affecting the whole international community, including Asia," it said.

On North Korea, the report warned of a "greater risk" of Pyongyang deploying ballistic missiles mounted with nuclear warheads "that include Japan in their range".

China says Japan's East China Sea pictures provoke confrontation

From InterAksyon (Jul 23): China says Japan's East China Sea pictures provoke confrontation

A group of disputed islands, Uotsuri island (top), Minamikojima (bottom) and Kitakojima, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China is seen in the East China Sea, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 2012. REUTERS/Kyodo

Japan's release of pictures of Chinese construction activity in the East China Sea will only provoke confrontation between the two countries and do nothing for efforts to promote dialogue, China's Foreign Ministry said.

In a defense review this week, Japan urged Beijing to stop building oil and gas exploration platforms close to disputed waters in the East China Sea and expressed concern that Chinese drills could tap reservoirs that extend into Japan's waters.

In a statement late on Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry said it had every right to develop oil and gas resources in waters not in dispute that fall under its jurisdiction.

"What Japan did provokes confrontation between the two countries, and is not constructive at all to the management of the East China Sea situation and the improvement of bilateral relations," it said.

In 2012, Japan's government angered Beijing by purchasing a disputed, uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea.

Until then, Beijing had curtailed activities under a pact with Japan to jointly develop undersea resources in disputed areas.

China's position on the pact remained unchanged and it was willing to maintain communication with Japan on related issues, the Foreign Ministry added.

"The key is for Japan to create favorable environment and conditions to implement this consensus," it said, referring to the pact.

"Japan's hyping up of the oil and gas issue in the East China Sea will do nothing good to carry out dialogue and cooperation between China and Japan on the East China Sea-related issues."

Tokyo worries the platforms will tap into gas fields that overlap the median line and could also be used as radar stations or bases for drones or other aircraft to monitor air and sea activity near the disputed island chain, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Saudi foundation eyes Sulu for school projects

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 23): Saudi foundation eyes Sulu for school projects


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Representatives from Uthman bin Affan Foundation for Development Relief, Dawah and Education, Inc. visit Sulu province in southern Philippines and meet with Governor Totoh Tan and offer to put up an Islamic institution that would benefit many Muslims there. (Photo by Ahl-franzie Salinas)

Representatives from an Arab foundation have visited Sulu province in southern Philippines and offered to put up an Islamic institution that would benefit many Muslims here.

The group, led by Fahad Saud Al-Mousa, Ayesh Alharthi Nawar and Almjuaid Abdullah Ma, met recently with Governor Tooth Tan and local religious leaders headed by Sulu Mufti Jul Asiri Abirin and other provincial officials at the Capitol in Patikul town and discussed the projects.

They were part of the Saudi-based Uthman bin Affan Foundation for Development Relief, Dawah and Education, Inc. who are composed mostly of Arab teachers, businessman and engineers – who offered to provide school buildings and teachers to further Islamic education in the province.

They also inspected various sites in the towns of Indanan and Maimbung where the projects would be put up.

Tan thanked the foundation for the projects and pledged to support it. The Arabs also presented Tan with tokens and in return, the governor handed the visitors with a coffee table book which features Sulu’s rich and colorful history and heritage.

Committee created for safe release of captive soldier in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 23): Committee created for safe release of captive soldier in Misamis Oriental

The provincial government of Misamis Oriental has created a committee that will coordinate with the military and stakeholders for the safe release of the captured Army soldier here.

Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano on Thursday said that the provincial government created the crisis committee through Executive Order No. 12 a week after the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels captured PFC Adonis Lupeba last July 11.

He said that the committee composed of senior officials of the provincial government would coordinate with “all parties involved and within the bounds allowed by law,” to secure the safe release of Lupeba.

Emano said that the committee would also invite members of the family of the captive soldier and other related entities and personalities during committee meetings.

Emano also appointed Bishop Felixberto Calang, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) as committee adviser along with the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) as the committee facilitator.

He said that the committee would also coordinate with the national government agencies such as the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) for the necessary procedures related to the safe release of the soldier.

The NPA rebels captured Lupeba, a member of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, when the rebels stormed an Army outpost in the hinterland village of Alagatan in Gingoog City last July 11 where a soldier was killed and four others, including two civilians were wounded.

Army reservists ready for any eventuality, says ARESCOM chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 23): Army reservists ready for any eventuality, says ARESCOM chief

BUTUAN CITY -- BGen. Paolo Leo Ma G. Miciano, commander of the Army Reserved Command (ARESCOM) said in a media interview on Wednesday that the country’s Army reservists are ready for any eventuality to augment the country’s regular forces, be it external or internal threats or in times of disasters.

