Monday, July 25, 2016

After declaring truce with Left, Duterte urged to pull out troops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 26): After declaring truce with Left, Duterte urged to pull out troops
A lawmaker representing the youth sector said that the unilateral ceasefire that President Rodrigo Duterte offered to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) should also mean that military troops will be pulled out from schools and communities.

READ: Duterte announces unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels

Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said that the pull-out of troops should be done immediately in communities of the Lumad, or the indigenous peoples.
“While we welcome President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement of a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF, we emphasize that the ceasefire will only bring peace to the hearts and minds of the multitudes affected by militarization if government troops will pull out of their schools and communities immediately,” Elago said.

The lawmaker lauded the inclusion of the concerns of the Lumad in Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) such as the issuance of Ancestral Certificates Domain Title to them so that they can return to their houses after they were allegedly displaced by the military.

Meanwhile, Elago expressed concern that Duterte barely touched issues on education.

“While the president mentioned the improvement of the Alternative Learning System, he was conspicuously silent on pressing issues faced by students including the implementation of the K-12 program and the spiraling rate of matriculation in the country. He could have at least addressed these concerns head on,” Elago said.

She also hoped that the firebrand President’s would not advocate in making the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) a mandatory course again.

During the SONA, Duterte announced that he will implement a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF “effective immediately.”

This has been welcomed by the NDF. NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said that it will issue a “positive response.”

READ: Joma Sison: Duterte, NDFP on same path to ‘lasting peace’

“We share with President Duterte the determination to resume the formal talks and work for a just and lasting peace,” Sison said in a statement.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/799529/after-declaring-truce-with-left-duterte-urged-to-pull-out-troops

ANALYSIS: Is Asia’s Terrorism Threat Level Rising?

From The News Lens (Jul 25): ANALYSIS: Is Asia’s Terrorism Threat Level Rising?



Malaysian military and police personnel patrol an outside shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. Malaysia's leader has defended strict security laws to fight terrorism as the Islamic State group warned of revenge over a crackdown on its members. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

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Why you need to know

Experts take stock of an increase in terrorist activity in Southeast Asia during the holy month of Ramadan, and a new report reveals a high number of Chinese joining Islamic State.
 
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Religious leaders in Southeast Asia must develop a robust ideology to counter the justification of terrorism using Islamic concepts and misreading Muslim history, a Singapore-based terrorist expert says.

A global spate of terrorist attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan linked to Islamic State (IS) stretched to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

In a recent paper, Rohan Gunaratna a professor of security studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, notes some of the worst attacks during that period were staged within the last 10 days of Ramadan, “which is the climax of spirituality.”

“The extremists and terrorists driven by rewards afterlife believed that attacking during the last ten days would bring greater rewards,” Gunaratna says.

Gunaratna says he believes an IS-centric threat is replacing the threat previously posed in Southeast Asia by Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

“Southeast Asian recruits that travelled to Syria and Iraq were directing the attacks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.”

And he says that both Indonesia and Malaysia pre-empted other attacks, including “a major attack” in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city.

Indonesia Terrorism

Indonesian police officers deploy with their riot gear in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Despite foiling an alleged plot by Islamic militants to assassinate public figures, Indonesian officials believe a credible threat of terrorist attacks remains in the festive season, especially against minority Christians, in this Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Ramadan attacks

During Ramadan, Malaysia suffered its first IS attack – eight patrons were injured when a grenade exploded at a bar in Selangor on June 27.

Gunaratna says the “mastermind” behind the attack was Syria-based Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi.

In Indonesia, Gunaratna says, the suicide bomber who blew himself up outside a police station at Solo, on July 5, Nur Roham, “reported to Bahrun Naim, the IS external operations wing leader for Indonesia based in Syria.”

“Nur Rohman knew that his arrest was imminent and was told that Ramadan is the best period to wage jihad,” he says. “His target was the police station in Solo, the nerve centre for counter terrorist operations in central Java.” He did not kill anyone else in the attack.

Another planned attack, in Surabaya, Indonesia, foiled by police, was linked to the IS Thamrin attack cell that hit Jakarta on Jan. 14, Gunaratna says.

“The attack in Surabaya was planned for the 17th day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which falls on June 22, 2016,” he says. “Like the Jakarta bombing, the Surabaya bombing was a suicide attack where the attackers believed that they will go to heaven.”

He notes that there were also multiple attacks, in the Philippines, where IS has its “strongest” Southeast Asian base.

“The fighting between local groups and the armed forces of the Philippines escalated especially in the island of Basilan in the southern Philippines where Abu Sayyaf Group Basilan leader Isnilon Hapilon was accepted as the IS leader by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-appointed Caliph,” he says.

Filipino military reportedly killed 40 Abu Sayyaf fighters in early July.

RTX25PB72

A man types on a keyboard in front of a computer screen on which an Islamic State flag is displayed, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 6, 2016. Twitter Inc has shut down more than 125,000 terrorism-related accounts since the middle of 2015, most of them linked to the Islamic State group, the company said in a blog post on Friday. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic - RTX25PB7

Hundreds of Chinese joining IS

U.S. think tank New America released a report authored by Middle East expert Nate Rosenblatt analyzing foreign fighter registration forms collected by IS officials on the Syria-Turkey border between mid-2013 and mid-2014 and leaked earlier this year by an IS fighter who defected.

The report shows that hundreds of fighters joined IS from China, with almost all coming from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, home to most of China’s Muslim population. Xinjiang’s 114 fighters represented the fifth-highest number of foreign fighters, on a provincial level – after Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh, Qassim and Mecca areas, and Tunis, Tunisia, the report says.

The report also notes the “significant economic disparities between the ethnic-majority Han Chinese and the local Uyghur Muslim population, who are subjected to substantial state repression through restrictions on Islamic practices like growing beards or wearing head coverings.”

Across nearly every top origin province, recruits join IS “in regions with restive histories and tense, local-federal relationships” – like the Uyghurs in China, it says.

Based on contextual evidence, China’s anti-terrorism campaign in Xinjiang could be a push factor driving people to leave the country and look elsewhere for a sense of ‘belonging’, the report suggests.

It also points to the impact of “slick” IS promotional videos, which “encourage a sense of belonging among potential Uyghur recruits” and “spout anti-Chinese government slogans.”

Andrin Raj is the Southeast Asia regional director for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals-Centre for Security Studies. The Washington-headquartered organization has offices throughout Southeast Asia.

Kuala Lumpur-based Raj told The News Lens International a key “root cause” behind foreign fighters joining IS is the Ikwan group, which, he says, was banished from Egypt in the early 1940s for being “extreme.”

“This group of people went to Europe, U.S., Africa and Asia and set up communities [...] with extreme religious views,” he says. “Certain Saudi political groups and organizations saw a platform in this group and exported Wahhabism and funded these groups to preach Wahhabism and encourage jihad in their teachings.”

Raj agrees that the IS videos – he particularly points to one released in October 2014 – have given fighters “a sense of ‘belonging’ to an entity, and the ability to join a ‘military’ that they never thought they could.”

13 accused in 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion found guilty

From Free Malaysia Today (Jul 26): 13 accused in 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion found guilty

Nine of them found guilty of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which carries the death sentence or life imprisonment and a fine on conviction

The High Court here yesterday found 13 of the 14 accused in the 2013 Lahad Datu intrusion case guilty as charged.

Nine of them were found guilty of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which carries the death sentence or life imprisonment and a fine on conviction.

