Sunday, May 21, 2017

Duterte renames 'Benham Rise' to 'Philippine Rise'

From the Philippine Star (May 22): Duterte renames 'Benham Rise' to 'Philippine Rise'             

Filipino troops look over Benham Rise, now called Philippine Rise, which can be seen from a military camp in Casiguran, Aurora. Situated about 250 kilometers east of Dinapigue, Isabela, Benham Rise has untapped natural resources and is said to be wider than Luzon, Samar and Leyte combined. Toledo IV

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order 25, officially changing the name of Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
In his order signed May 16, Duterte stressed that Benham Rise is subject to the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines pursuant to provisions of the Constitution, national legislation, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and applicable international law.

EO 25 orders the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority to indicate the name "Philippine Rise" instead of "Benham Rise" in official maps and charts of the Philippines that include the region.

Benham Rise, an underwater plateau which has an area approximately 24 million hectares in size, is located within the country's exclusive economic zone.

On April 12, 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the submission of the Philippines with respect to the limits of its continental shelf in the area.

This enables the Philippines to carry out exploration and development of natural resources in the region.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier confirmed that Chinese survey ships have conducted oceanographic research in the region, pushing the Department of Foreign Affairs to seek clarification from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

Lorenzana said that Chinese presence in the area was "very worrying" and issued a directive to the Philippine Navy to drive away Chinese ship seen in Benham Rise.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry then claimed that the Philippines cannot claim Benham Rise as its own despite the approval of the UN commission.

A few days later, Beijing retracted its statement and said that it fully respects the Philippines' rights over the continental shelf in Benham Rise.

In 1933, American admiral and geologist Andrew Benham discovered the undersea region.situated 250 kilometers east of Dinapigue, Isabela.

BIFF member said to be student of bomb expert Basit Usman killed in Maguindanao

From News 5-InterAksyon (May 22): BIFF member said to be student of bomb expert Basit Usman killed in Maguindanao

Philstar file photo of BIFF members

A member of the Intelligence Division of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters’ (BIFF) Karialan faction who was said to be a student of bomb-making expert Abdul Basit Usman was killed by authorities early Monday, May 22.

Murad Ali alyas Abu Mohamad was gunned down at 2 a.m. in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao thru Oplan Paglalansag Omega by joint forces from the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Maguindanao Provincial Police, and the Philippine Army.

CIDG-ARMM deputy chief William Santos authorities were supposed to serve an arrest warrant on Murad, who was accused of violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and R.A. 9516 or the Act Amending Presidential Decree 1866 pertaining to unlawful manufacture, possession, and use of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

But Santos said Murad had refused to cooperate with authorities and instead fought with them, forcing operatives to shoot at him.

Recovered from the house of Murad were an Ingram machine pistol, a grenade, a mortar, and ingredients in making explosive devices.

Pro-Daesh group warns Mindanao clerics

From The Gulf Today (May 22): Pro-Daesh group warns Mindanao clerics

Members of a militant group in restive Mindanao who pledged allegiance to the Daesh extremists in the Middle East have warned “ulamas” (Muslim clerics) from participating in the government campaign against terrorism.

This was revealed by Laisa Masuhud, the executive secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), who said the warning came from an email sent by a group calling itself as Dawla Islamiyah (DI).

The warning, Masuhud said, was addressed to the Muslim clerics who participated in the recent Ulama Summit hosted by the ARRMM in Cotabato City where they unanimously approved a resolution supporting the government anti-terrorism drive.

The participants also agreed to work closely with the government, Moro communities and officials as well as other concerned groups in thwarting attempts by Daesh supporters to recruit especially “impressionable” Muslim youths to join their cause.

In the email, the DI urged relatives of the ulamas “to warn your parents, brothers and children against participating in the summit.”

It added: “Because if something happens to them along the way or in the end, don’t tell us you were not warned,” Masuhud said, quoting the warning.

However, Noor Hafizullah Abudullah, the ARMM interior secretary, stressed that the people should not be cowed by the threat and that they should be united and remain calm.

“Good must prevail over evil and we have to unite to protect our communities from the threat,” Adbullah said.

Military intelligence officers confirmed that the DI was adopted as the new name of the Maute Group that has claimed connections with the Daesh extremists and blamed for a series of terror attacks particularly in Lanao del Norte and neighboring areas.

The military said the group was named after Omar Maute, the scion of a rich and influential clan in Mindanao, who founded it shortly after his return to the Philippines from his studies in Egypt where he apparently imbibed the Daesh teachings.

Also joining the DI in pledging allegiance to the Daesh were the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorists as well as the secessionist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), according to the military.

Armed men burn equipment, seize items at Isabela hydro project

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 20): Armed men burn equipment, seize items at Isabela hydro project
ECHAGUE, Isabela—Armed men burned a drilling machine and a generator set in an attack on the Ilaguen Hydro power project on Thursday (May 18), according to a belated military report.
As many as 20 men raided the project site in far-flung Barangay (village) San Miguel at 4:30 p.m., hogtied the security guard and burned the equipment.

The group commandeered a truck and fled, allegedly after leaving a letter addressed to the company, warning of more attacks due to unpaid revolutionary taxes.
On May 19, armed men torched a payloader owned by a construction firm in Bacradal village here.

Lt. Col. Vladimir Cagara, 86th Infantry Battalion commander, said the attackers may be communist rebels. But at press time, the New People’s Army has not issued any statements about the two attacks.

Alleged NPA member killed in Oriental Mindoro clash

From the Sun Star-Manila (May 21): Alleged NPA member killed in Oriental Mindoro clash 

A SUSPECTED member of the New People's Army (NPA) was killed during an encounter with the government troops in Oriental Mindoro on Sunday.

Philippine Army 2nd Infantry Division chief Major Roderick Parayno said the firefight between the 4th Infantry Battalion and around 10 members of the rebel group started around 5 a.m. while the troops were conducting an operation.

He said the NPA fled to unknown direction after they were cornered by the government troops, leaving their killed comrade behind.

Recovered from the encounter site were one 9mm pistol, live ammunitions and one hand grenade.

Parayno commended the cooperation of the public and urged them to continue cooperating with the government forces in pursuing the hunt against the member of the NPA.

Lorenzana offers NPA rebels jobs in military in exchange for their surrender

From The Filipino Times (May 20): Lorenzana offers NPA rebels jobs in military in exchange for their surrender

Photo credit: Delfin Lorenzana Facebook page

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has offered New People’s Army (NPA) rebels job posts in the military in exchange for their surrender.

Lorenzana made the offer in a speaking stint during the 36th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division (5th ID) in Isabela on May 18.

Lorenzana said that true peace “will only be sustainable if we reach into the hearts of our fellow countrymen and bring them back into the folds of the law.”

He encouraged the NPA rebels to be open to changes and strive for lasting harmony.

4 NPAs killed in weekend clashes in Oriental Mindoro and Kalinga

From the Manila Bulletin (May 21): 4 NPAs killed in weekend clashes in Oriental Mindoro and Kalinga

A New People’s Army (NPA) guerrilla was killed in an encounter with government troops in Oriental Mindoro yesterday; while a day earlier, three NPA rebels were believed killed in an encounter up north in Kalinga.

First Lieutenant Xy-Zon Meneses, spokesman of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), said the encounter in Oriental Mindoro took place in Sitio If-If, Barangay Cambunang, Bulalacao about 5:30 a.m.

Meneses said after receiving a tip from concerned residents, troops of the 2nd Division’s 4th Infantry Battalion (4IB) conducted combat operation and encountered around 10 rebels from the Platoon Olip, Kilusang Larangang Guerilya (KLG) Roque.

