Sunday, July 10, 2016

Army, rebels clash in Tandag City; soldier wounded

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): Army, rebels clash in Tandag City; soldier wounded

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur – An army soldier was wounded in a clash between government troops and the lawless armed group (LAG) in Sitio Hitaob, Brgy. Awasian, this city on Sunday.

Initial report from the Police Provincial Office revealed that the wounded soldier was identified as PFC Marjun Bayo who sustained wounds in his right arm and left leg due to the landmine.

Bayo is now in a stable condition, it was learned.

After the firefight, the troops recovered some personal belongings, 20 meters electrical wire and assorted medical supplies at the encounter site.

In a press statement, 36IB Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer Captain Francisco Gallero Jr., said that they received a report from a concerned citizen of the armed rebels presence in the area extorting from the residents.

Gallero that they were the same group who was responsible to the recent abductions in the province.

It can be recalled that on July 6, PO1 Richard Yu of Carmen Municipal Police Station was abducted a distance from his residence in Carmen town.

Another incident took place on July 8, in which a certain Ramil Aguirre, 35 years old and a member of “Bantay Banwa Group” (Bantay Kalikasan) was reportedly abducted by more or less 60 fully armed rebels

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1741468196602/army-rebels-clash-in-tandag-city-soldier-wounded

Philippine Coast Guard to host bilateral exercise with Japan Coast Guard

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): Philippine Coast Guard to host bilateral exercise with Japan Coast Guard


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


The Japan Coast Guard (JCG) vessel PHL02 Tsugaru arrived and dock at South Harbor today to conduct the 6th Joint Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN) Exercise together with the Philippine Coast Guard.

The joint exercise about combating piracy and armed robbery at sea will be conducted on July 13 at vicinity waters off Manila Bay with the delegates of PCG Maritime Security and Law Enforcement Command together with other government law enforcement agencies and representatives from Malaysia, Australia and USA as observers.

PHL02 Tsugaru will participate in the activity with their assets which include a helicopter (Helicopter Bell 412) and rigid hull inflatable boat for board, search and seizure procedure. Likewise, the PCG will also deploy its floating and air assets to take part in the joint exercise.

The event aims to further enhance the capabilities of PCG and JCG to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea, to acquire knowledge and skills in conducting airlift rescue operations, and to established friendship and mutual understanding between JCG and PCG and other Law Enforcement Agencies.

PHL02 Tsugaru is a 105.40-meter crude oil tanker of 3,324 GT, owned by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport based at Hakodate Coast Guard Office in Tokyo, Japan.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/2131468209438/philippine-coast-guard-to-host-bilateral-exercise-with-japan-coast-guard

2 rebels back to folds of the law

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 11): 2 rebels back to folds of the law

Two more rebels in Capiz have embraced the government for a better and peaceful life.

Recently, the two male surrenderees will avail of the government’s assistance after turning over themselves to the folds of the government and after going through the process that will be facilitated by the Philippine Army.

Public Affairs Office Chief Lt. Col. Ray Tiongson of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division disclosed that the two have turned to the folds of the government through the 61st Infantry Battalion.

Tiongson said that a total of 18 members of the New People’s Army, 15 of whom are from Panay Island and 3 in Negros,  have already turned their backs from the armed violence in the first semester of 2016.

During the meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting here last June, two former NPA members availed of their benefits under the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program of P65,000 each, while another former rebel who was already given the said assistance received P30,000 as a remuneration for the turned over firearm.

Aside from the DILG’s CLIP assistance, the provincial government had also given them earlier a P10,000 each financial assistance.

For his part, 3ID Commander Brig. Gen. Harold Cabreros reiterated the call of all the stakeholders for NPA remnants to go back to the folds of law, take the opportunity of the government’s integration program and be part in building a better community instead of fighting the government authorities.

Cabreros said that NPA members who want to go down and live normally are welcome as he assured that the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the local government officials and other stakeholders are always willing to help and assist them for the better future of their families.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/991467948709/2-rebels-back-to-folds-of-the-law

Army tightens security measures vs. LAGs in Davao Region

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Army tightens security measures vs. LAGs in Davao Region

The Philippine Army has tightened security measures and called on the other law enforcement units in Davao region to be on alert against the assassinations being conducted by the Lawless Armed Group (LAG) New People’s Army (NPA).

The measure was implemented following the killing of Datu Ruben Labawan, an Ata-Manobo tribal leader and his aide last Wednesday, July 6 in Panabo City.

Labawan was on the way home from a meeting with other tribal leaders and representatives of government agencies when waylaid by six armed men in Barangay Credu, Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

Labawan died on the spot while his aide, Romeo Tanio was proclaimed dead on arrival at a medical facility in the area.

The LAGs are into killing spree. They spare no one even those people who are involved in development works to help their communities,” said Captain Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of the 10th Infantry Division of the army in an interview on Saturday morning.

Batchar said Labawan was innocent of the charges hurled against him by the NPA rebels.

On Friday, Rigoberto Sanchez, the spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao Region Operations Command of the NPA (NPA-SMROC) claimed responsibility of the killing of Labawan and his aide.

“The New People's Army in Southern Mindanao and the Lumad and peasant masses in the region commend the NPA-1st Pulang Bagani Battalion in successfully carrying out the standing order of the People’s Revolutionary Court in dispensing justice against Ruben Labawan last June 6 in Panabo City,” Sanchez said in a statement emailed to the media on Friday afternoon.

The rebels accused Labawan of “guilty of blood debts and thereby meted with the death penalty for serious crimes against the people, especially the Lumads and peasant settlers of Davao City and North Cotabato.”

Sanchez added that Labawan was also guilty of grave acts of collusion in the reactionary regime’s campaign of duplicity and disunity among Lumads.

But Batchar negated the NPA claims, stating that Labawan was involved in activities aimed to uplift the conditions of the lumads in his area in Paquibato District, Davao City.

In fact, he added, the victim just came from a meeting with other tribal leaders and government agencies that discussed the implementation of programs and projects designed to provide socio-economic programs and projects for the lumads, not only in Davao City but also for the entire Davao region.

“They killed an innocent man. Now that they accepted responsibility over the killing of Labawan it also showed that they committed another criminal act against innocent people,” Batchar added.

He also doubted if the NPAs and their leadership are really willing to come to the negotiating table to talk peace.

“The killing showed their insincerity to talk peace with the government,” Batchar said.

The killing of Labawan also gained condemnation from top officers of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the region.

Major General Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division, in an earlier statement expressed sorrow on the death of Labawan.

