Thursday, November 12, 2015

More Lumad leaders killed as world celebrates day of action for IP heroes

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 13): More Lumad leaders killed as world celebrates day of action for IP heroes

The Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu) has assailed the Aquino administration of paying lip-service for the demand of indigenous peoples (IPs) for justice to slain IP leaders in Mindanao and Luzon.

Katribu secretary-general Piya Macliing Malayao made the statement two days after the Lumads of Mindanao and the IP leaders from Luzon offered prayers, chants, songs, dances and a vow to win justice for their colleagues last Nov. 10, the Global Day of Action for IP Heroes and Martyrs at the Manilakbayan Camp in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.

On Nov. 10, 1995, Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others from the Ogoni tribe were hanged by the Nigerian government because of their struggle against oil exploration activities of a big oil company.

Since then, the IPs, led by the I
ndigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), take time last Nov. 10 to honor and dedicate their continuing action to IP heroes and fallen comrades all over the world.

Malayao said “in the Philippines the list of IP rights defenders killed in the course of their struggle against mining and other extractive industries continues to grow.”

Three days before the Global Day of Action for IP Heroes, yet another IP leader — Datu Manliro Landahay, council member of Salugpongan Lumad organization in Davao del Norte, was murdered by the bandit Alamara early morning of Nov. 7,” she revealed.

Days later, two IP leaders in Mindanao were reported to have been slain as well.
Out of the 73 IP members who have been killed under Aquino’s term, 58 are Lumad, the Katribu gorup confirmed.

For the past several months, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its killing machines, the Bagani forces, Alamara and other paramilitary groups, have committed the gravest crimes against the Lumad communities in Mindanao, it added.

From March to Nov. 7, 2015, 17 Lumad leaders, activists and community members, including two children, were killed in seven extra-judicial killings and four massacres.

Today, we wave red flags to pay tribute to our heroes and martyrs and we raise our clenched fists to condemn the exacerbation of human rights violations with impunity against indigenous communities in the last remaining nine months of the Aquino regime,” Malayao said.

The IP leaders pledged to continue the struggle that their ancestors, heroes and martyrs had started.

Malayao said the Nov. 10 march to the streets of Makati City to confront mining companies and the neoliberal policies that kill our people will be followed by more protest actions.

Participants of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2015, Katribu and environmental groups rallied in front of the offices of the Toronto Ventures Inc. Resources and Development, a Canadian company that operates in ancestral lands of the Subanen in the Zamboanga Peninsula and commits human rights violations against indigenous and peasant communities, and a local giant firm, which is alleged to be responsible for the abduction and disappearance of a Manobo native John Calaba, public information of the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo.

Manilakbayan is the Mindanao people’s mobilization for the defense of land, the environment and human rights, participated by around 700 Lumads from different provinces in Mindanao.

Chinese tabloid nixes RP take on maritime row ruling

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 13): Chinese tabloid nixes RP take on maritime row ruling

A Chinese tabloid reportedly affiliated with Beijing’s Communist Party mouthpiece came out with an editorial entitled “Tribunal ruling not clear victory for Philippines” downplaying what has been portrayed by parts of the media as Manila’s triumph over Beijing after an international tribunal ruled that it can take on a case between the two countries over disputed territory in the South China Sea, overruling objections from Beijing that the body has no authority to hear it.

“But is this really the case? We should remember that the award in question only addresses the tribunal’s jurisdiction and the admissibility of the Philippines’ claims, that is, whether the tribunal is competent to hear the case at all. So far, nothing of substance has been decided and the Philippines’ claims may still be rejected in their entirety at the merits phase of the proceedings. So what exactly did the tribunal decide?” said The Global Times, an English-language newspaper in China.

It stressed that in the proceedings, the Philippines put forward 15 submissions.

“Only with regard to five submissions did the tribunal follow the Philippines’ argument that it has jurisdiction to rule on the merits; with regard to two submissions the tribunal found that it will only have jurisdiction if the Philippines is able to prove in the merits phase that the issues involved fall within the territorial sea of Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China), and with regard to eight submissions the tribunal decided that either the Philippines had submitted insufficient information or that it had to examine the matter further in order to decide whether or not it has jurisdiction and therefore joined the question of jurisdiction to the merits of the case,” it stated.

According to the paper, while the arbitration continues, for 10 out of 15 submissions the tribunal accepted the possible existence of jurisdictional hurdles, as set out by the Chinese government in its position paper of Dec. 7, 2014 and advanced in the academic literature.

“The tribunal may thus still find that it does not even have jurisdiction to decide on the merits of 10 of the submissions.

“Considering that the Philippines had argued that there was no need to join any question of jurisdiction to the merits and that all issues of jurisdiction ‘could and should be resolved at this stage of the proceedings,’ the tribunal’s decision is a slap in the face for the Philippines.”

Global Times said the tribunal in fact confirmed that China may have valid objections to its jurisdiction under Article 297 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), in particular with regard to fisheries or, more generally, the exercise of sovereign rights and jurisdiction by China in its exclusive economic zone.

“There may also be valid objections to the tribunal’s jurisdiction under Article 298 of Unclos, in particular with regard to Chinese historic rights in the South China Sea, maritime delimitation, military activities and law enforcement activities. Much will depend on the interpretation of the relevant provisions of Unclos and the facts to be established at the merits stage of the proceedings.”

It added for example, if the tribunal finds that just one of the maritime features claimed by China in the South China Sea is an island within the meaning of Article 121 of Unclos and that its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf overlaps with those generated by the Philippine archipelago, it will have to decline jurisdiction.

“Similarly, if China’s activities in the South China Sea concern ‘military activities’ or ‘law enforcement activities’ related to fisheries, the tribunal will have to refuse to take any decision concerning Chinese fisheries enforcement measures, land reclamation and construction, or the operation of Chinese law enforcement vessels. Finally, if China’s claims to historic rights are found to be permitted by the Convention and within the scope of Article 298 of Unclos the Philippines’ claim will founder for lack of jurisdiction.”

Global Times stressed “while this confirmation of China’s position is to be welcomed, there are also some aspects of the decision that do not bode well for any future decision on jurisdiction and the merits.”

Soldiers get 900 new M4 carbine rifles

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 13): Soldiers get 900 new M4 carbine rifles

The Army's 3 rd Infantry Division has been issued about 900 brand new M4 Remington rifles, its commanding general, Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, said yesterday.

The brand new rifles replaced the standard M16 rifles issued to infantry soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, that saw action during the Vietnam War in 1960s and 1970s.

Guerrero said the new rifles have already been issued to 79 th Infantry Battalion soldiers in southern Negros, and the 15 th IB in Lanao del Norte.