The gun battle ended in five munites with the rebels scampering off in different directions, leaving behind their slain comrade, whose identity is still being verified.

Last Saturday, three NPA rebels were killed when they battled troopers from the 50th Infantry Battalion (50 IB) in around 1:30 p.m. in Sitio Ibong, Barangay Balbalasang, Balbalan, Kalinga.

Colonel Leopoldo Imbang Jr, 503rd Infantry Brigade (503IB) commander, said that hours later the body of one of the slain rebels was intercepted inside a van at a military checkpoint in Sitio Guesang, Barangay Salegseg in the same town.

Major General Paul T. Atal, the commander of the army’s 5th Infantry Division, commended the troops of the army’s 50th IB and the police as he reminded them to remain vigilant and to sustain their Peace and Development Support efforts in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“We are saddened that lives have been spared in the pursuit of peace and security in the region of Cordillera; as we extend our condolences to the families of the rebels, we also encourage the remaining rebels to avail of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government,” said Atal.

NPA taunts police force in Benguet as Duterte orders ban on over-the-counter sales of bullets to stop easy access for rebels

From Business World (May 22): NPA taunts police force in Benguet as Duterte orders ban on over-the-counter sales of bullets to stop easy access for rebels

MEMBERS of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in Benguet claim that last week’s ‘bloodless raid’ on a police sub-station in Buguias town, which police say did not happen, proves its growing number in the province and the authorities’ incompetence.

“This is proof that the New People’s Army is growing ever stronger,” said the commander of the NPA in Benguet, known only as ‘Ka Greg,’ but did not say how many rebels are presently under his command.

The NPA claims that the Jennifer Cariño Command-NPA-Benguet barged into the police sub-station on Tuesday evening and took a pistol, ammunition magazines, a hand grenade, two radios and uniforms.

The police said it was merely a “robbery with intimidation.”


 Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced in Davao City Friday that he will no longer allow gun shops to sell bullets over the counter to prevent the NPA from easily purchasing ammunition.

Speaking before the firearms and ammunition dealers during the AFAD Defense and Sporting Arms Show, Mr. Duterte said guidelines will be drafted and reviewed by the incoming Interior and Local Government secretary, current Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo M. Año.

At the same time, Mr. Duterte assured the dealers that they will come up with reasonable ground rules so that gun shops will not go out of business.

Duterte wants Sison back home

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (May 20): Duterte wants Sison back home

National Democratic Front of the Philippines Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison ( file photo)

President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted Jose Maria Sison back to the Philippines.
“He can go home here and I will guarantee his safety and freedom,” President Duterte told the members of Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines (AFAD) on the occasion of their 25th Defense and Sporty Arms Show at the SMX Convention Center in SM Lanang here.

The President further assured Sison he could freely walk around once he is back in the Philippines.

“Sison is seriously sick,” Duterte said, adding that he will also pay for the hospitalization of Sison once he decides to go home.
Duterte also told the leaders of the communist movement, particularly the New People’s Army (NPA) that there will be no peace in the country unless they stop killing Filipino soldiers and police officers.

“Unless they really stop killing my soldiers and policemen there will be no peace in this land,” the President said.

He also reminded the NPAs that it was he who first offered ceasefire but the same was not seriously honored by the rebels.

“Binastos nila, binaboy nila,” the President pointed out, adding that the rebels then went on their attacks to soldiers and police officers even before the expiration period of the ceasefire was not yet effective.

“Ayaw pa nila aminin,” he added.

He also recalled how he used to go on hunting in the mountains when he was still the mayor of Davao City and posed no problems with the NPAs then.

“I even go for hunting alone and slept in his nipa hut,” he said.

The President admitted of the different situation now that he is already president of the country, “may mga irreconcilable differences na,” he said.

Peace negotiation between the government and the communist rebels was reopened when Duterte was elected president.

Reds tell Lorenzana: No peace without ‘drastic change’ of status quo

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (May 22): Reds tell Lorenzana: No peace without ‘drastic change’ of status quo

SUCCESSFUL ROUND. The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines conclude the fourth round of talks on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands. L-R: NDFP peace panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison, Norwegian Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and GRP Chief Negotiator Silvestre Bello III. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines reiterated their stand that only when reforms on economy and politics are in place can there be negotiations on the end of the armed struggle waged by communists.

This as the group condemned Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who earlier said that there can be no peace as the New People’s Army continues its offensives in various parts of the country.

Fidel Agcaoili, NDFP Panel Chairperson in a statement on Sunday said: “To say that there will be no peace simply because the NPA continues to fight the forces of the AFP and PNP despite the ongoing peace negotiations is very narrow thinking.”

Agcaoili called described Lorenzana and other officials within the Armed Force of the Philippines as “war hawks” for continuing to treat the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NDFP and the NPA as “enemies of the state.”
“They are not for peace. They are for continuing the war against the revolutionary forces and the people,” Agcaoili said. “Lorenzana and the war hawks are not for a political solution to the armed conflict but for surrender of the revolutionary forces without the needed reforms to change the status quo.”

He said the NDFP is engaging with the government in the peace negotiations to find political solution to the armed conflict “which calls for drastic change of the status quo through needed social, economic and political reforms.”

The NDFP and the government (GRP) resumed the stalled negotiations last year and is now on the fifth round of talks under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Agcaoili said they agreed to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations when Duterte, who proclaimed that he is with the “Left” became president.
Agcaoili said when Duterte said he was the “first Left President” it means he was for “change of the status quo.”

“Being “Left” means fighting for change of the status quo in the same way that being “Right” means maintaining the status quo,” he added.

Agcaoili maintained that the peace talks aims to achieve a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. The next rounds in the peace talks which will be held in The Netherlands on May 27 to June 1 aims to forge agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER), considered as the “meat” of the peace negotiations, and political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR).

Alert market guard foils bomb attack in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine News Agency (May 22): Alert market guard foils bomb attack in Sultan Kudarat

An alert market guard today prevented what could have been a bloody Monday morning after he confronted three men suspiciously leaving a bag in front of the public market here, police said.

Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, said the guard on duty noticed three men on board a motorbike arrived at 1:30 a.m.

"The guard save the lives of innocent people by smartness," Supiter told the Philippine News Agency by phone.

They suspiciously observed the surroundings then unloaded a black bag in the spot where military personnel normally parked Army trucks while doing their marketing chores.

The market guard, Supiter said, became suspicious they have an ill motive so he yelled at them, asking what's in the bag.

But the three men hurriedly left, leaving behind the bag and a Kawasaki Baja motorbike. The guard suspected it was a bomb.

Supiter said the guard, who he refused to name for security reason, alerted the local police, who responded and cordoned off the area.

While police and bomb experts were cordoning the area preparing to check on the suspicious bag, it suddenly went off.

Supiter said nobody was hurt.

The motorbike is now in police custody and authorities are coordinating with the local Land Transportation Office (LTO) to determine the ownership of the vehicle

Supiter theorized the improvised explosive device could be meant for soldiers who do marketing chores every dawn and parked their Army vehicle near the market exit road, the same spot where the three men were to plant the bomb.

Supiter said it could be a retaliation by lawless elements who were the subject of military operation in Barangay Bual, about 20 kilometers from the town's central market.

"Yes, probably they wanted to get back at the military," Supiter said.

At least 11 bandits have been killed in a joint police and Army operations in Barangay Bual since last week.