Valencia described the tribal leader as an active worker and partner of the government in identifying and implementation of programs and projects to alleviate the socio-economic condition of Indigenous People (IP) in Davao City and the whole region.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=2&sid=&nid=2&rid=902854

EMC personnel to help secure 'Kadayawan' Festival

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): EMC personnel to help secure 'Kadayawan' Festival

Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) chief Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero has ordered all military personnel under his command to help their police counterparts in securing this year's "Kadayawan" Festival in Davao City.

This is to curb possible attempts by some lawless elements to sabotage this year's festivities, he added.

The annual "Kadayawan" Festival is a celebration of life, a thanksgiving for the gifts of nature, the wealth of culture, the bounties of harvest and serenity of living. It is held every third week of August.

Guerrero also instructed his commanders to coordinate closely with their Philippine National Police counterparts on how the EMC could best be able to support law enforcement operations, intensify intelligence gathering on illegal drug personalities and other security threats and to conduct anti and counter-terrorism activities in the area.

Guerrero cited, as basis for such actions, the provisions of the Joint Action Plan recently signed between the EMC and Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Eastern Mindanao.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=902856

DND allocates PHP80.4-M for acquisition of 'Virtual TESS'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): DND allocates PHP80.4-M for acquisition of 'Virtual TESS'

The Department of National Defense (DND) is allocating the sum of PHP80,400,000 for the procurement the "Virtual-Tactical Engagement Simulation System Lot 2" (Virtual TESS) for the use of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The latter is a training system for using weapons. Laser transmitters are usually used instead of bullets, larger rounds, or shorter-range guided weapons.

This includes initial Integrated Logistics Support for the equipment. Winning bidders must be able to deliver the items within 180 calendar days upon receipt of the Notice to Proceed.

Prospective bidders must have completed a similar project five years from the date of submission and receipt of bids, said DND bids and awards committee vice-chair Director Nebuchadnezzar S. Alejandrino.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for July 19, 10:00 a.m. at the DND BAC Conference Room, Basement, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

While bid opening is on Aug. 2, 10:00 a.m. at the same venue.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=902860

Military rescues kidnapped public school teacher

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 11): Military rescues kidnapped public school teacher
 
Government troops have rescued a public school teacher who was abducted last month and forced to marry one of her abductors in the province of Sulu, an official disclosed Monday.

Rescued was Ratina Abubakar, 23, a teacher of Kanlagay Elementary School in the town of Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu, according to Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman.

While the military was inspecting a Mitsubishi Strada vehicle during a checkpoint, Tan said Abubakar screamed and informed them that she was forcibly taken.

Tan said Abubakar identified her abductors as Lauril Susulan, Basar Saudan, Jipy Susulan, Salim Susulan and Salma Saudan.

Upon checking the vehicle, the victim, identified as Ratina Abubakar, screamed and said she was forcibly taken by suspects Lauril Susulan, Basar Saudan, Jipy Susulan, Salim Susulan and Salma Saudan.

Troopers then held the vehicle and invited all its passengers to come inside the camp for questioning.

During the debriefing, Abubakar, 23, assigned at Kanlagay Elementary School, disclosed that the suspects kidnapped her at 6 a.m. of June 20 while on her way to work.

She added that she was taken to Kanlagay, Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu and held captive there for several days before being forced to marry Salim (Susulan) on June 27.

The suspects were immediately taken to the Indanan Municipal Police Station while Abubakar was brought to her family.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=902884

Opinion: ‘Enemy of the State,’ Capt. Nicanor Faeldon

Interesting opinion piece by Ramon Farolan in his Reville column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 11): Opinion: ‘Enemy of the State,’ Capt. Nicanor Faeldon
......
This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Oakwood mutiny. It was in July 2003 that some 300 soldiers took over Oakwood Premier Apartments in Ayala Center, Makati City, demanding the resignation of then President Gloria Arroyo and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes. Among their grievances were anomalies in the Armed Forces, such as the “pabaon” being given to retiring senior officers. They occupied Oakwood for almost a day before agreeing to return to barracks under certain conditions agreed upon with government negotiators, but which were later disavowed by the authorities.
 
A commission, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Florentino Feliciano, was formed to investigate the mutiny. The Feliciano Commission identified the leaders as Navy Lt. Antonio Trillanes, Capt. Gerardo Gambala, Capt. Milo Maestrecampo, Lt. James Layug and Marine Capt. Gary Alejano. The report of the commission said the mutiny was a “well-planned power grab,” not a spontaneous protest. It also found that a number of the grievances were legitimate and rooted in corruption in the military organization. Incidentally, Trillanes is now a senator, and Alejano is a party-list representative.

Among the core group of mutineers held in detention at Camp Aguinaldo was Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon. Faeldon managed to escape from prison and, shortly after, released a CD-recorded message stating that “he was leaving to join the fight for a credible government.” The AFP announced a nationwide manhunt for Faeldon, calling the renegade Marine officer an “enemy of the State.”

In a column 10 years ago (“Mabuhay si Capt. Nicanor Faeldon!”, Opinion, 12/18/05),  this is what I wrote about the announcement: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines has branded Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon as an ‘enemy of the State.’ What a silly statement! The last time I came across this phrase was when communist insurgents used it to rationalize the execution of some of their victims. Whoever is behind this declaration is either hallucinating or completely out of touch with reality, and is the greatest a– licker in the AFP. The real enemies of our people are today walking in the corridors of power laughing their heads off…”

In spite of the nationwide manhunt order, the AFP never did get to capture Captain Faeldon. Perhaps, the men tasked for the job did not consider him an enemy and, therefore, preferred to close their eyes or look elsewhere. The fact remains that Faeldon moved around in various AFP camps and installations in the company of military and civilian sympathizers who considered him their friend, perhaps even their hero.

Today the renegade officer Captain Faeldon is the commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, continuing his fight against corruption in government, one that he started as a young lieutenant in the Marine Corps. When I asked him what he thought of his new responsibilities, he said he would much prefer to be engaged in the fight for the national sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea. But like a good soldier, he intends to carry out orders from the commander in chief to the best of his ability.

Nicanor Faeldon is an Ivatan from the province of Batanes, one of 12 children of education-oriented parents. His father was a division head in the Department of Education, while his mother was an academic supervisor, also in the same office.

