Thursday, October 1, 2015

China 'brazenly lying' about activities in West PH Sea - Golez

From CNN Philippines (Sep 30): China 'brazenly lying' about activities in West PH Sea - Golez

Brazen lies. This was how a former lawmaker described on Wednesday (September 30) Beijing's pronouncements about disputed waters — based on Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent speech at the White House.

Roilo Golez, who also served as national security adviser during the Arroyo administration, said China was "brazenly lying" about its activities on contested outcrops in the West Philippine Sea.

This developed after Xi, during his first state visit to the United States, told President Barack Obama that China was entitled to build structures on disputed atolls in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea but did not intend to militarize them.

"Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are China's territory. We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests," Xi said.

Related: The impact of U.S., China meet on West Philippine Sea dispute

Related: Obama: Beijing should not 'elbow' its way in South China Sea

But Golez said this was far from the truth. He cited satellite images that showed apparent militarization on contested islands.

Two weeks before this, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said based on satellite images it analyzed, China seemed to be building a third airstrip on Mischief Reef.

Greg Poling, the director of CSIS's Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said the structure was similar to airstrips that China had been building on artificial islands at the Fiery Cross and Subi reef in the contested Spratly Islands.

"If it does turn out to be a runway, China will have three airstrips that can carry any plane the PLA (People's Liberation Army) has to offer," Poling said.

The images, taken on September 8, come after China pledged to bring land reclamation in those waters to a halt.

In May, a U.S. surveillance plane carrying a CNN crew was warned eight times by the Chinese navy after it flew over Chinese installations in the area.

Meanwhile, Golez also expressed concern about the United States' diplomatic approach towards China's claims in the West PH Sea.

He said the U.S. Should take a firmer stand instead and increase its military presence in the area by conducting naval patrols.

Golez, who belonged to MARCHA (Movement and Alliance to Resist China's Aggression, added that underestimating China will only lead to full militarization of the disputed territories — leaving no other choice but war.

He said the issue would be raised during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila come November.

Vietnamese President Challenges China's Xi Over Spratly Islands

From the Voice of America (Sep 29): Vietnamese President Challenges China's Xi Over Spratly Islands

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang listens to questions during an interview, Sept. 28, 2015, in New York.

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang listens to questions during an interview, Sept. 28, 2015, in New York.

Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang has publicly rejected sovereignty claims by Chinese President Xi Jinping over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Speaking at the Asia Society in New York late Monday, President Truong Tan Sang made a forceful case for Hanoi's claim to the chain, known as the Spratlys in Vietnam and Nansha islands in China.

The Chinese leader, who just completed a state visit to the United States, including a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, recently told the Wall Street Journal that “the Nansha [Spratly] Islands have been China’s territory since ancient times."

When asked by VOA’s Vietnamese Service about his reaction to Xi’s statement, Sang reiterated Vietnamese claims over the islands.

“The Chinese, in meetings with us, always claims that the islands belong to China, and it is undisputable," he said. "We would like to counter-argue that statement. The Paracels and Spratlys belong to Vietnam since ancient time, and it is also undisputable.”

Sang, who made a state visit to the U.S. in July, added that Hanoi also has “historical and legal evidence" for its claim.

He also urged other claimants to pursue peaceful solutions to the maritime disputes over the South China Sea.

"[Vietnam] would like to resolve the issue through international laws, and that is the only way to go forward. Regarding bilateral issue [the Paracels] between Vietnam and China, we will negotiate with other bilaterally," Sang said. "Other multilateral ones such as the Spratly issue, which is related to six parties, then all sides should deal with China.”

Vietnam and China claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, while the two nations also have competing claims with the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia over the Spratlys.

Sang’s statement, viewed as a stand-up against the giant northern neighbor, has drawn praise on line. 
Vietnamese officials have long been criticized by bloggers and other dissidents for being submissive in territorial disputes over the South China Sea.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. has “an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and resolving the disputes through international law, not the law of force.”

The U.S., which has said it will not take sides in the maritime disputes, has also called on all parties to avoid provocative actions that raise tensions.

Last year, Beijing was sharply criticized by Vietnam when it placed an oil rig in disputed waters, leading to several small maritime confrontations and deadly rioting in mainland Vietnam.
Lately, Chinese efforts to reclaim land in the South China Sea has come under fire from several countries.

Peace pact to address tribal conflicts in Caraga pushed

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 30): Peace pact to address tribal conflicts in Caraga pushed

Following the recent development on the conflict involving lumads in Surigao del Sur, the convenor of the Victims of Injustice, Criminality & Terrorism in Mindanao (VICTIM), Arthur Tariman put forward for the mediation process between the contending lumad parties by pursuing indigenous peace process known as 'Tampudah', a peace pact, wherein the contending clans and warring members of a clan within a tribe should resolve their differences through a dialogue and negotiation procedure also called ‘Kahimunan’ as strictly done among them and excluding other people to be held right at their ancestral homeland and not elsewhere.

In a press conference held today at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga regional office here, Tariman specified that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) must work hand-in-hand with the local government officials and lumad tribal leaders to facilitate a mediation process to stop further escalation of violence among tribal clans in Caraga region.

"The ongoing hostilities between the battling tribes were triggered by the disagreement on revenue sharing out of the investments (mining operations, logging concessions and agricultural plantations) inside of the ancestral domain. Due to the lack of education and their strong adherence to tribal norms and practices, the opposing forces do not discriminate combatants from non-combatants," underscored Tariman.

He further mentioned that the AFP strongly denies that the Magahat Tribal Force is part of its command structure. Likewise, it was learned that the only paramilitary force in Caraga region is the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) which is under the supervision of a Cadre Battalion.

"By understanding the nature of the conflict, the different stakeholders can work together to end the senseless deaths of the rival lumad groups. The AFP vows to continue performing its mandate of protecting the people against armed violence perpetrated by the New Peoples Army (NPA) inside lumad communities and to support law enforcement operations against armed groups which perpetrated violent attacks against rival clans," Tariman said.

