Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Army wants foreigners in 'fake' fact-finding mission on lumad killings deported

From InterAksyon (Nov 5): Army wants foreigners in 'fake' fact-finding mission on lumad killings deported

Lumad children at the evacuation camp at the Surigao del Sur sports center in Tandag City.

The Philippine Army said it is investigating the presence of six foreigners who joined a recent fact-finding mission that looked into the spate of atrocities against the lumad and would seek to have them deported and banned from returning to the country.

Army spokesman Colonel Benjamin Hao insisted that the mission, organized by human rights and religious organizations, was “fake” and said they were also probing “leftist” groups allegedly distorting the issue of the lumad’s plight.

For months, the military has been under fire over human rights abuses, including killings and the occupation of tribal communities and even schools, by soldiers or state-sanctioned militias that have driven thousands of lumad from their communities.

The military has regularly and openly accused schools set up in lumad communities by nongovernmental organizations of advocating support for communist rebels.

The fact-finding mission Hao complained about, the participants of which included Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isaagani Zarate, was formed to look into the plight of Manobo in Surigao del Sur, more than 4,000 of whom have been staying at the provincial sports center in Tandag City.

The bulk of the evacuees fled their homes following the September 1 murders of tribal school administrator Emerito Samarca and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo in Lianga town by the Magahat militia, one of sever al paramilitary groups Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel said the Army organized and armed and whose disbanding he has demanded.

The military has denied any links to the militias but has admitted soldiers witnessed the executions of Campos and Sinzo in front of hundreds of their fellow Manobo but did nothing.

"The Army is giving a special attention on the existence of the fake international fact-finding mission composed of six foreign tourists," Hao said.

"If they are found violating our immigration laws, they will be deported and be banned forever in entering our country. The Army is also looking into the legal liability of their cohorts," he added.

Earlier the military identified the foreigners as Jonas Straetsmans of Belgium; Dalkiran Metin and Hans Schaap, both Dutch; Gill Boehringer, a lawyer from Sydney, Australia; and Henry Langston and Philip Calles of Vice News London.

Hao, who has accused the fact-finding mission of “bias,” reiterated accusations that the foreigners’ participation was “illegal” since they did not have the mandate either of the government or international organizations and constituted “interference” in the country’s internal affairs.

However, organizers of the mission earlier said they had requested to interview military officials for their side but had been snubbed.

They singled out the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade, which they said refused to entertain mission participants who sought to “engage the military so that they can respond to allegations of human rights violations against their units,” by “asking for irrelevant requirements and mouthing pseudo-patriotic statements.”

US nuclear submarine docks in Subic Bay

From the Business Mirror (Nov 4): US nuclear submarine docks in Subic Bay

In Photo: Sailors lash the USS Key West to the dock shortly after the nuclear submarine arrived at the Subic Bay Freeport on Wednesday morning.

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—USS Key West (SSN-722), a nuclear submarine of the US Navy, docked at the Alava Wharf here on Wednesday morning amid music from the brass band of an Olongapo City grade school.

The visit, however, was not announced by the US Embassy in Manila, which regularly notifies the media about the arrival of American warships docking in this free port.

Speculations here are rife that the vessel has been placed here on standby for the duration of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders’ meeting in Manila, which will be attended by US President Barack Obama.

The Apec conference is scheduled from November 16 to 20.

The Key West, a Los Angeles-class submarine, is the fourth of her class to be equipped with the vertical launch system (VLS), which is capable of carrying 12 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles within a range of 1,700 nautical miles, or 3,100 kilometers.

It also carries torpedoes and has mine-laying capabilities.

The submarine is a veteran of numerous exercises in the Pacific, having supported operations of the US Navy’s Third and Seventh Fleets from 1998 to 2001.

Following the September 11 attacks in the US, Key West was said to be have been redirected to the Northern Arabian Sea, where she launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in Afghanistan in October 2001.

In 2007 and 2009, it received the “Battle E” designation, which is given to the best submarine in the squadron.

USS Key West is now homeported in Guam, having been shifted to the naval base there in 2012 as a forward deployed unit for the Seventh Fleet.

For Southeast Asia, growing US-China maritime row means a balancing act

Posted to ABS-CBN (Nov 5): For Southeast Asia, growing US-China maritime row means a balancing act

KUALA LUMPUR - As the United States and Japan tussled with China over the wording of a concluding statement at an Asian security meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, caught in the middle was host Malaysia.

Plans for a joint statement were eventually dropped by the Malaysian government because of disagreements over the disputed South China Sea. U.S. and Japanese officials wanted to address Beijing's island-building. Chinese officials resisted.

The episode illustrates the thin line Malaysia and other smaller Southeast Asian states must walk in balancing ties with China and the United States, especially since a U.S. warship challenged the territorial limits around one of China's man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago last week.

China is Malaysia's biggest trading partner, according to Malaysian government statistics, and in contrast to other countries with competing claims to the South China Sea such as the Philippines and Vietnam, has typically played down concerns over China's expanding military reach.

Nevertheless, U.S. defence officials say Malaysia, along with other states in the region, has sought a greater U.S. military presence to counter China's assertiveness in the South China Sea.

"We see the increased demand ... really across the board in the region," said a senior U.S. defence official. "Malaysia's a good example."

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will visit Malaysian naval forces as he wraps up a three-day stay in Kuala Lumpur. During his planned visit on Thursday to a U.S. aircraft carrier, Carter will be accompanied by Malaysian defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

U.S. Marines and their Malaysian counterparts will also hold a joint amphibious training exercise next week in eastern Malaysia.

"There have also been invitations to do more training in some training ranges that Malaysia has," the senior official said. "There has been a lot more activity going on."

Malaysia has a long-standing arrangement to service and supply U.S. military ships and aircraft as they pass through the region, making U.S. ships and planes frequent visitors to Malaysia's ports.

The number of U.S. ship visits to Malaysia has steadily risen, from a handful per year in the early 2000s to more than 30 visits in 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.