The official was the guest of honor and speaker during the turnover of command rites held at the 15th Regional Community Defense Group headquarters, Philippine Army Advance Command Post, Barangay Bancasi, this city.

Miciano said that the ARESCOM which (is) a major unit of the Philippine Army has continued with its mandate which is to develop, train, administer and equip reservists and prepare them to augment the regular forces in cases of national emergencies such as wars, invasion or a full scale rebellion, as well as during disasters and calamities.

According to Miciano, ARESCOM has 50,000 ready reserve forces nationwide and more or less equal number of standby reserve forces. “Ready reserve forces can be readily mobilized in a certain number of days, while the standby reserves are those aged and retirees, but who can still provide services, not necessarily combat actions but the services which are very necessary in cases of the aforementioned eventualities,” Miciano explained.

According to him, the ARESCOM recruits reservists from various sources such as the Reserved Officers Training Course (ROTC), the Citizen’s Military Training (CMTs) or military retirees.

He said that the country’s reserved forces is also ready and prepared as well as equipped to respond not only during external and internal security threats but also during emergencies, disasters and calamities.

“Yearly, we are frequently visited by typhoons, floods and earthquakes. Thus, included in the trainings of the reservists are disaster and calamities response, water search and rescue, collapsed structure rescue and retrieval operations,” Miciano said.

Photo: Explosion kills 1, hurts 9 in Zamboanga City massage parlor

From CNN Philippines (Jul 24): Explosion kills 1, hurts 9 in Zamboanga City massage parlor

One person was killed and nine others were injured in a blast in Zamboanga City on Thursday evening (July 23). (Photo: Jorem Garcia)

One person was killed and nine others injured in an explosion in a massage parlor in this city shortly before 10 p.m. on Thursday (July 23).

According to Zamboanga City Councilor Joel "Elong" Natividad, the explosion, believed to be caused by an improvised explosive device, occurred at the Manly Massage Parlor in front of the flower stalls on San Jose Road at around 9:50 p.m.

An eyewitness said that the explosion occurred at the ground floor of the massage parlor.

Police identified the fatality as a certain Geraldine Miguel of Barangay Canelar.

The injured, who were brought to the Zamboanga City Medical Center, were identified as Teresita de los Santos and Stephanie Martel, the cashier and massage therapist, respectively, of the parlor; Cheska Mendoza, Nestos Alaban, Alfredo Enojo, Elizabeth Alarcon, Rina Ananog, Nilo Gonzales, and Karen Alvarez.

Bombing in south Philippines kills 1, injures 9: mayor

From Andolu Agency (Jul 23): Bombing in south Philippines kills 1, injures 9: mayor

Blast rocks massage parlor in Zamboanga City -- located in a region where several armed groups operate

A powerful bomb has rocked a predominantly Christian city in the southern Philippines, killing one person and injuring at least nine others Thursday night, according to authorities.

Zamboanga City’s mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said on her Facebook page that an explosion had taken place at a massage parlor at around 10.00 p.m. (1500GMT).

"One victim, Geraldine Miguel, just expired while undergoing treatment at the ZCMC [Zamboanga City Medical Center]," she said.

Two of the injured are in critical condition, according to the mayor, who has ordered Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde to oversee the treatment of the victims as well as a thorough investigation to identify and eventually capture the culprits.

Clearing operations at the scene of the blast are ongoing, with the street where the parlor is located being cordoned off.

"The people of Zamboanga are requested to keep calm yet vigilant as the police and military units are responding," Climaco-Salazar posted on Facebook. "The public is requested to help shed light on the incident and is advised to keep calm, as authorities are on top of the situation.”

Authorities have yet to identify the kind of explosive involved in the incident.

The latest bombing in the city – located in a region where several armed groups operate -- came a day after a suspicious baggage was found outside a downtown mall. The incident had caused panic among mall goers who fled the scene, before a police bomb squad defused the explosive Wednesday afternoon.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Thursday’s bombing. In previous incidents, authorities have blamed such attacks on the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf.

Photos: Explosion occurs in Zamboanga City; 1 dead, 9 hurt

From GMA News (Jul 24): Photos: Explosion occurs in Zamboanga City; 1 dead, 9 hurt

(Updated 5:45 a.m. July 24) An explosion occurred late Thursday evening in Zamboanga City along the San Jose Road, where a massage parlor and flower shops are located, city mayor Beng Climaco said via social media. Initially, one person died and eight others were injured, GMA News' Peewee Bacuño reported.