The firearms formed part of the 50,629 M4 rifles acquired from the American gun manufacturer, Remington Arms Company, in line with the modernization program of the AFP.

The other infantry units of 3ID – the 11th, 47th, 61st, 62nd, and 82 nd IBs – will soon receive similar brand new weapons.

PPOC supports RPA sites

From the Visayan Daily Star (Nov 13): PPOC supports RPA sites

The Negros Occidental Provincial Peace and Order Council yesterday passed a resolution supporting the Peace and Development Community sites for the resettlement of members of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa–Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade   Tabara-Paduano Group.

The resettlement sites are in Brgy. Locotan, Kabankalan City; Brgy. Bagonbon, San Carlos City; and Brgy. Celestino Villacin, Cadiz City, Provincial Planning and Development Office Marlin Sanogal said.

The resolution is needed for the release by the national government for the resettlement funds as part of its peace closure agreement with the RPMP-RPA-ABB.

Another resolution identifying the sites of the congregated areas for the group in EB Magalona to be in Brgy. Gawahon, Victorias City and an alternate site to be scouted for the group in La Castellana since the original site has been sold by the owner to a private person was also approved.

Also approved at the PPOC meeting presided by Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. at Nature's Village Resort in Talisay City are the proposed programs, projects and activities for funding under the Peace and Order Fund for 2016 amounting to P50 million.

This list will then be submitted for the concurrence of the Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sanogal said.

The PPOC is also allocating a P2 million counterpart fund for PAMANA-Department of Interior and Local Government projects, she added.

Lawmaker tells Makabayan: 'Attend probe instead of rallying'

From Rappler (Nov 13): Lawmaker tells Makabayan: 'Attend probe instead of rallying'

North Cotabato's Nancy Catamco urges the Lumad out in the streets to raise their issues at the congressional probe, where officials of agencies are present

NOT IN THE STREETS. Catamco said the Lumad people should air their concerns in proper venues such as the Congress probe. Photo by KILAB Multimedia

NOT IN THE STREETS. Catamco said the Lumad people should air their concerns in proper venues such as the Congress probe. Photo by KILAB Multimedia

The chairperson of the House committee on indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples called on concerned individuals and groups to attend hearings on Lumad killings instead of rallying in the streets.

"Kaya nga mayroon tayong hearing para marinig natin, 'wag natin dalhin lang sa media, 'wag lang dalhin sa kalsada, hanap tayo ng magandang venue. This is the right venue where they can also air their side," North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco said on Thursday, November 12. (We have hearings so that we can hear [their concerns]. Let us not bring this to the media and the streets. Let us find the right venue.)

Catamco was at a public hearing on the alleged harassment of indigenous peoples in Haran and Surigao. She inhibited herself from presiding the hearing.

The representative urged the progressive groups rallying out in the streets with the Lumad community to raise their issues before the congressional probe, where concerned government agencies are present.

(READ: #Manilakbayan: Mindanao tribes demand a stop to Lumad killings)

"Kung ano-ano 'sinisigaw-sigaw nila na mga isyu na hindi napapakinggan [ng] kung sino dapat makarinig. Andito CHR, AFP, DSWD, NCIP. Na'ndito government agencies who want to respond to their call," she said. (They are rallying in the streets, shouting issues that are not heard by the right authorities. But here present is the Commission on Human Rights, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development and National Commission on Indigenous People – the government agencies which want to respond to their call.)

The committee's public hearing was temporarily suspended due to the lack of resource persons.

Makabayan bloc a no-show

Among those invited but did not attend were members of the leftist Makabayan bloc: representatives Luz Ilagan and Emm de Jesus (Gabriela), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Antonio Tinio (Alliance of Concerned Teachers), and Jonathan dela Cruz (Abakada). Speaking for the progressive coalition, Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan told Rappler that there was no formal notice sent to them about the hearing.

"I was texted two days ago [that] there would be a committee hearing. Is that the proper way to inform the member of the committee?" Ilagan said in a phone interview.
"Then the committee wanted me to submit names of resource persons who I have not informed whether they are willing to attend. You just don't give names unless you ask the permission of the people concerned if they are willing to become resource persons," she added.

However, a committee staff told Rappler they sent both an SMS and a formal written notice to those invited.

Meanwhile, Ilagan also pointed out that they did not attend primarily because they couldn't expect objectivity in a hearing initiated by Catamco.

(READ: Did lawmaker call Lumad evacuees ‘stinky’?)

"How can you expect objectivity when the chair is the accuser, the presiding officer, and the person who, by the way, is also being accused by the other side as causing the commotion?" Ilagan said.

In an interview after the hearing, Catamco said, "I think they’re the ones discriminating [against] the hearing. I even inhibited myself [from chairing] this hearing to give them their side also."

Catamco has been at odds with nongovernmental organization workers and Makabayan bloc legislators as she insisted that Lumad "bakwits (evacuees)" must be "freed" and sent home as soon as possible.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte earlier blamed Catamco for the violence that erupted when authorities raided a temporary shelter of Lumad evacuees in Davao City to return them to their communities.

(READ: Duterte: Lawmaker to blame for clash in Lumad evacuees' site)

Leading to a conclusion?

ANAC-IP Representative Jose Panganiban, who presided the hearing, said they could make conclusions based on the important testimonies during the two-day hearing.
Contrary to previous reports, Panganiban said, it seemed the indigenous community was not displaced due to heavy military presence in their residence.

(READ: TIMELINE: Attacks on the Lumad of Mindanao)

Around 700 Lumad were relocated to Haran from their homes in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.

"Ang lumalabas ngayon, base dun sa pahayag nung mga unang nagsalita, ay kaya andun 'yung mga katutubo sa Haran eh dahil di umano ay naimbitahan sila dahil darating si Presidente PNoy, darating si Manny Pacquiao, at makikipag-usap sila kay Mayor Duterte." (What was revealed today is, based on the testaments of those who spoke earlier, the IPs in Haran were there because they were invited to see President Aquino and [boxing champion and Sarangani Representative] Manny Pacquiao. They would also meet with [Davao City] Mayor [Rodrigo] Duterte.)

"Pakikinggan lang natin 'yung kahapon saka ngayon eh maari nang mag-conclude 'yung committee na ganun nga ang nangyari. Eh ayaw nga natin ng ganun kasi gusto ngang mapakinggan natin 'yung side nila." (Based on those statements, the committee can conclude that was what transpired. But we do not want that because we want to hear their other side.)

Asked what would happen if the other parties continue to snub the hearing, Panganiban answered in Filipino, "If they will continue refusing to attend the hearing, we will [still] release a committee report."

Walk with the Lumad

Meanwhile, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano stressed that the conflict in Lumad communities “is all about the issue on resources, fighting over resources because the lumad areas are rich in natural resources.”