As convenor of VICTIM, Tariman emphasized the role of his group to facilitate in bringing in front of the media the former rebels (FR) to let people know and understand the prevailing conflicts in the region. “They are combatants against NPA and sincerely seek for the opposing forces to surrender and support the true government for a more peaceful nation," Tariman said.

Moreover, he is even open to the idea of fast tracking the judicial proceedings of finding justice to the recent criminalities. "To the three suspects of the killings of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. or ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca; MAPASU chair Dionel Campos; and civilian Aurello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, we are willing to assist them in providing legal counsel to expedite the resolution of the case," remarked Tariman.

Also, Tariman acknowledged and thanked PIA-Caraga headed by regional director Abner M. Caga for giving them the opportunity to voice out the sentiments of the former rebels.

The 16 former rebels who were present during the press conference revealed their sad and hurtful experiences as followers under the NPAs in their respective areas.

Army clarifies CoA findings on ‘expired’ medicines

From the Standard (Oct 2): Army clarifies CoA findings on ‘expired’ medicines

The Philippine Army    on Thursday    clarified that it did not procure  and subsequently distribute expired medicines to its troops in 2013  even as their primordial concern is the health of  troopers.

Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the facts contained in the Commission on Audit report  about the procurement of P37.5 million worth of medical kits was inaccurately interpreted by some in the media.

“The CoA report did not   say that we procured and distributed expired medicines…The [media] report said that what we distributed and procured are expired. We won’t allow such [erroneous reporting],” said Hao.

We have to correct it and we are categorically saying right now that we are not procuring and distributing expired medicines to our troops. We give premium to the health of our troops, especially those that will save their lives. That ‘s the priority of the Army,” he added.   

Hao said the medical package consisting of 1,040 medical kits were supplied by BDM Enterprises on  June 18, 2013 and subsequently accepted by the Army’s Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee on July 10, 2013.   

Hao said that 997 of the medical kits were distributed to various units in September 2014. However, 43 of which supposedly for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, were not withdrawn after finding that seven of the items were either expired or were expiring.

“Out of these 43 kits, the CoA noted that seven out of the 54 items found in the kits were either expiring or already expired,” he said. Hao could not say how many medical kits were inspected by CoA.

The medicines were supposed to expire in June 2015 or two years after the delivery.

The expired or expiring items found were ammonium nitrate, antibacterial ointment, chlorpheneramine maleate, sodium hypochlorite, IV infusion set, dry scrub, and chloroquine phosphate.

US ready to deploy men in disputed sea

From The Standard (Oct 2): US ready to deploy men in disputed sea

THE US commander o the 3rd  Marine Expeditionary Brigade based in Okinawa, Japan, said  Thursday  his troops were ready to deploy and help the Armed Forces of the Philippines defend the country against foreign aggression amid ongoing tensions caused by a territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila.

We know that this is a contested area,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy. “This is a busy neighborhood that you live in. The people and your neighbors all have their own aspirations and designs.”

Kennedy, here for the 32nd  Philippine Bilateral Exercises that will run until  Oct. 10, said that in the worst case scenario, “should somebody overstep the line,” the Marine Corps could be called upon to help an ally under the Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the US and the Philippines in 1951.

“I would tell you that if anybody would challenge the sovereignty of this country, their best friends within this region would respond within a matter of hours and generally, I assure you that that is not a hollow promise,” Kennedy said.

He said the US Marines consider the Philippines as its “second home.”

Kennedy issued the statement following reports that the US had deployed at least 30,000 Marines in Hawaii as part of its pivotal security deployment in the Asia-Pacific region.

The statement comes also as China continues its reclamation and construction activities on the reefs of the disputed West Philippine Sea, despite earlier pronouncements that it had stopped.

Other claimants to the disputed areas are Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

Kennedy said the exercises, now on their 32nd year, offer new lessons every time they are staged.

“In this ever increasingly complex security environment, these lessons are becoming more and more acute and remind us of the seriousness of the business that we have at hand,” the general said.

On Wednesday, Philippine Marines spokesman Capt. Jerber Anthony Belonio said PHIBLEX is designed to maintain readiness, enhance interoperability and improve the ability of Marines from both countries.

This time, the joint exercises would be held in Cavite.

“Last year, we’ve been to Palawan. This time it will be in Ternate, which is the training ground of our Marines. But our command post exercises would be in Palawan,” he said.

Belonio said all the equipment for the amphibious exercise will be provided by the US Marines.

“Our troops will discover new tactics and maneuvers especially using amphibious assault vehicles,” he said.

A US Marine Corp statement said PHIBLEX will include a command-post exercise, field-training, live-fire practice and humanitarian and civic assistance projects.

Some 1,200 Filipino troops will be joined by 3,500 Marines and sailors from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force and the Navy’s Commander, Task Force 76.

Well-funded group behind Samal kidnaps

From The Standard (Oct 2): Well-funded group behind Samal kidnaps

THE group that abducted two Canadians, a Norwegian  and a Filipina in a resort hotel on Samal Island in Davao City on Sept. 21 was described by a source as a well-financed group on Thursday.

The source said the group was also well-organized judging by the way it executed the abduction of Kjartan Sekkingstad, the Norwegian operations manager of the Ocean View Resort Hotel, the Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Hall’s Filipino girlfriend  Maritess Flor.

“They had the capacity to plan and to execute the plan using enormous resources and equipment,” the source said.

He made his statement even as Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Thursday the military and the National Police were continuing to pursue the kidnappers.

“The AFP and the PNP are relentlessly working on pursuing those behind the abduction while ensuring the safe return of the captives to their respective families,” Coloma told reporters.
“That is the focus of what we are doing right now.”

The abduction was initially attributed to Al-Habsi Misaya or Al-Bahil, a former Abu Sayyaf member from Jolo who later formed his own gang that now operates in the Zamboanga Sibugay area.

The source said planning the kidnapping from Sulu and then executing it in Davao City was not an easy task.

From Samal Island, the kidnappers whisked their captives to a waiting motor boat and cruised to Carmen, Panabo and Davao del Norte, and from there they used a vehicle to travel to Surigao, Butuan and Valencia in Bukidnon.