Goverment forces were to serve warrants of arrest against a certain Kagi Dimas alias "Commander Dragon," who was into illegal mining and extortion activities in the village of Bual.

Assorted firearms and explosives were recovered in that operation that also injured a soldier.

Supiter lauded the market guard and directed all police stations across the province to raise their alert status for possible destabilization attempts by supporters and sympathizers of Commander Dragon.

Isulan, the capital of Sultan Kudarat, has been the scene of several bombing attempts in the past, mostly in the market, terminal and other populated areas.

NDF: No peace without drastic change of the status quo

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 21): No peace without drastic change of the status quo 

NDFP Media Office Press statement
May 21, 2017

To say that there will be no peace simply because the NPA continues to fight the forces of the AFP and PNP despite the ongoing peace negotiations is very narrow thinking.

For one thing, it is the AFP that is on the offensive with its continuing counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan which is no different from the brutal counter-insurgency programs of previous regimes from Corazon Aquino to her son Benigno Aquino III that failed to defeat the CPP-NPA-NDFP. Lorenzana and other war hawks within the GRP military establishment continue to regard the CPP-NPA-NDFP as “enemies of the state.” They are not for peace. They are for continuing the war against the revolutionary forces and the people.

For another thing, the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations are being held precisely to find a political solution to the armed conflict which calls for drastic change of the status quo through needed social, economic and political reforms. Lorenzana and the war hawks are not for a political solution to the armed conflict but for surrender of the revolutionary forces without the needed reforms to change the status quo.

The NDFP agreed to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations when Rodrigo Duterte became GRP president because he said he was the first Left president, meaning he was for change of the status quo. Because being “Left” means fighting for change of the status quo in the same way that being “Right” means maintaining the status quo.

The aim of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations is to achieve a just and lasting peace by addressing the roots of the armed conflict. Thus, the aim is not just a peace that is the absence of fighting but a just and lasting peace based on social justice, human dignity, eradication of poverty, assertion of national sovereignty and independence from foreign domination.

That is why the next rounds in the peace talks are aimed at forging agreements on social and economic reforms (CASER), considered as the “meat” of the peace negotiations, and political and constitutional reforms (CAPCR). Only then will there be discussion on the final end to hostilities (CAEHDF).

Lorenzana and the war hawks within the GRP, being burdened by a narrow military mindset, are incapable of comprehending the need for a political solution to the armed conflict. They have not learned the bitter lesson that a military solution is no solution against a revolutionary movement that is fighting a just cause and deeply rooted in the people, especially the oppressed and exploited masses. GRP president Duterte must therefore assert civilian authority over his own military so that a political solution between his government and the revolutionary forces can be reached and a just and lasting peace established in the country.###

Fidel Agcaoili
NDFP Panel chairperson

NDF: Highest honors to Bishop Elmer Bolocon

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 19): Highest honors to Bishop Elmer Bolocon  

Photo from

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) renders highest honors to Bishop Elmer Bolocon of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). Bishop Bolocon served as General Secretary of the UCCP from 1996 to 2006 and Executive Secretary of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum since 2009. He died on May 15 after more than a decade of battling cancer. We convey our deepest condolences to his wife Emelita Gomez Bolocon, his daughter Julien, relatives, colleagues in the UCCP, friends and comrades.

Bishop Bolocon’s name easily comes to mind when we speak of church people who have consistently stood up and fought for human rights, for peace based on justice, and for putting an end to social systems of corruption, oppression and exploitation.

As General Secretary of the UCCP and the Chairperson of KASIMBAYAN (Kapatirang Simbahan Para sa Bayan), a formation of progressive and activist church people taking pro-people and patriotic positions on national issues, he was one of the convenors of Pilgrims for Peace when it was organized in 2002, in the second year of the Arroyo regime. He was among several hundred peace advocates from scores of church and multisectoral organizations across the Philippines who affirmed commitment to peace-building in the light of calls for the resumption of peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP, and the GRP and MILF. He lent his voice to those of peace workers who knew that advocating for a just and lasting peace is inextricably intertwined with the struggle against poverty, inequality, oppression and exploitation. Pilgrims for Peace was also the first and successful attempt at building a broad alliance to oppose the terrorist listing of Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, the CPP and the NPA.

As the Arroyo regime ran its course, human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings escalated. Bishop Bolocon rose up to condemn the GRP and its master the Bush government by serving as an expert witness at the Second Session on the Philippines of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) held at The Hague, The Netherlands in March 2007. He particularly raised the issue of at least 17 UCCP ministers, lay leaders and youth killed by Arroyo’s death squads for ministering to the poor. As a result of the testimonies of Bishop Bolocon and others, the PPT found the respondents guilty of crimes against humanity.

Bishop Bolocon’s illness took a turn for the worse soon after the tribunal met, and he had to spend several weeks in hospital. His see-saw battle with cancer failed to deter him from pursuing his solemn commitment to work for peace and justice.

As the Aquino regime was poised to take over the reins of government in 2010, he called for the resumption of the peace negotiations stymied under Arroyo. The peace process miserably failed to make headway under Aquino, however.

Nonetheless, Bishop Bolocon’s voice was heard in every major social issue under Aquino, taking the side of justice. He called for an immediate moratorium on large-scale mining and the scrapping of the Aquino government’s mining policy. He opposed US intervention, saying “If we want to achieve a just and lasting peace in the world, it starts with making the US government accountable for its sins to the world and to humanity.” He demanded truth and accountability from the Aquino government after the death of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Because of his consistent patriotic and pro-people standpoint and activities, Bishop Bolocon was made a prime target of vicious Red-baiting, stigmatizing and witch hunt by a mix of conservatives and kontras within the UCCP. By then the UCCP Secretary General, he faced his detractors with dignity and firmness, stood his ground and did not waver in his commitment and resolve to pursue the UCCP’s mission as a Church in the service of the people, especially the poor.

But when prospects for the peace talks became brighter under the Duterte administration and it was time to build even broader and stronger alliances to support the advocacy for a just and lasting peace, Bishop Bolocon did not think twice in welcoming and working hand in hand with some of his erstwhile detractors who had admitted their error and asked to be forgiven, putting the common goal of addressing the roots of the armed conflict above any personal consideration.

Bishop Bolocon led church people in expressing support for the incoming Duterte government’s peace intitiatives, joining the growing clamor for the resumption of formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP. He called on both parties to undertake an “honest to goodness discussion to address the root causes of the armed conflict” in order to “resolve our age-long situation of bondage.”

In the middle of the impasse last February, Bishop Bolocon urged a return to the negotiation table. He said “we offer our hand in walking the next mile toward peace….The people’s clamor for peace based on justice should give us the courage to continue to build peace in the Philippines.”

We hail Bishop Bolocon for unflinching dedication to the struggle for social justice and a liberating peace, for a world freed from the chains of oppression and exploitation. Through his hard work and his enduring influence and example, we will continue to feel his presence among us, courageously walking the extra mile to achieve peace based on justice.

NDF: Permanent ceasefire call a cover-up for AFP violations in Cordillera — NDFP

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 19): Permanent ceasefire call a cover-up for AFP violations in Cordillera — NDFP  

NDFP Media Office Press release
May 19, 2017

A call by local Cordillera executives for a permanent ceasefire between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) that will prohibit “communist guerrillas” from “attacking the civilian populace” is a desperate attempt to divert public attention from the human rights violations being inflicted by state security forces on national minority communities.