A senior Malaysian official said this week that Malaysia cannot be seen to be leaning towards either China or the United States too heavily.

"Malaysia has to balance it out," the official said, on condition of anonymity.

Hishammuddin this week highlighted the quandary for smaller states, saying he hoped countries outside the region would not raise tensions.

"We will continue to engage China. We will continue to engage the U.S.," he said.
"The fact that we are able to engage them and actually look at the reality ... that is a clear message to the major powers out there."


U.S. and Western diplomats say they have been keen for several years for Malaysia to pay closer attention to mounting security challenges in the region, particularly from China.

Chinese warships have staged regular patrols off James Shoal off the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

Diplomats and analysts who have viewed satellite images say Chinese coastguard ships now also maintain a semi-permanent presence at South Luconia Shoals, to the north of James Shoal.

"Malaysia's role and importance in broader security issues, particularly the South China Sea, is only going to grow more strategic," one Western diplomat said.

"It is a matter of pushing and nudging them into doing the right thing, rather than expecting them to take a lead and confront China."

But Malaysia has sought not to alienate China.

In September, it carried out training exercises with the Chinese navy in the Strait of Malacca.

Traditionally, Malaysia cooperated more with the United States on military matters while ties with China were focused on economic links, said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

But the September military exercise with China and the conclusion of a Pacific trade deal with the United States underscored how Malaysia's ties with both countries were deepening, Sun said.

"It's a much more challenging task because in both spheres now you need to perform the balancing act," Sun said.

US fast-attack submarine Key West visits Subic Bay

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): US fast-attack submarine Key West visits Subic Bay

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) arrived in Subic Bay yesterday for a routine port visit as part of its deployment to the Western Pacific.

After more than a month at sea, the crew of 150 sailors is looking forward to its first stop in Subic Bay.

Production of the Los Angeles-class submarines began in the early 1980s and it is currently the most numerous class of submarine in use in the world.

A second-flight 688 submarine, Key West is designed to fit a variety of roles, including anti-submarine and anti-surface ship operations, as well as intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. The 360-foot, 6,900-ton vessel remains one of the stealthiest, most formidable submarines in the world.

Manhunt on for suspected NPA rebels who attacked Lumad village in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 5): Manhunt on for suspected NPA rebels who attacked Lumad village in Bukidnon

Army troopers are pursuing suspected members of rebel group New People's Army (NPA) who attacked a Lumad village and abducted one person in Bukidnon province Wednesday afternoon.

“There will be no let up on our security and rescue operations in the area. NPA atrocities must be stopped. We cannot let these NPA bandits roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Kitaotao,” the Philippine Army's 403rd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Jesse Alvarez said.

The incident took place at around 2 p.m. at Sitio Upper Bayugan, Brgy Kitubo, Kitaotao town.

Alvarez said initially, the 100-strong rebel force abducted three Lumads identified as Jovanie Rebacca, 17; Nonoy Paradero, 61 and his son, Dilly Paradero, all residents of Sitio Dao, Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao.

However, Jovanie and Nonoy were later released.

Pursuit operations, with the help of the Philippine National Police, are now ongoing, Alvarez said.

Barangay White Kulaman chair Felipe Cabugnason said the attack was brought about by the Lumad’s expulsion of MISFI teachers who operated an illegal school that was not permitted by the Department of Education.

The MISFI school building was closed down by the Lumads after learning that their children are being radicalized by the volunteer teachers.

AFP denies forced recruitment, extrajudicial killings of Lumads

From the Philippine Star (Nov 4): AFP denies forced recruitment, extrajudicial killings of Lumads

The Armed Forces of the Philippines admits it has Lumads within its ranks. photo

The military admitted Tuesday that it has Lumads or indigenous people among its ranks but clarified that they were not forced to join the government forces.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said some of the Lumads joined paramilitary units to defend themselves from communist rebels while others were persuaded by their families.

“We do not deny that there are indigenous people who are part of the CAA (CAFGU Active Auxiliary). They applied for job. They are not forced. If they are qualified, they are taken in,” Padilla said in an interview.

Some military officers also belong to indigenous groups. Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said at least five percent of soldiers recruited in Eastern Mindanao are lumads.

“Unlike the force recruitment of the NPA (New People’s Army), the recruitment of the Philippine Army is based on the clamor of the local Lumad leaders. The Philippine Army support the premise of who else can serve and secure them better than the Lumads themselves,” Hao said.

There are 200 indigenous people in the 85,000-strong Army. Of this, 78 are officers while 122 are enlisted personnel.

“It is also important to note here that there are also some Lumads who voluntarily joined the CAFGU service to secure their respective communities,” Hao said.

Earlier, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said both the military and the NPA are recruiting indigenous people as combatants and are involved in extrajudicial killings.

The CHR also cited the need to ensure that Lumads are not used to pursue partisan agenda and called on all parties to respect their right to self-determination.

Military officials denied that soldiers are behind the killing of Lumads.

“We have already answered openly all the accusations against us in all formal investigations conducted by recognized legal bodies of the government and even by some key stakeholders in good governance,” Hao said.

“We have provided the CHR all legal documents needed to express our strict adherence on human rights, international humanitarian law, and the rule of law,” he added.

Padilla said they are open to any investigation about the killing and exploitation of Lumads in Mindanao.

“If there are members of the armed forces or the police who are guilty of that then they should be brought to the bar of law,” he added.

Former rebels complete Alternative Learning System

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 4): Former rebels complete Alternative Learning System

In a bold step to regain wasted time as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), twenty one (21) former Rebels (FRs) completed their Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program last October 1, at the Happy Home (Half Way House and Processing Center) facilitated by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office and the Department of Education in partnership with the 701st “Kagitingan” Brigade.

Majority of the recruited members of the NPA were not able to finish their studies making them vulnerable in joining the armed struggle. They exploited person who lacks education especially in the far flung areas, to join the NPA because it’s easy for them to use issues and propagandas to agitate and organize them against the government.