As a young boy, the one book he treasured most was “American Caesar” by William Manchester, on the life of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. His dream was to become a soldier but parental objections prevailed, and so he took up political science at National University. After graduation in 1989, he decided to pursue his original ambition of a career in the military. He attended the Naval Officers Qualification Course and then joined the Marine Corps. He became airborne-qualified, and attended the Force Recon Course which is the Marine equivalent of Special Forces training. At the time of the Oakwood mutiny, he was serving as an ordnance course director in ammunition management at the Marine Training Center in Ternate, Cavite. His commander was Lt. Col. Juancho Sabban. Sabban is now his deputy commissioner for intelligence.
Where is the Duterte connection?

In the sense that he served in Davao and was noticed by then Mayor Duterte, this did not happen. He was never assigned in Davao but in 2012, in the course of an ordinary courtesy call, he and the mayor had a long conversation about the country and its problems. The mayor must have been impressed. Both share a common passion: love of country. And this explains why Faeldon, a soldier, would rather be on the frontlines facing the West Philippine Sea than battling syndicates at the waterfront.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Nicanor Faeldon happens to be the guiding spirit behind the Kalayaan, Atin Ito Movement, an organization of Filipino students from all over the country. They have led demonstrations and protest actions on Pagasa Island, and on the Scarborough and Ayungin Shoals, and for their courage and devotion to the nation, they were my choice for “Filipinos of the Year” last January. The Aquino administration, weak-kneed and completely depending on the international tribunal at the Hague, frowned on these activities even as other claimants like Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia and China took more aggressive actions in defense of what they see as their territory.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/95591/enemy-state-capt-nicanor-faeldon

Rody wants Nur as negotiator

From The Standard (Jul 11): Rody wants Nur as negotiator

President Rodrigo Duterte  has reiterated his  plan to  enlist Nur Misuari, chairman of the  Moro National Liberation Front,  as an important negotiator for the peace talks between the government and the Moros, according to MalacaƱang.

“There was no exact date mentioned on the meeting between President Duterte and MNLF Leader Nur Misuari,” said Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, chief of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), during an interview over state-run radio station dzRB.

“But we assure you the talks [between Duterte and Misuari] will happen just as the talks with the MILF and  with the NDF will happen,” Andanar said.  

Duterte said the government is now ready to talk simultaneously with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front  and the Moro National Liberation Front, as he plans to go to Jolo to talk to Misuari.

Misuari is currently at large and is facing an arrest warrant for rebellion in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

If the talks with the MILF and MNLF  materialize, the President said   on Friday   that he expected a framework for federalism to be drafted by the end of the year.

MILF and MNLF leaders met with Duterte  last month  to discuss peace in Mindanao.   
Duterte    said there would be reconfiguration of territories—and many MILF and MNLF members would occupy regional and state positions.

If Filipinos reject federalism in the plebiscite, he said he would    push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Duterte said that what the MILF would get, the same would be given to the MNLF.

As for the Abu Sayaff Group, Duterte said he did not consider their actions criminal.
He believed they were radicalized because they were driven to desperation due to the lack of governance in Mindanao.

Duterte was at the Hari Raya Eid’l Fitr event in his hometown a day after his son, acting Davao City Mayor Mayor Paolo Duterte, said    the city was facing threats from international terrorist group, ISIS.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has since  downplayed the  ISIS presence in in the country.

But the PNP admitted that the younger Duterte’s statement was taken into consideration when they secured the venue for the Hariraya activity.

Security measures at the SM Lanang and surrounding areas were tight ― with over 300 policemen, 249 soldiers from Task Force Davao, and more than a hundred Presidential Security Group members.

http://thestandard.com.ph/news/-main-stories/210436/rody-wants-nur-as-negotiator.html

MILF: Zamboanga City Moro Community Leaders, Peace Advocates welcome Pres. Duterte’s statement on implementing signed peace agreements

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 8): Zamboanga City Moro Community Leaders, Peace Advocates welcome Pres. Duterte’s statement on implementing signed peace agreements



Zamboanga City- Bangsamoro Community Leaders and Peace Advocates in this City of Flowers were elated and welcomed a statement of President Rodrigo Duterte made during his inaugural address at Rizal Hall of MalacaƱan Palace on June 30 that he will implement signed peace agreements and international treaties. Duterte is the country’s 16th President and the first head of state from Mindanao.

In a meeting at Barangay Tulungatung, Zamboanga City on July 7, the community leaders expressed optimism upon hearing the pronouncement of Pres, Duterte that “change is coming” in the country.

The group also hosted simple “Eidl Fitr” celebration after a month of fasting and offered collective prayer during the death anniversary of late Brother Bhab Jumadil, (May Allah has mercy on him) who passed away a year ago. While alive, Jumadil was a Peace Advocate and a Bangsamoro Community leader in Zamboanga City.

Tirso Tahir, Officer of Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) together with  the Director of Zamboanga Information Committee and Brother “Phix”, Regional Coordinator for Western Mindanao of United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) were invited as resource persons who gave updates on the GPH-MILF Peace process and other related issues.

The resource persons also thanked and appreciated the community leaders and peace advocates in their feasible initiatives for exerting continuous efforts in conducting various activities related to capacity-building and peace advocacy. They also pledged that similar endeavors shall be sustained and made inclusive by reaching out to every Moro and non-Moro Communities.

Before reaching out to the general public, you must first equip yourselves with an adequate, necessary and appropriate knowledge especially when articulating the “Bangsamoro Narrative” one of the resource persons said.

Lots of people still do not know the worthiness and the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro struggle towards Right to Self-Determination. Prejudice and misconception of some people must be consistently addressed during our advocacies before we get through, Tahir stressed.

The community leaders and peace advocates in Zamboanga City have been conducting various peace-building activities and undertaking different seminars on capacity-building facilitated by BLMI, BDA, UNYPAD and other local and International Non- Government Organizations who share common aspiration with the Bangsamoro people in their pursuit for genuine and long lasting Peace and development in Mindanao.

http://www.luwaran.com/home/index.php/news/73-westhern-mindanao/801-zamboanga-city-moro-community-leaders-peace-advocates-welcome-pres-duterte-s-statement-on-implementing-signed-peace-agreements

MILF: UNYPAD Appeals to Pass Original Version of the BBL

From the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 8): UNYPAD Appeals to Pass Original Version of the BBL



Amidst the campaign for federalizing Philippines pushed for by the new Presidential administration as a solution to address the political and economic woes of the country, the United Youth for Peace and Development and Development (UNYPAD), the biggest Moro youth organization operating in the Philippines that has been actively supporting the GPH-MILF peace process since its inception, is still holding on the Bangsamoro Basic Law as a solution to address the conflicts and violence in Mindanao.

“We, the Bangsamoro youth, strongly believe that Bangsamro Basic Law (BBL) remains to be our most viable option for the cessation of conflict-related violence in Mindanao,” UNYPAD says in its statement released on 4 July 2016.

