Sunday, October 4, 2015

Filipino militants threaten to behead Malaysian hostage, says report

From the Malaysian Insider (Oct 5): Filipino militants threaten to behead Malaysian hostage, says report

One of the two Malaysian hostages being held by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippine island of Jolo will be beheaded if the ransom is not paid, according to The Star today.

Quoting Filipino and Malaysian sources, the report said the terror group is feeling the heat as security forces from the Phillippines were closing in on their bases, forcing them to continously be on the move.

Sources said that the militants made the threat because one of the two hostages was slowing them down.

Thien Nyuk Fun, 51, and Bernard Then Ted Fen, 39, were kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants at gunpoint on May 14, from a seafood restaurant belonging to the former.

They are now believed to be held on the remote southern Philippine island of Jolo by the gunmen.

It is learnt that Then had sustained leg injuries and was not able to keep up with terrorists during military operations in the island.

The Star said Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Indang Susukan was demanding 30 million pesos (about RM2.8 million) for their safe release.

It was previously reported that the families of the two victims have been receiving calls from the militants, who were threatening to behead one of them.

The frustrated families have met with Home Ministry officials to plead for more urgency to secure the safe release of their loved ones.

Friends of the families have begun an online petition to pile pressure on Putrajaya to expedite the process of securing the safe release of the hostages.

The report said the situation turned critical following the abductions of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina from the Philippine resort of Samal Island on September 21.

The sources were quoted as saying that these victims could be held by Abu Sayyaf commander Al Habsi Misaya and another sub-commander from the Sawajan family.

The latest abduction incident had apparently resulted in intensified security operations in Jolo.

These operations are forcing the militant group to continue fleeing and Then was slowing them down, one of the sources was reported as saying.

Gold control root of ‘tribal wars’ in Surigao del Sur — AFP official

From the Daily Tribune (Oct 5): Gold control root of ‘tribal wars’ in Surigao del Sur — AFP official

A ranking military official admitted that control over gold and other minerals within Lumad communities in Mindanao have sparked the recent killings of indigenous people (IP) leaders recently that already caught not only national, but also international attention.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID), pointed to the New People’s Army (NPA) as the culprit in the “tribal wars” in Surigao del Sur and nearby provinces by conducting atrocities against anti-communist IP communities.

“The crux of the problem is the conflicting interests of parties to control the resources that are found in the IP’s ancestral domain, particularly gold and other minerals,” Lactao said.

“Among those interests belong to the NPAs who have since been involved in harassment and direct armed attacks against our Lumads who resist their presence,” he added.

According to Lactao, the NPAs view the lumad communities as very good source of recruits and funds — apparently due to mining.

“They want to control our IP communities because to them, they are a rich source of recruits. To them, the ancestral domain of our Lumads does not just give them men to fight for them but also the funds and other logistics to ensure their existence,” Lactao said.

On Sept. 1, two Lumad leaders and a school administrator were killed in Lianga, Surigao del Sur while a cooperative building was burnned after being attacked by armed men.

The militant group Karapatan tagged the paramilitary group Magahat Bagani, supposedly being backed by the military, as behind the attack at Alcadev Compound in Barangay Diatagon.

The military has repeatedly denied supporting Magahat Bagani, and pointed out that the conflict among tribal groups in Lianga was between pro- and anti-communist communities.

Local police have already identified some of the attackers in Alcadev and filed charges against them and 20 others unidentified.

Lactao said that the military and the police have formed a task force to address the killings.

“We have formed the joint PNP and AFP task force that is tasked to apprehend the perpetrators of the recent killings — preferably alive for them to face the full force of the law,” Lactao said.

Lactao also said that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri, who hails of Surigao del Sur, directed the military to assist in deescalating the conflict among the tribal groups.

“General Iriberri has ordered me to take all the necessary steps to support the PNP in capturing the perpetrators while working for a mediation process to de-escalate hostilities and to avert a full-scale conflict among rival lumad tribes. We wish nothing but peace and progress for all of our lumad communities,” Lactao said.

Belmonte won’t ask House to pass Moro law anymore

From The Standard (Oct 5): Belmonte won’t ask House to pass Moro law anymore

HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he will no longer try to convince his colleagues to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, because he himself does not believe that it will be approved by December.

Belmonte said a “conscience vote” would decide the fate of BBL, which he said he just wants to reach a plenary vote.
“I’m not going to talk to everybody for you to vote this way, that way. Let everybody vote the way he wants to vote,” he said.

“I just want it to reach that point [where] a decision is made by this body,” he added.

Belmonte admitted that President Benigno Aquino III would be “disappointed” if the BBL is not passed.

House Bill No. 5811, which is the substitute for HB 4994 (An Act Providing Basic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region) is still in the period of interpellations.

The measure seeks the abolition of the present ARMM and the creation of a more autonomous Bangsamoro region, an offshoot of the government’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Pinay held for aiding IS bomber

From The Standard (Oct 5): Pinay held for aiding IS bomber

A FILIPINA has been arrested in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of helping a Syrian make explosive belts for suicide attacks in the kingdom, the interior ministry said Saturday.

The Syrian, identified as Mohamed al-Barazi, is suspected of turning the house they shared in the Saudi capital into a bomb factory, the ministry spokesman said.

Barazi is also accused of having a second house in Riyadh that he ran as a safe house for militants on the run.

He was detained in a police ambush in the capital on Wednesday, the spokesman said.

Police then raided the suspected bomb factory which they found had been booby-trapped.

The Filipina was named by the official Saudi Press Agency as Lady Gioi Aban Bali Nang and was said to have gone missing from her employer 15 months ago.

She was said to be wearing a suicide vest at the time of her arrest.

After the house had been made safe, police recovered two explosives belts, 10 containers of bomb-making materials and two firearms, the ministry said.

Asked on state television whether Barazi was suspected of links to the Islamic State, the spokesman said authorities “did not yet have sufficient evidence to make any direct connection with this terrorist group.”

A series of attacks claimed by IS in Saudi Arabia this year have killed dozens of people.

In July, authorities announced that they had detained 431 people, most of them Saudis, on suspicion of involvement in an IS cell.

Saudi Arabia has taken part in the US-led air war against IS in Syria since September last year raising fears of revenge attacks.

Malacañang said Sunday it would try to provide legal assistance to the Filipina.