After Valencia they went to Kabacan in Cotabato, but nothing was heard from them until they reached Sulu. The kidnappers used the motor boat to travel to Carmen from Samal, and then they used another motor boat to travel to Sulu.

“They left the first motor boat in Carmen and then used another boat to transfer the victims to Sulu from Kabacan,” the source.

“It was a combination of sea and road travel.”

Al-Habsi Misaya or Al-Bahil is said to have replaced Al Bader Parad, an Abu Sayyaf commander who was killed in a firefight with soldiers in Maimbung, Sulu, on Aug. 9, 2007.

The kidnappers are said to be using Zamboanga Sibugay as their tactical basin and Sulu as a detention area for their victims.

AFP blasted in lumad slay probe

From The Standard (Oct 1): AFP blasted in lumad slay probe

Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel on Thursday slammed the military and the police for failing to disband the Magahat-Bagani forces despite the request to that effect he made last year.

“What I want is to arrest these fugitives who killed three lumad leaders and to suppress these paramilitary forces,” Pimentel said during a public hearing on the lumad killings here.

He made his statement even as Senator Teofisto Guingona III urged the military and the police to arrest the suspects in the Sept. 1 killing of a lumad school director and two lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Protest. Members of the women’s group Gabriela hold a protest rally in support of the lumad in Marikina City on Thursday. Jansen Romero

Guingona, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said several priests from the Surigao del Sur diocese had testified that the suspects were freely roaming and even demanding money from the villagers in Surigao del Sur.

“The arrest is step one to bring back the confidence and heal the wounds of the injustice against the lumad,” Guingona said.

Glen Acosta, assistant parish priest of Barobo town, had testified that last week, one of the suspects, Bobby Tejero, was sighted in one of the villages.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro reiterated that his agency had condemned the killing of three lumad leaders in Sitio Han-ayan, Lianga town, and promised it would help the agencies investigating the case.

“The investigation is now in the hands of the Department of Justice and I heard also the Commission on Human Rights,” Luistro said after attending a convention in Pasay City Wednesday night.

But members of the Save Our Schools Network said the Department of Education was partly to blame as it was allowing soldiers and paramilitary groups to set foot in campuses.

Pimentel said the military was complicit in the killings in Surigao del Sur as it was allowing paramilitary groups to operate in the province.

“If you are not, why can’t you suppress these paramilitary forces?” Pimentel said.

“We have requested since last year that you disband these armed groups because we cannot obtain peace in Surigao because of them.”

Pimentel criticized the AFP for its supposed involvement in the displacement of over 3,500 families from five municipalities in the province, and of whom many were seeking temporary shelter in an evacuation site near the provincial capitol.

Surigao del Sur has since been placed under a state of calamity following the lumad killings and the mass evacuation.

Pimentel claimed the paramilitary group was equipped with high-powered firearms, which he said could only have been provided by the AFP.

The religious leaders present during the public hearing testified that military camps were near the camps of the paramilitary forces, fueling suspicion that the AFP was deliberately not doing anything to suppress them.

“Army camp in Barangay Karumata in San Miguel town is just one-and-a-half kilometers away from the Magahat-Bagani camp of Datu Jasmin Acevedo,” said Sister Maria Gemma Abellana of the religious order ICM.

China navy calls for United States to reduce risk of misunderstandings

From InterAksyon (Oct 2): China navy calls for United States to reduce risk of misunderstandings

A Chinese naval helicopter takes off from Chinese naval frigate Linyi during multi-country maritime joint exercises off the coast in Qingdao, Shandong province April 23, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily

China hopes the United States can scale back activities that run the risk of misunderstandings, and respect China's core interests, the Defense Ministry on Thursday cited a senior Chinese naval commander as saying.

Each country has blamed the other for dangerous moves over several recent incidents of aircraft and ships from China and the United States facing off in the air and waters around the Asian giant.

Last year, the Pentagon said a Chinese warplane flew as close as 20 to 30 feet (7 to 10 m) from a US Navy patrol jet and did a barrel roll over the plane.

The Pacific is an important platform for cooperation, Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army, told Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command.

"The prerequisite for win-win cooperation is mutual trust," Sun said, according to China's Defense Ministry.

"(We) hope the US side can pay great attention to China's concerns, earnestly respect our core interests, avoid words and actions that harm bilateral ties, and reduce activities which cause misunderstandings or misjudgments," he added.

The two officials were meeting in Hawaii on the sidelines of a gathering of Asia-Pacific defense officials.

The comments came as one of the US Navy's most advanced aircraft carriers docked in Japan at the start of a deployment that will strengthen the capability of the Seventh Fleet in Asia and boost ties between the United States and its closest regional ally.

Last week, the United States announced pacts with China on a military hotline and rules governing airborne encounters, which seek to lessen the chance of an accidental flare-up between the two militaries, despite tension in the South China Sea.

China last month said it was "extremely concerned" about a suggestion by a top US commander that US ships and aircraft should challenge China's claims in the South China Sea by patrolling close to artificial islands it has built.
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

18 hurt in South Cotabato bus explosion, 3 dead in Basilan blast

InterAksyon (Oct 1): 18 hurt in South Cotabato bus explosion, 3 dead in Basilan blast

YBL bus by the highway after a suspected improvised explosive device went off at an overhead baggage compartment. Photograph from Brigada Koronadal.

A suspected improvised explosive devise (IED) went off inside a passenger bus at Polomolok, wounding 18 passengers who were on their way to General Santos City Thursday noon. Separately, a blast in Basilan killed three persons.

The photo below, from Ronda de Basilan shows the aftermath of the Basilan blast.

The bus in Polomolok, a unit of the Yellow Bus Line with body number 2008, had come from Koronadal City, and made stops in Tupi and Polomolok towns before it headed toward General Santos City.

Upon reaching Glamang, the border barangay of Polomolok with General Santos City, the bomb, apparently placed in the overhead baggage compartment exploded.

The bus driver and the conductor were not hurt, but five children, including a one-week infant, were among those who suffered wounds and brought to hospital in General Santos City, some six kilometers away from the scene of the explosion.