“There are many mining groups in the area small and large scale and in fact government is not aware about the activities. It is better to get into the bottom of the issue because there are so many implications, from economic to cultural implications. We have to look into the issue comprehensively,” he said.

Individuals and groups from various sectors have come out in support of the Lumad’s plight.

As part of ongoing protests dubbed #Manilakbayan, about 700 Lumad and organizations supporting them are walking to call for justice and peace on Friday, November 13.
#Manilakbayan is a series of demonstrations held in Manila that come as a result of the increasing militarization in Mindanao and the human rights violations against the indigenous peoples of the area. The participants, called Manilakbayanis, have journeyed from their homes in Mindanao to Manila to have their voices heard.

US B-52 bombers fly near islands claimed by China

From Rappler (Nov 13): US B-52 bombers fly near islands claimed by China

It is just the latest challenge from Washington to Beijing over the fate of the Spratly Islands, after the guided missile destroyer the USS Lassen last month sailed past a series of islets in Subi Reef in the Spratly chain

B-52. A photo dated September 1, 1997 shows a US B-52 Stratofortress bomber in flight. File Photo from EPA/US AIR FORCE

B-52. A photo dated September 1, 1997 shows a US B-52 Stratofortress bomber in flight. File Photo from EPA/US AIR FORCE

Two US B-52 bombers flew close to islands in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing and were given verbal warnings from a Chinese air traffic controller, the Pentagon said Thursday, November 12.

It is just the latest challenge from Washington to Beijing over the fate of the Spratly Islands, after the guided missile destroyer the USS Lassen last month sailed past a series of islets in Subi Reef in the Spratly chain.

It also comes ahead of a visit to Asia next week by President Barack Obama that will see territorial disputes at the fore of discussions with regional leaders, several of whom have claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.

"On a flight that took off and returned to Guam on November 8 and 9 respectively, two B-52s flying a routine mission in international airspace in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea received two verbal warnings from a Chinese ground controller despite never venturing within 15 nautical miles of any feature," said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Both aircraft continued their mission without incident, and at all times operated fully in accordance with international law."

Sea rows 'central issue' in Obama Asia visit

From Rappler (Nov 13): Sea rows 'central issue' in Obama Asia visit

National Security Advisor Susan Rice says territorial claims in the South China Sea – which have put the United States in direct dispute with China – will feature prominently during a trip to the Philippines and Malaysia

OBAMA IN ASIA. US President Barack Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 11 November 2015. Olivier Douliery/EPA

OBAMA IN ASIA. US President Barack Obama speaks at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 11 November 2015. Olivier Douliery/EPA

Territorial disputes will be a "central issue" when Barack Obama meets Asian leaders next week, the White House said Thursday, but downplayed hopes for a "code of conduct" to ease tensions.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said territorial claims in the South China Sea – which have put the United States in direct dispute with China – would feature prominently during a trip to the Philippines and Malaysia.

"This will be a central issue of discussion both at the East Asia Summit as well as at the ASEAN-US Summit (both in Kuala Lumpur) and the other engagements that we have throughout our visit to Asia," Rice said.

That seemed at odds with China's insistence that an Asia-Pacific summit next week in Manila should not discuss rising tensions.

Beijing, along with several other Asian capitals, have a knot of claims to maritime territory.

But China's decision to reclaim and build on reefs and other bodies recently prompted the US Navy to send in guided missile destroyer the USS Lassen to within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the artificial islets in the Spratlys chain.

Besides China, the other claimants are the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan, with some of their claims overlapping.

During his trip to the Philippines, Obama will tour a maritime facility, designed to underscore the US commitment to Philippine maritime security, amid talk of a fresh batch of US aid.

Manila recently won the right for an international panel to hear several territorial disputes with China. Beijing has so far ignored the proceedings.

Rice said the US view "has always been that these disputes need to be resolved through peaceful, legal means."

"The establishment of and implementation of a code of conduct agreed among the leaders of the region, the states of the region and, in particular, the claimants would be a positive step forward," she added.

"But I don't expect it to be a concrete outcome of this particular visit."

Last week an Asia-Pacific defense ministers' meeting in Malaysia 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.

Asked why Obama was willing to attend so many Asia summits in short order, senior Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes said "when we're not at the table, we're on the menu."

The issue is likely to come up again in bilateral meetings with leaders from Canada, Australia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

During his visit to Malaysia, Obama will also visit a refugee center, to highlight the issue as a "global challenge."

"There are enormous refugees flows out of Syria into Europe. There are enormous refugee flows in Africa. There are enormous refugee flows in Asia," said Rhodes.

"Malaysia hosts a very significant population of refugees, including a significant number of Rohingya who have had to leave (Myanmar)," he added.

Gunmen raid village, torch school cottage in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 12): Gunmen raid village, torch school cottage in Southern Philippines 

Suspected militias raided a village before dawn Thursday and torched a school cottage and destroyed a tree nursery in the southern Philippine province of Agusan del Sur, church leaders and human rights group said.

Human rights group Karapatan said the attack also destroyed a 2,500-square meter demo farm run by the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (ALCADEV) in Sibagat town. No one was reported killed in the latest raid on ALCADEV schools which opened in June 2013, but it left about three dozen students and teachers without a demo farm and cottage in the village of Padiay.

Bishop Antonio Ablon told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner that the gunmen also burned many school text books and other educational supplies, including sewing machine, rice stocks, diesel generator and audio-visual equipment used by students.

It was the second attack since September this year when militias – used by the army in fighting communist rebels – killed ALCADEV’s executive director Emerito Samarca and tribal leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo. The militias also burned two elementary schools operated by the Tribal Filipino Program for Surigao del Sur in the villages of Han-ayan and in Panukmuan all in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur province.

Karapatan accused the 23rd Infantry Battalion as having a hand in the attack and other killings of tribal members in the provinces who were suspected as sympathizers or members of the New People’s Army rebels.

“This is the height of impudence. The Aquino regime continues to ignore the public uproar on the Lumad (indigenous people) killings and the resounding call to pull-out the military troops from the Lumad communities in Mindanao and to dismantle the AFP-backed paramilitary groups. It has instead given the military carte blanche to go on a rampage against the people in remote villages,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

AFP refers to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Palabay said they and other church groups are currently investigating the spate of extrajudicial killings of natives in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte and in Cabanglasan in Bukidnon province.

She said among those recently murdered by the militia group Alamara and government troops were Datu Manliro Landahay, a council member of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, the same organization that runs the Lumad schools in Davao provinces; and Mankombete Mariano, who was shot and then hacked to death by Dela Mance militia group in Bukidnon.