The number of wounded later rose to nine, GMA News' Unang Balita reported Friday morning.

peewee bacuño@PeeweeHero 7 hours ago
1 ang nasawi habang 8 na ang sugatan sa naganap na pagsabog sa zamboanga city, ngayong gabi.
“Police and military authorities are responding,” Mayor Climaco said.
peewee bacuño@PeeweeHero 
zamboanga city explosion

The explosion happened shortly after ten o'clock in the evening Thursday.
Mayor Climaco said city caretaker and vice mayor Cesar Iturralde and Zamboanga City police chief Angelito Casimiro “are on the scene to facilitate and coordinate efforts in attending to the victims, as well as in investigating the incident.”

1 dead, 9 injured in Zamboanga City bomb explosion

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 23): 1 dead, 9 injured in Zamboanga City bomb explosion

One person died while nine others were injured when an improvised bomb exploded late Thursday at a massage parlor in this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, said the incident occurred around 9:45 p.m. at a massage parlor at the junction of M. Calixto and San Jose Road just more than 100 meters away from the Zamboanga City Fire District (ZCFD) headquarters.

Casimiro said the victim who died is only identified as a certain Irene. She expired at the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC).

Casimiro said the other nine victims were also rushed to the ZCMC for treatment.

He said the explosive ordnance demolition personnel are still sifting the blast site to determine the type of bomb that exploded.

Former prison guard shot dead in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Jul 23): Former prison guard shot dead in Cotabato 

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Gunmen killed on Wednesday night a former guard who foiled four jailbreaks while still working at the Maguindanao provincial penitentiary here.

The victim, Mohammad Mamocao, 48, died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators said Mamocao was about to close a small family-owned store along a thoroughfare in Buaya-Buaya area in Barangay Kalanganan west of Cotabato City when the pistol-wielding suspects attacked.

The suspects hurriedly escaped using a motorcycle parked nearby.

Relatives said Mamocao, while still prison guard, prevented four attempts by inmates at the Maguindanao provincial jail to bolt from their cells.

Police investigators are still trying to establish the identities of his killers and their real motive for the attack.

Mamocao was earlier rumored to have joined a group of villagers working as secret military informers helping monitor activities of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Church, rights groups in Philippines condemn raid on displaced people in Protestant church

From UCA News (Jul 23): Church, rights groups in Philippines condemn raid on displaced people in Protestant church

Shelter residents had fled fighting in their home villages

<p>Tribal people who fled their villages in Mindanao clash with police who tried to evict the villagers from a Protestant church compound in Davao City July 23. (Photo courtesy of Kilab Productions)</p>

Tribal people who fled their villages in Mindanao clash with police who tried to evict the villagers from a Protestant church compound in Davao City July 23. (Photo courtesy of Kilab Productions)

Church leaders and human rights groups in the southern Philippine city of Davao are condemning a police raid of a Protestant compound where some 700 indigenous people sought shelter.

At least 15 people were hurt when policemen, armed with truncheons and riot shields, tried to force the indigenous tribesmen to leave the Haran Center of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines on July 23.

The policemen destroyed temporary structures that housed the families inside the compound. The tribesmen have been living in the evacuation center since May this year after fleeing their homes in the hinterland villages of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon provinces due to military operations against communist rebels.

"It is insane for the police to force the people to return to their militarized communities," said Sister Noime Degala of the Sisters Association in Mindanao, an organization of missionary nuns working in rural communities in the region.

A scuffle ensued when the displaced tribesmen resisted the policemen, scaring at least 100 children who were attending school in a makeshift classroom inside the compound.

However, the attempted eviction failed when Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte intervened.

“We do not want violence and bloodshed. Those who want to go home will be allowed to go home, and for those who do not, they have the liberty to stay,” Duterte said.

People living in the shelter, however, expressed continued concern.

"I don't think they will really leave us alone," said Neling Sambag, who secured her eight-month-old child in a corner of the compound during the police raid. The other children hid inside the makeshift classroom.

"I am angry, but at the same I am afraid for my children and the rest of us," she said.

The policemen raided the center on the order of Representative Nancy Catamco, head of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines Congress. She had earlier urged the tribesmen to return to their communities.

A dialogue between the people and Catamco last week collapsed when the legislator insisted that the tribesmen go back to their homes. The people have been neglected, the legislator said in a press briefing.

The legislator accused human rights groups of "kidnapping" and "manipulating" the people.

"They need to go home because they are being treated inhumanely at the evacuation center," Catamco said.

The people in the shelter fled their homes after government-supported militia accused the villagers of supporting the communist New People's Army guerillas.

Sambag said she left her village in Kapalong town, Davao del Norte province, after a member of the militia attacked her "for no apparent reason."

"They attack everyone, especially those whom they suspect of being supportive of the rebels," she said.

Datu Kailo Buntulan, head of the Ata-Manobo tribe in Talaingod village, said people in the shelter resisted the government's move to send them home because of the continued presence of soldiers in their communities.

"We are here because we are in danger. If they send us home, we will be in absolute danger," Buntulan said.