The organization cited portion of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) report in 2016, which states that, “it is a political framework, which shall enable the practice of good governance, the development of the Bangsamoro region and people, and the possibility for them to proudly assert their identity, and constructively engage with their own multi-ethnic constituency.”

It said that even church leaders and constitutional experts pinned their faith on the BBL.

“The renowned Jesuit priest, Fr. Joel Tabora, himself urged that we pass BBL as an organic law for genuine political autonomy in Muslim Mindanao. Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, opined that the BBL does not claim excessive powers and that we should look at it in its core principle in addressing the marginalization and exclusion of the Bangsamoro people,” the group cited.

“We therefore remain firm and committed in our position: PASS THE BBL IN ITS ORIGINAL FORM,” said UNYPAD.

The group appealed to President Duterte to pass the original version of the BBL and fulfil his promises of implementing all signed peace agreements under his administration.

“With your public pronouncements, we rely on your strong political leadership to urge popular support for the passage of the original version of the BBL. We are hopeful that the roadmap for political transition for Bangsamoro autonomy, as stipulated in CAB, will be accomplished during your term,” the group said to President Duterte.

“We also depend on you that your plans for federalization will affirm but not affect the Bangsamoro roadmap. Most all, we trust that your administration will save the gains of the peace process and continue the search for sustainable peace in Mindanao,” it continued.

UNYPAD urged the 17th Congress to pass the BBL and let the concerned constituents decide its fate through a plebiscite upon which we can meaningfully exercise our democratic right to make our choice whether or not to be included under the proposed Bangsamoro political autonomy. The choices of the people whom you represent should be considered and respected.

 The group also appealed to young people to continue to work for peace and not to take the path towards radicalization of the means for struggle for liberation of the Bangsamoro.

 It appealed to the entire Filipino people to support the cause of the Bangsamoro by helping advocate for the passage of BBL and urging the national policy makers to allow the roadmap for the political transition for Bangsamoro.

“Your understanding of our struggle contributes to the healing of the wounds of the past and in promoting reconciliation,” UNYPAD stressed.

“This is our best chance for a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao,” it added.

http://www.luwaran.com/home/index.php/news/20-central-mindanao/802-unypad-appeals-to-pass-original-version-of-the-bbl

MILF: Editorial -- MILF ready to aid Duterte in war vs drugs

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 8): Editorial -- MILF ready to aid Duterte in war vs drugs

About a year before President Rodrigo Duterte was sworn into office, the MILF had already embarked on its war on drugs especially shabu (methamphetamine). It had identified hundreds to thousands of drug pushers especially in Central Mindanao and saved so many users or addicts from further destruction. Its campaign slogan is: “Shabu is haram and the roots of all evils.” For this, the MILF has not only achieved some successes but also earned praises from many sectors including Christian leaders in nearby provinces.

But this campaign has many limitations to enable it to achieve more positive results. First, while morally speaking, anyone has the responsibility to stop evils, but legally, government has always argued that this responsibility falls into its domain. A non-state armed actor such as the MILF should stay away from it. In response, the MILF had told the government that while it is not a state but the drug menace is already destroying the future of the Bangsamoro people and hence should be confronted head on. It assured government that its campaign against drugs would not breach any of the provisions of the ceasefire agreement. Second, the MILF has very limited resources and facilities to rehabilitate drug addicts and to punish drug pushers. Third, most of the supplies of drugs are coming from areas where the MILF has the least of influence. In order to effectively neutralize if not to stop this trafficking is to plug the source. And fourth, some of those engaged in drug trafficking are in one way or the other holding government positions; in fact, several of them won during the recent elections using drug monies to buy votes. Narco-politics does not exempt the Moro areas.

But despite these limitations, the MILF proceeded. To it, while success matters but this war on drugs is a matter of moral obligation, as stated above. Anyone who does not exert any effort, big or small, to halt this menace will reap severe punishment in the Day Hereafter. Shabu is haram, which means, it is a prohibited commodity, and hence to use it is a sinful act. In many aspects, shabu is more evil than liquor; and if Islam prohibits Muslim to drink, transport, and sell liquor, then how much more for drugs which is more damaging to the mind and body of a person.  

With the election of Duterte, as president of this country, and his hard-line policy on drugs, the campaign of the MILF against drugs finds comfort. In fact, a possible understanding or arrangement can be worked out. This can be done through the existing mechanisms of the peace process such as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), whose mandates are “to interdict and isolate kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in MILF areas and communities” and to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, respectively.  Kidnapping in Central Mindanao has been effectively neutralized --- thanks to the MILF and government AHJAGs, and except the January 25, 2015 tragic Mamasapano incident, compliance to the ceasefire agreement by both parties is almost perfect. In many of their activities, the AHJAG and CCCH worked in tandem.

But in such an eventuality, the MILF’s stand is that any action on this drug scourge should not only be legal but must necessarily be morally sound and justified. And moreover, the greater challenge in this campaign is not to secure hundreds to thousands of pushers and users surrendering but to ensure that the sources, the pushers, and users are effectively contained. There are no pushers if there are no sources and no users if there are no pushers, although sometimes, the sources and pushers are one and the same people. More seriously, many sources are not citizens of this country.

http://www.luwaran.com/home/index.php/editorial/24-january-8-15-2016/798-the-milf-war-on-drugs

MILF ready to aid Duterte in war vs drugs

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Jul 9): MILF ready to aid Duterte in war vs drugs

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is open to collaborate with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in the campaign against illicit drugs.

Duterte unfolded on July 7 the web of individuals allegedly running the illicit drug trade in the country, following his disclosure about the alleged links to it of top police officials, two of whom have already retired from the service.

In November last year, the MILF central committee issued a directive to its political and military leaders to help stifle the brisk trading of ‘shabu’ in Moro communities in Mindanao. But this met objections from security agencies, fearing this would breach the ceasefire accord between government and the MILF.

“With the election of Duterte as president of this country, and his hardline policy on drugs, the campaign of the MILF against drugs finds comfort,” read a recent editorial in the MILF’s official website.

“In fact, a possible understanding or arrangement can be worked out. This can be done through the existing mechanisms of the peace process such as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) and the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH),” the group furthered.

The AHJAG’s mandate is “to interdict and isolate kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal gangs operating in MILF areas and communities” while the CCCH monitors implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the parties.

In the past, the AHJAG was instrumental in the campaign against Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and major kidnap-for-ransom groups in Central Mindanao as well as in combating the problem of cattle rustling in the hinterlands of Lanao del Norte.