Seven of the wounded persons were later admitted to St. Elizabeth Hospital and General Santos City Doctors Hospital, while the rest were allowed to go home after first-aid treatment of their minor injuries.

Members of the police investigation and explosives unit were immediately dispatched to the scene to investigate.

The explosion came several weeks after another IED was also found inside a YBL bus inside the terminal in General Santos City.

The bomb disposal unit was able to retrieve the IED that time and later detonated it.
Meanwhile, a sketchy initial report indicated that an explosion was reported at past 1:00 o'clock in Brgy Sunrise, Isabela City on the island province of Basilan.

The suspected improvised explosive device went off just outside the residential compound of Isabela Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.

The blast hit the motor convoy of Vice Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon, killing two co-passengers as well as a bystander identified as one Gregorio Heneral Delgado. It was not immediately clear if the vice mayor was hurt in the incident.

The report indicated that the IED might have been planted in a tricycle that was parked near where the explosion happened.

Meanwhile, a sketchy initial report indicated that an explosion was reported at past 1:00 o'clock in Brgy Sunrise, Isabela City on the island province of Basilan.

The suspected improvised explosive device went off just outside the residential compound of Isabela Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.

The blast hit the motor convoy of Vice Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon, killing two co-passengers as well as a bystander identified as one Gregorio Heneral Delgado. It was not immediately clear if the vice mayor was hurt in the incident.

The report indicated that the IED might have been planted in a tricycle that was parked near where the explosion happened.

1st Cav distributes hygiene kit to schoolchildren

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 29): 1st Cav  distributes hygiene kit to schoolchildren
The First Cavalry (Tagapanguna) Squadron, Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army distributed yeserday hygiene kit to 200 grades 1 and 6 pupils of San Pedro Central Elementary School, this city.

City Administrator Lauro Mendoza said “at the onset of rainy season and not only rainy season but typhoon season, it is important that our children be protected from any illness and these can be prevented through regular proper hygiene.”

Mendoza commended the First Cavalry Squadron for initiating this program, “which is beyond its call of their duty.”

“Traditionally, we all know that our soldiers carry their firearms and go to the mountains in search of the lawless elements or enemies of the state. But today we all witness the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) particularly those of the First Cavalry Squadron are with us helping in the promotion of proper hygiene by giving hygiene kit to our schoolchildren,” Mendoza said.

Executive Officer Major Roger  G. Conmigo, who represented the Squadron Commander LtCol. Charlemagne Batayola Jr., said this activity is one of our program under the squadron’s  Civil Military Operation (CMO) aimed at promoting proper hygiene to our indigenous people especially the children.

“Cleanliness is really very important not only in our surroundings but also in our physical body,”  as he quoted the saying which goes “cleanliness is next to godliness.”

In addressing  the 200 pupils and some parents at the school’s stage, Conmigo pointed out that “if we will keep ourselves always clean, we will stay away from illnesses and we will have a healthy body.”

Dr. Mayleen Manupac of the Rural Health Unit of Labangan explained the importance of hygiene and demonstrated the proper hand washing, brushing of teeth and other hygiene techniques prior to the distribution of the kit.

Earlier, the same activity was also conducted by the First Cavalry Squadron at Margarito Lagare Elementary School, Navalan, Tukuran Zamboanga del Sur.

MNLF leader turns in weapons to govt

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 30): MNLF leader turns in weapons to govt

  BACOLOD , Lanao del Norte — As a gesture of gratitude and peace act, a former combatant of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Lanao del Norte handed over to government a horde of 12 weapons under his personal possession last September 24, 2015.

‘I am conveying the firearms with sincerity in exchange for the goodwill shown by government in responding to my community needs, and this is showing my strong faith in the peace process, said the 66 year-old Abedin Sanguila, commander of a Bangsamoro Armed Forces (BAF) Division covering Lanao del Norte.

His crew-served weapons turned in were two RPG, one Barrett rifle, one machine gun (30 caliber) and seven firearms.

“I don’t need firearms anymore, and I don’t want these to be passed on to my children,” said Abedin, (speaking in Visayan) during the ceremony inside Camp Datu Tomanong in Barangay Pagayawan, Bacolod town, this province.

Representing Secretary Teresita ‘Ging’ Q. Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) to deliver an inspirational message of peace was Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo who most oftentimes attended peace-activity initiatives in the province. He lauded the peace activities in the province involving the community, the provincial and the local government units.

Commander Abedin of  MNLF Border Command with approximately 500 followers and his men are recipients of development aid through the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn (PAMANA) Program that seeks to address the constrains that hinder their effective transition to civilian life.

For more than two-years, Camp Datu Tomanong was once a war-torn community that transformed into a progressive and peaceful community through OPAPP PAMANA projects coupled with education, training and teambuilding on culture of peace and reconciliation, said Musa Mohamad Sanguila, chairperson, PAMANA LANAW (LalankoKalinaw-Path to Peace).

PAMANA LANAW is an inter-agency body which acts as an oversight in the implementation of PAMANA projects in Lanao del Norte.

Musa Sanguila, who is also the executive director of grassroots peace building group Pakigdait, Inc., said the weapons will be stored in a steel case fabricated fo the purpose, with three locks-- one each for the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bacolod local government, and commander Abedin.

This arrangement is so because the turning in of the weapons is extraordinary, explained Sanguila.

6th ID sends 150 recruits to basic military training

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 1): 6th ID sends 150 recruits to basic military training

A new set of recruits was officially sent today for a 20-week training to the 6th Division Training School in Barangay Semba, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, officials said.

The group is composed of 150 candidate soldiers coming from the different municipalities in the provinces of Mindanao who have undergone the complete screening and pre-entry process since early of this year, Army Capt. Joan Petinglay said.

Petinglay, speaking for the 6th ID, said the training will be in two phases, the Basic Military training which will run for 13 weeks and the Jungle Warfare Mountain Operations Course that will be expected to last for seven weeks.

Parents, family members and loved ones of the recruits flocked to the grounds of 6th ID in order to wish their candidate soldier well and to witness the oath-taking ceremony.

Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, said wanted the training to be purposive and relevant because what will be taught during the duration are the same lessons that will keep the would-be soldiers survive their military careers.