NDFP panel member Coni Ledesma

Coni Ledesma, a member of the NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee said that she was not surprised that the Cordillera local government officials issued the call two days after human rights activists from Cordillera and Mindanao trooped to the offices of the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) to file reports on CARHRIHL violations by the GRP military against Igorot, Lumad and Moro communities. The local executives had just attended a conference from May 15 to 17 in Baguio City organized by the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP) when they issued the call.

Five days before the Cordilleran activists filed their reports at the JMC, the violations were also reported during a dialogue with United Nations lawyer and International Humanitarian Law expert William O’Neill as well as a representative from the Royal Norwegian Government.

Cordilleran activists charged that human rights abuses by the AFP against civilian communities have escalated in the region since President Rodrigo Duterte declared an all-out war policy against the New People’s Army in February.

On May 12, a public forum held in Quezon City chronicled numerous human rights violations that targeted, among others, communities in Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga, all in the Cordillera. Representatives from the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) attended the forum entitled “Impact of AFP’s All-Out War on the National Minorities.”

The IPM reported that on February 12-17, up to 53 households in Namal, Asipulo town, Ifugao province were forcibly evacuated, threatened, harassed and intimidated by the 54th IB. Soldiers illegally entered and searched houses and pointed guns at women and children, including a 5-year old boy. The community also lost 40% of its next harvest due to the forced evacuation.

On March 13 to 19, civilians in Malibcong, Abra were subjected to food blockades in the course of operations conducted by the 24th IB. Residents likewise reported illegal arrests and detention, the curtailment of their right to movement and indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorus bombs.

In Kalinga, some 30 soldiers under the 50th IB illegally arrested farmer Rodrigo Baguilay on March 25. They also forced two civilians to serve as guides and conducted warrantless searches, seizing cash and cellphones. The military physically assaulted a barangay captain after he questioned the legality of the searches and tried to ensure Baguilay’s safety. Baguilay was later slapped with trumped-up cases of murder and frustrated murder and jailed.

On April 23, combined police and military elements with their name tags and faces hidden set up checkpoints at Balantoy, Balbalan, Kalinga to accost and harass delegates to the 33rd Cordillera Day celebration. They were reportedly looking for NDFP consultant Kennedy Bangibang. ###

Coni Ledesma
Member, NDFP Human Rights Monitoring Committee
Contact No: +31 30 2310431

NDF: Duterte Regime Is Mixed up and Vulnerable

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 17): Duterte Regime Is Mixed up and Vulnerable

But President Duterte cannot be underestimated

Prof. Jose Maria Sison Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines


Photo by Ezra Acayan / Reuters

As he is about to finish the first year of his 6-year term of office in June, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is being assessed and evaluated by a broad spectrum of commentators in terms of performance and fulfillment of promises. His trust rating in poll surveys is still relatively high but this has begun to erode noticeably from the 80 percent peak of his popularity upon his election by a plurality vote of 38 per cent or 16 million of the electorate in May last year.

Those who continue to support him assert that performance in a year is not enough basis for a final judgment and that there is more than enough time ahead for him to accomplish promises that have most impressed them, such as the eradication of the drug problem, criminality, and corruption. In recent days, President Duterte has, in fact, pleaded that he needs three or four more years to bring about the significant changes that he previously thought would be done in six months’ time. His promised campaign against the pork barrel and other forms of corruption of the defunct B. S. Aquino regime has not yet materialized.

Photo: Thomson Reuters

Where he has been most successful at, projecting himself as a strong leader by calling on the police and the public to kill drug addict-pushers, he has attracted the most severe and sustained condemnation by institutions, the mass organizations, the human rights formations, various churches, major mass media and respected personages in the Philippines and abroad. These detractors allege on the basis of mass media reports and police records that 7000 to 10,000 extra-judicial killings have been perpetrated in violation of human rights and with impunity by the police and by police-directed vigilantes. The victims are overwhelmingly poor people in urban slum areas. Thus, there is a growing complaint that the drug lords and the governors and generals involved in the drug trade have been spared.

A publicly known group of retired and active military officers called the Magdalo has backed up the motion to impeach Duterte from office. Knowing that the motion would not prosper against Duterte’s “super-majority” in Congress, the group claims to lay the ground for the eventual prosecution and trial of Duterte before the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute. But most threatening to the Duterte regime is a secret movement among military and police officers who are probably linked to the “yellows” (pro-Aquino political opposition) and are complaining against the system of giving cash rewards to police officers and vigilantes for accomplishing murder missions. They aver that such reward system is corrupting the armed services and destroying their reputation and professional standards.

Photo from

They are emboldened to wage an anti-Duterte campaign because U.S. officials and the European Commission have criticized the Duterte regime and threatened to impose certain sanctions. Most recently, the representatives of 45 out of 47 governments in the UN Human Rights Commission universal periodic review of the human rights situation have urged the Philippine government to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killings. In turn, the Duterte regime has expressed fears that the dissenting military and police officers are engaged in a coup plot. To counter the coup threat, Duterte has appointed to his cabinet more retired military officers whom he considers personally loyal to him. But the United States is still the master of the coup through its Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Philippines.

Aside from the vulnerability of the regime to charges of mass murder, the crisis of the Philippine ruling system and the world capitalist system is ever worsening to the detriment of the Filipino people. The deterioration of the economy is underway to undermine and isolate the regime in the forthcoming year. Foreign exchange remittances from overseas contract workers are slowing down. The export of raw material and semi-manufactures has plunged amidst the global depression.

Credit from Western sources is tightening. The foreign exchange reserves are decreasing. The peso is being devalued in view of a large public debt. Portfolio investments have been flowing out since 2014. While the debt-driven and import-dependent service sector is growing, agriculture and manufacturing have declining shares in the gross domestic product. The prices of staple food and other basic commodities are rising, while regular employment and real wages are decreasing. Social services are becoming more expensive and the public utilities are breaking down.

But President Duterte cannot be underestimated. He describes his government as “inclusive” by mixing up cabinet members from different political and economic persuasions. He is known for his political skills at talking or acting in the style of the Left, Center and Right, whichever serves him best from moment to moment. He has appointed some patriotic and progressive elements to his Cabinet while surrounding them with an overwhelming majority of Rightists and an increasing number of retired military officers.

He has released political prisoners of high caliber, although he has held back from releasing all political prisoners who are being held in violation of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). When patriotic and progressive mass organizations hold protests in front of the presidential palace, he invites the leaders for discussion and expresses support and sympathy. In a recent symbolic act, he went out of the palace to meet and mingle with the peasant protesters who demanded land reform. He denounced the landed oligarchs and expressed support to the protests.

To gain support from the reactionary armed forces, he has used strong words against the New People’s Army whenever he visits military camps and casualties in funeral parlors and hospitals and he has arrived at an all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement. But keenly aware of the popular demand for a just and lasting peace, he has manifested willingness to continue the peace negotiations between the Government of Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)

The NDFP, which represents the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and 16 other revolutionary organizations, continues to consider the peace negotiations as the way to test and find out what Duterte means by wishing to be the first Left president of the Philippines, agreeing to negotiate social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the civil war and pursuing an independent foreign policy in a multipolar world. The patriotic and progressive forces and the broad masses of the people support the peace negotiations.

Only a few but powerful who may be described as the pro-U.S., ultra-Right wish to spoil the peace negotiations. They wish to precondition the peace negotiations with a ceasefire that is protracted and indefinite, push the revolutionary forces towards capitulation and pacification and lay aside the substantive agenda of social, economic and political reforms. They wish the Commission on Appointments of Congress to remove from the Duterte Cabinet the patriotic and progressive elements who are in positions to help in the implementation of agreed reforms in the peace negotiations.