“The government is trying to get in touch with the woman in order that she can be provided legal assistance,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. over state-run radio dzRB.

Coloma said the  Department of Foreign Affairs is coordinating with the Embassy of  Saudi Arabia.

The workers group Migrante said Sunday it was possible that the Filipina was forced by the Syrian bomb maker to live with him and convert to Islam.

“Undocumented or illegal OFWs, like many other undocumented expatriate workers in the kingdom, are in a deplorable situation after running away from their employers due to alleged abuses and labor malpractices,” said  Migrante leader in Middle East John Leonard Monterona.

It was possible, he added, that she was not even aware that the belts she was sewing were used to carry explosives.

Instead of medal, raps for SAF leader

From The Standard (Oct 5): Instead of medal, raps for SAF leader

SPECIAL Action Force commando team leader Supt. Raymund Train was slapped with criminal and administrative cases on the same day that he was supposed to be awarded the Medal of Valor for neutralizing international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb expert Basit Usman.

Instead of getting the Medal of Valor, which was withdrawn at the last minute, Train received word that the Ombudsman was finding him responsible for the death of his men, the SAF 44, in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

The charges were neglect of duty and grave misconduct.

The Ombudsman also accused Train of violating the chain of command, but spared his commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III, of any liability for assigning the ill-fated covert mission to then suspended police chief Alan Purisima.

The 44 SAF commandos were massacred by Muslim rebels, including those from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is in peace talks with the government.

Train said he was puzzled that he was being blamed for the death of his men, when the Ombudsman had said it was the Muslim rebels who killed them.

Purisima, who was suspended at the time the President assigned him to supervise the Mamasapano operation, was charged with usurpation of authority or official functions.

Purisima was also charged with graft and grave misconduct, along with PNP Director Getulio Napeñas, then SAF command chief; and Supt. Fernando Mendez Jr. of the intelligence group.

“From the time he was suspended from office, Purisima no longer had authority to participate in the mission planning and execution of Oplan Exodus as he was then barred from performing the functions of his office as PNP chief,” the Ombudsman said.

 “Clearly, Purisima willfully disregarded the preventive suspension order imposed on him by the Ombudsman and violated the PNP chain of command, making him liable for grave misconduct,” the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman said Napeñas and Mendez deliberately violated the PNP chain of command and the Ombudsman’s suspension order against Purisima by respectively dealing with, taking orders from and recommending actions to Purisima in connection with the operation despite being aware of his preventive suspension.

“They completely ignored and undermined [Leonardo] Espina’s authority as the OIC PNP in the conduct of the mission planning and preparation for Oplan Exodus. Thus, they must also be held liable for grave misconduct,” the Ombudsman said.

Train was held accountable for neglect of duty for deciding to employ the “time on target” concept of coordination in the mission that was also authorized by Purisima.

“In devising the Oplan Exodus, it was the mission planning group’s duty to ensure not only the successful conduct of the mission but also to observe applicable rules and that protection of troops must always be taken into consideration,” the Ombudsman said.

SAF Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron, who died in the operation, was also supposed to receive the Medalya ng Kagitingan, equivalent to Medal of Valor, the highest award for police and military personnel but his and Train’s names were removed from the roster of awardees at the last minute.

The Palace denied reports that Aquino ordered the withdrawal of the medals that were originally planned to be given to Train and Cempron during the ceremonies marking the 114th anniversary of the Philippine National Police on Aug. 6.

“The Office of the President has no participation in the selection of police officers and individuals that were given recognition in connection with the 114th anniversary of the PNP,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

The President did not mention the fallen SAF commandos in his final State-of-the-Nation Address in July.

The last-minute removal of the two SAF commandos from the roster of medal awardees caused dismay among middle-grade and senior police officers.

Cempron’s award was reportedly contained in a PNP Promotion Awards and Decoration Board resolution, while Train’s was listed in a separate memo.

It was still unclear why their names were removed.

Earlier, reports said Cempron’s widow, Christine, had been informed that her husband would be honored by President Aquino during PNP Day.

The PNP reportedly shouldered the travel expenses for Christine and her family from Leyte to include hotel accommodations during their stay in Manila.

“It was really disappointing for them… They were even excited to attend the ceremony,” one officer said.

Four other SAF personnel were on tap for the Medal of Valor—Senior Inspectors Gednat Tabdi and John Garry Erana (both killed in action) and SPO4 Bill Fernando Jumalon and PO2 Christopher Lalan.

A Medal of Valor entitles the awardee and his children a monthly cash allowance of P20,000.

The awardee’s children are also entitled to scholarships in private universities.

At a July 14 meeting on the PNP anniversary rites, Deputy Director-General Danilo Constantino recommended that the awards for the SAF officers be sped up as the anniversary would be a good venue to highlight the bravery of the SAF men who sacrificed their lives for the country.

But unconfirmed reports said there was a verbal instruction from the Palace not to include the names of the SAF awardees so as not to bring back memories of the Mamasapano massacre.

But PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor told reporters he was not aware of any change in the program for the PNP anniversary.

The head of the PNP Intelligence Group, Chief Supt. Fernando Mendez Jr., who provided the intelligence packet used in the ill-fated raid on Jan. 25, was also said to be in line for a Distinguished Conduct Award, but was also not included in the program.

Mendez was among those later charged by the Ombudsman.

Filipino, American marines conduct covert landing

From Ang Malaya (Oct 5): Filipino, American marines conduct covert landing

Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force of United States Corps and Philippine Marine Corps rehearsed clandestine landings and withdrawals at Ternate, Cavite October 1 during the Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX). Filipino and American marines executed scout swimmer techniques for a swift, silent, deadly amphibious landing and withdrawal.

PHIBLEX is an annual, bilateral training exercise conducted by US Marine and Navy Forces with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations from disaster relief, to complex expeditionary operations.

Opening ceremony for PHIBLEX was conducted October 1 and will last until October 9. Humanitarian and civic assistance projects in Palawan for PHIBLEX was started September 21.

Drills for PHIBLEX are being conducted in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley, Tarlac; and in San Antonio, Zambales which will include command post exercise, field training exercises, amphibious operations and combined arms training.