He also reminded the trainers to make sure to inculcate discipline and respect for authority, to ensure adherence to uncompromising standards and for the recruits to develop a mind-set that everything done is essentially important.

During the training, candidate soldiers are expected to undergo dramatic and abrupt change of their personal lifestyles to acculturation into the military routine.

The trainees are expected to graduate after more than five months of training and will be incorporated to the regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines specifically with the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division with the rank of Private.

Pangilinan stressed that the recruits were screened properly. "This is voluntary, there was no favoritism in the recruitment process," Pangilinan said.

"You don't need to pay your way into the military training, this is purely voluntary and in the spirit of service to the people," he added.

After the send off ceremonies, the candidate soldiers walked as one group from 6th ID compound in Barangay Awang to Barangay Semba, where the Division Training Center is located, about five kilometers away.

10th ID units now tracking militiaman killers, abductors of 2 troopers

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 1): 10th ID units now tracking militiaman killers, abductors of 2 troopers

Units of the 10th Infantry Division are now conducting tracking and pursuit operations against the New People's Army (NPA) band who killed a militiaman and abducted two soldiers in Monkayo town, Compostela Valley Wednesday afternoon.

1st Lt. Alexandre Cabales, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, both incidents took place 2 p.m. at Barangay Casoon, Monkayo town.

He added that the militiaman was flagged down and killed by the NPAs first before abducting the motorcycle riding troopers who witnessed the atrocity.

Cabales said the murdered militiaman was detailed at the Casoon Patrol Base while the abducted soldiers are from the 25th Infantry Battalion.

Lt. Col. Mitchel Anayron, 25th Infantry Battalion commander, said eyewitnesses recognized the leader of the NPAs as alias “Jinggoy.”

"Jinggoy" whose true name is Zaldy CaƱete is a notorious NPA commander who is out on bail.

Bukidnon village chief orders tribal school to close for 'NPA ties'

From InterAksyon (Oct 1): Bukidnon village chief orders tribal school to close for 'NPA ties'

The Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School run by MISFI in Sitio Dao, Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. (contributed photo)

The chairman of a village in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon province ordered on Thursday a tribal school set up by a religious organization to shut down within two days or he would force it closed himself over its alleged links to communist rebels.

Evelyn Cabangal, a teacher of the Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School, as the MISFI (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc.) Academy is also known after the Italian missionary murdered in Arakan, North Cotabato in 2011, told by phone that the “memorandum order” issued by Felipe Cabugnason, barangay chairman of White Culaman was delivered to the school around 11 a.m.

White Culaman is the village where Army troops arrested 13 lumad late last month. All 13 have since been released from jail after a court dropped the charges filed against them.

Human rights advocates in northern Mindanao say the village remains occupied by soldiers.

Although she admitted being worried, Cabangal said they have no plans of complying with Cabugnason’s order, whose legality she questioned.

This was also confirmed in a separate interview by MISFI administrator Milagros Maglunsod-Tan, who called Cabugnason’s action an “abuse of authority” and said the foundation’s officers would meet on the possible legal actions they might take should the village chief make good on his threat.

Tan said they set up the secondary school in White Culaman, which is about an hour's hike from the village center, last year on the request of a local farmers’ organization because the only public high school their children could attend “is too far away.”

Beginning with Grade 7, the boarding school now teaches more than 40 Grade 7 and Grade 8 students, according to Cabangal.

“We used to have around 50 students but some of them quit because of fear” triggered by the accusations against the school, Cabangal said.

However, the military has openly accused schools set up by MISFI and other nongovernmental organizations in lumad communities in eastern and northern Mindanao of advocating support for the New People’s Army.

On several occasions, the communities where the schools are located have evacuated after soldiers and military-backed militias occupied their villages and even the learning centers. This is the case of some 700 Manobo from Talaingod, Davao del Norte who have been staying for several months at a church compound in Davao City.

The most extreme case thus far has been the September 1 murder of Emerito Samarca, executive director the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development in Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur by the Magahat militia. Two Manobo leaders, Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo were also executed by the militiamen in front of hundreds of residents.

The Lianga murders triggered the evacuation of more than 3,000 lumad who are now sheltering at the sports center in Tandag City.

Cabugnason’s memorandum, which Cabangal read over the phone, cited three grounds for ordering the MISFI Academy’s closure:

It lacks legal documents, such as a permit to operate

It is “a threat to all the safety of the living people in our barangay (sic)” because of its supposed links to the NPA

The lumber used to build the school has supposedly not been paid for

The village chief, in the memorandum, claimed that three rebels he identified as “Ka Makoy,” “Ka Ibyang” and “Isok” supposedly surveyed the site of the school and later “facilitated” the procurement of the lumber.

Invoking the authority he said he is granted by Section 389 of the Local Government Code, Cabugnason warned that “failure to comply … with the said memorandum order within the timeframe given” would lead to the barangay council “together with the people in our barangay” going to “where the school is located and we will automatically close the school.”

But a perusal of the relevant section shows that the only provision that can be said to be remotely related to the issue is one that authorizes the barangay chairman to "maintain public order in the barangay and, in pursuance thereof, assist the city or municipal mayor and the sanggunian members in the performance of their duties and functions."

Cabangal said the seven members of the barangay council and the indigenous people’s mandatory representative signed their conformity.

On her part, Maglunsod-Tan acknowledged that the Department of Education in Region 10 is still processing their permit to operate although “we have accomplished all the necessary documentation” and the school has been inspected twice by the schools division in Malaybalay.

She also said she was surprised by Cabugnason’s hostility toward the school, which she said began “only after the Army arrived in August.”

Before, she said, he “was very supportive when we came” because the village has no budget or plans to set up a secondary school.

In fact, she added, Cabugnason “attended all our school activities from the time we opened.”

Kitaotao Mayor Lorenzo Gawilan was “also very happy when we informed him that we planned to set up the school in White Culaman because he admitted they had no budget for additional high schools” in the town, she said.