They were Philippine nationals Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 45; Basad H. Manuel, 41; Ismail Yasin, 76; Virgilio Nemar Patulada alias Mohammad Alam Patulada, 52; Salib Akhmad Emali, 63; Al Wazir Osman, 61; Tani Lahaddahi, 63; Julham Rashid, 69, and Datu Amir Bahar Hushin Kiram, 53, the son of so-called Sultan Esmail Kiram.

Justice Stephen Chung is expected to pass sentence on the 13 after hearing their “plea in mitigation” today.

He is also expected to pass sentence on some of the individuals who had pleaded guilty in February this year.

Datu Amir Bahar, Salib Akhmad, Al Wazir, Tani and Julham were also found guilty and convicted of a second offence of being a member of a terrorist group, which carries life imprisonment and fine.

Also found guilty of being a member of a terrorist group are local Abd Hadi Mawan, 52; Philippine national Timhar Hadil, 39, and his deceased father Hadil Suhaili, 68, who died on April 24 while in detention.

The sole woman accused, Philippine national Norhaida Ibnahi, was found guilty of harbouring a person whom she knew was a member of a terrorist group, an offence punishable with life imprisonment and fine, or 20 years’ imprisonment with fine or both.

In his judgment, Chung said the defence had failed to raise beyond a reasonable doubt the prosecution’s case against the 13 convicts.

Despite Datu Amir Bahar’s claims that there were misunderstandings between his father and his uncle Datu Agbimuddin Kiram, who led the intrusion in Kampung Tanduo, Chung said there was evidence that Datu Amir Bahar was in continuous communication with his uncle.

“Based on communication interceptions, he was in contact (with his uncle) during the skirmish at Kampung Simunul (in Semporna).

“There was (also) cogent evidence of his involvement as ‘Chief of Staff’ of the ‘Royal Security Force’,” he said.

Chung also said communication interceptions carried out by the police on Salib Akhmad and Al Wazir also showed evidence that they were in communication with the intrusion leader.

The judge said a prosecution witness, who was given protection, had identified Tani, Julham and Abd Hadi as members of the ‘Royal Sulu Force’ and whose testimony was not challenged by the defence.

On Atik Hussin, Basad, Ismail and Virgilio, Chung said their confession that they were cheated into coming to Sabah for work was doubtful.

After the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, the judge said they decided to plead guilty on a second charge of being members of a terrorist group, which contradicted with their confessions.

“If they had felt cheated (of a promise of a job in Sabah), they had ample time to escape (Kampung Tanduo). But they only ran away after the skirmishes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chung questioned Hadil and Timhar’s presence in Lahad Datu during the time of the intrusion with possessing documents related to the ‘Sulu sultanate’.

He said there was no proof that the ‘son’ he visited, which was the reason for his presence in Lahad Datu, was his actual son, who did not bear the same last name as Timhar.

The judge said Hadi had also been identified as a member of the ‘Royal Sulu Force’ by a prosecution witness, whose testimony was not challenged by the defence, while Norhaida claimed not using her handphone when Special Branch officers tracked her down by tracking the signals of her handphone.

Chung did not find Filipino Basil Samiul, 35, guilty of supporting and soliciting a terrorist group, as charged.

The judge found no evidence to conclude that Basil was at Kampung Tanduo during the intrusion despite sharing the same first name as an intruder at the village.

“There was insufficient evidence against the 24th accused (Basil) in the communication interception and he was never identified as Basil bin Samiul.
“It is apparent that ‘Al Basil’, who could run when chased by a person with a gun was not the 42th accused who was limping throughout the trial,” he said.

Chung acquitted and discharged Basil and ordered him to be referred to the Immigration Department.

The prosecution began its case on Jan 6, 2014 with 30 individuals comprising 27 Filipinos and three local men, accused of various offences linked to the armed intrusion at Kampung Tanduo.

The prosecution had called 166 witnesses over 239 days of proceedings which ended on Jan 5 this year.

On Feb 5, Chung ordered 19 of the 30 accused to enter their defence after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case.

However, on Feb 23 and Feb 24, nine of the 19, including two locals, chose to plead guilty, but the judge reserved sentencing pending conclusion of the defence’s case.

Four of the nine faced two charges each – waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and being members of a terrorist group. But they only pleaded guilty to the latter charge.

Twenty witnesses were called during the staggered defence trial lasting 24 days between Feb 25 and May 17.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/07/26/13-accused-in-2013-lahad-datu-intrusion-found-guilty/

Duterte orders military to crush Abu Sayyaf

From the Sun Star-Manila (Jul 25): Duterte orders military to crush Abu Sayyaf

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte ordered Monday the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to crush the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

This was his first time since he assumed office on June 30 to declare an all-out war against the ASG, whom he initially considered as not criminals.

"Since our country continues to be confronted with the internal security threats aggravated by the existence and activities of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, the full force of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) will be applied to crush these criminals who operate under the guise of religious fervor," he said in a 90-minute State of the Nation Address held at the House of Representatives.

He said the military shall enhances its capability to search and engage the rogue and lawless elements.

The President also said that his government has to strengthen coordination with Indonesia and Malaysia to suppress the kidnappings in the waters of the neighboring countries.

"We will strengthen our counter-terrorism programs by amending various laws on human terrorism, terrorism financing and cybercrime," he said.

"This is our answer to the challenges of the global development's non-traditional threats, transnational crimes and fanatical terrorism."

The Abu Sayyaf has been holding foreign and local hostages in Sulu.

http://www.sunstar.com.ph/manila/local-news/2016/07/25/duterte-orders-military-crush-abu-sayyaf-487370

MILF: Peace process appears on track

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jul 25): Peace process appears on track

All signs are leading to the resumption of the GPH-MILF peace process. This was secured after Secretary Jesus Dureza and the MILF Central Committee led by Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim met in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao last July 21.

Other points decided during the meeting were: Government will reconstitute its peace panel, now dubbed as GPH implementation panel (The MILF panel will still be the same, as has been constituted), and they will meet in early August in Kuala Lumpur; the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be ahead of the effort to change the form of government from unitary presidential to federal parliamentary; and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be reconstituted to come up with a new proposed basic law. However, the issue of whether to enlarge the BTC’s membership from 15 to 17, 19 or 21 is lodged with the two panels to decide once they meet in Kuala Lumpur.

In addition, government has disclosed that it would nominate to the BTC one each from the MNLF (Misuari), MNLF (Moslemin Sema), indigenous people, sultanates, migrants, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The seventh nominee is still unclear, as of this date. One source disclosed that it would probably come from the MNLF under Abulkhayr Alonto.

This early, however, at least two major points emerged as stumbling blocks for the smooth passage of the proposed basic law: 1) the issue of unconstitutionality of some provisions of the BBL; and 2) policing in the Bangsamoro.

The first appeared most controversial. But if we go by the rule of law or practice that only the Supreme Court has the power to interpret the law and rule on its constitutionality, then we can save ourselves from further torment. No one, not even the best legal mind has the authority to rule on this issue. Jokingly, the best legal mind and the lousiest of men and women are at par in this case. Seriously, the BBL had passed through various levels of intense debates to sanitize it from constitutional infirmities, from the level of the peace panels when they discussed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on which basis the BBL was crafted, in the BTC, between the two peace panels when the BBL was sent back to them to settle the issues as result of the heavy revisions made by the Office of the President (OP), and finally between the OP led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and BTC-MILF led by Mohagher Iqbal. On both sides, they were backed up by their respective legal teams.