The ALS Program was introduced to FRs at the Happy Home as part of their preparation before they go back to their community knowing that the main reason why they were recruited is because of lack of education.  Programs that are being catered at the Happy Home are the Basic Literacy Program, Elementary Education and Secondary Education.

During the graduation rites, five (5) FRs were able to finish their Basic Literacy Program while four (4) FRs finished their Elementary Education. Likewise, twelve (12) of them finished their Secondary Education. Furthermore, CY 2015 has the most number of graduates from the ALS program.

 One of the FRs who gave their testimonies during the program was very emotional saying “sobrang laki ng aking pasasalamat sa pag-aalaga at pagbigay sa amin ng oportunidad na makapag-aral ulit, kahit kami ay naging miyembro ng NPA, ang atensyon at pag papahalaga na ibinigay ninyo sa amin ay di namin kayang palitan ng kahit ano pa. Gagamitin namin ang nakamit naming edukasyon para makatulong sa aming komunidad at magiging ehemplo kami sa pagpapalaganap ng kapayapaan sa aming lugar” After his speech, other FRs and guest stood up and loudly applauded in appreciation to his message.

The graduates then gave an intermission number projecting how thankful they were to the program that they received. Their presentation also expressed their support to the peace efforts in the Province of Davao Oriental.

 On the other hand, P/Supt. Joseph B. Sepulcre, OIC of the Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office during his speech saying, “We are very happy with the accomplishment of our FRs, this shows the care and support of the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental headed by Governor Corazon Malanyaon to our brothers who were once member of the NPA and now our partners in maintaining peace in the province”.

“Congratulations for taking a big step by graduating from the Alternative Learning System Program, this will be a helpful tool for you as you go back to the community where you belong and your accomplishments regained the lost time you spend with the armed group. We knew that one of the concerns was lack of education and now that you’ve graduated, this will lead to the improvement of your lives as well as the development in your area” Col Bienvenido R. Datuin, Brigade Commander of the 701st Infantry Brigade said during his message.

“The 701st Kagitingan Brigade is dedicated in promoting peace in the Province of Davao Oriental and we encourage you graduates to be catalysts of peace as you go back to your respective communities. Help us encourage our brothers to leave the armed struggle and let us work hand in hand for the lasting peace and continuous development in Davao Oriental,” Col Datuin Jr added. (4th Civil Military Operations Company,PA AFP)

11 soldiers killed, 9 wounded in Bicol clashes; NDF reports 18 encounters in 5 provinces

From InterAksyon (Nov 5): 11 soldiers killed, 9 wounded in Bicol clashes; NDF reports 18 encounters in 5 provinces


The New People’s Army-Romulo Jallores Command (NPA-RJC) in Bicol launched 18 coordinated attacks in five provinces from October 25 to November 2, killing eight soldiers, two policemen and a militiaman and wounding nine.

In a belated report issued by Ma. Roja Banua, the regional National Democratic Front (NDF) spokeswoman in Bicol, two M-16 automatic rifles and two M-14 rifles were seized during the operations.

Banua said the main targets of the NPA-RJC, which acts as the regional operational command of the guerrilla army, were members of the 9th Infantry Battalion (IB), which has been operating in Ticao Island in Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte.

“The tactical offensives were the answer of the NPA to the desperate moves of the 9th ID of the Philippine Army (PA) to declare Masbate and Sorsogon as ‘manageable conflict area’ before the May 9, 2016 elections,” Banua declared.

She noted the tactical offensives came at a time when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was focusing its units in the third congressional district of Albay, Libmanan in Camarines Sur, and in Labo, Camarines Norte.

“The offensives are also a political assault against the most expensive and most ostentatious show being put up by President Aquino and his henchmen for the foreign dignitaries attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Manila from November 16 to 18,” Banua said.

“Most of all, these actions honor the memory of the valiant comrades who fell in a defensive battle in Barangay Tinago, Juban, Sorsogon on October 21, 2015,” the regional NDF leader said.

 At 8 p.m. on October 31, a guerrilla team harassed the detachment of the 9th IB in Barangay Danao, San Jacinto in Ticao, Masbate, and around midnight, another NPA team harassed the headquarters of the Battalion Recon Company in Sitio Catindong, Barangay Maingaran, Masbate City. A soldier was killed and another trooper was wounded in the attack.

NPA guerrillas also tossed a grenade at the barangay hall of Dayao, Mandaon at 2:30 a.m. on November 1, killing two soldiers and wounding another trooper. The barangay hall was being used by soldiers guarding the road construction project of Hitone Construction Co.

At midnight of the same day, a demolition team from the NPA-Jose Rapsing Command (NPA-JRC) blasted the safe house of 18 soldiers of the same battalion in Barangay Poblacion, San Jacinto, Ticao using a command detonated explosive (CDX.) The surprised soldiers could not retaliate as the guerrillas fired, killing four troopers in the process and wounding an undetermined number of military men.

Banua said that at 2:45 p.m. on November 2, members of the NPA-Celso Minguez Command (NPA-CMC) ambushed a Philippine National Police (PNP) patrol vehicle in Barangay Marinas, Gubat, Sorsogon, Five policemen were injured seriously and two were slain.

The wounded policemen were identified as SPO1 Ronald Din, PO3 Aris Hasal, PO1 Gerry Gabuyo, PO2 Dennis Garbida, and PO2 Sheryl Marbella.

At 8:30 a.m. on November 1, a team from the NPA-Santos Binamera Command (NPA-SBC) harassed the detachment of the 2nd IB in Barangay Bascaran, Daraga, Albay simultaneous with the demolition operation in Barangay Villahermosa, Daraga, Albay against the members of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC.)

In Camarines Sur, an attack was launched at 9 p.m. on October 25, 2015 by members of the NPA-Edmundo Jacob Command (NPA-EJC) against abusive soldiers staying in a detachment of the 22nd IB in Barangay San Pedro, Iriga City.

On October 28, members of the NPA-Norben Gruta Command (NPA-NGC) launched a sparrow operation against Private First Class (Pfc) Edmol Rey C. Caceres of the Charlie Company who was assigned to guard a road construction project in Pag-Oring, Libmanan that would benefit foreign mining companies and the eco-tourism drive by the Camarines Sur provincial government.