Soldiers, children in Pagasa Island receive ‘care packages’

From Ang Malaya (Oct 5): Soldiers, children in Pagasa Island receive ‘care packages’

The University of the Philippines Cadet Alumni Organization (UPCAO) of UP Diliman turned over “care packages” for Pagasa Island’s school children and soldiers stationed in Kalayaan Group of Islands Monday. This is to show their utmost support to this country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea and the efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in fulfilling its mandated duty of guarding Philippine territory, AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

The “care packages” were handed over by UPCAO members to AFP Chief-of-Staff General Hernando DCA Iriberri during the flag-raising ceremony at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. There were two types of packages for soldiers and children in Pagasa which were created from donations.

The packages for troops (Type A) contain the following: packs of powdered drinks; packaged foods like canned goods, biscuits and candies; healthy foods like dried fruits, nuts and energy bars; spices; toiletries; recreational goods like board games, cards and activity books for entertainment; utility items like multitools, fishing lines, fishing hooks, matches and lighters; phone cards to enable them to call home; and letters of encouragement.

While the “care packages” for Pagasa’s school kids (Type B) contain the following: pens, pencils, crayons, markers in different colors, eraser and pencil sharpeners; pad paper, notebooks, bond paper, art paper, construction paper; child-safe scissors, tape, glue and rulers; chalk and board eraser; watercolor and poster paints, including brushes; manila paper and/or cartolina; powdered milk, chocolate, or cereal; mosquito repellant; books, comic books, dictionaries, child-friendly reference books, maps; puzzles and activity books; and flash cards.

“The soldiers who are deployed in our far off stations in the Kalayaan Island Group are truly commendable. Their dedication and firm resolve to watch over our islands at the outskirts of our territory means that they will be facing dangers that are born out of the ambitions of foreign entities. And it is here that their flame of desire to defend our country is fanned, all while the rest of us are asleep,” Iriberri said.

He also thanked the members of UPCAO on behalf of soldiers who will receive the packages. “I am sure this means a lot to them, not just the material provisions, but more especially knowing that in each one of these boxes is the sincere show of support of its donors,” the AFP chief added.

SOLCOM chief visits frontliners

From the Ang Malaya (Oct 5): SOLCOM chief visits frontliners

Armed Forces of the Philippines-Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) chief Lieutenant General Ricardo R. Visaya visited the frontliners from the 83rd Infantry Battalion (83IB) in the island province of Catanduanes October 4. Lieutenant General Visaya inspected the battalion’s effort in maintaining peace in the said island.

“LtGen Visaya checked on the Battalion’s effort in maintaining the generally peaceful environment in the island since attaining the status as Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development area on November 24, 2015,” SOLCOM said.

83IB is operating under 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. 9ID is the primary infantry unit tasked to combat communist insurgency in the Bicol Region.

Police links NPA to killing of tribal leader in North Cotabato

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 5): Police links NPA to killing of tribal leader in North Cotabato

Cops are hot on the trail of a New People’s Army (NPA) death squad who shot dead Sunday a Manobo tribal leader In Sitio Lucuakon, Barangay Basak here.

Sr. Insp. Felix Fornan, Matalam police chief, said witnesses saw motorcycle-riding Manobo chieftain Noel Biaong, of Barangay Noa, blocked by gunmen in Basak village and shot at gunpoint on Sunday afternoon.

Biaong was on his way home from a meeting of the Alimagong Guardians in the Basak area where he serves as its leader when gunned down.

Fornan said Biaong, allegedly included in the NPA hit list, was linked to several cases in the area that included homicide, theft and rape.

Fornan said Basak village is a known NPA-infested area.

Civil society groups continue to push for BBL passage despite new deadlines in Congress

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 5): Civil society groups continue to push for BBL passage despite new deadlines in Congress

Civil society groups will continue drumming up support for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) despite a recent pronouncement from Senate President Franklin Drilon that the bill's passage would not likely happen prior to Congress’ recess on October 9.

In separate statements, policy center Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) and academic consortium Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) continued to push for the immediate passage of the BBL that is reflective of the spirit and intention of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the 2014 peace accord signed by the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“The CAB, in particular, lays down the foundation for meaningful political autonomy namely a clear delineation of powers between the national and regional government and a regional parliamentary system. It strengthens fiscal autonomy through a block grant system and a degree of control and management of the region’s natural resources,” the IAG statement read.

Similarly, CEAP called on lawmakers to be mindful of the CAB as they continue deliberations on the draft law.

“Should the legislators or the courts repudiate the peace agreement that the executive forged with the MILF, they take responsibility for the ensuing peace or war into their own hands,” CEAP warned.

IAG is based in Cotabato City with strong national and international linkages. The group has provided technical assistance in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law particularly in the areas of transitory mechanisms and processes, decentralized and ministerial system of government, elections and political party systems.

On the other hand, CEAP strives to respond to social, political, moral and other critical issues based on consultations with the different regions and calls for the collective action of its members when the situation so requires.

The original draft of the BBL was officially transmitted by President Benigno S. Aquino III to Congress in September 10, 2014.

The bill was subjected to almost 100 public hearings and consultations by the House ad hoc committee on the BBL and the Senate committee on local government, separately, before both chambers started plenary deliberations on their respective versions of the bill.

However, the House of Representatives has currently put BBL debates on hold as deliberations have already begun on the proposed General Appropriations Act for 2016.

Given the continued delays in the passage of the BBL, IAG appealed to all stakeholders in the peace process to “devote all remaining energy and time to reach a consensus” on key identified areas.

It also reminded lawmakers of the transition period needed to bridge the current ARMM and the Bangsamoro government.

“The transition must provide sufficient time, resources and mechanisms to raise the institutional and human resources capacities of the future Bangsamoro government to build and administer strong autonomous governance infrastructures,” said IAG.(

PN Islander deployed to help in search of 56 missing fishermen

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 5): PN Islander deployed to help in search of 56 missing fishermen

The Philippine Navy has deployed one of its Norman-Britten Islander aircrafts to help in the search-and-rescue operations of the 56 fishermen who went missing last week.

Naval Task Force-40 spokesperson Ensign Adeltrude Dayata said the PNI 314 has been deployed to help the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in its search-and-rescue missions.

The fishermen from Pangasinan were reported missing while fishing in West Philippine Sea last week during the onslaught of Typhoon "Kabayan" which battered provinces in Central and Northern Luzon.