PMA told to answer dismissed cadet’s plea

From Malaya Business Insight (Oct 1): PMA told to answer dismissed cadet’s plea

THE Supreme Court yesterday directed the Philippine Military Academy to answer the plea of its dismissed cadet, Aldrin Jeff Cudia, for the release of his diploma and transcript of records, which he needs for admission to the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The SC issued the directive despite having upheld Cudia’s dismissal.

Cudia filed a motion for reconsideration last September 9.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said the PMA was given 10 days from receipt of notice to comply with the order which was issued during the en banc session last Tuesday.

The SC’s final decision upholding Cudia’s dismissal was made last April. The tribunal said the PMA did not violate Cudia’s right to due process when it enforced its rules on discipline, including the Honor Code, for alleged lying about the reason he came late to class.

Misuari’s MNLF confirms 3 foreigners now captives of new ASG group in Sulu

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 1): Misuari’s MNLF confirms 3 foreigners now captives of new ASG group in Sulu

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) group of chairman Nur Misuari yesterday confirmed that the three foreigners and a Filipina kidnapped from Samal Island are now under captivity by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group in the jungles of Sulu.

Rev. Absalom Cerveza, spokesman of the MNLF-Misuari group, said the victims are now captives by a new group composed of Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“We confirm that they (hostages) are now in Sulu…they are being held by a new group of Abu Sayyaf bandits,” Cerveza told The Daily Tribune.

According to Cerveza, the MNLF intelligence agents know the location and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) band now holding Norwegian Kjartan Sekkinstad, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Filipina Maritess Flor.

“But it is not for us to divulge such information…that’s for the police and military to find out,” said Cerveza.

Citing information gathered by MNLF forces, Cerveza said that the actual kidnapping was not pulled off by the Abu Sayyaf group. “They (hostages) were only turned over to the ASG,” he said without identifying the band which staged the actual abduction.

Cerveza maintained that the MNLF-Misuari group is willing to assist the government in addressing the issue.

“We will not hesitate to help if we are asked…but proper protocols should be established,” said Cerveza.

“There should be no ransom as stressed by Chairman Misuari and no one should die,” he added.
Cerveza reiterated the MNLF stance that it neither condones criminal acts nor coddles bandits.

Another Tribune source in Camp Crame, who asked not to be named, seconded Cerveza’s confirmation that the hostages are now in Sulu.

The source said that the four victims are now being kept by the group of Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya, composed of about 300 fighters.

The hostages reportedly reached the shores of Parang at around 2 a.m. on Sept. 27.

“Accordingly, the said kidnap victims, onboard a Fuzo watercraft, landed on the shoreline of Sitio Pitotan, Barangay Buton Mahablo in Parang,” the source said.

The Camp Crame official said the four hostages were fetched by more or less 50 Abu Sayyaf men led by Yasser Aksan and Alih Rajuli, who are under Misaya.

About a dozen gunmen took the four hostages from the posh Ocean View resort on Samal Island last Sept. 21.

Government authorities, particularly the Navy and the Coast Guard, immediately set up a sea barrier along Davao Gulf to prevent the kidnap group and their hostages to sneak into Sulu, a known stronghold of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group.

Sulu Sultanate debunks Datu Khidar Kiram ll’s drop of Sabah claim

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 1): Sulu Sultanate debunks Datu Khidar Kiram ll’s drop of Sabah claim

The Sultanate of Sulu yesterday debunked pronouncement by a self-proclaimed “Crown Prince” of Sulu that the sultanate is dropping Sabah claim, pointing to Malaysia as probable “brains” behind the move.

Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman of the Sultanate of Sulu, said that the statement attributed to Datu Khudar S. J. Kiram II, 59, who claims to be a direct descendant from a second son of Sultan Jamalul Alam or Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, is contrary to a royal decree.

“The pursuit to Sabah claim is contained in the royal decree issued by the late Sultan Esmail Kiram II and will be pursued by Sultan Phugdalun Kiram II, the 35th Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo,” Idjirani told The Daily Tribune.

An article from Malaysian daily Free Malaysia Today said Datu Khudar told Malaysian media that he will call for a press conference in Manila next week and announce the dropping of the Sabah claim.

“The Philippine government will no longer have the right to interfere in the affairs of the Sulu Sultanate,” Datu Khudar was quoted as saying.

Another Malaysia newspaper Daily Express said Datu Khudar claimed that his plan is supported by one of the Philippines’ presidential candidates “who goes by the name of ‘Maruas.’”

But Idjirani was quick to point an accusing finger to some Malaysian government officials as behind Datu Khudar’s move.

“The purpose is to create controversy and confusion to the minds of the Filipino people and in violation of the decision promulgated in 1939 by the British high court recognizing the nine principal heirs, led by the late Sultan Punjungan Kiram, the 32nd sultan of Sulu and North Borneo and father of the late Jamalul Kiram III and Sultan Esmail Kiram II,” said Idjirani.

“The action could be attributed to some government officials of Malaysia wishing to distort the legality and historical claims of the Sultanate over Sabah which is now being pursued by the newly-installed Sultan Phugdalun Kiram II, the 35th Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo,” he added.

Idjirani, however, maintained that the Sultanate of Sulu has renounced violence as a way to pursue the Sabah claim. “We will exert all peaceful means to pursue the claim,” he said.

He also stressed that the Sultanate of Sulu will only throw its support to any presidential contender after consultations with its constituents and will be anchored on the support to the Sabah claim.

“In relation to the 2016 presidential elections, any support to a presidential contender must be anchored on the desire to pursue the Sabah claim peacefully with the Malaysian government,” Idjirani said.

Datu Khudar also denounced the February 2013 siege laid by members of the Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu that triggered weeks of fighting on Lahad Datu between the Filipino Tausugs and Malaysian troops. The siege was led by then Rajah Muda or Crown Prince Agbimmudin Kiram to revive the Sabah claim.

Daily Express quoted Kiram, who resides in Manila, as saying that his family line has always been supportive of Sabah joining Malaysia, saying he doesn’t want Sabah to fall under the Manila “Christian Government.”

Datu Khudar’s pronouncements came more than a week after Sultan Esmail Kiram II died of kidney failure last Sept. 20 in Zamboanga City. Last Saturday, Sultan Phugdalun Kiram II was installed as 35th Sultan of Sulu.