The NPA seized an M-16 rifle from Caceres as the soldier’s colleagues failed to defend him.

Another harassment operation was launched on the same day by the NPA against a unit of the 42nd IB that had transformed a barangay hall in Bilwang, Lupi, Camarines Sur into their barracks.

On October 31, the NPA-EJC harassed a military patrol that came from the 22nd IB detachment in Barangay San Pedro, Iriga City.

NPA-NGC guerrillas also harassed units of the 42nd IB in Barangays Calabnigan and Villa Socorro in Libmanan, Camarines Sur who had occupied the barangay hall for a long time.

“The attack was in retaliation for the abuses committed by the soldiers belonging to the Peace and Development Team (PDT) against the residents who had complained that the troopers were disturbing the community, hindering their livelihood and threatening them to ensure that their abuses go unreported,” Banua revealed.

At 11 p.m. on October 31, a platoon of the NPA-Armanda Catapia Command (NPA-ACC) in Camarines Norte raided a unit of the 49th IB guarding a bridge construction project of the EUS Construction in Barangay Daguit, Labo and seized two M-14 rifles and an M-16 automatic rifle.

Killed in the raid were Pvt. Reymark Camila Regore and Anthony Aceron of the Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) of the 22nd IB while Pfc. Jhelor Caranzo was wounded.

Banua said the region-wide tactical offensives in a span of nine days showed the high level of coordination by the various NPA commands and disproved the claim of the military that the guerrillas are a “spent force in Bicol.”

On the contrary, the NDF leader stressed, “the vast countryside continues to be an interminable source of Red fighters and military cadres who continue to deal severe blows on the enemy through their tactical offensives. These weaken not only the military but also the ruling system that oppresses and exploits the people. Those who fell are quickly replaced by those who have become conscious of the greed and violent nature of the US-Aquino regime and the narcopoliticians in Bicol.”

Banua added that “APEC is but one moro-moro that intensifies the US neoliberal project in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific that focuses on the plunder of natural resources and the exploitation of cheap Philippine labor. The NPA is determined to eliminate local despots and mercenary officers and soldiers who protect foreign exploiters and their local cohorts -- the big landlords and the comprador big bourgeoisie.”

Sports for Peace fires off in Maguindanao

From the Manila Times (Nov 3): Sports for Peace fires off in Maguindanao

Residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will witness former enemies showing their strength and stamina no longer in the battlefield or in jungle warfare but in a sports arena as the Sports for Peace organized by ARMM Police Regional Office (PRO) unfolds on November 12 to 16 at the Camp Brigadier General Salipada Kuder Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao.

Chief Supt. Ronald Estilles, ARMM police regional director, on Tuesday said that joining the tournament are officers and men from the five ARMM provinces namely Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.

Personnel from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local government units and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will test their skills in golf, badminton, volleyball and law tennis.

“Our aim is to help maintain peace and order in the region by playing non-contact sports with all peace stakeholders,” Estilles said.

62 nd IB gets new commander

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 4): 62 nd IB gets new commander

The Army's 62nd Infantry Battalion in northern Negros will have a new commander effective November 5.

Lt. Col. Rommel Cordova said yesterday that he is leaving the 62IB for another assignment in Metro Manila.

Cordova served the 62IB for almost two years.

During his stint as 62IB commander, Northern Negros was among the areas in Negros Occidental declared as peaceful and ready for further development in June last year.

Lt. Col. Arnel Cabugon, the executive officer of the 301st Infantry Brigade in Iloilo, is slated to replace Cordova as 62IB commander.

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3ID commanding general, will preside over the change of command, tomorrow in Brgy. Bato, Sagay City.

Cordova yesterday gave Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. a plaque of appreciation, in recognition for his support to the 62IB in attaining the objectives of IPSP Bayanihan, and in the declaration of Negros Occidental as peaceful and ready for further development.

Guerrero is expected to confer on Cordova a Military Merit Medal, in recognition of his leadership and exploits in northern Negros.

More than a month ago, Lt. Col. Eugene Badua also took over the 11IB command from Lt. Col. Paulito Idul, who is now commanding the 12th Infantry Battalion.

The 62nd and 11th Infantry Battalions in northern and central Negros are under the supervision of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

Alleged communist guerillas raid Lumad village in Bukidnon

From Rappler (Nov 4): Alleged communist guerillas raid Lumad village in Bukidnon

(UPDATED) The 3 victims are from the same indigenous community where a school was closed for allegedly being influenced by the NPA

At least 100 alleged New People's Army (NPA) fighters, led by a certain Joseph, stormed an indigenous community in Bukidnon province and abducted 3 residents on Wednesday afternoon, November 4.

According to the militry, Sitio Upper Bayugan, Barangay Kitubo, in Kitaotao town was raided at around 2 pm.

Those who were kidnapped were identified as Nonoy Paradero, 61; Dilly Paradero, 48; and Jovanie Rebacca, 17. They are residents of Sitio Dao, Barangay White Kulaman, also in Kitaotao.

Samuel and Jovane were eventually released, but Paradero was brought to unknown location.

The victims are residents of the community where a school for the Lumad (indigenous people) was threatened with closure by village officials for allegedly being influenced by communist guerillas.

At the time, White Kulaman village chief Felipe Cabugnason said that the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated (MISFI) school was a "threat to the safety" of the residents in the village due to its alleged connections to the NPA.

On Wednesday, Colonel Jesse Alvarez, commander of 403rd Infantry Brigade, ordered the 8th Infantry Battalion to conduct rescue operation in support of the police.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, suspected that the abduction is related to the closure of a school in their barangay.

“They were attacked in an area where they are not secure,” Martinez said.

According to White Kulaman village chief Cabugnason, the NPA were angered by the Lumad’s expulsion of MISFI, which operated the Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School.

The school served around 60 students.

According to the military, the NPA had threatened to burn down the school after its closure and put the blame on the military.