As of Monday, a total of 71 fishermen has been rescued by the PCG. Over 127 fishermen were reported missing since last week.(

Fire guts soldiers' quarters in Fort Bonifacio

From ABS-CBN (Oct 4): Fire guts soldiers' quarters in Fort Bonifacio

Fire razed a soldiers' quarters inside the headquarters of the Philippine Army in Fort Bonifacio Saturday afternoon, the military said.

Ten families were displaced in the fire.

According to Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao, the fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. at Door 7 of the 10-unit apartment. Door 7 is occupied by a S/Sgt. Dalusong and his family.

Hao added that investigators from the Bureau of Fire Protection is probing the incident to determine what caused the fire.

Three Army firetrucks immediately responded to put out the fire.

"The Philippine Army Fire Marshal declared the fire out at around 4:40 p.m... The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the BFP Taguig," Hao said.

He noted that the two-storey apartment, worth P1.2 million, is insured.

"Practically, the building was burned," said Hao, adding they are still assessing the items destroyed by the fire.

The 10 families displaced by the fire are temporarily housed at the Enlisted Transient Quarters also inside Fort Bonifacio.

No one was reported injured in the fire.

This was the third military facility to be razed by fire over the past weeks.

Last September 17, a fire destroyed the quarters of newly retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Edwin Remotigue at the Air Force headquarters in Villamor Air Base. The cause of the fire was unknown.

On September 23, another fire broke out at the nurses' quarters at the AFP Medical Center in Quezon City. The fire was believed to have been caused by faulty electrical wiring.

Bidding resumes on aircraft acquisition

From the Business World (Oct 4): Bidding resumes on aircraft acquisition

SIX FOREIGN FIRMS are expected to take in an aircraft acquisition project, with the government resuming the procurement of military hardware as part of the military’s modernization program.
The Department of National Defense (DND) has scheduled on Oct. 12 the bid opening for the P4.9-billion contract for six close-air support aircraft.
The procurement is one of 30 multibillion contracts suspended earlier in May pending the go-ahead of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III. These include two navy frigates worth P18 billion, two long-range patrol aircraft worth P5.9 billion, and three air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion.

The six firms who bought bid documents for the contract are Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company-Construcciones Aeronautics SA (EADS-CASA) Airbus Defense and Space, and Israeli defense contractor Elbit systems, and US-based Beechcraft Defense Company and IOMAX USA, Inc.
The bid documents were priced at P75,000, obtainable from the DND’s Special Bids and Awards Committee.

The Philippines has a budget of P85.3 billion for the military’s modernization program, apart from an annual budget from Congress.

The first AFP modernization law, Republic Act No. 7898, was approved in 1995 and was targeted to be implemented in a 15-year period. For the first five years, it had a ceiling budget of P50 billion.

Republic Act No. 10349, enacted three years ago, revised the first modernization law and provided the Armed Forces a P85.3-billion budget to be spread out between 2013 and 2017.

Next year, the Philippine Army is expected to maintain around 189 tactical battalions and 81 reserve battalions. The Philippine Air Force, on the other hand, is aiming to support 140 various types of aircraft in its fleet while the Philippine Navy’s target is to maintain 124 mission-ready marine units and 59 support units.

Army belies kidnapping IP member in Cagayan

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 4): Army belies kidnapping IP member in Cagayan  

Soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion (17th IB) belied yesterday the allegation of a human rights group that they kidnapped a member of an indigenous people (IP) in Barangay Masi, Rizal, Cagayan province.
Lieutenant Colonel Jose Arn Real, 17th IB commander, said his men did not kidnap but, rather, arrested Renor Danao, alias “Lennong,” earlier identified by the human rights group Karapatan Cagayan Valley Chapter as a tribal minority member.

However, Real clarified that Danao was arrested last Thursday for possession of an unlicensed M-16 rifle and a backpack containing subversive documents.

“There was no kidnapping involving Danao,” the army commander told the Manila Bulletin. “Instead our troop arrested him because he was caught in the act holding a M-16 armalite rifle without (pertinent) documents."

Closing down Fr. Tentorio Memorial School like murdering him again - Bayan Muna

From InterAksyon (Oct 4): Closing down Fr. Tentorio Memorial School like murdering him again - Bayan Muna

Fr. Fausto "Pops" Tentorio: a life devoted to the lumad. On Sunday, Bayan Muna said the closure of a lumad school named after the martyred Italian priest is tantamount to murdering him again. PIME PHILIPPINES PHOTO

It is like murdering Fr. Fausto Tentorio again. This is how Bayan Muna Party-list described the shutdown of the Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, which caters to the Lumad community. The closure does not only denigrate the memory of the martyred priest who spent 32 years of his life among the indigenous people of Mindanao, but also shows just how irrational the Aquino admnistration is in implementing its Oplan Bayanihan (OPB) counter-insurgency program, said Bayan Muna.

In 2003, Fr. Tentorio had written how he was almost killed by the Bagani Force that planned to ambush him in Kitaotao, where he was scheduled to make a visit.

The Lumads lured the militiamen away from the community and the women women hid the thin Fr. Pops in a cabinet to spare him from the deadly guns of the Bagani. "They told me that these men belong to the group called Bagani, that they come from outside the area, and that their intention was to harm me, specifically by throwing hand grenades at me while I am passing by. This information was not new to me. In fact, I heard it the day before," Fr. Pops wrote in 2003. A few years later, the evil plot would succeed and silence him forever.

The Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School was established in memory  of the late Italian missionary and lumad advocate “Pops” Tentorio, who was murdered on October 10, 2011 in Arakan, North Cotabato by suspected members of the military-backed Bagani paramilitary group.  They pumped him with 10 bullets from a 9 mm pistol. He was dead on arrival at the Antipas Medical Specialists Hospital in Cotabato.

The shutdown of the school bearing his name this month was implemented by Barangay Captain Felipe Cabugnason, who does not enjoy any mandate to take over schools, particularly privately-operated ones, on the pretext that the school has ties with the New People’s Army (NPA.)

This is a brazen anachronistic red-tagging tactic made by the military  and echoed by  local government officials in the pursuit of the government’s already discredited counter-insurgency operations,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, who hails from Davao City.

“It is a tragedy that the efforts made by some support organizations and the lumads themselves to break free from their marginalization is now being attacked," Rep. Zarate said.