The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command has denied all accusations against the soldiers and branded the attacks as clan war.

PNP receives EOD equipment from US Gov’t

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 12): PNP receives EOD equipment from US Gov’t

The Philippine National Police (PNP) recently received Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) equipment from the United States Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.

PNP Chief Director General Ricardo C. Marquez received the equipment through the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Anti-terrorism Assistance (DS/ATA) led by Mr. Thomas McDonough, Regional Security Officer of US Embassy.

The EOD equipment, worth $1.7 million USD, will assist the PNP in countering the huge number of grenade/explosive and improvised explosive device (IED) incidents.

The equipment donation includes six Ford Ranger pickup trucks, three EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) robots, EOD suits, and other explosive counter measures support equipment.

According to PNP, the DS/ATA has been providing training and equipment to the Philippine government since 1986, particularly to the police force to help develop its capacity to prevent, interdict, counter and investigate terrorist activity, particularly in restive regions of Mindanao and in the Metro Manila area.

In early 2007, DS/ATA started assisting the PNP by establishing an EOD and K-9 facility for the National Capital Region Police Office. Built with funding from the DS/ATA Program, the said facilities include a kennel, veterinary clinic and billets for an EOD “K-9 unit”, six bomb detector dogs and PNP K-9 handlers specially trained to detect explosives devices.

Gov't. communicators urged to highlight public service efforts

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 12): Gov't. communicators urged to highlight public service efforts 

A top commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao urged government communicators to highlight the efforts of their respective offices to serve the people through their programs and projects.

Speaking at the 13th Mindanao Communicators’ Congress held in the Pryce Plaza Hotel, Major General Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division said there are aplenty of accomplishments done by the Aquino Administration.

He said many information need to be relayed to the people  with regards to completion of schools and road projects, increasing number of the beneficiaries of the  Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and more hospitals operational as the budget of the Department of Health.

“These things need to be relayed to the people because government projects are not very much highlighted to them through information,” Lactao said.

He revealed that the effort now of the government forces in his area of responsibility is to reach out to the indigenous peoples by bringing in the government services to them.

Lactao said the IPs are often very far, isolated and are easily exploited by the armed groups.

He also bared that two out of three rebels nowadays are members of the indigenous communities.

“The rebels are exploiting the situation of the IPs being far and isolated, and very vulnerable from agitation and recruitment, ” Lactao said.

He said this situation prompts the military to make its internal security operation IP-centered by bringing in the government services to the indigenous communities where the soldiers provide security to working government personnel.

Lactao said the government must connect with the IPs so that they will not be enticed to bear firearms and to fight to authorities.

On the killings of three IPs in Lianga, Surigao del sur, he said that the security sector has already identified and filed cases against three perpetrators identified as Margarito Layno, Bobby and Loloy Tejero.

“Warrants of arrest were issued and these persons are being pursued by the Task Force Bangkaw headed by the police to bring them to justice.  We urge them to surrender to prevent violence in the time of their arrest,” Lactao said.

He said that the perpetrators had been with the rebel movement for ten years before they turned their backs against their former comrades. 

The perpetrators were implicated in the killings of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV director Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Bello Sinzo in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in September this year.

Lactao stressed that these suspects are not members of the military.

“They are more akin to the rebels.  They simply left the rebel movement and currently fight each other,” he said.

Lactao that aside from the lumad killings in Lianga, a total of 357 IPs have been attributed to the rebels including the murder of Loreto Mayor Latasa and his son and two other datus.

He called on the progressive organizations to also give attention to the IPs killed by the rebels, especially the noncombatants and voiceless.

“You ought to give balance information,” Lactao said.

Security intensified for upcoming APEC Leaders’ Summit—Paynor

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 13): Security intensified for upcoming APEC Leaders’ Summit—Paynor

Security preparations for the 21 heads of state who will arrive in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit next week have been further strengthened, APEC 2015 National Organizing Council Director General Marciano Paynor Jr. said on Thursday.

“Because of the very high profile nature of our guests and of course, the nature of the world security today, we have to be ready and we have to be prepared,” Ambassador Paynor said during a media briefing at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Among the leaders who are expected to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on November 18 to19 are US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Paynor said security arrangements for the leaders have been planned by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in coordination with the security teams of the foreign leaders.

He said possible threats against the leaders are considered in every place they go, thus, these should be addressed accordingly.

“We tweaked the security arrangements depending on the threat assessment … depending on the leaders who are coming,” he said.

Paynor said police personnel in the National Capital Region have been stretched and even complemented by those from other regions.

He said the stringent security preparations are usually done during APEC events. He also assured the public that cell sites of telecommunication companies will not be blocked next week.

Preparations for the final APEC meetings, which starts today through the Concluding Senior Officials Meeting, are 95 percent to 97 percent ready but they are still scrutinizing minute details to ensure the success of the biggest international event to be hosted by the country since 1996.

“The President (Benigno S. Aquino III) is on top of everything and he has given us the directive that our hosting must be a success from all points,” Paynor said. “This is really a production of sorts where you have 21 different leaders who have a common agenda, common schedule, but they have also their own. We have to ensure that each economy’s agenda will be followed hassle-free, and that they come out of here feeling satisfied that they have done their work, that their objectives were met. And at that point, we can say that we have had a successful hosting of APEC 2015."

OPAPP distributes 136 boats, nets to E. Samar fishermen

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 13): OPAPP distributes 136 boats, nets to E. Samar fishermen

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has distributed 136 boats and fishing nets as livelihood assistance to fisherfolks in eastern Samar.

The project is in partnership with Spain's Agencia Española de Cooperación International Para el Desarrollo (AECID)

Dubbed as Bangkapayapaan (boat for peace), the event was held in Hernani, Eastern Samar, led by Secretary Teresita Deles of OPPAP and Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Luis Antonio Calvo.

Mayors of the recipient towns, Edgar Boco of Hernani, James Ty of General MacArthur and Dinco Codoy Jr. of Llorente all expressed their appreciation of the assistance given to the locals.

AICED supports the OPAPP in mainstreaming peace and development in local governance in the Philippines thru the Mainstreaming Peace and Development in Local Governance Project (MPDLGP).

As one of AECID’s efforts for assistance, the boat and net livelihood project was crafted right after the destruction of supertyphoon "Yolanda" on Nov. 8 2013.

Communities chosen as beneficiaries for this project are situated in coastal areas, wherein their main source of income is fishing. The project provided the fishermen with their own boat with engines and a set of nets to augment their income.

The first turnover was held on March 25, 2014 at Balayuan Center in Tacloban City with recipients communities of Marabut, Sta. Rita and Villareal in Samar.

Of the 136 boats turned over, there were 72 for Hernani, 24 for Llorente and 40 for General MacArthur.