Conflict site

The trouble in Barangay White Kulaman began on August 26, when the military, aiding the Regional Public Safety Battalion of the National Police, raided 57 homes suspected as being used by the NPA rebels to store firearms, ammunitions, and explosives.

The raid, carried out by virtue of a warrant issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 39 in Misamis Oriental, yielded M79 grenade launcher and 5 sacks of Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The NPA's attention then switched to the school, Alvarez claimed.

US defence chief to visit aircraft carrier in S.China Sea as tension simmers

From InterAksyon (Nov 4): US defence chief to visit aircraft carrier in S.China Sea as tension simmers

File photo of the US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. REUTERS

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he would visit an American aircraft carrier in the South China Sea on Thursday as US-Chinese tensions over the waterway escalate.

Speaking after a regional summit Wednesday, Carter said he would fly out to the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt, which "is conducting routine operations while transiting the South China Sea".

Carter's visit could increase discord between Washington and Beijing over Chinese claims to virtually the entire Sea, and its attempts to reinforce those claims by turning reefs and tiny islets into full-fledged islands through reclamation.

Last week, Washington pressed its right to freedom of navigation by sending the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen to within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the artificial islets in the Spratlys chain, angering China.

Earlier Wednesday, Carter attended an Asia-Pacific defense ministers' meeting in Malaysia that ended on a sour note as the United States and China butted heads over whether a final joint statement should mention the South China Sea.

"We could not reach a consensus on a joint declaration," Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters.

[Read related story: Asia-Pacific defense chiefs scrap joint statement over South China Sea woes]

Carter said he had gone into the summit with "no expectation" there would be an agreement.

That illustrates "the level of concern that was reflected in the conversation about activities in the South China Sea", he said, noting that all countries he met with raised the issue.

"It was a persistent topic," he said. "To me, that says that's something we all need to pay attention to."

But both China and the United States pointed the finger at each other.

The US side said several Southeast Asian defense ministers opposed China's demand that the South China Sea be left out of any statement.

A US official said the United States felt that "no statement is better than one that avoids the important issue of China's reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea".

China's claims to almost all the waterway are widely disputed.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan  also have various claims, some overlapping, though none are as extensive as Beijing's.

"We urge all claimants to permanently halt land reclamation, stop the construction of new facilities and cease further militarization of disputed maritime features," Carter said.

The South China Sea has long been viewed as a potential flashpoint, and the Chinese island-building has heightened fears of conflict.

The work includes runways and other large-scale development, making the islands potentially capable of hosting military personnel and hardware.

The US official stressed that the Roosevelt would be far from any of the reclaimed Chinese "islands" at the time of Carter's visit, and the ship was not conducting the sort of freedom of navigation cruise performed by the USS Lassen.

'Bottom line' warning

Carter will be joined on the visit by Hishammuddin. They are expected to spend a couple of hours onboard.

"The Teddy Roosevelt's presence there, and our visit, is a symbol of our commitment to our 'rebalance' and the importance of the Asia-Pacific for the United States," Carter said, referring to America's strategic shift to the region.

Wednesday's annual dialogue in Malaysia included defense ministers from the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and several regional partners such as Carter and China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquan.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the country's defense ministry expressing "regret" over the failure to agree on a final text.

It said agreement had been reached with ASEAN countries on the wording but "individual countries outside the region" -- an apparent reference to the United States -- attempted to "forcefully add" new content.

Carter told Chang in a bilateral meeting late Tuesday that the United States would continue sailing in waters China claims.

Chang responded by warning that there was a "bottom line" below which Beijing would act to defend the islets, according to a US account of the talks, but the US delegation told reporters this would not deter future warship sailings.

China and its allies in ASEAN have previously opposed declarations at the grouping's meetings expressing concern at Beijing's maritime conduct.

But recent ASEAN declarations have increasingly made clear its worries over China's actions.

Carter urges China to stop militarization of South China Sea; US, Japan bent on sea operations

From InterAksyon (Nov 4): Carter urges China to stop militarization of South China Sea; US, Japan bent on sea operations

A Chinese garrison in the South China Sea is seen in this screenshot of a YouTube video of Beijing's recruitment video for its military.

China and other countries must end their quest to take control over islands in the South China Sea, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told Chinese Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan in Kuala Lumpur.

"He [Carter] called on all parties to permanently halt reclamation and militarization activities," Defense Department spokesperson Peter Cook said in a release.

On Tuesday, Carter met with Wanquan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to discuss the situation in the South China Sea, and reiterated the US commitment to maintaining a power balance in the Asia-Pacific.

China has been constructing artificial islands on top of the coral reef habitats of the Spratly Islands, a group of more than 750 islands and reefs, over the past year. Beijing claimed sovereignty over the land and the 12 nautical mile zone surrounding the islands.

The United States has repeatedly warned it does not recognize the Chinese claims of sovereignty over the man-made islands, and has raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region.

"The secretary [Carter] affirmed to the minister that the US will continue to defend the principle of freedom of navigation, and will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows," Cook said.

On Tuesday, Carter and Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani confirmed during a meeting in Kuala Lumpur their countries’ intentions to carry out maritime operations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

US, Japan to conduct maritime operations in South China Sea

Secretary Carter and Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani also confirmed in Kuala Lumpur their countries’ intentions to carry out maritime operations in the Asia-Pacific region, the US Defense Department said in a press release on Tuesday.

US Navy amphibious assault vehicles with Philippine and US troops on board conducted maneuvers in the waters during a combined exercise in the South China Sea.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, which serves as a platform for member nations to discuss defense cooperation with eight dialogue partners such as the United States.

“The two leaders also discussed the rapidly evolving security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea,” the press release said. “They affirmed both governments’ determination to conduct maritime operations in accordance with international law.”

During the meeting with Nakatani, Carter welcomed the enactment of the Peace and Security Legislation in Japan that allows the country to conduct military deployments abroad, according to the press release.

On Tuesday, Carter also discussed regional security issues with the defense ministers of the Philippines, Singapore, India and Thailand.