Fr. Tentorio, a staunch environmentalist and anti-large scale mining advocate, was also responsible for the establishment of several lumad schools in in the hinterland areas of North Cotabato, Bukidnon and other Mindanao provinces.

'Children suffer most'

Meanwhile, Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Neri Colmenares also condemned the school’s closure, saying "it is the children who suffer most." The solon said "the right to education of the indigenous peoples, especially in Mindanao, has long been neglected by the government and this is one of the reasons that they are marginalized  condition until now.

Colmenares added: "Education is a right. It is laudable that lumad advocates have put up these schools on their own, despite risks and hardships, while the government keeps on cutting corners on the education budget. It is condemnable that the military is determined to keep the lumad children out of school," he added.

Barangay While Culaman is also the site  of a Gestapo-like  raid on August 27 by the military and the police, when at least 13 Lumads and peasants, including a mother and her 12-year-old son, were illegally arrested.

All 13 have since been released from jail after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bukidnon dropped the trumped-up charges against them for lack of merit.

The two Bayan Muna lawmakers said the continued vilification and red-baiting of the school run by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI) poses a danger to the teachers, students and other residents.

"It is a grave cause of concern that the village chief himself echoes the military's line.  It is dangerous for the students, teachers, and the supporters of this school. We don't want another Lianga Massacre  to happen," Zarate said.

He meant the September 1 killings of Emerito Samarca, 54, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev); Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), a Lumad organization protesting mining operations, land conversions and plantations and Campos’ cousin, Bello Sinzo.

"The military and their misguided minions should stop the red-baiting of Lumad schools. The accusations by the military that individuals, organizations, and schools have links with the NPA are now being used to justify the spate of Lumad killings by paramilitary units and their military sponsors,” Colmenares concluded.

Leftist leaders face kidnapping raps

From the Manila Tines (Oct 4): Leftist leaders face kidnapping raps
The government is determined to pursue the criminal charges slapped on 69 leaders of left-leaning organizations before the prosecution office of Cagayan Valley since there is sufficient basis to prove that they kidnapped and killed two soldiers and one paramilitary group member in the province a few months ago.

Twenty of those charged were also accused of the same offense in August in connection with their support to the fight of Lumads in their ancestral domain in Mindanao.

Some of those charged with three counts of kidnapping with homicide are: IsabeloAdviento, chairperson of Kagimungan peasant organization and Anakpawis party-list nominee; FemieGalapon, chairperson of the National Union of Students in the Philippine-Cagayan Valley and convenor of Rise4Education; Agnes Mesina, regional coordinator of Save the Valley and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; Randy Malayao, convenor of Bayan Cagayan Valley and Makabayan vice president for Luzon; and Romella Liquigan, regional coordinator of Karapatan-Cagayan Valley and Gabriela Women’s party-list.

Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, viewed the criminal charges as another form of harassment against anti-Aquino regime activists.

“The regime has done it again in an attempt to silence opposition and prevent them from amplifying the people’s demand for justice amid intensifying human rights violations in the region,” Hilao-Enriquez said in a press statement.

Hilao-Enriquez stressed that the filing of criminal charges were “the same tyrannical act the BS Aquino regime used in Mindanao, among the leaders in Davao City and General Santos City—filing trumped-up criminal charges against those who work with the victims of rights violations. Now, they want to suppress the voices of those in Cagayan Valley against the rising cases of military abuses in the region.”

The Manila Times learned that the complaints were brought to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutors in Tuguegarao City by relatives of two members of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (17th IB) and a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.

The complainants asserted that the three victims were abducted and killed by armed men belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that has been carrying out an armed struggle since 1968 to put up a government to be headed by the elite leaders of the communist organization.

Hilao-Enriquez strongly argued that the filing of what she described as “trumped-up criminal charges” was the same practice done during the term of then Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo embedded in Oplan Bantay Laya.

The Inter-agency Legal Action Group or IALAG was tasked to implement Oplan Bantay Laya. President Benigno Aquino 3rd abolished Oplan Bantay Laya and replaced it with Oplan Bayanihan.

Hilao-Enriquez said Karapatan’s investigation showed the Aquino government is also using the same legal basis that was used by the Arroyo administration under Oplan Bantay Laya.

She said the government through the military files criminal charges against leaders of people’s organizations and civil society groups who defend and fight for the interests and protection of the Aggay, Malaweg, and Kalinga tribes.

The members of the 17th IB under the 5th Infantry Division have been conducting military operations in the area since February 2015, that allegedly resulted to massive abuses and human rights violations such as extra judicial killings, torture, abduction and illegal detention, illegal searches, encampment in barangay halls, health centers and houses of the residents, mostly belonging to the Aggay, Malaweg, and Kalinga tribes, she said.

Hilao-Enriquez said the Aggay, Malaweg, and Kalinga are the most affected in the military operations.

NPA declares 2 soldiers POWs

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 4): NPA declares 2 soldiers POWs

The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility for the abduction of two Army soldiers last September 30 in Barangay Casoon, Monkayo, Compostela Valley, the insurgents’ Comval North Davao South Agusan Sub Regional Command said.

In an e-mail statement to media, command spokesman Aries Francisco confirmed that they now have under their custody Private First Class (PFC) Niño Alavaro and PFC Marjon Añover, who they are now considering Prisoners of War (POW).

Both soldiers belong to the 25th Infantry Battalion of the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division of the Philippine Army.

“Contrary to the claims of the government’s provincial police that the two POWs were not in active duty, Alavaro and Añover came from the Army’s headquarters in Banlag, Monkayo and were en route to combat operations at the time of their capture, warranting the Red Fighters to take action and arrest them,” Francisco pointed out.

Confiscated from the captured soldiers were two .45 pistols, he added.

“In adherence to the protocols of war, the NPA custodial unit is duty-bound to treat the two Alavaro and Anover humanely and leniently while an investigating team subjects them to the judicial process under the tenets of revolutionary justice,” said Francisco.

Francisco said that the NPAs established the checkpoint in the area last September 20 in response to the alleged atrocities committed by the 25th IB’s special operations team.

“The fascist Army troops committed grave human rights violations in the villages when they ransacked several houses, encamped village centers, committed serious psychological warfare and arrested civilians on account of fake criminal charges. It was the same Army unit which seized and tortured to death three Red fighters in Montevista, Compostela Valley last year.”