The MILF, which forged a peace pact with government in 2014, explained that it was compelled to launch the anti-shabu campaign as “the drug menace is already destroying the future of the Bangsamoro people and hence should be confronted head on.”

The group said it had “identified hundreds to thousands of drug pushers especially in Central Mindanao” through the campaign which, it added, already “achieved some successes... and saved so many users or addicts from further destruction.”

But the group admitted that its people can only do so much because of the “very limited resources and facilities” under its disposal “to rehabilitate drug addicts and punish drug pushers.”

The MILF said the supply of illicit drugs traded in Moro communities mostly come from areas where it has less influence hence unable to completely “plug the source.”

It also lamented that some of those engaged in drug trafficking are in government, “several of them won during the recent elections using drug monies to buy votes.”

In the MILF’s view, a holistic approach is needed to address the drug problem. “The greater challenge in this campaign is not to secure hundreds to thousands of pushers and users surrendering but to ensure that the sources, the pushers, and users are effectively contained.”

Prior to the official rebel directive, it has been common knowledge that the local command of the MILF armed wing Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) covering parts of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur have been running after drug users and traders.

The BIAF in Lanao operates a rehab facility for drug dependents, and arrests, detains and metes out penalties to suspected drug traders.

The Lanao campaign resembles the Operation “Tokhang” in Davao City that the Philippine National Police (PNP) now wanted replicated throughout the country.

Sources said the local BIAF keeps a list of suspected traders “who were given time to mend their ways” while also being tracked if they have moved to another area.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cagayan-de-oro/local-news/2016/07/09/milf-ready-aid-duterte-war-vs-drugs-484353

Three fishermen taken by gunman in high-security waters

From The Star Online (Jul 11): Three fishermen taken by gunman in high-security waters

Abu Sayyaf-linked kidnap-for-ransom militants have again intruded into Sabah waters amidst a massive Philippine military crackdown on their bastion, Jolo.
This time, they made off with three Indonesians.

Five armed men, one of them seen in military fatigues, slipped into the high-security waters of Tungku in Sabah’s east coast Lahad Datu district to grab the three fishermen from a Malaysian-owned trawler just before midnight on Saturday.

The abductors, however, let off four other crew members – three Pelahus (sea gypsies or Bajau Laut) and an Indonesian – before fleeing towards the Tawi-Tawi chain of islands bordering Sabah.

The incident occurred 3.6 nautical miles from Kampung Sina­kut, one of the closest points between Sabah’s east coast and Tawi-Tawi islands of Sitangkai and Sibutu.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun said security agencies under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) had launched a hunt for the group and informed their Filipino counterparts after receiving word about the incident at about 4am.

It could not be ascertained which group was behind the latest kidnapping although suspicion fell on Apo Mike, who was responsible for several recent kidnappings involving sailors on tugboats plying international waters along the Sabah-Philippines border.

Rashid said according to initial reports, the five armed men on a white speedboat pulled up near the Malaysian-registered tugboat before abducting the crewmen.

Three of the suspects bearing M14 and M16 rifles then boarded the tugboat and ordered all of the crew members (four Indonesians and three Pelahus) to gather on the bow, he said.

“The gunmen asked for their passports and took the three Indonesians while the three Pelahus and Indonesian who did not have any documents were let off,” he said, adding that no shots were fired.

The suspects, who spoke broken Malay, also seized the special permit to be in curfew zones during curfew hours, six handphones and the boat licence card before fleeing.

The abducted Indonesians were Timorese. They have been identified as Lorence Koten, 34, Teo Dorus Kopong, 42, and Emanuel, 46.

Rashid said based on the description given by the freed men, the suspects were in their 30s or 40s. One of them was clad in army fatigues.

“The employer has not received any call for ransom,” he added.

Meanwhile, Philippine sources believed the abductors were heading towards Jolo but there were no official reports of any landing.

The latest kidnapping comes just as the Philippine military launched a massive crackdown against Abu Sayyaf in Jolo and Basilan, with thousands of troops being deployed to neutralise the notorious group.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/07/11/indonesians-abducted-in-sabah-three-fishermen-taken-by-gunman-in-highsecurity-waters/

Local militants feeling the heat, says expert

From the Malaya Mail Online (Jul 11): Local militants feeling the heat, says expert

Following the grenade attack on Movida bar on June 28, police arrested 15 suspects under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif













Following the grenade attack on Movida bar on June 28, police arrested 15 suspects under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

The attack on a nightclub in Puchong was an act of desperation rather than a well-coordinated attack by Islamic State (IS) militants, a terrorism expert said.

Prof Rohan Gunaratna said the government’s zero-tolerance policy against militants had pressured the group into carrying out an attack.

“The attack carried out by the terror group is indicative of the pressure they are under ... they are reacting to the effective counter terrorism efforts,” said the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

“The government has been dedicated in pursuing them and so they have to fight back. The government has always done the right thing against militant groups.”

Following the grenade attack on Movida bar on June 28, police arrested 15 suspects under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.

Rohan said the government took the threat of terrorism seriously and had allocated sufficient resources towards combating it.

“The government understands the severe threat posed by terrorism to the security, stability and harmony of Malaysia,” he said.

“The counter terrorism leadership has been very effective.”

He said a hard-line military solution would only be necessary to dismantle regional terror networks and urged Asean governments to lend their support to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in combating militants.

“The regional governments must support the hard-line style of Duterte, who is a no-nonsense man and is unlike previous leaders, highly motivated and capable of getting the job done,” he said.

“Duterte must dismantle the terrorist networks in the southern Philippines. This includes both Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic State.”

On November 20 last year, Rohan told Malay Mail several hundred fighters assembled in southern Philippines to carry out region-wide attacks. He said they included those who failed to travel to the Middle East.

Since then, there has been a surge of activity with multiple bombing and shooting attacks in Java, Indonesia, and an increasing number of kidnappings in the tri-border area of the southern Philippines, Sabah and Kalimantan.

The fighters have now been grouped into an IS off-shoot calling itself the Islamic State, Philippines, and at least 10 Malaysians are believed to be in its ranks, said Rohan.

Based in the southern Philippines island of Basilan, the formation has been dubbed the “Battalion of Migrants” and is primarily made up of Asean citizens.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/local-militants-feeling-the-heat-says-expert

MNLF leader: Duterte’s BBL stand dangerous

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 11): MNLF leader: Duterte’s BBL stand dangerous

A LEADER of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on Sunday described as a possibly “dangerous” approach President Duterte’s statement that the legislation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would only be pursued if his administration’s plan to change the system of government to federalism failed.