The NDFP is observing whether Duterte has the political will and the leadership to direct the GRP Negotiating Panel to come to terms with its NDFP counterpart on social and economic reforms band then on political and constitutional reforms before the end of hostilities and the disposition of the armed forces of both sides can be negotiated. The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) is the “meat” of the entire peace negotiations. The NDFP has demanded national industrialization and genuine land reform. The Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms determines what authority and how all the reforms shall be implemented. The NDFP has offered to co-found with the GRP the Federal Republic of the Philippines in order to override the current existence of two governments, one reactionary, and the other revolutionary, which are belligerent forces in the civil war that started in 1969.

So long as the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations are moving forward from one round of formal talks to another, we can watch unfold the positions of the Duterte government and NDFP and whether or not the two sides can make the necessary comprehensive agreements to put into effect the reforms that are necessary for a just and lasting peace. The fifth round of formal talks shall be held in Noordwik aan Zee in The Netherlands from May 27 to June 2, 2017. The focus shall be on the demand for the release of nearly 400 political prisoners listed by the NDFP in accordance with CARHRIHL, the further negotiation of CASER and the question of a ceasefire.

[Prof. Jose Maria Sison is Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines.]

[Video: President Announces End to Joint US Military Exercises]

NDF: Flickers of Hope Amidst Gloom

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (May 17): Flickers of Hope Amidst Gloom

Alan Jazmines
NDFP Political Consultant,
Vice Chairperson, NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms
May 17, 2017

Source: Karapatan Public Information Desk

The Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-economic Reforms (CASER) is the main substantive agenda item at hand in the current peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), as the talks proceed to the 5th round in The Netherlands on May 27 to June 2, 2017. Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) is the first important part of this agenda item.

Significant progress has been achieved on ARRD in the previous rounds, with an agreement, in principle, for “free land distribution” as the most effective way of rectifying the age-old problem of social justice for the peasantry, the most numerous class and the most oppressed and exploited, together with the working class, in Philippine society.

The NDFP’s top priority in ARRD is for the expropriation and free distribution to the landless peasants of all sullied feudal landholdings in the country. The NDFP is determined to restore the lands to their historically rightful owners: the poor, landless peasants.

Most of these landholdings were actually owned by the descendants of the peasants themselves more than a century ago. But through various foul means, these lands have been unjustly appropriated by the ancestors and descendants of big landgrabbers.

Thus, there is a need to correct the historical injustice perpetrated against the peasantry by returning these lands to the actual tillers and rightful owners.

While significant agreements have been worked out on ARRD, and there are good prospects for other sections on CASER, certain obstacles remain in the progress of the whole peace negotiations.

The GRP has continued to use the remaining more than 400 NDFP-listed political prisoners as bargaining chips for an indefinite ceasefire, even without implementation (or any firm assurance) of basic reforms for the benefit of the people.

The GRP president has even said in his usual frank talk, that he would only release the political prisoners, when there is a final peace agreement. Such a position does not help in creating an atmosphere conducive to the forging of agreements that the GRP president himself wishes for.

Former GRP presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos actually released all political prisoners in the spirit of the peace talks during their respective regimes. It appears that, upon the problematic advice of “spoilers” within the AFP, the current president has made a turn around from his earlier promise — of granting amnesty for political prisoners as the most expeditious manner of release and expression of goodwill — as was made before NDFP Peace Panel Chairperson, Fidel Agcaoili.

Another nagging contradiction has been the continued surveillance, and even arrest, of NDFP consultants who are supposed to be protected such by the NDF-GRP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Last February 6, Ariel Arbitrario, an NDFP peace consultant, was rearrested, despite being JASIG-protected and having been an actual participant in the initial rounds of formal talks in Norway in August and December 2016.

Another JASIG-protected NDFP consultant in the field, Ferdinand Castillo, was arrested last February 12 in Caloocan City.

Ariel Arbitrario was subsequently released upon the formal protest of the NDFP negotiating panel, but Ferdinand Castillo remains in detention.

The latest case of hostile action against JASIG-protected NDFP consultants has been the arrest of Rommel Salinas, last May 11, in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental.

It has also become worrisome for the NDFP that more and more from the state’s military are now being put in top cabinet positions in the government.

The GRP president should assert his authority over the AFP leadership, that has so far played the role of “spoiler” and, in their public statements and actual actions in the field, has even openly contradicted some of his policy positions in promotion of the peace process.

GRP president Duterte can greatly help in moving the peace process forward by taking bold initiatives in the peace negotiations, just as he has been showing positive efforts at pursuing an independent foreign policy.

As it continues to push for the removal of obstacles that have been standing in the way of the peace talks, the NDFP looks forward to making more progress in the process as both sides prepare for the 5th round of formal talks in the coming last week of May to the first week of June.

CPP/NDF-FSM: MBLT-2 and Kalamansig LGU ensure Consunji’s destructive businesses in West Daguma, facilitate the expulsion of the Lumads from their ancestral land

National Democratic Front propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 19): MBLT-2 and Kalamansig LGU ensure Consunji’s destructive businesses in West Daguma, facilitate the expulsion of the Lumads from their ancestral land

Ka Efren Aksasato, Spokesperson
NDFP Far South Mindanao

19 May 2017

For about two months now, the 2nd Marine Batallion Landing Team (MBLT-2) has conducted a relentless military campaign to defend the encroachment of the David M. Consunji Incorporated’s (DMCI) destructive logging and open-pit mining at the Daguma mountain range in Sultan Kudarat. As a faithful mercenary, the MBLT-2 has carried out its fascist undertakings in suppressing the Lumad and farmers’ broad and firm resistance against Consunji’s landgrabbing.

It has been four decades that Consunji have unceasingly encroach the Dulangan people in Sultan Kudarat by employing fascist government troops, company-hired paramilitary groups and company guards to protect his business interests and facilitate the expulsion of the Lumads from their ancestral land. Mass slaughter and a string of atrocities and human rights violations perpetrated by state authorities were directly connected to the company’s aggressive operation. The Dulangan people have unwaveringly fought the encroachment throughout the years in defense of their ancestral land.

Recently, the government awarded an additional 40,000 hectare of IFMA concession to the M&S Company, DMCI’s logging firm operating in the area, hence expanding Consunji’s land monopoly in Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Maguindanao to over 142,954 hectares. The M&S Company is also set to start harvesting its forest plantations this year.

Armed encounters between the New People’s Army guerillas and the MBLT-2 and DMCI company guards occur as a consequence of the intensified military operations that started in March. This prompted several civilians to evacuate. It also resulted to hamletting and food blockade affecting eleven communities in the barangays (villages) of Hinalaan, Nalilidan and Limulan, all in Kalamansig municipality. Cases of illegal arrest and detention, damage to properties and harassments of civilians and the students of a Lumad school in Sitio Tinagdanan, Brgy. Hinalaan were monitored and reported by indigenous people’s organizations and human rights groups.

Reinforcement troops of the AFP begun to sow further terror and insistently stay at the civilian communities. Around 700 Dulangan-Manobos have already left their homes at a recent evacuation that started on May 12. The local government of Kalamansig is deliberately insouciant and apathetic to the victims who are seeking for justice and calling for the withdrawal of the troops.

Kalamansig mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia ─ who always stand up for his “Marine-friends” and the DMCI, the biggest investor in his municipality ─ negates issues about military abuses and violations in his hometown. Adding insult to injuries, the mayor refuses to heed to the demands of the evacuees by dismissing them as mere lies and propaganda. Food supplies were sent to the evacuees only after the mayor learned that progressive and human rights groups will conduct relief operations and fact-finding. He publicly campaigned through the social media to resist the apparent efforts of the progressive groups and “groups sympathetic with the Left”, and further asserted that they could settle and resolve issues and differences on their own.