Earlier, 10th ID commander Major General Rafael Valencia condemned the abduction of the two soldiers and has asked the community to pray for the safety of the two soldiers.

Valencia also assured the public that the incident will not hamper the continued peace and development work of the 10th ID in Davao region.

Livelihood kits distributed in insurgency-threatened villages

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Oct 4): Livelihood kits distributed in insurgency-threatened villages

THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion has distributed P670,000 worth of livelihood starter kits to insurgency-vulnerable barangays in four towns in the province of Zamboanga del Sur.

Dole Provincial Director Camilo Encila said there were 100 beneficiaries who composed of farmers, fishermen, and housewives.

Encila added that they received P6,700 worth of livelihood starter kits each.

Encila said the livelihood starter kits, which were distributed on Thursday, included three units of seven horse power engine for small boat, fishnets and fishing equipment, farming equipment, kitchen utensils, carpentry tools, barber kits, and vulcanizing shop equipment.

Encila said the starter kits are sufficient enough to support the livelihood undertakings of the identified beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries are as follows: 55 from the village of Dalapang and 10 from Bagong Oroquieta in municipality of Guipos; 10 from Gusom, Kumalarang; and 25 from Ocapan, San Miguel.

They were identified by the Army's 53rd Infantry Battalion based in the municipality of Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur.

Lieutenant Colonel Alvin Luzon, 53rd Infantry Battalion commander, said the four villages were chosen as they have been threatened by insurgency being far-flung and less developed.

Pirates kill, rob 2 marine product dealers

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Oct 4): Pirates kill, rob 2 marine product dealers

TWO marine product traders were found dead after they were attacked by pirates near an island in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, the police reported Sunday.

Zamboanga Sibugay Police Regional Office spokesman Romulo Cleve Taboso identified the victims as Ramil Dela Cruz and Reneboy Duran, both residents of Vincenzo Sagun town, Zamboanga del sur.

Taboso said the victims' remains were found inside a motorized banca floating near Isla Bato in the municipality of Malangas, Zamboanga Sibugay, around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Taboso said investigation showed that the victim went early Saturday to Malangas town coming from Vincenzo Sagun municipality to deliver lobster to a buyer.

He said the victims left Malangas town around 10 a.m. of the same day aboard a motorized banca when suddenly, a group of pirates aboard on another small boat attacked them and carted away undetermined amount of money.

Two weeks after the Samal kidnapping, no word from kidnappers

From MindaNews (Oct 4): Two weeks after the Samal kidnapping, no word from kidnappers
Two weeks after the Sept. 21 kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipina from a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte, there is still no word from the kidnappers, no demand for ransom, no negotiations, no proof of life of the victims, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said.

The proof of life, he said will be known during negotiations. “It doesn’t come to fore unless there is a negotiation and there is a demand for a proof of life,” Duterte, chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) said in his weekly television program, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” aired Sunday morning.

“Tanang branches of services including the intelligence community would confirm naa na sila sa Jolo (All branches of services, including the intelligence community, would confirm they are already in Jolo),” Duterte said.

The Canadian and Norwegian embassies, he said, called up last Monday to seek his help in recovering Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian, and Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50, who were abducted along with Hall’s Filipina partner Maritess Flor, from the Holiday Oceanview Resort in Samal nearly midnight of September 21.

“‘We trust that you will do everything, Mayor Duterte,” the mayor quoted the ambassadors as saying.

“The least I could do is to say yes if I can help… that I will do my very best,” he replied.

Ridsdel is President of TVI Minerals Processing, Inc., a firm providing mineral mining services, with main office in Pasig City but with business interests in Mindanao. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for 2015-2016 of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. Sekkingstad was the resort’s operations manager.

But Duterte had earlier said the foreigners could not have been pre-determined targets and that the kidnapping had nothing to do with Ridsdel’s being president of a mining firm.

Aside from the four, the suspects tried to take Steven and Kazuka Tripp on board a yacht but the two managed to escape.

The mayor reiterated the government’s no ransom policy.

Duterte went to Zamboanga on September 26, 2015 to help find a way to secure the release of the kidnap victims. That same day, supporters of Duterte gathered at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila urging him to run for President in 2016.

In his presentation during the RPOC meeting on Wednesday, Senior Supt. Michael John Dubria, chief of the Regional Operations and Plans Division of PRO 11, said Jonathan M. Banggat, the resort’s security guard, who was manning his post at around 11 p.m. on Sept. 21, went near the berthing area after he heard a commotion some 100 meters away and saw the victims held at gunpoint being taken to the two motorized speedboats docked at the marina.

A day after the incident, authorities released a composite sketch, describing one of the suspects as male, between 25 to 30 years old, medium built, dark, and between 5’2 to 5’3 in height, based on Tripps’ description.

Police remain clueless on Basilan bombing

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 4): Police remain clueless on Basilan bombing

Isabela City, Basilan Province – Local police continued to face a blank wall as  to who was responsible in the roadside bombing here Thursday afternoon that killed four people and injuring 11 others.

Basilan Province  Police Director Sr. Supt Oscar Nantes said  his office  has formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to  focus  deeply into the explosion incident and  to unmasked  the  perpetrators to the incident.

Nantes said the SITG will be headed by his office with members from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG); Isabela City police; military personnel and from other government agencies.

He surmised that the explosion targeted Isabela City Vice Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon.

The fourth fatality was Gregorio Heneral Delgado, a city government employee who was in the vicinity of the blast.

The  roadside bomb exploded while Ajibon’s convoy of vehicles was passing at Barangay Sunrise, Isabela City about 1:10pm that also killed three of the vice mayor’s bodyguards, namely, Muhaimin Jali, Ulah Maulla, and Ramil Omar.

Nantes said the bomb exploded just outside the main gate of the compound of Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.

Those wounded  were identified as Abdullah Alìh Ismael, former barangay captain of San Rafael, Isabela City; Sattar Swaib Abdul and Tupay Kalbi, Ajibun’s security escorts; Nurhaida Dela Cruz; Hadji Amlon Adam; Sali Appan Utal, 74; Timhar Mohammad; Gammar Tiplani, 57; Sonny Tanjali, 50; Grace Torres; and, Florante Agustin.