“This approach of the President is like keeping an activated bomb at the backburner. His approach is maybe dangerous to pursue,” MNLF central committee chair Muslimin Sema said in a statement.

Sema said the Bangsamoro people may not be able to wait for an “uncertain period” in implementing the agreements signed with the government by the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that resulted from “major compromises” from their original objectives of total freedom and independence.

1976 agreement
 
He pointed out that the 1976 Tripoli Agreement signed between the Philippine government  and the MNLF pertained to a particular area—Muslim Mindanao—unlike the Duterte administration’s federal plan, which covers many areas.
 
Sema recalled that there was a convergence and harmonization of the MILF and MNLF peace tracts signed on June 29, 2016, and implementing these soonest during Duterte’s administration may serve as a model for the other areas of the Philippines in line with the government’s federalization plan.
 
The MILF and the MNLF signed in Darapanan, Maguindanao province, a joint statement to organize a joint technical working group with the task of finding common ground in the agreements signed by the government with the MNLF and the MILF.

This was in compliance with a resolution on the question of Muslims in the Southern Philippines issued by the Organization of Islamic Conference’s council for foreign ministers in May last year.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/795317/mnlf-leader-dutertes-bbl-stand-dangerous

AFP chief awards medals to soldiers

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Jul 10): AFP chief awards medals to soldiers



ZAMBOANGA. Westmincom photo handout shows AFP Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya pins a medal to a wounded soldier at Cam Navarro General Hospital. (Bong Garcia)

FIVE soldiers who were wounded in the latest clash with the Abu Sayyaf bandits have received medals for gallantry in action.

General Ricardo Visaya, Armed Forces chief-of-staff, personally pinned the medals when he visited them on Saturday at Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.

Lieutenant General Mayoralgo Dela Cruz, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, assisted Visaya in the awarding of medals to the soldiers.

Awarded Wounded Personnel Medal (WPM) were the following: Corporal Ian Dexter Gavina, Corporal Rambo Balnawi, Private First Class Radel Gumban, Private First Class Christian Naganag, and Private First Class Bernie Joe Nagoy.

They were wounded in an intense fighting against 150 Abu Sayyaf bandits led by one-armed leader Radulan Sahiron and sub-leader Hadjan Sawajaan last Thursday in Patikul, Sulu.

Intelligence report showed that nine Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while 13 wounded when the troops pounded them with artillery.

Visaya visited Westmincom to get first hand information of the ongoing focus military operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

"I am here now to see how Westmincom implemented our plans (against the ASG)," Visaya said, who met with key officers of Westmincom.

He said the troops were directed to ensure the safety of the hostages as they were ordered to continuously pursue the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives nine foreigners and three Filipinos in the province of Sulu. The foreigners included a Dutchman birdwatcher, a Norwegian and seven Indonesian sailors.

Visaya said the focus military operation against the Abu Sayyaf bandits has no time frame.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/zamboanga/local-news/2016/07/10/afp-chief-awards-medals-soldiers-484503

AFP chief cites Rody order: Rescue hostages, get Abus

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 11): AFP chief cites Rody order: Rescue hostages, get Abus

ricardo_visaya

President Duterte has ordered the military to rescue Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and all other kidnap victims still held by the Abu Sayyaf—and then exterminate the group.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said here on Saturday the President “asked us to exert all efforts to rescue the Norwegian and the other victims.”

Mr. Duterte, he said, ordered him to use all available resources, logistics and manpower to secure the hostages—numbering over a dozen including 10 foreigners—and eradicate the Abu Sayyaf.
 
On Friday, Mr. Duterte said he did not consider the Abu Sayyaf a criminal group,  but a band of people who had been pushed to the wall by circumstances.
 
“That’s why I am not including Abu Sayyaf [activities] in criminality. You’ve never heard me say [they are] criminal(s). It is a different setup there because these are guys who were driven to desperation,” the President had said during the recent Eid al-Fitr celebration in Davao City.
 
Duterte said he knew all about the situation “from Nur to the ARMM.”

“There was no sufficient semblance of governance and that was why they were pushed to the wall,” he said. “Then they became radicalized. ”

Visaya said the details of the rescue effort were confidential and no deadline had been set for the extermination of the Abu Sayyaf.

 ‘There’s no IS here’

As for fears the Islamic State (IS) international terror group had reached Mindanao, Visaya said this was not so.

He said the IS did not exist in Basilan or any part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and any claims were based on rumors and had not been validated.

“As far as we are concerned, this is raw information. We need to evaluate this information, but as of now there is no IS here,” he said.

He admitted, however, that what there were in the ARMM were groups claiming to support IS. Visaya once served as a Philippine Army brigade commander in Basilan.

Earlier, former Ungkaya Pukan (Basilan) Mayor Joel Maturan said IS existed in Basilan and its members had merged with the local Abu Sayyaf. He cited instances when black flags similar to the ones exhibited by IS in the Middle East had been seized in the province.

But like Visaya, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman dismissed claims IS had arrived in Basilan.

“There may be IS-inspired groups. For example, Isnilon Hapilon was seen in a video pledging allegiance to IS,”  Hataman, a native of Basilan, said.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/795300/afp-chief-cites-rody-order-rescue-hostages-get-abus

Q&A: Landmark ruling on South China Sea

From the Stars and Stripes (Jul 10): Q&A: Landmark ruling on South China Sea

South China Sea

This May 11, 2015, file photo, shows land reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. A landmark ruling on an arbitration case filed by the Philippines that seeks to strike down China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea will be a test for international law and world powers. China, which demands one-on-one talks to resolve the disputes, has boycotted the case and vowed to ignore the verdict, which will be handed down Tuesday, July 12, 2016, by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.  Ritchie B. Tongo/Pool Photo via AP, File

A landmark ruling on an arbitration case filed by the Philippines that seeks to strike down China's expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea will be a test for international law and world powers. China, which demands one-on-one talks to resolve the disputes, has boycotted the case and vowed to ignore the verdict, which will be handed down Tuesday by the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.
Some questions and answers about the case:
___
Q: WHAT'S THE CASE ABOUT?

A: After years of diplomatic negotiations ended nowhere, the Philippines brought its dispute with China to international arbitration in January 2013, despite Beijing's warnings of a diplomatic and economic backlash.

China wants to negotiate directly with the Philippines and each of the four other claimants in an arrangement that would give it leverage for its sheer size and influence. Beijing has steadfastly opposed bringing the disputes to an international arena, which could provide the U.S. a chance to intervene.