That is why the BBL that came out of these multi-layer decision engagements is referred to as “Agreed Version” of the BBL. Moreover, the engagement did not stop here: All the remaining undecided points were elevated to the two Parties’ Principals for resolution. On policing, it is not so controversial, contrary to views by other people. It is mainly an issue concerning public order and safety, which is already granted by law to the ARMM. The provision of the BBL on policing, dubbed as Bangsamoro Police, is just a little improvement of policing provided for by the R.A. 9054. Article XIII, Section 2 of this Law provided that: “There is hereby created a Philippine National Police Regional Command for the autonomous region, hereafter called the Special Security Force (SRSF) or Regional Police Force, in short.”

Assuredly, the provision of the BBL on policing did not break the chain of command of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The Bangsamoro Police is part of the PNP. Moreover, if this country succeeds to federalize itself, then necessarily policing, which is maintaining public order and safety, has to be lodged on the various federal states, otherwise the very essence of sharing of powers or authority inherent in a federal setup deemed meaningless; after all, national defence and security is the sole domain of the central or federal government. Also, the organization and operationalization of the Bangsamoro Police is tied up to the second phase of the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants.

The prospect of passing the basic law under the administration of Rodrigo Duterte is greater than any time in the past. Time element is on the side of the new President, he is extremely popular, and he is not anti-Moro. He is the only President that openly admitted that this country had committed a historical injustice against the Muslims, nay Moros, in Mindanao.

http://www.luwaran.com/home/index.php/editorial/26-january-24-31/823-peace-process-appears-on-track

NDF: NDFP Welcomes President Duterte's Announcement of Unilateral Ceasefire and Announces Its Own Readiness to Reciprocate

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Jul 25): NDFP Welcomes President Duterte's Announcement of Unilateral Ceasefire and Announces Its Own Readiness to Reciprocate

 

Press Release
25 July 2016

Luis Jalandoni, Chairperson  of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),  wrote today to Secretary Silvestre Belllo III, Chairman of the Negotiating Panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), welcoming President Duterte’s announcement in his SONA that he is ordering the unilateral ceasefire of the AFP and PNP in  relation to the NPA.

Jalandoni affirmed that the NDFP shared with President Duterte the determination to work for a just and lasting peace. He averred that the NDFP would  be able to respond to or reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GRP  soon after receiving its full text. He assured Bello that the NDFP would study it carefully and make the appropriate response.

Jalandoni assumed that the GRP  ceasefire declaration of the GRP is necessarily connected with the the release of all current political prisoners  under the amnesty proclamation to be issued by the President Duterte and concurred in by a majority of Congress, as referred to by the Oslo Joint Statement of June 15, 2016.

Jalandoni said that he was looking forward to the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on August 20-27 when the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels would at the latest exchange ceasefire declarations in order to discuss and agree further on how to make them  effective.###

reference:
Luis Jalandoni
0031302310431
0031651296494

http://www.ndfp.org/ndfp-welcomes-president-dutertes-announcement-unilateral-ceasefire-announces-readiness-reciprocate/

NDF on ceasefire: We'll reciprocate soon

From Rappler (Jul 25): NDF on ceasefire: We'll reciprocate soon

(UPDATED) The NDF 'would be able to respond to or reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration' of the government soon after receiving its full text

JOMA SISON. The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines

JOMA SISON. The founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines

The National Democratic Front (NDF) is set to reciprocate President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of a unilateral ceasefire, NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said shortly after the President made the declaration in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"I welcome President Duterte's announcement of unilateral ceasefire of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) in relation to the NPA (New People's Army)," Sison told Rappler on Monday, July 25.

"We share with President Duterte the determination to resume the formal talks and work for a just and lasting peace," added Sison, who is the founder of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP.)

Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDF negotiating panel immediately sent a letter to Secretary Silvestre Belllo III, chairman of the government's negotiating panel to welcome Duterte’s announcement, according to the NDF.

The NDF "would be able to respond to or reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) soon after receiving its full text," Jalandoni said in a statement released after Duterte delivered his SONA.

Jalandoni gave assurances that the NDF "would study it carefully and make the appropriate response."

Duterte in his SONA declared a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA "effective immediately." The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP, while the NDF is its political arm.

"All of us want peace," Duterte said. "Not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living."

Peace talks resumption in August

The NDF is looking forward to the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on August 20 to 27, Jalandoni said. At the meeting, NDF expects that the negotiating panels "would at the latest exchange ceasefire declarations in order to discuss and agree further on how to make them effective."

But the NDF leader noted that he "assumed that the GRP ceasefire declaration is necessarily connected with the the release of all current political prisoners under the amnesty proclamation to be issued by the President Duterte and concurred in by a majority of Congress."

Jalandoni was referring to the Oslo Joint Statement of June 15, 2016.
The agenda for the scheduled August 20 talks in Oslo are the following:
  • Affirmation of previously-signed agreements
  • Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks: socio-economic reforms; political and economic reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
  • Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list
  • Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress
The NPA is behind Asia's longest running insurgency. Previous administrations have held peace talks with the communist movement, but the process always broke down for various reasons.

The last time the Philippine government announced a unilateral ceasefire (outside those announced during the holidays) was in 2011.

It was “in the spirit of goodwill and as part of confidence building measures” for the resumption of peace talks between the Aquino government and the Communist Party of the Philippines. It lasted 7 days from February 15 to 21.

http://www.rappler.com/nation/140865-joma-sison-welcomes-duterte-ceasefire

South China Sea row a 'test' of ASEAN - Vietnam

From InterAksyon (Jul 25): South China Sea row a 'test' of ASEAN - Vietnam

Vietnam has warned that the inability of Southeast Asian nations to forge a unified front against Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea is a "test" of the regional bloc in the face of its greatest security challenge.

The unusually strong comments from a key claimant to the contested waters, comes as diplomats meet in Laos for the first summit since a UN-backed tribunal debunked Beijing's legal claim to vast stretches of the strategically vital sea.

After talks stuttered on Sunday, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a late night statement warning that the South China Sea had become "a test case for the unity and the central role of ASEAN."

"Many ministers stressed that in this context, ASEAN should promote solidarity, unity and a central role," the statement added.

Diplomats met for a new round of crunch talks called for by Laos on Monday morning.
As they came to a close, Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi expressed optimism that a statement would be agreed, though diplomats previously told AFP it would likely be "watered down."

Staunch Beijing ally Cambodia has been accused of scuttling efforts by the bloc to issue a joint statement calling on Beijing to adhere to the UN tribunal's decision.
Four ASEAN members -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei -- have competing claims with Beijing over parts of the South China Sea.

Most members of the bloc want to keep pressure on China over its campaign of island building in the strategic waters.

But ASEAN operates on a tradition of consensus diplomacy, meaning a single nation can have an effective veto power if it disagrees with the others.

China has been accused of teasing poorer members like Laos and Cambodia into fracturing regional unity with promises of aid and trade.

Critics have long derided ASEAN for lacking real diplomatic clout.

A failure to respond to the tribunal ruling or the region's key security issue will do little to counter those claims.

The ongoing impasse in Vientiane has led to fears of a repeat of a 2012 summit in Cambodia where the bloc failed to issue a joint communique for the first time in its history because of disagreements over the South China Sea.

Chinese pressure was blamed last month for a startling show of discord by the bloc, when countries swiftly disowned a joint statement released by Malaysia after an ASEAN-China meeting.