2 soldiers wounded in encounter with NPA

From ABS-CBN (Oct 1): 2 soldiers wounded in encounter with NPA

NUEVA ECIJA - Two soldiers were wounded in an encounter with suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) Wednesday morning in Carangalan, Nueva Ecija.

Based on the investigation, PFC Mark Joseph Mamingcol and PFC Renly Taliongan were watching over a backhoe used in a government construction project in the area when the suspected rebels fired at their direction.

The two soldiers reported the incident, and reinforcements were sent to the area. A fifteen-minute firefight ensued.

Recovered from the scene were several gallons of gasoline, which the soldiers believed will be used by the rebels to burn the backhoe.

1LT. Alenel Valles, commanding officer of the Charlie Company of the 3rd Infantry Battalion, said the incident is part of the suspected rebels' acts of extortion.

Mamingcol and Taliongan sustained gunshot wounds on the hands and legs, while Mario Razul, the backhoe driver, was left unharmed.

The military has launched a hot pursuit operation against the men involved in the incident.

“PNoy will be disappointed if BBL not enacted by congress”: Speaker Belmonte

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 1): “PNoy will be disappointed if BBL not enacted by congress”: Speaker Belmonte

“PNoy will be disappointed if BBL not enacted by congress”: Speaker Belmonte

In a report by ABS-CBN yesterday, September 30, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said that, “President Benigno Aquino III will be disappointed if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not approved by Congress.

"He will be disappointed," Belmonte said as quoted by ABS-CBN.

For his part, Belmonte merely wants the bill put to a vote. He said he will not campaign for its passage.

"I'm not talking about approval. I just want it to reach the floor and voted on," he said.

He revealed many lawmakers are still interested in asking questions. "We have still a number of people who are due to interpellate. Many of them have interpellated more than once in the past," he said.

"Appeal ko lang, let's give everybody a chance to vote. Pakiusap ko, let's go there. I'm not gonna talk to say you vote this way. Let everybody vote the way everybody wants," he added.

Both Houses of Congress are currently focused on the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016 setting aside the proposed Bangsamoro law.

ABS-CN also quoted Belmonte saying that after the budget is approved, they will allot time for the BBL as well as other legislative priorities. Among these are the Customs Modernization Law as well as the creation of a coco levy trust fund.

 that President Benigno Aquino will be disappointed once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not approved by congress, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said.

Congress is now busy with deliberations on the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016.
In two weeks, Congress will go on break for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2016 elections.

Belmonte said that after the budget is approved, they will allot time for the BBL as well as other legislative priorities. Among these are the Customs Modernization Law as well as the creation of a coco levy trust fund.

Obama: I will protect US, allies with world’s strongest military

From Ang Malaya (Sep 30): Obama: I will protect US, allies with world’s strongest military

United States President Barack Obama noted the dangers the world is facing during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York September 28. He mentioned the Islamic State, annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the disputes in West Philippine Sea.

“As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning,” he said. “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

He said that if nations cannot work together more effectively, we will all suffer the consequences.
“I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. We cannot look backwards. We live in an integrated world – one in which we all have a stake in each other’s success,” he said.

“The United States makes no claim on territory there. We don’t adjudicate claims. But like every nation gathered here, we have an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force,” Obama explained.

He said that US will defend these principles, while encouraging China and other claimants to resolve differences peacefully.

US military will respond ‘in a matter of hours’ to any threat on PHL sovereignty

From Ang Malaya (Oct 1): US military will respond ‘in a matter of hours’ to any threat on PHL sovereignty

Should the Philippines sovereignty be challenged or threatened by any power, the US military is more than prepared to respond “in a matter of hours.” This was stressed by US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy during the opening ceremonies of 32nd Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX 16) at Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Naval Station Bonifacio, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Thursday.

“Sixty-four years, this alliance (has) held, our mutual security has been upheld to the close working relationship that we have forged in that time, and I would tell anybody, I would tell you that if anybody would challenge the sovereignty of this country, their best friends within this region would respond within a matter of hours and generally I assure you that is not a hollow promise,” he added.

Kennedy stressed that the nine-day PHIBLEX 16, which has a modest budget and prepared within a minimum time, will accomplish more than what the US 3rd Marine Expedition Brigade participated throughout the region.

“Not only will we work on a higher end of the range of military operations, we’re doing staff exercises down in Palawan, we’ll be honing our interoperability and our procedures in getting to know each other should we be called upon to operate as a military force, but likewise we’re participating in humanitarian activities, there are joint combined engineering projects taking place down in Palawan that I think really are the highlight of this exercise,” he added.

“It’s an opportunity for marines and sailors of both the United States and the Philippine Armed Forces to interact with their people and when you inspire confidence in the people that those under right are way of, our vocation, our way of existence, that you truly have won their hearts and minds and I think that will be accomplished,” Kennedy stressed.

Former NPA commanders encourage comrades to give-up armed struggle

From Ang Malaya (Oct 1): Former NPA commanders encourage comrades to give-up armed struggle

Two former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel commanders called on their former comrades to surrender and give-up the armed struggle over live radio interview with Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Caraga’s 107.8MHz Power FM. Julieto G. Canoy alias “Kumander Boom” and Amado Zata alias “Kumander Dodoy” aired their appeals to active NPA rebels.

“We are calling our former comrades who are still taking part in the fight against the government to veer away and stop supporting with the communist acts for us to have a peaceful community and peaceful region as a whole,” Canoy said using local dialect.

Zata for his part said he used to believe in the ideology of the communist movement “but sad to say we just ended up being slaves. We experienced more sufferings, caused havoc to other people’s lives and properties, and that was really the biggest mistake I’ve ever done,” Ka Dodoy said.

Zata added that it is not yet late “that is why I am calling our fellow NPA rebels to do the right thing and surrender to the government.”

2 former NPA fighters get P25,000 each for livelihood support

From InterAksyon (Oct 1): 2 former NPA fighters get P25,000 each for livelihood support

A rebel returnee receives financial assistance during a government peace caravan in Leyte. (contributed photo)

Two former members of the New People’s Army in Leyte province received P25,000 each through the government’s integration of Comprehensive Livelihood Integrated Program.