Calvo is hopeful that the partnership between the Philippines and Spain thru AICED will continue and that more beneficiaries will benefit from the project.

Pursuit operations ongoing against attackers of ALCADEV in Agusan Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 13): Pursuit operations ongoing against attackers of ALCADEV in Agusan Del Sur

Units of the Eastern Mindanao Command are now pursuing the lawless group who burned the teacher’s cottage of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development (ALCADEV) in Agusan Del Sur Thursday.

The incident took place in Barangay Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, around 2 p.m.

EMC head Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said the attackers were wearing Army uniforms and disguised themselves as soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Battalion.

Meanwhile, 23rd Infantry Battalion commander Lt. Col. Lynart Castisimo said that he has received reports that there were groups who procured Army uniforms and military backpacks in one of tailoring shops in Butuan City earlier.

“It is clear that the uniforms were used by the perpetrators in the burning of ALCADEV cottage. We strongly deny the involvement of our soldiers and we condemn the burning of ALCADEV cottage by the lawless bandit group. We will exert our best efforts to help the PNP in the investigation and law enforcement operations in the area," he added.

Supreme Court denies militants’ court protection

From the Business World (Nov 12): Supreme Court denies militants’ court protection

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has denied lawmakers from the progressive Makabayan bloc protection from alleged state-sanctioned harassment.

SC Public Information Office Chief Theodore O. Te said in a briefing the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data by nine militant activists was dismissed for “lack of merit.”

The petitioners have cited their inclusion in the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) “rogues gallery,” which they claimed indicated they were subject to state surveillance in violation of their rights to life and liberty.

But the full court said they failed to show how their right to privacy was violated “given that the information contained in the rogues gallery is only their photographs, their names, and their position in their respective organizations.”

“All these data are of public knowledge, and are readily accessible to anyone as petitioners are known personalities,” read an excerpt of the decision reached during Tuesday’s en banc session.

Incumbent Representatives Carlos Isagani T. Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) and Emerenciana A. de Jesus (Gabriela Women’s Party) as well as former representatives Rafael V. Mariano (Anakpawis) and Teodoro A. Casiño (Bayan Muna) led the petitioners.

Other petitioners were Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay, Sr., Mary Francis Añover of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Rev. Irma M. Balaba of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, Children’s Rehabilitation Center executive director Jacquiline Ruiz, and the family of the late activist and labor leader Crispin B. Beltran.

They said they have been subject to trumped-up charges for taking up the rights of Mindanao’s lumad (indigenous peoples) evacuees in Davao City, who fled their homes in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, to escape militarization and paramilitary harassment.

The respondents were President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Gen. Hernando Delfin Carmelo A. Iriberri, AFP Deputy Commander for Intelligence Maj. Gen. Virgilio A. Hernandez, Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) Chief Brig. Gen. Arnold M. Quiapo, Philippine Army Commanding General Maj. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, AFP Deputy Commanding General for Personnel Brig. Gen. Honorato S. delos Reyes, Philippine National Police Director Ricardo C. Marquez, and PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Director Chief Supt. Victor P. Deona.

Also impleaded were the following Mindanao military and police authorities: Eastern Mindanao Command Commanding General Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad, 60th Infantry Division Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Roberto Bunagan, Eastern Mindanao CIDG Regional Director Police Senior Supt. Joel C. Pernito, Davao City Criminal Investigation Division Team Leader Police Chief Insp. Warren E. Dablo, and several John Does and Jane Does.

Although the activists in the rejected petition failed in their request for court protection, the SC had previously granted the writ of amparo to 22 union leaders on Aug. 4, and to 11 activists from health workers and youth groups on Sept. 8.

Yaya Dub’ misguided in support for ‘lumad,’ says military exec

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 12): ‘Yaya Dub’ misguided in support for ‘lumad,’ says military exec

The viral photo of Maine "Yaya Dub" Mendoza showing her support for the lumad. PHOTO FROM RANDY EVANGELISTA'S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

he viral photo of Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza showing her support for the lumad. PHOTO FROM RANDY EVANGELISTA’S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT

A military official said Maine Mendoza, prominently known as “Yaya Dub” in the hit “kalyeserye” segment of the noontime show “Eat Bulaga,” was misled into supporting the cause of the displaced indigenous peoples or lumad.

In an ambush interview after the House of Representatives Indigenous Cultural Communities And Indigenous Peoples committee hearing on Thursday, Brigadier General Joey Kakilala said the lumad organizers of the Manilakbayan misled Mendoza and other famous personalities into supporting their cause.

A photo of Mendoza holding the sign “We Stand with Lumands #SaveOurSchools” circulated online. The lumad are now in Manila for a caravan to protest militarization in their ancestral domain, where firefight has ensued between the military and the New People’s Army.

READ: Lumads to benefit from proceeds of AlDub ‘Sa Tamang Panahon’ event

“‘Yung social media support naman. Hindi alam nina Aiza Seguerra, Maine Mendoza, hindi nila alam ‘yung real story. Kung malaman siguro they would have reservations,” said Kakilala, who is a commander of the Civil Relations Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Other celebrities and famous personalities who have actually visited the campout of the lumads are singer Seguerra, actor Alex Medina, and even Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

READ: Tagle joins ‘lumad’ call for peace, justice | Aiza Seguerra reminds Filipinos to turn focus on lumad killings

Kakilala said the lumad are appealing to the emotions of the famous personalities and using them for their cause.

He said if Mendoza and the other personalities knew the real issue behind the displacement of lumads, they would have reservations in supporting the Manilakbayan.

“Misinformed sila. Namimislead sila. They weren’t informed nga eh. ‘Yung ibang mga Manilakbayan lumads are appealing to them, so ginamit sila. Once they know the real story hindi na sila (magpapagamit),” Kakilala said.

The lumad are embroiled in the middle of a conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, the armed front of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Social media sentiment gained ground when photos of a killing in a lumad school circulated online. Last Sept. 1, Emerito Samarca, the director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), and lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo  were killed by suspected paramilitary groups in Sitio  Han-ayan in Lianga, Surigao Del Sur. Samarca was found dead in a classroom, hogtied, stabbed and with his throat slit.

Militant groups claimed the Mahagat-Bagani group, allegedly a paramilitary group, killed the school director and lumad leaders. The military has denied harboring any lumad paramiitary group.

Meanwhile, the military has claimed the Alcadev was used as a front to indoctrinate lumad children with the communist ideology.

Karapatan claims Army-backed men burned teachers’ cottage in Agusan Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 12): Karapatan claims Army-backed men burned teachers’ cottage in Agusan Sur

HUMAN rights group Karapatan on Thursday accused military-backed armed men of burning the teachers’ cottage of Agricultural and Livelihood Development, Inc. (Alcadev) in Agusan del Sur.