While it is the mission of the MBLT-2, 57th IB-PA and 33rd IB-PA to launch intensive attacks against the Lumads and farmers opposing DMCI and subsequently smash the people’s resistance, funded local officials for their part facilitate land grabbing and whitewash, and legitimize the suppression of people’s rights. How much the MBLT-2 Commanding Officer and Kalamansig mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia are paid for to fulfill Consunji’s wishes, this we can only guess. It is public knowledge that the more vicious their stratagem, the higher they are paid.

The NDF-FSMR for its part, firmly affirms its unceasing fight against the destructive logging and large-scale mining companies who, for so long, have been dispossessing the indigenous peoples, extracting our nation’s resources, siphoning huge profits and destroying the environment. Moreover, the New People’s Army is resolutely committed to frustrate and punish the mercenaries, especially the high-ranking officials of the MBLT-2 and the Armed Forces of the Philippines who continue to protect these companies and enrich themselves at the expense of the people.

CPP/NDF-EV: NPA intensifying the armed struggle to defend the people against the US and its militarist stooges

National Democratic Front propaganda statement posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (May 19): NPA intensifying the armed struggle to defend the people against the US and its militarist stooges

Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas, Spokesperson
NDFP Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)

19 May 2017

As the US-led Balikatan war exercises in the region close today, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas said intensifying guerrilla offensives of the New People’s Army here are in defense of the people against the US and its militarist stooges in the Duterte government. “The signboard of ‘humanitarian assistance and disaster response’ in the Balikatan cannot hide the reality US and Philippine troops are mastering joint military operations,” said NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas. “This comes at a time when NDFP-GRP peace talks are set to resume on May 27 and there is a pronounced militarist position of the GRP to force a ceasefire agreement and cause the eventual surrender of the revolutionary forces. Either the peace talks or Duterte himself face the dangers of militarist intervention or regime change by the US and its stooges.

“This is related to the fascization of the Duterte government with the anomalous appointment of armed forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año as the next interior secretary, to complete the leading trio of ex-military, pro-US stooges in the civilian government including Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. ”

Fr. Salas said the rising NPA offensives in the region – more than 14 from March – even before the Balikatan’s closing defend and promote national sovereignty and democracy, which are also basic principles in the peace talks. “The NPA is continuing the unfinished revolution of the Katipunan and fighting to ensure national liberation from more than a century of US colonialism and neocolonialism. Let us do away with the Balikatan and other unequal treaties tying us to US imperialist interests. Furthermore, we cannot build a strong and progressive country without the necessary social, economic and political reforms up for discussion and agreement in the NDFP-GRP peace talks.”

The NDF-EV spokesperson also urged the people to support the peace talks through mass struggles insisting their basic demands. “The people are not merely idle spectators to the NDFP-GRP peace talks. They must demand the release of all political prisoners as a matter of justice and as mandated by CARHRIHL, naturally leading to the aim of social justice in the upcoming discussion of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). They must also vigorously fight for their basic demands like land, jobs, free education and other social services promised by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte but remaining unfulfilled.

“We assert the matter of any ceasefire agreement should only be brought about in connection with the release of all political prisoners and the signing of the CASER. We furthermore urge the Filipino youth to fight for their future. We encourage them to do social investigation among the basic masses, support their democratic struggles, and join the NPA and help build the People’s Democratic Government in the countryside.”

AFP chief calls for enhanced Asean ties to tackle security threats

From the Daily Tribune (May 22): AFP chief calls for enhanced Asean ties to tackle security threats

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año has called for an enhanced collaboration among security officials of all member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) amid the growing economy in the region and the spread of extremism inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

As chairman of the 14th Asean Chiefs of Defense Forces Informal Meeting (ACDFIM), Año highlighted the need to have a secure and stable Southeast Asia amid the rising economy in the region.

“Asean has become a rising global economic force due to its strategic location and economic activity. It has abundant resources, a more integrated market, and a large combined GDP from its members,” Año said during the plenary session of the meeting.

“By providing security to our respective nations, we create a better environment for growth and prosperity. And through purposive security cooperation, we actually help to secure and sustain our region’s economic gains. We all know that a secure Asean is a progressive Asean,” he added.

The two-day meeting resulted in the signing of a joint statement by all the attending military chiefs of Asean which calls for enhancing joint military exercises and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacities.

The participants also agreed to formalize the ACDFIM to become a mechanism to counter the spread of violent ideologies and to create a coordinated response to non-traditional threat like disasters which was agreed upon during the 12th iteration of the meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2015.

Año pushed for the formalization of the ACDFIM, which was echoed by military chiefs in attendance to ensure integrated and coordinated efforts.

The AFP chief cited the partnership inked by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to jointly secure their tri-boundaries as a good example of collaboration.

“This partnership with neighbors will negate the threats and shows that strong military cooperation is important in aligning our security requirements and initiatives,” Año said.

The existing trilateral agreement was aimed at combating trans-border crimes, terrorism, piracy and other militant activities in the Sulu-Sulawesi-Celebes Sea.

The AFP chief also introduced the Development Support and Security Plan “Kapayapaan” to the participants, as the AFP’s approach to attain national well-being through interplay of good governance, security and development.

“With this intensified holistic approach, we have made a lot of headway in our fight against terrorism. Efforts with the help of local leaders and the populace have significantly crippled the operations of ISIS-linked terrorist groups,” Año said.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief, said that the meeting focused on the security challenges besetting the region, including the threat coming from ISIS-inspired groups.

“The threats of terrorism, particularly the spread of ISIS-inspired extremism; maritime security concerns, and onslaught of disasters and calamities became the focus of the meeting and these inspired the mutual agreement to forge stronger partnerships,” Arevalo said.

The ACDFIM was attended by the 10 military chiefs from the Asean member states and is slated to be held next year in Singapore as host country.

Reds thumb down Lorenzana’s proposal, won’t join military

From the Daily Tribune (May 22): Reds thumb down Lorenzana’s proposal, won’t join military

No matter what the results of the peace talks are, communist rebels insist that they will never join the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili, in a statement yesterday, said that they are not fighting to be part of what they call the “status quo.”

Agcaoili was responding to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s invitation for New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas to reintegrate with the government and join state security forces instead.

The rebel leader also stressed that the government should stop blaming NPA forces for the continuing conflicts with state forces.

“To say that there will be no peace simply because the NPA continues to fight the forces of the AFP despite the ongoing peace negotiations is very narrow thinking,” Agcaoili said.

“Lorenzana and the war hawks within the government, being burdened by a narrow military mindset, are incapable of comprehending the need for a political solution to the armed conflict,” he added.

“Being ‘Left’ means fighting for change of the status quo in the same way that being ‘Right’ means maintaining the status quo,” Agcaoili explained.

Lorenzana, on Thursday, said during a visit to members of the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division in Isabela that NPAs should be the first to stop attacking state troopers in order for peace to succeed.

“The best way to win the peace is when it is done without firing a single shot,” Lorenzana said.

“The peace we win will only be sustainable if we reach into the hearts of our fellow countrymen and bring them back into the folds of the law,” he added.

But Agcaoili said that if not for the AFP’s counterinsurgency program, NPA forces won’t retaliate.

“For one thing, it is the AFP that is on the offensive with its continuing counter-insurgency program ‘Oplan Kapayapaan’ which is no different from the brutal counter-insurgency programs of previous regimes,” Agcaoili said.