MILF editorial deplores ‘thriving industry’ of kidnapping

From the Business World (Oct 4): MILF editorial deplores ‘thriving industry’ of kidnapping

AN EDITORIAL in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Web site has called attention to the “thriving industry” of kidnapping, particularly in Western Mindanao.
“In Central Mindanao, kidnapping is deeply neutralized, but in Western Mindanao, especially in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan and Sulu, it is rampant and is virtually becoming a thriving ‘industry,’” the MILF said in its latest editorial as posted on its Web site,
The MILF statement came on the heels of a widely reported kidnapping in the island of Samal in Eastern Mindanao. On the night of Sept. 21, armed men kidnapped a Canadian and his Filipino wife, another Canadian, and a Norwegian at the Holiday Oceanview resort in Samal.

According to the MILF, the abductees were brought to Indanan, Sulu province, by Al-Habsi Misaya or Al-Bahil, an alleged Abu Sayyaf commander.

The MILF also said in its editorial that kidnapping is more prevalent in Metro Manila.

“In Metropolitan Manila, the number of kidnapping cases is very much higher and is almost a daily occurrence, but mostly unheralded. The most distinctive difference is that here the kidnappers are not so-called Muslims or Moros,” the MILF said.

From January to August 2015, the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group said it was able to neutralize 24 kidnap-for-ransom suspects, including six of the ten most wanted in the police organization’s database.

Sandakan kidnap victims still alive, says Nur Jazlan

From the Malaysian Insider (Oct 4): Sandakan kidnap victims still alive, says Nur Jazlan

Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed  (left) says today in Semporna the government is working with various parties to secure the release of two Malaysians kidnapped in Sandakan by Abu Sayyaf militants in May. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 4, 2015.

Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed (left) says today in Semporna the government is working with various parties to secure the release of two Malaysians kidnapped in Sandakan by Abu Sayyaf militants in May.

Two men abducted in Sandakan – Thien Nyuk Fun and Bernard Then Ted Fen – are still alive, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said today, following reports over their health and safety.

He said information from the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) indicated that the duo, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants at gunpoint on May 14 from a seafood restaurant owned by Thien in Sandakan, were safe.

He said the government was working hard to secure their release.

“We are trying to use all available channels, including cooperating with the Philippines authorities, to secure their release and I hope their families will put their trust in all the efforts being done,” he told reporters after a visit to six islands which fall under the Esscom command.

However, Nur Jazlan refused to reveal the latest development on the case, citing worries that it would jeopardise investigations and negotiation.

The families of the two victims have expressed concerns over their deteriorating health and other factors which have made the situation precarious.

Then is pre-diabetic while Thien suffered from high blood pressure. Their families have previously said that they needed their medication urgently.

Two months ago, the frustrated families met with Home Ministry officials to plead for help in securing the duo’s release.

Then’s wife, Chan Wai See, told both deputy home ministers that one of the two Malaysians was next in line to be beheaded after weeks of unrest in Jolo. This had been relayed to her in a phone conversation with her husband.

Today, Nur Jazlan urged those living in the Esscom zone to act as “eyes and ears” to protect the areas from being encroached.

He said for now, the Esscom authorities believed kidnapping occurred with the help of locals.

“I am not accusing any parties, but if the community is more sensitive towards activities that could threaten security, especially those involving kidnapping, these must be reported immediately.”

He added those living within the Esscom zone had to give their full loyalty to Sabah and Malaysia, despite close ties with southern Philippines.

Two Abus wounded in Sulu encounter

From ABS-CBN (Oct 4): Two Abus wounded in Sulu encounter

Two members of terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were wounded in an encounter with the military in Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul, Sulu Sunday afternoon.

Members of the 10th Scout Ranger Company and 11th Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion were involved in a 15-minute firefight with more or less 20 ASG members.

Two ASG members were reportedly injured in the encounter. No one was injured on the government side.

Recovered in the site were several kinds of ammunition and bullets from different kinds of firearms.

Lumad exodus continues

From the Manila Bulletin (Oct 4): Lumad exodus continues

Close to 1,000 persons flee homes, farmlands; hate-gov’t drive assailed

Marihatag, Surigao del Sur – Close to 1,000 individuals, mostly Lumads (natives), flee their homes and farmlands Thursday night over the reported presence of unidentified heavily armed men in the three highland village communities in the town.

The fresh group of refugees from the upland villages of Mahaba, Buringon, and Purompon are temporarily sheltered at the Marihatag Municipal Gymnasium. The 173 families or 954 individuals, some of them Lumad children, are being attended by the municipal government of Marihatag.

This new wave of internally displaced persons (IDPs) added to the more than 3,000 individuals currently sheltered at nearby Surigao del Sur Sports Complex in Tandag City, also in this province.

Provincial officials and members of the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council, led by Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny T. Pimentel, visited the new evacuees and extended food and other relief packs.

Security forces of the Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office and Army’s 402nd Infantry (Stingers) Brigade were already deployed to check on the sighting of armed group in the three highland villages of this town.

The Department of Health in Region 13, meanwhile, continues to attend to the health needs of 627 families or 3,312 individuals sheltered at Surigao del Sur Sports Complex in Tandag City, who evacuated from the highland villages in Diatagon, Lianga in Surigao del Sur, since September 1, 2015 due to armed conflict, DOH 13 Regional Director Dr. Jose Llacuna said.

Acute respiratory infection and influenza-like illnesses have already hit the evacuees.

Another challenge facing the refugees is environmental sanitation due to congestion in evacuation centers, limited water and latrine supply, and indiscriminate garbage disposal.

Currently, water rationing through water tanks and faucets, portalets for human wastes, de-clogging of toilets, IEC materials on sanitation, family planning services, health class and counseling are being provided to the evacuees.

In addition to these, empowering existing programs that concerns mothers and children is also extended to them. Immunization services, medical consultation, dispensing of medications, pre-natal and delivery services, are being provided, Director Llacuna said.

“We are trying our best to provide the best of what we can for people who need our services,” Llacuna added.


Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been urged to immediately review the curriculum of schools run by the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) following the circulation of a video documentary showing that Lumad children are being taught by the center’s volunteers to hate their own government.

Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas said the DepEd should ensure that the Alcadev system strictly comply with the curriculum set by the department and should stop its volunteers from teaching Lumad children to hate  government soldiers.