That statement had expressed alarm over Beijing's activities in the South China Sea. Cambodia and Laos were later fingered as being behind moves to block the joint statement.

https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4004111469161356591&pli=1#editor/target=post;postID=8323762209573593869

ASEAN breaks deadlock on South China Sea after PHL drops mention of UN court ruling

From InterAksyon (Jul 25): ASEAN breaks deadlock on South China Sea after PHL drops mention of UN court ruling

Southeast Asian nations overcame days of deadlock on Monday when the Philippines dropped a request for their joint statement to mention a landmark legal ruling on the South China Sea, officials said, after objections from Cambodia.
Beijing publicly thanked Cambodia for supporting its stance on maritime disputes, a position which threw the regional block's weekend meeting in the Laos capital of Vientiane into disarray.


Competing claims with China in the vital shipping are among the most contentious issues for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with its 10 members pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while finding common ground and fostering political and commercial ties with Beijing.

China claims most of the sea, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have rival claims. In a ruling by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 12, the Philippines won an emphatic legal victory over China on the dispute.

The Philippines and Vietnam both wanted the ruling, which denied China's sweeping claims in the strategic seaway that channels more than $5 trillion in global trade each year, and a call to respect international maritime law to feature in the communique.

Calling for bilateral discussions, Cambodia opposed the wording on the ruling, diplomats said.

Manila drops reference to SCS ruling

Manila agreed to drop the reference to the ruling in the communique, one ASEAN diplomat said on Monday, in an effort to prevent the disagreement leading to the group failing to issue a statement.

The communique referred instead to the need to find peaceful resolutions to disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations' law of the sea, to which the court ruling referred.

"We remain seriously concerned about recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region," the ASEAN communique said.

It was important to avoid militarization of the region, and for freedom of navigation to be maintained, ASEAN said.

Beijing says the court ruling has no bearing on its rights in the sea, and described the case as a farce.

Cambodia's position was the right one and would safeguard unity of ASEAN and cooperation with China, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon, according to a statement posted on China's Foreign Ministry website early on Monday.

"China greatly approves of Cambodia and other ASEAN countries taking charge of impartiality and safeguarding fairness," Wang said.

China frequently blames the United States for raising tensions in the region and has warned regional rival Japan to steer clear of the dispute.

"We will not permit any outside force to seek to exploit and hype up the so-called South China Sea arbitration case and bring chaos to this region," Wang said.

Major powers arrive

The United States, allied with the Philippines and cultivating closer relations with Vietnam, has called on China to respect the court's ruling.

It has criticized China's building of artificial islands and facilities in the sea and has sailed warships close to the disputed territory to assert freedom of navigation rights.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Laos' capital on Monday. He is expected to discuss maritime issues in a meeting with Wang, as well as in meetings with ASEAN members.

Both are in town for the ASEAN regional forum and East Asia summits, which bring ASEAN diplomats together with the US, China, Japan, Russia and several other countries.

Kerry will urge ASEAN nations to explore diplomatic ways to ease tension over Asia's biggest potential military flashpoint, a senior U.S. official said ahead of his trip.

Barack Obama is set to become the first US president to visit Laos, attending an annual summit in September.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is also in Laos, making her debut at ASEAN meetings as the foreign minister for Myanmar.

http://interaksyon.com/article/130736/asean-breaks-deadlock-on-south-china-sea-after-phl-drops-mention-of-un-court-ruling

Nine Filipino militants may face death in Malaysia for 2013 siege of Sabah: lawyer

From InterAksyon (Jul 25): Nine Filipino militants may face death in Malaysia for 2013 siege of Sabah: lawyer



Malaysian police arrest Filipinos who allegedly took part in the siege of Sabah in February 2013 as members of the Sulu Sultanate’s Royal Army. (Lee Long Hui/Malaysiakini)

A Malaysian court has convicted three locals and 14 Filipinos of terror-related offenses, some punishable by death, following an armed incursion that left scores dead and paralyzed a remote corner of Borneo for weeks, a lawyer said Monday.

The 2013 siege, inspired by a self-proclaimed Filipino sultan who tried to resurrect long-dormant land claims, saw clashes between Malaysian forces and some 200 Filipino militants who had arrived by boat in the eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island.

The crisis embarrassed both Manila and Kuala Lumpur, shining a spotlight on the latter's porous border and locals' complaints of rampant illegal immigration and lawlessness.

"Following today's high court conviction, nine of the Filipinos face an option of death sentence or life in prison. The court will make a decision on Tuesday," N. Sivananthan, counsel for the Filipino militants, told AFP.

"I hope the nine will be spared the death sentence," he added.

Sivananthan said among those found guilty was 53-year-old Amir Bahar Hushin Kiram, the son of the late self-styled Sulu sultan Esmail Kiram.

Esmail claimed to be the heir to the Islamic sultanate of Sulu, which once controlled parts of the southern Philippines and part of Borneo.

A total of 29 people -- 26 Filipinos and three Malaysians -- went on trial, with 12 Filipinos acquitted.

The others were convicted of offenses ranging from  "harboring persons committing terrorist acts" to "waging of war" against Malaysia's king.

Nine Filipinos convicted of waging war face life imprisonment or death.

Sivananthan said the three Malaysians and five remaining Filipinos face up to 30 years in prison.

Clashes between the gunmen and Malaysian forces, who launched a ground and air attack on their hideout, led to at least 70 deaths, mostly of militants.

After almost seven weeks of fighting, some of the militants fled the palm oil plantation where they had been hiding and returned to the Philippines.

A total of 800,000 Filipinos live in Sabah, making up about a quarter of the population of the state, which is just a short boat ride from the southern Philippines.

The court decision was made inside a tightly secured prison building in the resource-rich Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu.

http://interaksyon.com/article/130748/nine-filipino-militants-may-face-death-in-malaysia-for-2013-siege-of-sabah-lawyer

Negros NDF supports president

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jul 25): Negros NDF supports president

The National Democratic Front-Negros yesterday said it supports President Rodrigo Duterte's call for renewed peace talks and his relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

“We consider President Duterte's speedy effort to continue the peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the NDF to be an advancement in the progressing peace process to address and find solution to the social roots of the raging civil war in our country,” NDF Negros spokesperson Frank Fernandez said.

He also said the revolutionary people's courts have already standing orders for all New People's Army units to arrest notorious drug lords and pushers in Negros.

Others have already been punished, like the ambushed policemen in Candoni town, he added.

Ferrnadez said the NDP-Negros warmly welcomes Duterte, who is set to deliver his State of the Nation Address at 4 p.m. today, and supports his pro-people and nationalistic policies.

More Negros Occidental officials yesterday also aired their hopes under the Duterte administration.

Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said word from MalacaƱang is that Duterte's speech would last 30 minutes, he hopes the president limits his anti illegal drug, corruption, criminality policies to five minutes of the speech since he has proven his point on that.

Lacson said he hopes the president, instead, will focus on the "how", he will keep inflation low, create more jobs, address problems on education, health, housing, agriculture.

“I also expect him to talk about federalism and tax reform,” Lacson said.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ, 3 rd District) said he hopes the president tackles federalism and housing in his SONA.

Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr., on the other hand, said he is reserving his comments until he has heard the president's SONA.

Fernandez, in his statement, also said “The revolutionary forces accompany the broad masses of the people in supporting president Duterte's pro-people and nationalist policies and programs in the field of the economy and politics with the objective of attaining genuine peace, development and justice which has been long deprived of the Filipino people.”