Britons, Australians told to stay away from Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 4): Britons, Australians told to stay away from Southern Philippines

The British government on Wednesday warned its citizens in the Philippines to stay away from Mindanao because of high threat from terrorism and kidnapping in the restive region south of the country.

In an advisory, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has told its citizens no to travel to southern and western Mindanao, including the Sulu archipelago because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.

It advised citizens against all, but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reasons.

“There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Information as of late October 2015 indicates that kidnap for ransom groups may be planning operations in North Mindanao including the islands off the coast,” FCO said.

The latest advisory came out after Abu Sayyaf rebels released a video of four hostages – Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and his Filipino girlfriend Maritess Flor; and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad – and threatened to kill them their demand for $100 million ransom is not paid. No deadline was provided in the video for the demand to be met.

The four were kidnapped September 21 from the upscale Holiday Oceanview marina on Samal Island off Davao del Norte province and brought them by boat to Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

In the video, the rebels also displayed the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the background as they chanted “Allahu Akbar” or God is great.

Last year, more than 133,000 British nationals visited the Philippines.

Australia also warned its nationals to take extra precautions while in the Philippines, saying since last month, militants may be planning a kidnapping operation in North East Mindanao, including the islands off the coast. It said resorts in the area are being notified to take extra precautions.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines due to the high threat of a terrorist attack and the high level of crime. You should pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks,” it said, adding, “Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in the Philippines, including in Manila. You should avoid places known to be terrorist targets.”

There was no immediate statement from the Philippine government about the latest travel warning.

Japan, China defense chiefs hold 1st talks in over 4 yrs

From the Philippine News Agency/Kyodo (Nov 4): Japan, China defense chiefs hold 1st talks in over 4 yrs

Japan and China held defense ministers' talks on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday for the first time since June 2011.

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan met on the fringes of a meeting of 18 defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their regional partners.

Nakatani is aiming to confirm that the two countries will make efforts for the launch of a communication mechanism between their defense authorities to prevent accidental clashes in the East China Sea.

18-nation defense forum scraps declaration amid S. China Sea row

From the Philippine News Agency/Kyodo (Nov 4): 18-nation defense forum scraps declaration amid S. China Sea row

Squabbles over the South China Sea led to defense ministers from 18 countries, including China and the United States, scrapping a joint declaration that was supposed to be issued at the end of their one-day meeting Wednesday.

The 18 ministers, who gathered in Subang on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, had been expected to adopt the "Kuala Lumpur Joint Declaration" but eventually an ASEAN chairman's statement was issued instead.

China issued a press statement blaming what happened on certain countries outside Southeast Asia.

"China has reached consensus on the joint declaration with Malaysia and other ASEAN countries. But other regional countries disregarded the consensus reached," the statement read.

The regional defense forum, held biennially, involves the 10-member ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

Early on, officials drafting the declaration had been wrangling over the sensitive issue of the South China Sea as China opposed any mention of the fiercely contested waters in the document.

The defense ministers' meeting comes as China is fuming over what was seen as a provocative act by the United States last week when it sent the destroyer USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of some small artificial islands that China has built on a disputed reef.

China has strongly protested, but the United States insists it has the right to sail in international waters.

"The United States' freedom of navigation operation is not new, either in the South China Sea or, I should add, around the world. We conduct them from the South China Sea right up to the Arctic," U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at a press conference, defending the USS Lassen's move.

"What is new is the scale of reclamation and militarization that is concerning many countries in the region, including the U.S. That's why we are calling for all claimants to halt reclamation," he added.

Carter denied responsibility for the failure of the forum to come up with a joint declaration, saying it was ASEAN ministers who made the call.

"Obviously they weren't able to reach consensus and that reflects the level of concern that was reflected in the conversation about activities in the South China Sea," he said. "The U.S was not part of that process."

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who chaired the forum, played down the joint declaration imbroglio.

"The threat is what's not in a piece of paper. What we sign in a joint declaration is not going to resolve the issue of duplication of claims, nor is it going to wish the vessels that are in the South China Sea away. So to dwell on the joint declaration is not going to solve the real problem," he told a press conference at the end of the meeting.

In the chairman's statement, Hishammuddin said the meeting "noted the importance of the effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, in order to build mutual trust and confidence and maintain peace, security and stability in the region."

In the declaration, which ASEAN and China signed in 2002, they vowed to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes, and to respect freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.

While that declaration is merely a set of nonbinding principles, ASEAN has sought to craft with China a legally binding document that could be used to resolve deadlocks, disputes and tensions in the South China Sea that may arise from time to time.

ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bishop, Army general, governor to lead bike for peace challenge in Maguindanao

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): Bishop, Army general, governor to lead bike for peace challenge in Maguindanao

Mindanao peace advocates that included a bishop, a military general and a provincial governor, will lead Bike for Peace to sustain the gains of the Mindanao peace process, officials said Wednesday.

Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, chief of the miitary’s 6th Infantry Division and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu will led thousands of bikers in the November 8 “Bike for Peace Challenge” in Maguinanao.

Mangudadatu said the bike challenge is one of the major events that promote peace as the province prepares for its 42nd foundation anniversary later this month.

Huge prices await the winners in the bike challenge which, according to Mangudadatu, will be attended by thousands of bikers from the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Cotabato, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

He said Army brigade commanders, battalion commanders and all attach units under the 6th ID will lead about 100 bikers from their respective units.

The most significant part of the event is the participation of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders and fighters who will challenge soldiers and bikers, not in the battle field, but in biking endurance.

Tim Abolodto, bike for peace challenge organizer, said anyone outside the province can participate.

Mangudadatu said previous bike for peace in the province has proven to be effective in raising awareness about the importance of peace “because through the challenge, former enemies join together for a common cause.”

Bishop Bagaforo and Gen. Pangilinan had spearheaded previous bike for peace in Maguindanao with the participation of MILF bikers including members of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team.

”All peace advocates are welcome to join, we all desire for peace and the bike for peace is inclusive,” Ambolodto told reporters.