“I was shocked to see children being taught to hate their own government, particularly the military. We educate our children to learn love and respect not only for their fellowmen but also for their country and their government. From what I saw on video, Alcadev is sowing the seed of hatred and distrust toward their own government in the minds of our young children,” he said in the statement.

“The mind of the young is like a sponge. They absorb everything that is taught to them and can barely differentiate what is right and wrong. Topics like the so-called militarization and indoctrinating them with radical views is not the stuff that we should be teaching our children,” he added.

Treñas expressed concern that Alcadev has changed the lyrics of the country’s national anthem, Lupang Hinirang, to profess their allegiance not to the Philippine flag but to the “hammer and sickle” flag of the communist insurgents.

“This is really sad because our Lumad children are being exploited to sow hate and promote anti-government beliefs. DepEd should never allow this because this is a poison that will blight the minds of our young Lumads. We should teach our children how to love and respect and inspire them to help in nation-building,” Trenas said.

“Instead of relying on organizations like Alcadev, DepEd and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should forge a stronger partnership to encourage more rural educators while ensuring peace, security and progress in Lumad communities,” he pointed out.

Murder, kidnap cases filed vs 69 activists, suspected rebels in Cagayan

From Rappler (Oct 4): Murder, kidnap cases filed vs 69 activists, suspected rebels in Cagayan

The complaint affidavit notes the 69 identified individuals have 'knowledge and/or participation' of the recent killings of 3 military members

TUGUEGARAO, Philippines – At least 69 individuals are facing 3 counts of murder and kidnapping cases over the recent killings of 3 military members in Rizal town in Cagayan province.

In a complaint affidavit acquired by Rappler, as filed by the relatives of PFC Jay Tugao, one of those who were reportedly killed by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in February, the 69 identified personalities have “knowledge and/or participation on the aforementioned crime.”

Among them are members of peasant and progressive groups based in Cagayan Valley region, who the military believed are supporting the operations of guerilla members.

Members of Makabayan, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Karapatan, Gabriela Women’s Partylist and several peasant groups were also identified by the complainants.

David Soriano, a known NPA leader in Cagayan and also a suspect of the killing of late Gonzaga Mayor Carlito Pentecostes, was also included in the list of suspects.

In July, 3 suspected rebels, including two Agtas, an indigenous group from North Luzon, were arrested by the 57th Infantry Battalion in Rizal town.

Last Thursday, October 1, the military group also arrested Renor Danao, also an Agta, who they also tagged as an NPA rebel.

Danao, according to 57th IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Jose Real, was found with an M16 rifle and photos of the two soldiers allegedly killed by NPA members.

Karapatan-Cagayan Valley defended the arrested indigenous people, saying that they are civilians.

‘Trumped-up cases, militarization in town’

Randy Malayao, Makabayan’s Vice Chairperson for Luzon, said the cases were “made-up” by the military to “silence” and “harass” the progressive groups and human rights activists in the region.

“The State is clearly against the position that we are espousing and fighting for,” Malayao said. “Most of those charged are active leaders of people's organizations for the defense human rights; involved in the defense of life, land and the natural patrimony against corporate landgrabbing and plunder.”

Malayao has also been into prison from May 2008 to October 2012 for being the main suspect in killing former Cagayan Governor Rodolfo Aguinaldo. He was later ordered released by the court due to lack of evidence.

He said their situation is no different from the Lumad peoples of Mindanao and all other militarized communities.

Rizal town has been a center of counter-insurgency operations of the military for years now, believing that most of the NPA rebels live in this mountainous area.

At least 3 Agta people have been held by the military this year, Malayao said.

“We demand that trumped-up charges against us be immediately withdrawn. That human rights defenders and progressive mass leaders be able to carry out our work without interference, intimidation or baseless criminal charges against us,” he said.

Terrorized teachers, students of Bukidnon tribal school fear closure for defying local exec

From InterAksyon (Oct 4): Terrorized teachers, students of Bukidnon tribal school fear closure for defying local exec

The Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School in Sitio Dao, Barangay White Culaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The teachers and students of a tribal school in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon fear they will be forcibly shut any time after defying the order of a village chief to close for allegedly advocating support for communist rebels.

Evelyn Cabangal, one of three teachers at the Fr. Fausto Tentorio Memorial School in Sitio Dao, Barangay White Culaman, told by phone that their fears increased following reports that residents of Sitio Malinaw, “which is around four kilometers from Dao,” evacuated around midnight Sunday after “shots were fired and four houses were burned” Saturday night.

Several residents of Malinaw had earlier fled after the Army set up camp in White Culaman and, according to a recent fact-finding mission by human rights groups, began controlling residents’ movements, including their farm work, and prohibiting the use of cellular phones.

“The information we received is Malinaw is now deserted,” Cabangal said.

On Saturday morning, Cabangal said a parent of one of their students informed them that village chairman Felipe Cabugnason, accompanied by Army soldiers who have been occupying White Culaman for several weeks now, “called a ‘pulong-pulong’ (meeting) with residents of the community.”

Cabugnason, she said, “told the residents to go with him when he comes to shut us down and help him physically dismantle the school.”

The boarding school, named after the Italian missionary murdered by military-backed militiamen in Arakan, North Cotabato in 2011, opened last year and currently teaches Grade 7 and 8 students from far-flung Manobo communities.

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.

Cabangal said they expect Cabugnason to make good his threat “most probably tomorrow (Monday).”

Thursday last week, Cabugnason issued a memorandum order to the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., which set up and operates several free schools in lumad communities of northern Mindanao, giving it two days, or until Saturday, to close down the school in his village.

Cabugnason’s memorandum cited three grounds for ordering the school’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

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 time frame 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.”

However, Cabangal and MISFI administrator Milagros Maglunsod-Tan said they would not obey what they called Cabugnason’s “illegal” order.

Although admitting they are worried over Cabugnason’s threat, Cabangal said she and her fellow teachers, as well as the 42 resident students of the school have decided to stay where they are and hold classes on Monday.

Contacted by phone, Tan said MISFI met Friday with Kitaotao officials, who promised to summon Cabugnason on Monday to explain his threat against the school.

Tan said she would also be meeting with the education superintendent in Malaybalay, under whose jurisdiction the school falls, to discuss the problem.