Duterte obtained the great majority of the votes cast because he campaigned for programs that reflect the will of the people especially, the urgent ending of the worsening problem of illegal drugs, corruption and criminality, Fernandez said.
He said they can also be sure that the president knows the failure in the implementation of the government's land reform in Negros compared to other provinces.

He also said it is an honor for the revolutionary forces to be acknowledged and encouraged by the president to continue the campaign to stop the illegal drug trade and criminality inside and outside the guerilla fronts.

Fernandez also said they are ready to support and defend Duterte from the sabotaging schemes of pro-US and anti-communist forces within and outside his government.

“In this connection, we are calling on the people, our forces and organizations to strengthen the peace movement here in Negros by supporting the peace talk between the Duterte administration and the NDF,” Fernandez said.

http://www.visayandailystar.com/2016/July/25/topstory2.htm

Army thwarts terror attacks, wounds NPA rebels in Bukidnon clash

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jul 25): Army thwarts terror attacks, wounds NPA rebels in Bukidnon clash

Soldiers of the 41st Division Reconnaissance Company under the operational control of 8th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army thwarted on Sunday worse terroristic activities of the New People’s Army (NPA) bandits.

In a spot report, July 24, at around 10:40 a.m, in a dense area of Sitio Salumayag, Brgy. Halapitan, San Fernando, Bukidnon, the government troops encountered more or less 20 armed men believed to be NPA bandits coming from SPP4, Guerilla Front 6 of the North Central Mindanao Regional Committee.

The stern fire-fight lasted for about 30 minutes until the communist rebels fled and scampered to different directions bringing along with them their wounded comrades showing globs of blood splotched along their escape routes.

However, as the soldiers conducted pursuit operations, the NPAs planted some Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) along the civilians’ route on the road.

The IED explosions wounded two soldiers who were immediately applied first aid before turning them over to the nearest medical institution for further treatment.

The 8th Infantry Battalion (8IB) has intensified its combat operations to locate rebels in order to prevent them from exploiting further violence and atrocities that may impede peace and development in communities.  

In a statement, 8IB Commanding Officer Lt Col Lennon G Babilonia condemned the NPAs for hampering development in the remote areas by continually collecting revolutionary taxes from the populace as reported by residents.

He said he was also disappointed that these rebels continue to obstruct peace at any expense even if it is detrimental to civilians.

“I am saddened by the fact that these NPA bandits plant IEDs to where civilians pass. This is too dangerous because everyone can be a victim. They must realize that violence is not the answer for the ideology they are fighting for, instead this will pile-up numerous crimes they committed against the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, he commended the wounded soldiers during the clash.

“I am so proud of our soldiers because they risked lives in order to attain peace and development in our country. These heroic acts are very commendable. As the commanding officer of your Dependable Battalion, I promise to the people of Bukidnon that we will always do our best to serve you even at our own risk,” Babilonia said.

http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/1501469428111/army-thwarts-terror-attacks-wounds-npa-rebels-in-bukidnon-clash

NDF welcomes Duterte’s ceasefire, Sison vows ‘positive response’

From GMA News (Jul 25): NDF welcomes Duterte’s ceasefire, Sison vows ‘positive response’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines has vowed "a positive response" to President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army.

In a statement shortly after Duterte declared the government's ceasefire, NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he welcomed the Chief Executive's announcement.

"I welcome President Duterte's announcement of unilateral ceasefire of the AFP and PNP in relation to the NPA. Within the hour, the NDFP will issue a positive response," Sison said.

"We share with President Duterte the determination to resume the formal talks and work for a just and lasting peace," he added.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/575008/news/nation/ndf-welcomes-duterte-s-ceasefire-sison-vows-positive-response

3 cops, civilian employee kidnapped in Surigao

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 25): 3 cops, civilian employee kidnapped in Surigao

Three police officers and a non-uniformed personnel (NUP) were abducted Sunday afternoon in Surigao del Norte town by men believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA), a report sent to the regional police office said.

An initial report received here stated that the three police officers and the NUP were on their way to a friend’s house for lunch at Barangay Cagtinae in Malimono town when they were abducted by unidentified armed men at 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

The report, which was sent to the regional headquarters of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) here, also stated the abductors were believed to be members of the guerilla-Front Committee 1-GB (FC1GB) of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao regional Committee (NMRC).

Supt. Reynaldo V. Acosta, Surigao del Norte Public Safety Company officer based in Surigao City, identified the abducted policemen as SPO 3 Santiago B. Lamanilao,
assigned at the Surigao City Police Station; PO3 Jayroll H. Bagayas, and PO2 Caleb C. Sinaca, both assigned to the Malimono Municipal Police Station (MPS), NUP Rodrigo T. Angob, who works in the same police station.

“All abductees were in civilian attire (when they were abducted),” he said.

Meanwhile, PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa assured yesterday that he would exhaust all the means to secure the release of the three lawmen and a civilian employee of the local police who were abducted by suspected communist rebels in Malimono town of Surigao del Norte.
http://www.mb.com.ph/3-cops-civilian-employee-kidnapped-in-surigao/

President Rodrigo Duterte's First State of the Nation Address (Full English Transcript)

Posted to the Rod Magaru Show Website (Jul 25): President Rodrigo Duterte's First State of the Nation Address (Full English Transcript)

(SONA) Full Transcript of Pres Rodrigo Duterte State Of The Nation Address. #SONA2016

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS (SONA)
BATASANG PAMBANSA COMPLEX, QUEZON CITY
JULY 25, 2016

Kindly sit down. Thank you.

Allow me a little bit of informality at the outset. You would realize that the three guys in the elevated portion of Congress are from Mindanao. So, wala talaga kaming masabi.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III; members of the Senate; Speaker Pantaleon Alvares and members of House of Representatives; Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo; President Fidel V. Ramos; President Joseph Estrada; President (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo; Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the justices of the Supreme Court; His Excellency Papal Nuncio and members of the diplomatic corps.
Of course, I also have to greet Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, members of the Cabinet; fellow workers in government; my countrymen:

We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from.

Except maybe to extract a lesson or two from its errors, we will not tarry because it is the present that we are concerned with and the future that we should be prepared for.
Lest I be misunderstood, let me say clearly, that those who betrayed the people’s trust shall not go unpunished and they will have their day in court. And if the evidence warrants, they will have their day of reckoning, too.

We cannot move forward if we allow the past to pull us back. Finger-pointing is not the way. That is why I will not waste precious time dwelling on the sins of the past or blaming those who are perceived to be responsible for the mess that we are in and suffering from.

When I decided to seek the presidency of this Republic, I knew what the ills of our country were; I knew their causes; and I was briefed on who caused the causes.
I heard the people on the streets complain that justice had become illusory; that equity and fairness and speedy disposition of cases had deteriorated into hollow concepts fit only for masteral dissertations. It was, and still is, very sad indeed.

As a former prosecutor, I know that there are always ways of knowing how fast or how slow cases go. What I did was to look into the number of postponements and the time difference between each postponement and the next setting. It was as simple as that. I will appreciate deeply if all in government attend to this urgent need.

I was determined then as I am now determined and better positioned to wage war against those who make a mockery of our laws, including those who make life for us all miserable.

I wish to assure everyone though that vindictiveness is not in my system. Just like you and I, all, equal treatment and equal protection are what I ask for our people.

But we must have the courage to fight for what we believe in, undeterred by the fear of failing or losing. Indeed, courage knows no limits, cowardice does.