The NDF leader also called on President Duterte to avoid listening to his so-called military advisers on how to deal with the communist movement.

“Duterte must therefore assert civilian authority over his own military so that a political solution between his government and the revolutionary forces can be reached and a just and lasting peace established in the country,” he said.

The AFP-wide Pistol Project - Pres. Duterte's Promised Handguns for the Filipino Soldier

From MaxDefense Philippines (May 20): The AFP-wide Pistol Project - Pres. Duterte's Promised Handguns for the Filipino Soldier

There have been numerous occasions that Philippine Pres. Rodrigo Duterte mentioned to soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in his numerous camp visits, that he will be providing side arm pistols for them for their own protection.

So far, several AFP members have confirmed to MaxDefense that they have not received these pistols yet despite the promise from the president that it will be distributed to them soon. MaxDefense discusses why.

The Glock 19 Gen 4 pistol, which MaxDefense believes will be the top candidate as the official new pistol of all uniformed servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as by the Philippine Army.
Photo screen-grabbed from YouTube video of ZakaTac9mm.

 The Original Pistol Project:

Originally, the Philippine Army has a project to acquire pistols as part of their Horizon 2 phase modernization program. Appearing in the draft Horizon 1-3 plans submitted by the Philippine Army in mid 2016 to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the plan was for the acquisition of 19,478 units of pistols, without mention on the caliber choice, by the AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 2 phase.

By late 2016, this plan was changed, with the 19,478 pistols planned for procurement was then moved to within the Horizon 1 (2023-2017) phase. Since 2017 is the last year of implementing the Horizon 1 phase, MaxDefense understands that the project will then be funded by the approved AFP Modernization Program budget for 2017.

By early 2017 and based on the draft submitted by the Philippine Army, the quantity for acquisition for Horizon 1 FY 2017 was increased to 25,000 units with a projected budget of Php 625 million. But adjustments were made to the entire 2017 request list, until it was reduced back to a finalised quantity of 19,478 units, with a projected budget of Php 389.560 million, or an average of around Php 20,400 per pistol. The budget will be taken from the repriotized funding that was originally intended for the Philippine Army's Shore Based Missile System (SBMS) Project worth Php 6.5 billion, whose SARO was extended lately by Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno.

Back then, MaxDefense has not received confirmation of what calibre was the Philippine Army looking for, but initial information from some sources mentioned that it would be a 9mm pistol. Surprisingly, it would be acquired through a public tender, and is expected that an Invitation to Bid will be released soon. Since it is for tender, it is expected that the winning bidder will submit a price below the projected budget, and reducing the average price of each pistol to less than Php 20,400.

The Promise:

Spates of kidnapping and/or murder of uniformed personnel by terrorists (mostly New People's Army terrorists) irritated Pres. Duterte, and as part of his support for the members of the AFP, he promised as early as late 2016 to provide side arm pistols to all AFP uniformed personnel, for them to use to protect themselves from these cowardly terrorist attacks when not in military operations or when they are outside camps and during rest and recreation periods, and also for use during operations against criminality and drugs.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines immediately drafted a plan, inserting the acquisition of around 113,612 units of pistols in compliance to Pres. Duterte's directive. This is now called the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project. It was planned for acquisition on the early part of Horizon 2, probably 2018, with no definite budget allocation then. This was included in the Horizon 2 acquisition plan submitted by the Department of National Defense to Malacanang earlier this year, as MaxDefense mentioned in other blog entires and in our Facebook group page.

After adjustments were made, the AFP Pistol Acquisition was moved to Horizon 1 phase, and will be funded under FY 2017. Quantity was also revised from 113,612 units to 115,383 units, with an Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) worth Php 2,307,660,000.00, or an average of Php 20,000 per pistol. This is slightly lower than the budget allocated by the Philippine Army for their own Pistol Acquisition Project, in consideration of the quantity involved for the AFP's requirements.
The finalised lsit of AFP projects for bidding this year included the AFP Pistol, as shown in this recent document. MaxDefense will discuss other projects (which were intentionally deleted) in other future blog entries.

The AFP Pistol Acquisition project was listed as among the projects to be tendered this year 2017, together with other projects totalling Php 6.660 billion. This is actually surprising, considering that Pres. Duterte himself already mentioned in the past that the pistol to be distributed will be Glock 30 .45 calibre pistols, and in one occasion, an alternative using M1911 "Commander" pistols as well. "Commander" refers to a post-war M1911 variant which is shorter and lighter than the standard M1911, and was based on the 1950s Colt Commander pistol by US arms manufacturer Colt. Here is why it is surprising:
The Glock 30 .45 calibre pistol, as shown with the standard 10-round magazine and the 13-round magazine from the Glock 21. Both can be used on the pistol. This is the pistol model Pres. Duterte promised for distribution to AFP soliders.
Photo taken from Personal Defense World's website.
The President's Choice: Glock 30 - A Backgrounder:

The Glock 30 is a subcompact pistol from Glock, which is chambered to fire .45 ACP rounds. It is originally included with a 10-round capacity magazine, although a 13-round magazine used in the larger Glock 21 can also be used to increase its capacity.

The subcompact size of the pistol makes it easy for plainclothes or off-duty soldiers to carry it around, while still packing the highly regarded .45 ACP punch that Filipino gun enthusiasts and soldiers love.

Its dimensions are (based on Glock USA's website):

Length: 177 mm
Height: 122 mm
Width: 32.50mm
Barrel Length: 96 mm
Unloaded weight: 750 grams
Loaded weight (standard magazine): 960 grams

This is how the Glock 30 looks like if it uses the 13-round Glock 21 magazine.
Photo taken from Home Defense Weapons website.
(EDIT: May 21, 2017) A New Twist - Bid Documents Released:

This portion is added less than a day after this blog entry was publicly posted.

MaxDefense finally received a copy of the AFP's pistol acquisition program bid documents and technical specifications, as sources were unaware that MaxDefense will be publishing an entry about the Philippine Army and AFP Pistol acquisition projects. Corrections were informed to MaxDefense only after the entry was posted.

As per the Bid Documents, the AFP and PA Pistol Acquisition Projects were combined into one project, which is now called the "Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm, Striker Fired, for the Department of National Defense". The quantity for both projects were added together as well, with the new quantity requirement at 134,861 units (that is the sum of 115,383 units for AFP, and 19,478 units for the Philippine Army). The Approved Budget for Contract (ABC) is now at Php 2,697,220,000.00, or arond Php 20,000 per unit.

Based on the title alone, the requirement has changed substantially, with the major change is on the barrel and ammo to be used. Instead of the firing .45 Auto rounds, the pistols requested by the AFP will now be chambered to fire 9mm x 19 NATO rounds. This means Pres. Duterte's choice, the Glock 30 .45 ACP, is now out of the running.

Also, the requirement of being a striker-fired pistol narrows the competing pistol models into a few, with major highlight on Glock, whose pistols are striker fired instead of the conventional hammer-fired on other models.

The specification also calls for a pistol with the following dimensions:

Length: 185 to 220mm
Barrel length: 100 to 120mm
Unloaded weight: 1,000 grams maximum
Loaded weight: 1,300 grams maximum
Magazine: 15 rounds capacity minimum, ambidextrous
Tactical Rail System: Frame integral
Portion of the technical specifications for the Supply and Delivery of Pistol 9mm Striker-Fired for the Department of National Defense. As shown in the 1st part of Physical Characteristics, the calibre is now 9mm, firing the 9 x 19mm NATO round.