In a statement, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the cottage in Barangay Padiay in Sibagat town was torched at about 2 a.m. by a group of men believed to be under the command of the Army’s 23rd Infantry Battalion.

The Alcadev learning center caters to the lumads in the province which opened two years ago.

Last September, Alcadev’s executive director Emerito Samarca and lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo were killed by armed men. Two schools were burned at that time in the villages of Han-ayan and Panukmuan in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur.

The Army has been accused in recent months of training militia groups allegedly to intimidate the indigenous people suspected to be supporters of the New People’s Army.

“This is the height of impudence. The BS Aquino regime continues to ignore the public uproar on the lumad killings and the resounding call to pull-out the military troops from the lumad communities in Mindanao and to dismantle the AFP-backed paramilitary groups. It has instead given the military carte blanche to go on a rampage against the people in remote villages,” Palabay said.

The military, meanwhile, has denied the allegations of Karapatan.

“Before they indiscriminately point their finger to the Army, we shall know first the identity of the perpetrators so that we will know their motives,” said Army’s 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Joe Martinez in a text message.

He said the accusation was “just another way of destroying our image and credibility as protector of peace and development.”

Lumad rape victim’s mom clears accused soldiers

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 12): Lumad rape victim’s mom clears accused soldiers

The mother of the 14-year-old Lumad girl who was allegedly sexually abused by three soldiers has already executed an affidavit of desistance, the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division of the Philippine Army reported.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of 10th ID said the affidavit of desistance was filed before the Davao del Norte Provincial Prosecutors’ Office last October 22.

“The affidavit said that the allegations against Privates Revil, Galot and Banilla were not true. The mother also admitted that she and her daughter were just forced to sign the document,” Batchar pointed out and stressed that the document referred to by the mother was the complaint for rape.

“She also admitted that the persons who forced them to sign that complaint of rape were members of the New People’s Army or NPA,” Batchar added.

Batchar also clarified that the 10th ID did not receive any information as to the reported payment by the accused to the family of the victim to drop the case.

On Friday last week, the Philippine Army General Court Martial was convened at the 10th ID headquarters in Mawab, Compostela Valley where the rape case against Private First Class Stanly Revil, Private First Class Joffrey Galot and Private John Banilla was heard.

Revil, Galot and Banilla all pleaded not guilty during the arraignment last Friday.

Meantime, 26 Lumad soldiers completed their three-day training on health services held in Butuan City yesterday.

These IP soldiers, who are regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with ranks of private to staff sergeants, are Higaonon, Manobo, Banwaon and Talaandig tribe members.

BIFF leader arrested in North Cotabato - AFP source

From InterAksyon (Nov 13): BIFF leader arrested in North Cotabato - AFP source

File photo of weapons seized by the military from the BIFF. Late Wednesday, a military checkpoint caught up with a man long wanted for the 2003 twin bombings of the Sasa wharf and Davao international airport, a member of he BIFF.

The top leader of the Special Operations Group (SOG)  of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was arrested Wednesday at a military checkpoint in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.

A reliable Mindanao-based military source, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak on the matter, identified the arrested terror suspect as Abdul Manap Mentang.

Mentang, a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has a P2.3 million bounty for his capture. The BIFF is a faction of the MILF.

According to military and police records, Mentang was a suspect in the twin bombings at the 2003 Sasa wharf and International Airport in Davao City that killed several persons and wounded scores of people.

Military identifies Abu Sayyaf captors of Samal hostages

From the Philippine Star (Nov 12): Military identifies Abu Sayyaf captors of Samal hostages

A still image captured from video footage of the kidnappers and their victims is shown in this SITE Intelligence Group video made available to Reuters on Tuesday. The victims have appealed to the Philippine government to stop military operations against the bandits, and Canada to negotiate for their freedom.

Government troops have identified some of the Abu Sayyaf members holding captive three foreigners and a Filipina, according to official.

Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, outgoing Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) commander, told the press the identities of the Abu Sayyaf members based on the verification conducted on the previous videos and documents gathered.

“These are Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf group members,” Guerrero told the press.

The Abu Sayyaf militants, in the 87-second video uploaded online, showed Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Filipino Marites Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.
The armed men in black garb ordered their captive foreigners to make the appeal and issue the P1 billion ransom for each of them. One of the gunmen even held a machete above Ridsdel, threatening that hostages would be killed if their demand was not met.

Guerrero said some of the gunmen were also involved in previous kidnapping incidents, including that of German couple in Palawan in April last year. German couple Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen were freed following reported payment of P250-million ransom on Oct. 17, 2014.

The military official said they could not confirm yet whether the victims are being held in Sulu and declined to comment on the reported ransom and negotiations.

Guerrero said relentless operations will continue until they have rescued the remaining hostages.

1 killed, 1 hurt in separate attacks in Central Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Nov 12): 1 killed, 1 hurt in separate attacks in Central Mindanao

A Muslim cleric was killed while a four-year-old girl was hurt in a grenade explosion in separate incidents Wednesday in Central Mindanao.

Imam Abdulkadir Sumael, 40, of Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat, was walking along a busy thoroughfare in Purok Islam in Cotabato City when a man casually approached, drew a pistol from the waist and opened fire.

Sumael died on the spot from gunshot wounds he sustained in the attack.

Responding policemen recovered from the scene spent shells of .45 caliber pistol.

The suspect hurriedly left after sensing that the shots he fired triggered a commotion.

The incident was preceded by a grenade blast in Kabacan town in North Cotabato which injured a pre-school girl.

The fragmentation grenade went off near a roadside Army detachment while a passenger vehicle carrying the child and her parents was passing by.

Superintendent Bernardo Tayong, spokesman of the North Cotabato provincial police, said members of the Kabacan municipal police are still investigating on the bombing incident.

Dec. 16 deadline might pass with no BBL passed but Deles says “we’re not giving up”

From MindaNews (Nov 12): Dec. 16 deadline might pass with no BBL passed but Deles says “we’re not giving up”

The December 16 deadline set by the leadership of the House of Representatives and Senate to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will likely pass with no BBL passed as session days are getting fewer and Congress’ attention is now focused on passing the 2016 national budget and the SSL or the Salary Standardization Law.

Beyond December 16, Congress goes on break and will return next year for only eight session days from January 19 to February 5, and go on break again for the elections, from February 6 to May 22. The Aquino administration bows out of office on June 30, 2016.