At this point, there are a few concerns I wish to convey to all to the end that as I perorate on facts, figures, plans, programs and solutions, these concerns do not dissipate or get lost along our way.

Thus to our religious bishops, leaders, priests, pastors, preachers, imams, let me assure you that while I am a stickler for the principle of separation between Church and State, I believe quite strongly that there should never be a separation between God and State.

I wish to assure everyone though that vindictiveness is not in my system. Just like you and I, all, equal treatment and equal protection are what I ask for our people.

During my inauguration last June 30, 2016, I said that the fight against criminality and illegal drugs and corruption will be relentless and sustained. I reiterate that commitment today, and that is why I call on the Philippine National Police, the barangay chairmen, the Mayors, the Governors and all those occupying seats of power and authority, not to lower their guard. There will be no let-up in this campaign.

Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or are put, either behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish.

To our police officers and other officials, do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the Office of the President. I will be with you all the way. Abuse your authority, and there will be hell to pay, for you will have become worse than criminality itself.

I order the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) to hasten the conduct of investigation and adjudication of administrative cases against police officers involved in criminal activities and illegal activities and prescribe policies on lifestyle checks for PNP members.

In this quest, I would put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency itself.
The DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) is also directed to strictly monitor how LGUs (local government units) perform their supervision functions over the police and those found not performing will be sanctioned, including the loss of police deputation from the NAPOLCOM.

We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or are put, either behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish.
Let me repeat my warning to all. I repeat my repeat. My repeat to all: Do not do drugs because you will be the solution to the drug crisis that has engulfed–malawak–the nation.

We will create an Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs that will integrate efforts and strengthen the partnerships of all stakeholders.

The reservists will be mobilized for information campaign against drug use and the dissemination of information regarding drug rehabilitation programs being offered by the government. Let us also strengthen our ROTC Program to instill love of country and good citizenship.

We will also prioritize the rehabilitation of drug users. We will increase the number of residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in all regions of the country. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will facilitate the preparations for the use of military camps and facilities for drug rehabilitation.

My repeat to all: Do not do drugs because you will be the solution to the drug crisis that has engulfed the nation.

There can never be real, tangible and felt development without making our people feel secure. And it is our duty to uplift our people’s welfare.

With this, my administration shall be sensitive to the State’s obligations to promote, protect, fulfill the rights of our citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable, and social justice shall be pursued, even as the rule of law shall prevail at all times.

My administration shall implement a human approach to development and governance, as we improve our people’s welfare in the areas of health, education, adequate food and water, housing, environmental preservation, and respect for culture.

Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used a shield or an excuse to destroy the country–your country and my country.

Meantime, since our country continues to be confronted with internal security threats aggravated by the existence and activities of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, the full force of the AFP will be applied to crush these criminals who operate under the guise of religious fervor. The AFP shall enhance its capability to search and engage these rogue and lawless elements.

We have to strengthen our coordination with Indonesia and Malaysia to suppress the kidnappings in the waters of our neighboring countries. We will strengthen our counter-terrorism programs by amending various laws on human terrorism, terrorism financing and cybercrime.

Human rights must work to uplift human dignity. But human rights cannot be used a shield or an excuse to destroy the country–your country and my country.

This is our answer to the challenges of the global developments, of the nontraditional threats of transnational crimes and fanatical terrorism. Addressing global warming shall also be our top priority, but upon a fair and acceptable equation. It must not stifle our industrialization.

We must also endeavor to develop and cultivate partnerships with nations sharing common interests and concerns with the Philippines; maintain and sustain bilateral and multilateral consultations and dialogues.

We will continue to expand cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime security and counter-terrorism. We shall deepen security dialogues with other nations to build greater understanding and cooperation.

With regard to the West Philippine Sea, otherwise known as (South) China Sea, we strongly affirms and respect the outcome of the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration as an important contribution to the ongoing efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution and management of our disputes.

Addressing global warming shall also be our top priority, but upon a fair and acceptable equation. It must not stifle our industrialization.

On the aspect of our peace processes relating to our engagement with the international community, the Philippines shall remain committed to working with our international partners in achieving lasting peace and progress in the country.

We will vigorously address the grievances that have been time and again expressed not only by the Bangsamoro, indigenous peoples and other groups for security, development, fair access to decision-making and acceptance of identities.

Enduring peace can only be attained only if we meet these fundamental human needs of every man, woman and child.

To our Muslim brothers, the Moro country and the members of the CPP/NPA/NDF, let me say this:

All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead but the peace of the living. We express our willingness and readiness to go to the negotiating table, and yet we load our guns, fix our sights, pull the trigger. It is both ironic and tragic–and it is endless. Well, we extol the bravery and heroism of our soldiers. Kayo, the rebels, do the same for the rebels and fighters. What I see instead are the widows and the orphans and I feel their pain and grief. And no amount of cash assistance or the number of medals can compensate the loss of a human life. Sorrow cuts across every stratum of society. It cuts deeply and the pain lasts forever.

That is why, I reach out to you, to all of you today. To our Muslim brothers, let us find, let us end the centuries of this mistrust and warfare. To the CPP/NPA/NDF, let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere. And it is getting bloodier by the day.

To immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks, I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly.

Let me make this appeal to you. “If we cannot, as yet, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much,” so it was said. I say the same to you today.
We will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal, that is my dream.

On the macroeconomic management, my administration will continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, and even do better.

I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly.

I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly.We will achieve this through prudent fiscal and monetary policies that can help translate high growth into more and better job creation and poverty reduction. By the end of my term, I hope–I hope and pray–to handover an economy that is much stronger, characterized by solid growth, low and stable inflation, (strong) dollar reserves and robust fiscal position.

 On taxation, my administration will pursue tax reforms towards a simpler, more equitable and more efficient tax system that can foster investment and job creation. We will lower personal and corporate income tax rates and relax the bank secrecy law.
Eh na-Presidente ako eh. Ayoko sana makielam dito sa mga ito, pero hayaan mo na.

Anyway, may I continue.

We will strive to have a permanent and lasting peace before my term ends. That is my goal, that is my dream.

At the household level, there must be sufficient income for all Filipinos to meet the basic food and non-food needs for their families. We shall continue to attract investments that will generate thousands of jobs each year—jobs that are suitable for the poor and less skilled members of the workforce.

Reforms to ensure competitiveness and promote ease of doing business will be mandatory. Reacting to these needs, the restrictions to the economy will be needed to make more investments to come and to develop labor-intensive industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and tourism shall be pursued.

We must also invest in human capital and ensure equal access to economic opportunities.

The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law must be put into full force and effect so that couples, especially the poor, will have freedom of informed choice on the number and spacing of children they can adequately care and provide for, eventually making them more productive members of the labor force.

And if employment is not an option, for instance in extremely rural neighborhoods, entrepreneurship would be advocated.

We shall also enhance local business environment by addressing bottlenecks in business registration and processing, in streamlining investment applications processes and in integrating the services of various government offices.

Government Financing Institutions (GFIs) shall come up with out-of-the box financing packages to capacitate our small and medium entrepreneurs.

In the field of tourism, we shall construct more access roads and tourism gateways to service centers and tourist sites.

Road development projects shall complement with our thrust to provide modern agriculture infrastructure by expanding and improving the construction and rehabilitation of roads and irrigation, and establishing modern harvest and post-harvest facilities to minimize losses.

We shall also conduct a nationwide soil analysis to determine areas most suitable for rice farming to optimize production with the use of effective soil rehabilitation and fertilization.