The Philippines asked a tribunal of five arbitrators to declare as invalid China's vast claims, known as nine-dash lines for the dashes that demarcate virtually all of the South China Sea as Chinese territory, under the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Seas, or UNCLOS. China and the Philippines are among more than 160 signatories of the 1982 convention, regarded as the constitution that governs and stipulates the rights of countries in using the world's oceans.

With China's sprawling claims, the Philippines stands to lose a huge chunk of off-shore territory, said Antonio Carpio, an associate Supreme Court justice who has made extensive studies on the conflicts. "This Chinese aggression is the gravest external threat to the Philippines since World War II," he said.

The Philippines also asked the tribunal to classify whether a number of disputed areas are islands, low-tide coral outcrops or submerged banks to determine the stretch of territorial waters they are entitled to under the convention. It also wants China to be declared in violation of the convention for carrying out fishing and construction activities that breached the Philippines' maritime rights. The convention does not deal with sovereignty questions, which the Philippine government says it did not raise.
___
Q: HOW DID IT START?

A: Although the disputes have simmered for decades, they gradually escalated under former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and culminated in 2012 when China took effective control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal after a tense standoff.

U.S. officials brokered an arrangement for Philippine government vessels and larger Chinese maritime surveillance ships to simultaneously withdraw from the tiny shoal, a deal which Aquino said he followed. Chinese ships never left.

Chinese coast guard ships also surrounded another disputed area, the Second Thomas Shoal, which has been guarded by Filipino marines on board a grounded rusty warship. The Chinese coast guard has tried to block Philippine vessels from bringing food, water, medicines and other supplies to the marines, sparking dangerous cat-and-mouse chases at high seas.

The Philippines said it had no other choice but to elevate the dispute to international arbitration.
___
Q: WILL THE ARBITRATION CHANGE ANYTHING?

A: Any ruling will be final and legally binding on China and the Philippines. China's decision to ignore the case and the arbitration tribunal's lack of enforcement mechanism, however, have blunted the Philippines' move.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who spearheaded the filing of the complaint against China, said that a favorable ruling on any of the 15 issues raised by the Philippines, especially the demand to declare China's claims invalid under UNCLOS, would be a major blow to Beijing and a moral victory that could be harnessed by the Philippines to its advantage.

The Philippines, Filipino diplomats said, could work with Washington and other countries to demand Chinese compliance in diplomatic forums worldwide, including before the United Nations.

If it doesn't comply, China risks being seen as a rogue nation at a time it expands its political and economic influence on the world stage.

Carpio painted a dire picture if the tribunal fails to rule on the validity of China's sprawling claims, saying Beijing would enforce its nine-dash territorial lines as its national boundary. The U.S. military would intensify its patrols to promote freedom of navigation, China would try to push the Americans back and the claimants engage in an arms race.

"The only defense of coastal states will be to acquire warships, warplanes and anti-ship missiles," Carpio said. "Tensions will increase. It will be a turmoil in the South China Sea."
___
Q: WHY DID CHINA REFUSE TO TAKE PART IN THE CASE?

A: China has argued that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to handle the Philippine case, because it says it involves sovereignty issues, which are outside the tribunal's legal purview. While masking its case as an effort to clarify maritime rights under the U.N. convention, the Philippines is actually trying to undermine China's "indisputable sovereignty," according to Chinese officials.

They ask, for example, how the Philippines can say that China's claims are excessive without first determining Beijing's territorial limits.

China also regards the disputes as a purely Asian problem that outsiders like the U.S. have no right to meddle in.

Philippine officials say China refused to join the arbitration knowing that the historical basis it cites for its territorial claims has long ceased to be recognized under modern-day treaties like the UNCLOS.
___
Q: WHAT ARE OTHER COUNTRIES SAYING ABOUT IT?

A: Countries have generally taken a position on the arbitration case depending on whether they're aligned with the U.S. or China.

The diplomatic tug-of-war has put smaller countries and regional blocs in a dilemma, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose four member states are claimants.

A Philippine push for the 10-nation bloc to issue a joint statement calling for China to respect Tuesday's ruling has stalled with Cambodia and Laos backing the Chinese position. Besides the Philippines and Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have also been wary of China.

The regional group has a bedrock principle of deciding by consensus, meaning just one member state can stall any group effort.

The U.S., Britain and the rest of the EU support the arbitration.

China claims support of some 40-60 nations, including many landlocked African nations and Pacific islands where Beijing has economic clout.

http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/q-a-landmark-ruling-on-south-china-sea-1.418397

Meet Fil-Am Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar

From Rappler (Jul 9): Meet Fil-Am Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar

It is hard work, not gender, according to Bolivar, that has been a factor in her success

COMMANDER. Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, the first female Filipino-American official of the United States Armed Forces, talks about the role of women in peace and security and disaster response efforts. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia

COMMANDER. Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, the first female Filipino-American official of the United States Armed Forces, talks about the role of women in peace and security and disaster response efforts. Photo by Rhaydz B. Barcia

Women play a major role not only in protecting peace and security, but in disaster response and mitigation too, Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar, the first female Filipino-American commander of the US Navy’s Northwest Region, said.

During the Pacific Partnership 2016 held here, Bolivar said, “Women are the most important in peace and security, and disaster response…It’s amazing how we build and foster a strong relationship with the Philippines in terms of outreach and improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the Pacific Fleet of the US Navy, in cooperation with regional governments and military forces, along with humanitarian and non-governmental organizations.

Born in Hawaii and raised in a traditional Filipino family by parents Ted Sereno Bolivar, a US Navy sailor from Nabua, Camarines Sur, and Virginia Dolor Bolivar from Pangasinan, Bette Bolivar set foot in her native region for the first time.

Bolivar is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has been serving in the US Armed Forces for 31 years after graduating from the naval academy 35 years ago.
Her prowess was tested in the battlefield before she was given a sensitive position in the US Navy.

Bolivar said her assignment in Afghanistan has been the most fulfilling so far in her military journey.

“My tour in Afghanistan is the most rewarding in my military career. It’s a great experience. If I’ll be asked to go back I’ll never hesitate to do so. No goal is unachievable. Set a goal and believe in yourself,” she said.

From her headquarters alone, she has command over more than 100 military and civilian people. The island of Guam has a 6,000-strong military.

Her post in the US military is a product of hard work, she said. Credit is given where it is due in the US Navy and she is thankful for the opportunity given her to serve her country and support her family.

It is hard work, not gender, according to Bolivar, that has been a factor in her success.
“Here in the military we’re recognized for what we do, how we work, and that’s how we got promoted. It’s not that I’m smarter or better, I’m just blessed to be surrounded with supportive teams and family to get me to where I am now,” Bolivar said.