 The dimensions put the pistol's size as larger than a subcompact pistol like the Glock 30.

Another requirement is for the upper receiver (slide) having a high grade carbon steel material, and the lower receiver (frame) using polymer material. This is a very important part since only Glock uses these specs on their pistols. In comparison, the SIG Sauer P320, which is a candidate in the PNP's own pistol acquisition program, uses stainless steel upper and lower receivers, which does not meet the DND's specified requirements.

Based on initial search made by MaxDefense in a very limited time (as the corrections on this blog must be made ASAP), among those that can fit the bill are Glock's G19 Gen 4 and G17 Gen 4 (same as what the PNP uses).

MaxDefense believes that the G19 is more applicable for military use due to its compact design, as well as making it easier for plainclothes soldiers to hide it in public.

As for the bidding itself, latest information based on the Bid Documents places the deadline for Submission and Opening of Bids by May 31, 2017, 3:00pm. This could still be subject to changes, which is normal in military equipment biddings.

A comparison between the Glock 17 Gen 4 (above) and Glock 19 Gen 4 (below), wherein the height and length difference can be visually without the need for measurement. The magazine capacity is also shown, with Glock 17 Gen 4 having a 17-round capacity, while the shorter Glock 19 Gen 4 having a 15-round capacity.
Photo screengrabbed from YouTube video from J.P.'s FirearmsChannel.
Pres. Duterte's Relations with Trust Trade:

 During the president's visits to military camps around the country, there were several mentions made on the name "Trust Trade" when discussing about Glock 30 pistols. Who/What is Trust Trade?

Trust Trade Firearms and Ammunition, more commonly known as Trust Trade, is a firearms supplier based in Ortigas Center in Quezon City, and carries several firearms brands including Glock, Taurus, Kimber, and Norinco, among others. The company is owned and controlled by the Gutierrez family, and is known friend of Pres. Duterte.

With Pres. Duterte already mentioning several times that Trust Trade has already received, or is in the process of receiving thousands of Glock 30 .pistols, which MaxDefense believes are from Glock USA rather than from Austria, the sudden inclusion of the project to those scheduled for bidding this year might be more of a compliance to the Government Procurement Reform Act RA 9184.

But with Trust Trade already investing millions of pesos by ordering thousands of pistols without a contract signed yet with the government, this creates an impression that there is something fishy that is about to happen. Or in another point of view, is Pres. Duterte bluffing when he mentioned a few months ago that 30,000 Glock 30 pistols are coming, considering that they are now useless if the specifications of the combined AFP-PA 9mm Striker-Fired Pistol project is followed?

MaxDefense believes that while the project will be publicly tendered, the specifications of the pistols for procurement seemed to be skewed in favour of Glock, making Trust Trade a sure winner against other potential bidders that may want to try their luck on the project. If this happens, this will again be a breach of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9184.

Other Issues on Glock Pistols:

 MaxDefense also sees issues that may hamper the delivery of Glock pistols for the AFP.

First is the export license for the pistols. Glock 30 is currently manufactured in Glock's facility in Georgia, USA, and in Austria, although any export by Glock USA is monitored and confirmed first by Glock's headquarters in Austria. With the Philippine government being questioned with regards to so-called Extra Judicial Killings (EJKs) by the European Union and the US government, this might affect the AFP's acquisition of pistols considering that Pres. Duterte himself said that he wanted the AFP to use them to help win his War on Drugs. This despite the AFP being cleared by these foreign governments as an organisation not involved in EJKs.

Second, as already shown in previous experiences in other AFP projects, the entire bidding process for military projects are so slow and requires stupendous amounts of time. If the same happens to the AFP Pistol project despite having a delivery date of 180 calendar days for the first tranche of 35,000 units, 300 calendar days for the 2nd tranche of 99,861 units, then do not expect the pistols to arrive soon. Do not expect the repealing of Executive Order 235 to help streamline the process, as MaxDefense and many other defense, military, and industry sources and community members believe that the this would instead further prolong the bidding and procurement process instead of improving it.

Third, as confirmed by tests conducted recently by the Philippine National Police (PNP), that certain models of Glock pistols, specifically the Glock 17 Gen 4 which is a candidate for the PNP's own pistol procurement project, failed the sand, water, and drop tests conducted by the PNP last March 2017. While the pistol involved was the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 4 and not the Glock 30 or the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the Glock pistols can also pass the AFP's own test, which are expected to be stipulated in the Bid Requirements. If the pistol offered by Glock / Trust Trade fails the tests conducted by the AFP, there will definitely be delays in the project implementation and delivery schedules.
The PNP recently confirmed that the Glock 17 Gen. 4 9mm pistol failed in sand, water, and drop tests as part of the requirements for the PNP's own pistol acquisition for 2017. While this is not the Glock 30 nor the Glock 19, it remains to be seen if the pistol Glock and Trust Trade is expected to offer will pass the tests the AFP will conduct as specified in the Bid Requirements.
Photo taken from

 Moving On:

 With the project still about to be tendered, it is expected that AFP personnel will have to wait longer for the pistols to be distributed, despite the continued promises of Pres. Duterte that the pistols are on their way. Should Trust Trade win the deal, it is still yet to be confirmed how many pistols are in Trust Trade's possession as of the moment and ready for delivery, as they have the option to deliver earlier than the stipulated schedule on the bid documents. Also, this project clears another issue that many in the AFP are clarifying: is the pistol given by the president for personal ownership of AFP personnel, or if they would be owned by the AFP and just issued to AFP personnel. The answer appears to be the latter - AFP owns the pistols.

Only those few lucky ones, the AFP personnel that was personally given with Glock 30 handguns by the president himself, are expected to own the pistols as their own. Most of these personnel were either injured ones visited by Pres. Duterte in his hospital visits, or those raffled off during his camp visits.

Also, it is still a question if the project considers dividing the award into several suppliers, considering Pres. Duterte's mention of an option to choose either the Glock pistol, or a pistol based on the M1911 "Commander" pistol. MaxDefense believes that the most logical and foremost supplier of M1911 pistols is the Philippines' very own Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor), which also has a 9 mm variant. So that remains to be seen as well on how the AFP and DND will conduct the bidding for this project.

Armscor is a reputable supplier of cheap M1911-based pistols, and manufacture them in the Philippines. Based on MaxDefense's sources, their Commander-sized M1911 pistols can be priced within the budget allocated by the AFP, as compared to other .45 calibre pistols from foreign arms manufacturers.
Photo taken from Home Defense Journal's website.
MaxDefense's Choice:

 If MaxDefense is to choose, preference would be on the SIG Sauer P320 Compact 9mm variant. The 9mm variant is also the US Army's pick for its own Modular Handgun System (MHS) requirement to replace the ageing Beretta M9.

Main reason for this choice is because MaxDefense believes that the US Army already conducted very rigorous tests on the P320, much more rigorous than any test that is expected to be made by any Philippine government armed agency like the AFP, PA, and PNP. If it passes the US Army, it is indeed a durable and very good weapon. There is no reason to be very specific on the need for a polymer lower receiver since this obviously just point to a preferred supplier instead of a better product.

This is my personal choice and no further explanation will be given since it is moot at the moment.

MaxDefense's choice is the SIG Sauer P320. Hopefully the Philippine Army's own separate pistol requirement will consider this model, whether in 9mm or .45 ACP variant.

MaxDefense will provide more details about the AFP Pistol Acquisition Project and the Philippine Army Pistol Acquisition Project in future updates within this blog entry, or at our Facebook community page.