We shall strictly enforce fisheries laws, particularly on illegal fishing and promote aquaculture along river banks and in backyards.

On the other hand, we will accelerate infrastructure spending by improving national roads and bridges and implementing the Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network and other road network master plans. We shall pursue inter-island linkage projects.

We shall be implementing structural mitigation measures to address the perennial flooding In Metro Manila and neighboring areas. We shall put up new pumping stations in strategic places.

The revival of the operation of the Pasig River Ferry Service System is a viable solution for the severe traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

 This serves as an alternative mode of transportation for passengers particularly those coming from the east side of Metro to reach specific destinations within the cities of Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Taguig, Marikina and Quezon City.

Our anti-colorum campaign and out-of-line apprehension, including the removal of (illegal) terminals, shall also be intensified, and my God it will be done immediately. Immediately.

To address lack of road infrastructure in Metro Manila, usage of existing roads should be maximized. Thus, there is a need to cooperate and coordinate with LGUs to map out secondary routes and to consult various stakeholders, including the public transport operators.

Many in government opine realistically–and I would have to agree–that the worsening traffic situation could be logistically addressed if Congress would also accord emergency powers to the agencies concerned.

Ayaw mo? Okay lang rin. Para makita namin kung gusto ninyong madalian. Alam naman talaga ninyo sagad na lahat, sagad na. Nasa inyo ‘yan. If you give it, fine. If you don’t, we take the longer route, slowly. And tanggapin ko ‘yung pag-mumura ninyo.

‘Wag lang sa malapit. [laughter] Eh ganun talaga eh. You’ve done it. It’s an urgent and immediate situation, solution. Gusto ninyo madali lang, okay. Kapag ayaw naman ninyo, because baka sabihin niyo graft and corruption eh ‘di okay.

But I assure you —wala ito sa script —I assure you, this will be a clean government.
If that is the only worry that you have and I can understand your misgiving. Wala na ito sa… ang haba. Wala na ito sa script. You know, ako maka-garantiya, 101 percent it will be clean. The problem is I can only act through agencies and departments. That’s why I urge you na maski konting mali lang, wala akong ano sa inyo, wala na akong politika, wala na. I’m through after this. I just pass on to you the information that, you know… I act through secretaries and… I cannot guarantee their honesty and competence at all times. Cabinet members, yes. Pero yung sa baba—yung procurement, yung magbi-bidding diyan. But as far as I can really–malinis talaga ‘to. At napag-usapan namin sa likod about the federal system.

You know my advice to you is maintain a federal system, a parliament, but be sure to have a president. Huwag… Hindi na ako niyan. I’m disqualified and by that time I would longer be here. But, I can commit today to the Republic of the Philippines and its people: If you hurry up the federal system of government and you can submit it to the Filipino people by the fourth, fifth year, proseso ‘yan e. You call for a referendum and after that call for a presidential election, I will go. Sibat na ako

http://rodmagaru.com/2016/07/25/sona-full-transcript-of-president-rodrigo-duterte-state-of-the-nation-address/

IS Mostly Ineffective, But Threat Is Rising in SE Asia

From the Voice of America (Jul 25): IS Mostly Ineffective, But Threat Is Rising in SE Asia

FILE - In this undated file photo, Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya, right foreground, stands with militants in Basilan, the Philippines.

FILE - In this undated file photo, Abu Sayyaf spokesman Abu Sabaya, right foreground, stands with militants in Basilan, the Philippines.

The Islamic State terrorist group is not very effective in Southeast Asia right now. But, terrorism experts warn, the group could become stronger with more training and better leaders.

IS followers are spread throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines. Experts say they have been influenced by IS leader Abu Bakar al Baghdadi’s calls to carry out attacks.

IS followers are also reportedly motivated by the group’s desire to control areas of Southeast Asia as part of its caliphate, even as the group loses territory in Syria and Iraq.

IS attacks in Southeast Asia

Police said the first IS attack in Malaysia took place in June this year. A grenade exploded outside a bar near Kuala Lumpur, injuring eight people.

And, in Indonesia this month, a suicide bombing was directed against police in the city of Solo. Only the bomber was killed.

Both attacks took place during the holy month of Ramadan. But little was reported about them because 350 people were killed at the same time in a series of attacks in several other countries, including the United States and Turkey.

The attacks in Malaysia and Indonesia were also not very effective. Experts point to the inexperience of the attackers, and to the strength of the security forces.

Badrul Hisham Ismail is an analyst with Iman Research, a Malaysian group that studies religion and society. He says the grenade attack in Malaysia was an example of the low level of ability of IS in the country. But he said it was also a sign of how the group is training to have a larger effect in the future.

“The threat level has risen because IS has shifted focus to build an Islamic state in this region,” Ismail said.

Sidney Jones is the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. She also noted that the IS threat, while low, has increased across Southeast Asia. One reason is that IS supporters throughout the region are starting to connect with each other.

“We need to be open to the possibility that both the method and the professionalism of attacks could increase,” Jones said.

Aggressive recruitment

IS recruitment in Southeast Asia has also become more aggressive.

For example, in May IS launched a website in the Malay language, which is understood throughout Malaysia and Indonesia.

Brigadier General Hamidin, who uses just one name, is the director of prevention at Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency.

Hamidin said that in the past, officials could monitor traditional recruitment methods, such as indoctrination at Islamic study groups. But now, Hamidin says, those methods have been replaced by instant messaging and social media, which are not easy to monitor.

IS has also attracted the support of existing networks of fighters in Southeast Asia.

In Indonesia, militants who follow Santoso -- Indonesia’s most-wanted militant -- have said they will follow IS.

And in the southern Philippines, a group best known for theft and kidnappings has also declared its allegiance to the Islamic State. The group, called Abu Sayyaf, now includes some Malaysian and Indonesian militants.

In fact, IS released a video in June showing an Indonesian, a Malaysian and a Filipino in Syria acknowledging an Abu Sayyaf leader as the head of IS in Southeast Asia.

Sidney Jones says it is possible that some Abu Sayyaf members could train terrorists in Indonesia how to make bombs.

Jones said, “One would think there would be some [thinking] among Indonesian leaders in Syria about how to be more effective. The only answers are training and leadership, and the question is where they will come from.”

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

The Associated Press reported this story from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Jakarta, Indonesia. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/is-threat-in-south-east-asia/3430287.html

Militant groups welcome Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA-NDF

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): Militant groups welcome Duterte’s unilateral ceasefire with CPP-NPA-NDF
 
President Rodrigo Duterte’s order of unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF is a gesture of goodwill, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said Monday.

CPP-NPA-NDF stands for Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army - National Democratic Front.

Wildon Barros, Bayan regional chairman in Northern Mindanao, said that Duterte has shown sincerity in pursuing peace with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

He said that a unilateral ceasefire is a positive start that would lead to a successful peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Barros, however, said that militant and civil society groups in Northern Mindanao still want an assuring response from Duterte about the demands of the farmers and the marginalized groups in the country.

He said that Duterte mentioned only in passing about the groups petition for a “CHANGE” to be thoroughly discussed during the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

CHANGE stands for Cancel all anti-people laws, Health and social services, Address the root-cause of the insurgency war, National Industrialization, Genuine Agrarian Reform, and Education for all.

About 5,000 members of the civil society and progressive groups trooped from various areas in Northern Mindanao trooped to Cagayan De Oro and held a march-rally to dramatize their support of the Duterte SONA.