Most of the seats of the House members are empty as interpellation for House Bill 5811 continued on June 4, 2015. Session was adjourned before 6 p.m. on August 4, supposedly the resumption of the period of interpellation on HB 5811, due to lack of quorum. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

At the House of Representatives, the period of interpellation on the Bangsamoro Basic Law has not resumed as there was no quorum on November 3, 4, 9 and 10 and the representatives tackled the Salary Standardization Law on November 11.   MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

Since sessions resumed on November 3, only one session was devoted to the BBL, with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile interpellating on November 4 and manifesting he would continue in the next sessions while in the House, the period of interpellation, suspended on September 23, has not resumed due to lack of quorum on November 3, 4, 9 and 10, The session on the 11th was spent on SSL.

There will be no session next week due to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. Legislators will return on November 23 with the Senate focusing on the 2016 budget and the House resuming deliberations on the SSL.

“No Plan B”
Asked to comment on the developments in Congress and what options or next steps the government (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would take given the possibility that the BBL may not be passed by December 16, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told MindaNews in a text message: “No Plan B. We’re not giving up. On the peace table are miracles waiting to happen.”
But Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the BBL, is not as optimistic. He told MindaNews, “Optimism has been shelved many months ago; only the ember of hope does not die until the last minute. Let the time pass and continue to engage especially the friends of the peace process, both domestic and international.

The passage of the BBL would have paved the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the 25-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Its passage would also have allowed for the normalization process to move on as ratification of the BBL would mean decommissioning of 30% of MILF forces and weapons and, among others on the part of government, identification of the priorities for redeployment of the military as well as the “start of deactivation of civilian armed auxiliaries.”

“Not acceptable”

The bills under interpellation – HB 5811 and SB 2894 , both titled “Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” – are the substitute bills to the draft BBL that the BTC, the 15-member GPH-MILF body tasked to draft the BBL, submitted to Congress on September 10, 2014, after vetting by the Office of the President.
The MILF has said the substitute bills have changed the autonomy framework and the future Bangsamoro will be less autonomous than the ARMM that it seeks to replace.

Thousands joined in the march towards the House of Representative from the Saint Peter Parish Church to call for the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Batasan Hills, Quezon City, May 11, 2015. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascariñas

Thousands join the march towards the House of Representative from the Saint Peter Parish Church in Quezon City to  urge representatives to pass the  Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on May 11, 2015. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascariñas

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, MILF peace panel member, said “it will give a big push to passage of an acceptable version of the BBL if the President can talk to the members of both houses.”

In both houses, the period of interpellation is not over. After interpellation, the bills will go though a period of amendments as well as a bicameral conference.

An “acceptable version” is expected to comply with both the 1987 Constitution and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Guiamel Alim, a member of the Council of Elders of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said: “I am not entertaining anymore any BBL (acceptable or otherwise). It is now proper to talk about a post-no BBL scenario.”

Several Moro leaders say it is time for the parties to look at all possibilities, including that strong possibility that there won’t be any BBL under the Aquino administration.

This is important, they said, “so that there can be contingency plans and a mutually agreed alternative or new roadmap and also a transition plan towards the incoming administration.”

Under the GPH-MILF roadmap to peace, the Bangsamoro law should have been passed much earlier and ratified in a plebiscite, to allow for at least a year of transition in preparation for the election, supposedly on May 9, 2016 of the first set of officials of the Bangsamoro, the political entity that is supposed to be inaugurated on June 30, 2016.

Priority measures

On November 11, the Senate adjourned at 4:51 p.m. with no discussion on the BBL. When it resumes sessions on November 23, it will entertain no other matter but the 2016 budget until it is approved and passed on to the bicameral conference.

Beginning November 23, the House has only a maximum of 11 session days to December 16 but the SSL is likely the priority. In the Senate, there are a maximum of eight days from December 1, assuming that the budget shall have been approved by then, with SSL as priority.

Senate President Franklin Drilon on November 10 told Senate reporters that the SSL is “something we owe to our government workers to have it passed before the year is over.”

He said P50.7 billion has been allocated in the 2016 national budget for the salary increases but this cannot be implemented unless the SSL is passed. He said the bill would be “certified as urgent (by the President) once we have it on the floor.

The BBL is supposed to be a priority measure as well.

As agreed upon under the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in October 2012, the draft BBL that the BTC would submit to Congress is supposed to be certified urgent by the President. The draft BBL was submitted on September 10, 2014 but no certification of urgency has been issued since.

No quorum

Sister Arnold Maria Noel of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters and Balay Rehabilitation Center, who has been monitoring the BBL proceedings at the House of Representatives since June said sessions adjourned before 6 p.m. on November 3 and 4 for lack of quorum.

The House has 291 members with 146 members constituting a quorum.

On November 9, she said, “session started at 4 p.m. with only nine legislators. It was suspended at 4:02 p.m., resumed at 5:35 p.m., adjourned at 5:42 p.m. No quorum. BBL was not touched. At the time of adjournment, there were around 40 legislators.”

On November 10, “the session started at 4 p.m., suspended at 4:02 p.m. resumed at 5:09 p.m. followed by a privilege hour till 5:50 p.m. and adjourned at 5:51 p.m.”

Marcos: “we don’t know”

At the Kapihan sa Senado on November 5, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, could not say if the Bangsamoro law would be passed soon.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. says his committee will continue working on the substitute bill to the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law but says "BBL is dead" if the Supreme Court voids hte peace agreements. MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government.  MindaNews file photo by Toto Lozano

“It’s very, very difficult to try and anticipate or try and guess, really it would only be a guess, how long it would take and if it will finish before (the end of) this administration.”

“It’s very hard to say. We don’t know. For example, the budget usually natatapos iyan (is finished) in two weeks. But this is the election budget so kailangan talagang pag-aralan ng mabuti at saka kailangan tingnan ng mabuti (there is a need to examine this thoroughly). So, baka tumagal (it might take) more than two weeks. I do not know how long Senator Enrile’s interpellation will take. I do not know how long Senator Miriam’s will take. I do not know how long the last part of Senator Sotto’s interpellation is going to take and if there are any other Senators that would want to interpellate after that. Tapos iyung period of amendments. Again, if there are major amendments being proposed, kailangan pagdebatihan iyan (these should be debated upon). Again, I do not know how long it will take,” Marcos said.

Bishops urge Philippine soldiers, rebels to leave indigenous people’s area

Gulf News-Philippines (Nov 11): Bishops urge Philippine soldiers, rebels to leave indigenous people’s area

In recent months, there has been a rash of Lumad killings and involuntary displacements

Two senior Philippine priests have urged both communist guerrillas and the military to leave the areas they occupy inside indigenous peoples territories.

In recent months, there has been a rash of killings and involuntary displacements of the Lumad people.

Archbishops Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato said these areas should be declared as “zones of peace”.