Juanito Dumpi, alias Ka Rensan, former squad leader of the NPA’s “Pingkoy Platoon,” and Mark Joseph Opo, alias Ka Jerry, surrendered to the 78th Infantry Battalion based in Burauen on July 23 and August 9 respectively.

The rebel platoon operates in the tri-boundary of Baybay, Mahaplag and Carigara towns.

The former rebels received their checks during the peace caravan of the Leyte Provincial Peace and Order Council in Barangay Caghalo, Mahaplag town on Saturday.

They will also receive additional remuneration and housing aid once they complete their documentation.

In Leyte, at least 13 former rebels received CLIP assistance this year, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Delgado said the peace caravan had been helping indigent residents in Region 8.

Lt. Col. Reymundo Delgado, commander of 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga town said the peace caravan has also helped the poor in Region 8, citing 617 beneficiaries from seven villages in Carigara town.

The peace caravan, which specifically targets conflict areas, involves the Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, Environment and Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Health departments.

Samal kidnappers' vessel was tracked by new Navy system

From InterAksyon (Oct 1): Samal kidnappers' vessel was tracked by new Navy system

When Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte flew to Zamboanga City last week to follow up the kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipina from a resort on Samal Island, he did not go there on empty speculation.

He was, in fact, holding solid information that the victims were no longer in the Davao region and had been taken to Sulu.

And, according to a very reliable source, the Philippine Navy was able to track, through its new Vessel Tracking System or VTS, a pump boat (motorized outrigger canoe) with the bow name “BAMA” the morning after the abduction of Norwegian resort manager Kjartan Sekkingstad, Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, and Hall’s Filipina girlfriend Maritess Flor.

The source said the fleeing vessel was also spotted by the skipper of a naval civilian service boat hugging the shoreline because of rough seas near Pundaguitan village in Governor Generoso town, Davao Oriental.

A naval intelligence report later indicated that “pings” from the mobile phone of one of the victims had been picked by a cellular site in Rio del Pilar, Glan, Sarangani, although it noted the location was uncertain and “could have been at sea … or on land.”

Commodore Rafael Mariano, commander of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao would neither confirm nor deny the intelligence report, saying: “The protocol calls for information about the kidnappings released only through the PNP (Philippine National Police) joint task force headed by General Federico Dulay of PRO (Police Regional Office) 11.”

Dulay, in turn, referred queires to Superintendent Antonio Rivera, the regional police spokesman, who denied receiving the Navy intelligence report.

Duterte went to Zamboanga Friday and confirmed over his television program the following day that he received a verified report that the kidnappers and their victims arrived in Sulu 22 hours after leaving Samal.

This had also been confirmed to earlier by a police intelligence source who later said the victims are being held in Parang town and guarded by a “composite” unit of 200 Abu Sayyaf gunmen under the command of different sub-leaders.

The Navy’s VTS uses a global positioning system based on the reception of special satellite transmissions that allows personnel in the operations center to monitor and track the real-time location, speed and course of target vessels.

The system utilizes at least two powerful radar stations in the eastern side of Mindanao that are capable of picking up signals of naval vessels, one in the village of Kamanga in Maasim, Sarangani and the other in Davao Oriental.

These stations were set up reportedly with the technical assistance of the US Navy under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

According to the Navy, the VTS “is indispensable to the total force at sea and Fleet-in-being strategy, requires the real time picture of the operational environment and the available and deployable forces present in that area to execute a specific mission as the need arises.”

It is a complement to the Navy’s Coast Watch System, which monitors vessel traffic and can identify transiting vessels.

Sources said intelligence officials reportedly sought “American assistance” after receiving the Navy intelligence report but help came only on Wednesday.

Senate probe into abuses against lumad opens in Tandag, Surigao del Sur

From InterAksyon (Oct 1): Senate probe into abuses against lumad opens in Tandag, Surigao del Sur

A lumad woman and her child sleep on cardboard sheets in the bleachers of the sports center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur. (photo by Kilab Multimedia)

(UPDATE 2 - 2:14 p.m.) A Senate inquiry into the spate of atrocities that has driven thousands of lumad from their hinterland communities opened in Tandag City, Surigao del, where some 3,000 refugees have fled, Sur early Thursday afternoon.

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona II arrived here with Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV to preside over the two-day probe.

"We are here because we want to know the truth," Guingona told refugees at the sports center in Tandag, which he visited before the start of Thursday's hearing, accompanied by Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel and Major General Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, whose troops have been implicated in the abuses.

"We need to get the basics: what happened and who did it. We need to do this in order for us to give justice to our lumad brothers and sisters," he added. "I expect the people here to tell me what happened, I expect them to tell me the truth. And because of that, we can arrive at a proper recommendation as to what our next step should be."

Guingona, who like his fellow senator Pimentel is a native of Mindanao, initiated the inquiry after being apprised of the problem by Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel.

He earlier condemned the atrocities, particularly the September 1 murders of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Altenative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, an award-winning tribal school, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town by the military-backed Magahat militia.

Governor Pimentel, who has demanded that the Army "disarm, disband or kill" the militias he said the military has organized in the province, said he was happy with the Senate probe and hoped it would lead the national government to take action and resolve the problem besetting the province.

Meanwhile, the refugees in Tandag rejected an offer made by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman during a September 26 visit to provide them with "transitory shelters."

“We don’t want transition shelter, we want the disbanding of the paramilitary bandits, the arrest of Bobby and Loloy Tejero, and Garito Layno," the named suspects in the Lianga murders, "members of the bandit group Bocales-Belandres-Egua,” and the pullout of the 75th and 36th Infantry Battalions from their ancesral land, Josephine Pagalan, spokesperson of the lumad federation KASALU, said.

Pagalan scored Soliman for misreading their plight and wanting to treat them like the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

"We are not homeless. We have houses, farms and livelihood in our villages," she said.

“Once the military-armed bandits are disbanded, the killers arrested and prosecuted, and the military withdraws from our communities, the ... Aquino administration need not spend government money to build temporary shelters because we will no longer be in evacuation” Pagalan added.