She urged her fellow women to be strong and determined in pursuing their dreams and goals.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/139194-bette-bolivar-us-navy-pacific-partnership-2016

CHEAT SHEET: What you need to know about PH-China case

From Rappler (Jul 11): CHEAT SHEET: What you need to know about PH-China case

To help you navigate the issues better, Rappler compiles key stories revolving around the Philippines' case against China over the West Philippine Sea

HISTORIC CASE. The Philippine delegation presents its arguments against China before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, in November 2015. Photo from the Permanent Court of Arbitration

HISTORIC CASE. The Philippine delegation presents its arguments against China before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, in November 2015. Photo from the Permanent Court of Arbitration

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, is set to announce a historic ruling on the Philippines' case against China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on Tuesday, July 12.

What do you need to know about Manila's case against Beijing?
 
To help you navigate the issues better, Rappler compiled key stories revolving around the Philippines' case against China in The Hague. You may click the titles in orange, which will lead you to the story pages.
 
We begin our compilation with articles in April 2012, when a standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) brought Philippine-China relations to its lowest point in history.
 
We end with stories days before the tribunal in The Hague issues its ruling, now under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
 
We have divided the stories below into 3 categories: explainers, Thought Leaders pieces, and timeline articles.
 
Bookmark and refresh this page for updates.
 
EXPLAINERS
 
 
Who owns Panatag Shoal? It depends, based on position papers released by the Philippine and Chinese governments.
 
 
China calls Panatag Shoal an island to benefit its territorial claims, an expert says.
 
 
China sees then president Benigno Aquino III as "provocative" and his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as "receptive," according to the International Crisis Group.
 
 
Then president Benigno Aquino III orders the use of the name "West Philippine Sea" in a move to popularize the name and eventually urge the world to adopt it.
 
 
"A handful of marines living on a World War II-era ship that is grounded on a remote, tiny reef is the Philippines' last line of defense" in the West Philippine Sea, Agence France-Presse reports.
 
 
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court uses China's favorite pieces of evidence – its ancient maps – against the Asian giant itself.
 
 
Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal says the legal track "has always been not enough" to settle the West Philippine Sea dispute.
 
 
Legal and foreign affairs experts say the outcome of the Philippines' arbitration case is uncertain, and Manila must work harder on diplomatic and military tracks.
 
 
The Philippine fisheries bureau says China's reclamation in 5 reefs in the Spratlys has buried 311 hectares of coral reefs – 5 times the size of Rizal Park in Manila.
 
 
Rappler talks to Antonio Carpio, senior associate justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, about how the Philippines will fare against China in the two countries' maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The Philippines pursues its case in The Hague with a practical issue at stake: the Philippines' right to fish in the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
In a nutshell, Rappler explains the Philippines' 5 arguments in its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
Rappler profiles Paul Reichler, the Philippines’ chief counsel in its case against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
Was it a mistake to involve the US in the Scarborough Shoal standoff? Rappler gets the inside story to understand how the Philippines decided to file its historic case against China.
 
 
In the West Philippine Sea, China is building artificial islands the size of nearly 1,800 soccer fields combined.
 
 
Rappler looks back at then president Benigno Aquino III’s decision to file a historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea
 
 
Most of China's 8 public supporters come from Africa, a continent to which China has pledged billions of dollars in aid.
 
THOUGHT LEADERS
 
 
"China’s rulers today have transformed China into the imperialistic hegemon that Deng Xiaoping asked the Chinese people and the world to fight and overthrow," writes Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court.
 
 
"The world is watching. It's the next step in the geopolitical calculus of power that includes the world's hot spots from Crimea, Syria and the South China Sea," Maria Ressa says.
 
 
"By unanimously voting in favor of exercising jurisdiction on the Philippines' case, the Arbitral Tribunal effectively rejected Beijing's efforts to sabotage Manila's laudable legal effort," Richard Javad Heydarian explains.
 
 
"Freedom of navigation is a cardinal principle of the US and it is the key reason why Washington would fight for the idea in the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world’s oceans," Rene Pastor writes.
 
 
"The Duterte administration should be very careful in any prospective bilateral negotiation in the future, which is indispensable but should be unconditional," says Richard Javad Heydarian.
 
 
"We need to be clear about the risks and why they may matter," Prashanth Parameswaran says.
 
 
"What is at stake is not only regional security in Asia, which has been heavily undermined by the increased militarization of territorial disputes, but also shared access to global commons in accordance to modern international law," explains Richard Javad Heydarian.
 
TIMELINE PIECES
 
 
The Philippine Navy monitors 10 Chinese ships stationed at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
Rappler recounts the months after the standoff in Panatag Shoal, and explains the significance of this uninhabited rocky outcrop.
 
 
The Philippines files a historic arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issues a point-by-point refutation of China’s claims.
 
 
China moves to stop the Philippines from filing its written pleading on its case over the West Philippine Sea, sources say.
 
 
Two Chinese ships harass a Philippine vessel a day before the Philippines submits its historic pleading against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The Philippines submits a 4,000-page pleading, called a memorial, to an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
 
 
The Philippines releases photos to prove China's island-building activities in the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The tribunal handling the Philippines' case orders China to respond to the Philippines’ memorial not later than December 15, 2014.
 
 
China releases a position paper a week before the December 15 deadline for its response to the Philippines' memorial.
 
 
The Philippines wants a "status quo ante" ruling in its case against China, so it would tear down its developments in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
 
 
China has reclaimed from the West Philippine Sea a total of 383 hectares in 7 of its occupied reefs there, aerial photos show.
 
 
This is China's toughest claim: The arbitral tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, has no right to hear the Philippines' case.
 
 
The Philippines comes out in full force on the first day of its oral hearings in The Hague, The Netherlands, over its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
In a round one victory for the Philippines, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal at The Hague, in the Netherlands, unanimously decides it has the right to hear Manila’s historic case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
This is the oral hearing on the merits of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
Led by Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, the Philippines' powerhouse team against China returns to The Hague to defend Manila's historic case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The Permanent Court of Arbitration says that "there will be no in-person meeting or ceremony for the rendering of the award."
 
 
President Rodrigo Duterte says he will not "flaunt" a possible ruling against China in a historic case filed by the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea.
 
 
The Philippines is willing to share natural resources with China in contested West Philippine Sea areas even if it wins its case, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr says
 
 
For the second time during his first full week in office, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr finds the need to clarify his statement on China regarding the disputed West Philippine Sea.