The group held a peaceful solidarity march-rally toward the city’s downtown area in Divisoria Plaza here.

Among the group who joined the march-rally were the Bayan, Kasama Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kadamay, Gabriela, Kalumbay, and Kabataan.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=&sid=&nid=&rid=907215

Duterte declares ceasefire with CPP-NPA

From GMA News (Jul 25): Duterte declares ceasefire with CPP-NPA

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Duterte made the announcement before a joint session of Congress during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

"I am announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF effective immediately," he said.

He added: "I expect and call on our fellow Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly."

Duterte also vowed to work for a "permanent and lasting peace" before he ends his term in 2022.

"That is my goal, that is my dream," he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines expressed support to Duterte's declaration of peace.

"The Commander in Chief has initiated a very bold move and we fully support him in his effort to bring sustainable and lasting peace to our whole country," military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

Padilla said that the AFP will "abide by the Commander-in-Chief's instruction."

He, however, clarified that troops will remain on "alert and vigilant and ready to defend itself and pursue attackers if confronted by armed elements of the NPA."

"The government has shown its sincerity and we expect no less from the other party," he added. 

Communist rebellion

The communist rebellion has killed about 30,000 people since the 1960s.

The communists' armed wing, the New People's Army, is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen today, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military.

But it retains support among the deeply poor in rural areas, and its troops regularly kill security forces while extorting money from local businesses.

Dutere's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, revived negotiations soon after taking office in 2010 but shelved them in 2013, accusing the rebels of being insincere about finding a political settlement.

The talks collapsed after the Aquino administration rejected the rebels' demand to release scores of their jailed comrades, whom they described as "political prisoners."

Duterte, who took office on June 30 and counts exiled communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison as a friend, had previously offered to release some political prisoners.

His aides have already held preliminary talks with Sison and other senior communist leaders, during which they agreed to resume the peace negotiations next month.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/574996/news/nation/duterte-declares-ceasefire-with-cpp-npa

President Duterte announces unilateral ceasefire with communist rebel groups

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): President Duterte announces unilateral ceasefire with communist rebel groups

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Monday a unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) which will be effective immediately.

"To the CPP/NPA/NDF, let us end these decades of ambuscades," the President said in his first State of the Nation Address.

President Duterte also vowed to pursue "permanent and lasting peace" before his term ends.

Furthermore, the Chief Executive will address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people, indigenous peoples, and other groups toward achieving security and development.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=1&sid=&nid=1&rid=907206

AFP looking forward to work with relevant agencies in drug rehab efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 25): AFP looking forward to work with relevant agencies in drug rehab efforts

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is looking forward to work closely with the relevant agencies tasked to treat and rehabilitate illegal drug users.

The AFP issued this statement after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his first ever State-of-the-Nation Address, said he is eyeing the use of military camps as treatment centers for illegal drug users interested in reforming themselves.

"We fully support the initiatives of our Commander-in-Chief to rehab drug users and provide them with a second chance at life," AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

"We look forward to working closely with relevant agencies who are trained and empowered to do this so we can approach and carry out programs in the most efficient, appropriate and effective manner," he added.

http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=&sid=&nid=&rid=907194

Opinion: Red line in Scarborough

Opinion piece in the Breakthrough column by Effren S. Cruz in the Philippine Star (Jul 25): Red line in Scarborough

Is China drawing the “red line” in the Spratlys? Is the United States ready to draw a “red line” in the Scarborough Shoal? Where is the Philippine “red line” in the South China Sea after the Arbitration Tribunal rulings favoring the Philippine claims against China?
 
The phrase “to cross the red line” is used worldwide to mean a figurative point of no return or line in the sand or a limit past which safety can no longer be guaranteed. The phrase has been used in geopolitical terms. For example, in 1975 Israel said that the United States “has managed to draw a red line which all Arab countries know they must not cross – that America is not going to sacrifice Israel for the sake of Arab support.”
 
A week ago, it sounded like China – or at least its Armed Forces – seemed to be drawing a red line. The American Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson visited the Chinese North Sea Fleet headquarters in Qingdao. During the visit, Admiral Wu, Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, immediately lectured Admiral Richardson on the Tribunal’s ruling against China’s claims saying: “The Chinese navy is prepared to react to any infringement of rights or aggression...efforts to force us to succumb to pressure will only be counterproductive. We will never stop our construction on the Nansha (Spratly) Islands...The Nansha ( Spratly) Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful...Any attempt to force China to give in through flexing military muscles will only have the opposite effect.”
 
Admiral Richardson immediately countered and said: “The US Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including the South China Sea in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all.”
 
There are two potential sources of conflicts in this disputed region. The first is Scarborough Shoal; and, the second is the declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ)  over the South China Sea.
 
China’s occupation of Scarborough Shoal has always been a big issue for the Philippines because Filipino fishermen have been forcibly deprived of fishing rights by Chinese maritime vessels. At the same time, Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the area and destroying the marine environment.
 
Scarborough Shoal has also been a serious concern for the United States because there are reports that China is planning to turn Scarborough into another artificial island and possibly build an airbase similar to the seven artificial islands built in the Spratlys. This Shoal is not only ideal fishing grounds but is also ideally located to control the northeast exit route of the South China Sea.
 
Scarborough is only 150 nautical miles west of Subic Bay. If this is turned into a base with an airfield, radar and other modern surveillance equipment, China will have full time radar coverage over most of Luzon and the capability to declare an ADIZ over the Exclusive Economic Zone claimed by the Philippines and recognized by the Arbitration Tribunal.
 
Recent US actions suggest that the United States see Scarborough as a very different issue from the Spratlys and Paracel Islands. Unlike those two areas, Scarborough is not being claimed by any other country aside from the Philippines and China. Also, for more than 50 years, Scarborough was treated as though it was under US jurisdiction. The American case is that the United States was “ the legal proxy for the Philippine people until full independence in 1946.” In this case, the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty could be interpreted to cover Scarborough.
 
In a recent testimony before the US Senate Armed Services committee, US Defense Secretary Carter was quoted as saying “...Scarborough is a piece of disputed territory that like other disputes in the region, has the potential to lead to military conflict...That’s particularly concerning to us, given its proximity to the Philippines.”
 
According to a report by some American newspapers, President Obama mentioned Scarborough Shoal to President Xi Jinping during their meeting last March 31 at the Nuclear Security Summit. The New York Times reported:
 
“The stakes are so high that Mr. Obama warned the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, during the recent meeting in Washington not to move on the Scarborough Shoal or invoke an air defense zone, said an American official who was briefed on the details of the encounter and spoke anonymously because of the diplomatic sensitivities.”
 
China has also been threatening to declare an ADIZ over the entire South China Sea. An Air Defense Identification zone ( ADIZ) is airspace over land and water in which the identification, location and control of civil aircraft is performed ostensibly in the interest of national security. The ADIZ may extend beyond a country’s territory to give the country more time to respond to a potential hostile aircraft. However, such zones is supposed to cover only undisputed territory and do not apply to foreign aircraft not intending to enter territorial airspace.
 
The building of new airbases and upgrading of air defense capabilities indicate that China has a long term strategy by which it would establish effective control over the sea and airspace throughout the South China Sea. There is no indication that China now has the capability to impose an ADIZ over the South China Sea as long as the United States is prepared to cross this “red line.”
 
Someday, a country will draw a red line somewhere in the South China Sea. And another country will cross that red line. If no one retreats, we will see a conflict nobody wants. That is how wars begin.