MILF infighting sends 200 families fleeing in North Cotabato, conflict settled amicably

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): MILF infighting sends 200 families fleeing in North Cotabato, conflict settled amicably

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in a remote village here refused to return home for fear the clan war, which was amicably settled by local officials and government and Moro rebel peace panels, could erupt again.

But police and local officials assured the evacuees a ceasefire agreement has been reached between warring families, led by Village Chaiperson Abdulla Abdulsalam Maraguer of Baragay Burikain, Pigcawayan and Kandil Sampiano, alias Commander Kandil, leader of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) 105th base command.

Both belonged to the MILF and have armed followers.

According to Senior Insp. Arnel Melocotones, town police chief of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, the infighting erupted last month when one of Commander Kandil’s relatives was killed in a clash involving his men and the followers of Chairperson Maraguer.

A relative of Maraguer was wounded in another shooting incident, also in the village, and the village official blamed the group of Commander Kandil.

On Monday morning, Commander Kandil’s men ambushed Chairperson Maraguer in Sitio Dos, Barangay Burikain, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato. The village chair escaped unhurt but his driver-escort, John Paul Maraguer, was slightly wounded.

In the afternoon, Maraguer led an assault on the location of Commander Kandil, triggering a five-hour sporadic fire fight that lasted until Tuesday morning.

It was a family feud, the MILF as an organization was not involved,” Melocotones said. But the conflict forced some 200 Moro families or about 5,000 persons, to flee to nearby villages.

Melocotones said a ceasefire has been reached at 3 p.m. Tuesday between warring clans.

Despite the peaceful settlement of clan war, the displaced families refused to return home, according to Melocotones.

One of the displaced persons told reporters she believed the conflict could erupt again anytime since there was no blood money involved and both warring families did not swear before the Quran, Muslim’s holy book.

”Unless both sides pay blood money and swear before the Quran, I am afraid to return home,” Salambai Akil, a farmer from Barangay Burakain, said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Roquero has directed the local social welfare office to attend to the needs of displaced families.

Military task group confirms 2 ASG brigands killed in latest Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): Military task group confirms 2 ASG brigands killed in latest Sulu clash

The military has confirmed that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands have lost two followers and one was injured in clash that occurred Monday in the province of Sulu.

Monday’s clash was the latest so far as the focus military operation continues against ASG brigands in Sulu. Three soldiers were wounded in the clash.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, told the Philippines News Agency on Wednesday that the ASG casualties was confirmed through intelligence gathering.

Arrojado said the slain ASG brigands were identified as Timhar Jauhari, a resident of Barangay Darayan, Patikul, and Munar Abdulhair of Barangay Maligay of the same town.

Arrojado said wounded was Jani Kamlun of Barangay Tanum, Patikul.

The clash ensued around 1:45 p.m. Monday in Barangay Liang, Patikul town while the troops encountered a group of 20 ASG brigands led by Ninok Sapari while on combat mission in the area.

The ASG brigands fled towards Barangay Tugas, Patikul, upon sensing the arrival of government troops’ reinforcements.

The government troops have launched FMO (focus military operation) targeting the senior leaders of the ASG brigands as well their foreign cohorts in Sulu.

NGCP places Mindanao on ‘red alert’

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): NGCP places Mindanao on ‘red alert’

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) have placed the entire island of Mindanao on “red alert” on Wednesday as it announced a power deficiency of 40 megawatts and alleged escalation of bombing threats on transmission lines.

“With the return of the generating facilities of STEAG Power in Misamis Oriental and Mt. Apo in Davao, the power deficiency, as of Nov. 3, is pegged at 40MW, placing the Mindanao Grid on red alert,” NGCP said in a statement.

Elizabeth Ladaga, head of the NGCP’s corporate communication department, said the duration of the power interruptions experienced by end-consumers in some parts of Mindanao would vary, depending on their respective distribution utilities.

Ladaga blamed the sporadic bombing of various power line towers in Lanao Del Sur, which has been the main cause of power interruptions in some areas in Mindanao.

The NGCP has already recorded a total of seven bombings of various power transmission lines in Mindanao from January to October this year, Ladaga said.

Ladaga said the latest was the toppling down of two power transmission towers in Marawi City on Oct. 29, which resulted in the power deficiency of 150 megawatts in the Mindanao Grid supplied by Agus 1 and Agus 2 Hydropower plants in Lanao Del Sur.

The NGCP has expressed concerns, stating that the attacks seems to have escalated following the bombing of Tower 21 and the discovery of undetonated bombs planted in various power transmission lines in Mindanao.

Ladaga said that the NGCP had issued an appeal to the public to help monitor the safety of the towers so that transmission services remained uninterrupted.

She said that the NGCP was fully cooperating with law enforcement agencies as they investigated the incident while restoration efforts began as soon as local law enforcement agencies declared that the area was safe.

Ladaga said that the NGCP had also appealed to the local government units and the Philippine Army for assistance in resolving escalating security and right-of-way issues involving power transmission lines in Mindanao.

133 senior police officials pass NAPOLCOM PESE written exam

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): 133 senior police officials pass NAPOLCOM PESE written exam

The National Police Commision (Napolcom) announced on Wednesday that a total of 133 or 49.63% of the 268 police examinees passed the Police Executive Service Eligibility (PESE) Written Examination conducted on August 23, 2015 in Quezon City, Cebu City and Davao City.

In a statement, Interior and Local Government Secretary and NAPOLCOM Chairman Mel Senen S. Sarmiento said that the 133 passers are qualified to undergo the Validation Interview on November 14-15, 2015, the second and final phase of the PES eligibility process.

NAPOLCOM Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer Eduardo U. Escueta said that the 133 senior police officials who successfully passed the written phase consists of 51 Police Chief Inspectors and 82 Police Superintendents.

“The PESE is an eligibility requirement for the ranks of Police Senior Superintendent, Police Chief Superintendent, Police Director, Police Deputy Director General and Police Director General,” Escueta added.

The PESE test contains analytical questions on police leadership and police values designed to select the best future leaders in the police service.