“What happened to our indigenous brothers and sisters in Mindanao is sad and worrisome … Some of them have been killed. Many were forced to flee and abandon their homes and ancestral lands,” Tagle said in an appeal to New Peoples Army (NPA) guerrillas and government soldiers to abandon the areas they occupy so that there would be peace.

Tagle read the statement on Wednesday at the Liwasang (Plaza) Bonifacio in Manila, where a group of Lumads or indigenous peoples from Mindanao, had been camping out for several days to draw action from authorities on their plight.

The killings involved Lumads from different tribal and political loyalties who had been used by both the NPA and the military for their own purposes.

With limited education and steeped in poverty, Lumads are being easily recruited into military-backed militias and the NPA.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacieda recently said at least three in every five NPAs come from the Lumad community.

“We also appeal to the military and the National Democratic Front (the umbrella organisation were the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines are part of) to make these indigenous communities as peace zones,” Tagle said.

Tagle’s appeal follows up from that made by Cotabato Cardinal Orlando Quevedo last week.

“When the NPA go to their communities, they either recruit or train and so forth. And the military goes in to prevent NPA of doing that, so the Lumads are caught in the crossfire of this ideological conflict,” Quevedo said.

Quevedo called on the Lumads to also discern their situation for themselves.

“I hope that our Lumads will realise that they have to discern for themselves … that they have to look at their situation and to find out who is taking advantage of them,” he said.

Tagle said it is important that justice would prevail and all those behind the killings will be prosecuted.

He said both sides should sort out the situation and find a solution to a problem that are resulting to the loss of lives of lumads.

Earlier, in September, the justice department said it will conduct an in depth investigation into abuses committed against lumads in a bid to stop the transgressions.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government “views with deep concern acts of aggression perpetrated against the Lumads of Eastern and Northern Mindanao.”

Militant leaders face charges for 'attack on cops' during SONA

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 12): Militant leaders face charges for 'attack on cops' during SONA

One of those charged says the case is 'fabricated and without basis,' and will not deter militant groups from staging mass protests against APEC

SONA RALLY. Filipino anti-riot policemen use water cannons to disperse protestors attempting to reach the Philippine Congress in Quezon City on July 27, 2015. File photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler

SONA RALLY. Filipino anti-riot policemen use water cannons to disperse protestors attempting to reach the Philippine Congress in Quezon City on July 27, 2015. File photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler

Militant leaders face criminal raps for allegedly detaining and beating up two police personnel during President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, the Philippine National Police said on Thursday, November 12.
The PNP said in a press statement that the Quezon City Prosecutor’s office is conducting a preliminary investigation to determine probable cause against the following leaders of Kilusang Magbubukid ng PIlipinas (KMP), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Gabriela, Anakbayan, and Courage:
  • KMP Secretary-General Antonio Flores
  • Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes
  • Gabriela Secretary-General Arjie Manalo
  • Mark Adrian Ng, Bayan
  • Hermie Marasigan, Bayan
  • Perla Ipong, Bayan
  • Anakbayan Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo
  • Courage National President Ferdinand Gaite
Chief Inspector Antonio Ananayo Jr, and Police Officer 1 Reden Malagonio, both from the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), filed cases against the 8 for allegedly detaining and injuring them on July 27, 2015.

Ananayo and Malagonio alleged that members of the militant groups “snatched” them while protests were held along Commonwealth Avenue. A Quezon City police probe showed that the two were “held captive against their will and shoved aboard a passenger jeepney where they were mauled and robbed of their personal belongings.”

The PNP said Ananayo “sustained life-threatening severe internal head injuries that required surgery to remove blood clots that developed in his brain.” The two police officers “also suffered multiple bruises, and abrasions in different parts of the body,” it added.
The PNP said the 8 are being charged for the following:
  • Violating Batas Pambansa 880 (Public Assembly Act of 1985)
  • Serious illegal detention
  • Assault upon an agent of person in authority
  • Robbery
Crisostomo, one of the 8 being charged, insisted that the “cases are baseless, they are fabricated and without basis.”

In a statement also released on Thursday, Crisostomo referred to the case as “this harassment done by the Aquino government as part of the attempts to sabotage mass protests set next week against APEC and imperialist globalization.”

“This attack on democratic rights will not deter us from holding our nationwide campus walkout against tuition hikes and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) tomorrow, and next week in a youth camp against imperialist globalization and terror,” he added.

Security for the APEC Leader’s Summit next week will be tight, as 20 world leaders fly into the country to attend the high-level meeting. In a press briefing on Wednesday, November 11, government officials reiterated the country’s “no permit, no rally” rule. (READ: Chinese officials' concern: Anti-China protests during APEC)

Protesters will not be allowed in the vicinity of the APEC venues, routes, and the hotels of the world leaders visiting the country. Police will also be beefing up security at embassies to avoid lighting rallies.

Army men find NPA camp after clash in Albay town

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 12): Army men find NPA camp after clash in Albay town

Philippine Army soldiers discovered a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel camp after an encounter in a remote village of Oas town in Albay on Tuesday afternoon, an officer of the Philippine Army (PA) 9thInfantry Division (9ID) said Thursday.

Army Capt. Mardjorie Panesa, 9ID spokesperson, said Army troopers led by 1Lt Dennis Monta discovered the rebel camp following a 20-minute firefight with a nine-man NPA group led by Diomedes Apimado alias Ka Delio.

Panesa said Army soldiers on patrol encountered the communist insurgents at about 2:10 p.m. in Barangay Moronponros, a hinterland village in Oas town.

The communist rebels were caught by surprise and fled, leaving behind an M16 assault rifle, M653 rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, documents and personal belongings.

Panesa said no casualties were reported from the government troops while blood stains were sighted along the route where the communist rebels fled.

While scouring the area for the fleeing rebels, Army soldiers chanced upon the rebel camp, covering 500 square meters, situated between steep slopes and a nearby creek leading to a river line.

At the camp, soldiers found a concealed bleacher-type Anahaw hut with L-shaped bench enough to accommodate 20 persons, and a small bedroom, Panesa said.

During the pursuit operation, the soldiers met two persons at the vicinity, who soldiers suspected to be rebels. The suspects were identified as Socrates Rempillo, 52, and Ronnie Rempillo, 35.

Upon learning that the two were farmers and residents of the town, the government troopers turned them over to the local government of Oas to undergo stress debriefing and notification of their immediate family members.

Meanwhile, in Barangay Maramba of the same town, one William Radan, 50, chairman of the Barangay Power Association, was gunned down on Tuesday night by unidentified assailants, Police Senior Insp. Malu Calubaquib, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Bicol spokesperson, said Thursday.

Calubaquib said the victim dropped dead at the basketball court, with his body sustaining several bullet wounds.

Police investigators are still determining the motive of the killing.