The complete list of successful examinees can be viewed at the NAPOLCOM website at

4 PA senior officers promoted to brigadier general rank

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): 4 PA senior officers promoted to brigadier general rank

Four senior Philippine Army (PA) colonels were formally promoted to brigadier general ranks effective Nov. 2.

In a statement Wednesday, the PA identified these newly-promoted officers as Brig. Generals Harold N. Cabreros, Noel S. Clement, Alvin A. Javier and Ronnie S. Evangelista.

Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said Cabreros is the Deputy Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1985.

Cabreros commanded the 1003rd Brigade, 10th Infantry Division prior to his present designation.

He also became the Chief of Staff of the 7th Infantry Division; Deputy Commander of the 703rd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division; and Chief of Staff, Command Inspector General, Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Intelligence and Operations of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), AFP.

Clement, on the other hand, is the Commander of the 602nd Brigade, 6th Infantry Division. Prior to this, he was the Chief of the Army Resource Management Office (ARMO).

Among his most recent positions were: Executive Officer of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operation, OJ3, AFP; Commanding Officer of the Security and Escort Battalion, Philippine Army; and Commanding Officer of the 56th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division. He is a member of PMA Class 1985.

Meanwhile, Javier is the incumbent Commander of the AFP Procurement Service. Prior to this, he was the General Manager of the AFP Commissary and Exchange Service. He also served as Head Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff Armed Forces of the Philippines; Assistant Chief of Unified Command Staff for Logistics, NOLCOM, AFP; and Commander of the Forward Service Support Unit (FSSU), Army Support Command. He is a member of PMA Class of 1985.

Evangelista is the Regiment Commander of the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) (SFRA), Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Among his significant positions were: Acting Commandant of the Special Forces School, SFRA, SOCOM; Commanding Officer of the Light Reaction Battalion, SOCOM; and Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, G3, SOCOM. He is a member of PMA Class of 1986.

Hao said PA chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año will don the four's star rank in a donning of ranks ceremony at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Monday.

PNP: No ransom to be paid for Samal kidnap victims

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): PNP: No ransom to be paid for Samal kidnap victims

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday maintained it will adhere to the no ransom policy on the abduction of four persons, including three foreigners, from Samal Island in Davao del Norte province last September.

PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor made this statement following the release of a video footage from suspected members of extremist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) demanding a PHP4 billion ransom in exchange of the freedom of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino who were forcibly taken last Sept. 11 in Holiday Ocean View Resort in Island Garden City in Samal Island.

“The PNP adheres to the principle of no ransom policy based on government's policy, rest assured the public, the continuing operations natin to ensure the safety of the victims, that is the primordial concern of the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)," Mayor told reporters in a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

In a 90 second video clip posted in SITE Intelligence Group International, the victims, identified as Canadians John Ridsel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Just Ran Sekingstad and Filipina Marites Flor were shown with a bladed weapon pointed to their necks by the suspects who were standing behind them.

In the video, Ridsel appealed to the Canadian Prime Minister and people of Canada to help them by paying the ransom.

Mayor said that the video is being authenticated by the police Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), as he assured that all efforts are being done to ensure the safe release of the victims. He said the PNP is continuously conducting operations to rescue the victims.

Samal Island kidnap-victims appeal for payment of Php 4-B ransom

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): Samal Island kidnap-victims appeal for payment of Php 4-B ransom

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday declined to comment on the latest video showing Abu Sayyaf Group bandits threatening their Samal Island captives with death if their Php 4-billion ransom demand is not met.

“The AFP has made a decision not to comment,” AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said.

Padilla said the move was "in order not to dignify the latest development."

In the video, which circulates in the Internet, Canadian John Ridsel urged the Canadian government to pay the ransom demand of the ASGs, who were shown heavily-armed behind the hostages, with one aiming a bolo at the hostages.

“We’re being ransomed for each for Php1 billion. I appeal to the Canadian Prime Minister and the people of Canada, please pay this ransom as soon as possible or our lives are in great danger,” Ridsdel said.

His words were reiterated by fellow Canadian, Robert Hall, who stressed that he was being held hostage by the ASGs for Php 1-billion.

"These people are serious and very treacherous. Take them seriously. Help us, get us out of here,” he added.

While Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, Holiday Oceanview Resort manager, said: “I’m okay for now. I'm hostaged for Php1 billion. Please, please pay this group. Take them seriously because they are dangerous, they are serious in their demands.”

The fourth hostage, Marites Flor, Hall's girlfriend, did not speak.

It was not clear when and where the video was shot although a flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, was shown.

ASG bandits abducted the four last Sept. 21 at Oceanwiew Resort in Samal Island.

PA probing six foreign tourists involved in distorting Lumad issue

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): PA probing six foreign tourists involved in distorting Lumad issue

The Philippine Army (PA) is looking into reports that leftist organizations are distorting the issue on the Lumad group in Mindanao, Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said.

Hao also said that the Army was also investigating claims that six foreign tourists, posing as members of a bogus fact-finding committee, were in the country.

"The Army is giving a special attention on the existence of the fake international fact-finding mission composed of six foreign tourists," Hao said.

"If they are found violating our immigration laws, they will be deported and be banned forever in entering our country. The Army is also looking into the legal liability of their cohorts," he added.

Hao said the group had no mandate nor the authority from the government or from any international organizations to interfere in the country's internal affairs.

NPAs attack Lumad village, abduct one in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 4): NPAs attack Lumad village, abduct one in Bukidnon

Around 100 New People's Army (NPA) fighters stormed a Lumad village in Bukidnon, abducting one person Wednesday afternoon.

The incident took place 2 p.m. at Sitio Dao, Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao town, 4th Infantry Division public affairs office chief Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez said.

The NPAs were led by one "Joseph," he added.

Initially, the rebels abducted Samuel Paradero, Beltran Paradero and Jovane Rabaca but later released Samuel and Jovane for still unknown reasons.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this posting.

Martinez said the rebel attack stemmed from frustration as the latter was unable to infiltrate the said village.