Thursday, June 4, 2015

Samar Army-NPA encounter wounds gov’t trooper

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 4): Samar Army-NPA encounter wounds gov’t trooper

Calbiga, Samar – Philippine Army (PA) troopers belonging to the 8th Infantry Division (8thID) of the PA’s 87th Infantry Battalion (87thIB) encountered an undetermined number of New People’s Army (NPA) cadres in Barangay Canvais, Motiong town, Samar yesterday. Exchange of fire between the two groups resulted in the wounding of Private First Class Jimson H. Sacote and the inflicting of an undetermined number of casualties among the rebels. Sacote was hit by a bullet in his right thigh and left leg.

Lt. Col. Antonio B. Dulnuan Jr, Commanding Officer of the 87thIB said the government troops encountered the same NPA band which ambushed a group of unharmed soldiers recently.

The ambush, which took place along the Lokilokon-San Jose de Buan Road in Paranas, Samar, resulted in the killing of two soldiers and the wounding of two more in the PA group. The two killed and two wounded soldiers were among the six government troopers riding tandem on three motorcycles bound for Catbalogan City when they were attacked by the NPA cadres last May 15.

Dulnuan said he ordered his men to immediately pursue the rest of the NPA elements operating in the area.

MILF: OIC reiterates support for Bangsamoro in Kuwait conference

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 1): OIC reiterates support for Bangsamoro in Kuwait conference

OIC reiterates support for Bangsamoro in Kuwait conference

The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani reiterated the 57-nation Islamic group's support for the Bangsamoro during the 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers being held in Kuwait.

"Concerning the Philippines, the OIC has followed the peace process in Southern Philippines for over forty years - It has been encouraged on this track by the efforts currently being put in by the Government to have the historic Bangsamoro Basic Law bill adopted by the Congress in favor of the establishment of a self-rule region in the south,” Madani said.

Madani recently visited the Philippines and oversaw a meeting of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF), a mechanism established to discuss issues and concerns concerning the Bangsamoro people. Madani also pronounced unequivocal support to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the BBL.

A three-member delegation from the Government of the Philippines is attending the annual gathering of foreign ministers of Muslim countries on  Wednesday.

In the same gathering, the GPH renewed its request to the OIC to complete the tripartite review process of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“[W]e are requesting the OIC to complete the review process prior to the ratification of the BBL and journey with us towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region while along the road we complete the implementation of the previous peace agreement,” said National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao in a statement read during one of the sessions.

Busran-Lao is joined by Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Jose Lorena and Undersecretary Rafael Seguis of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as part of the official Philippine delegation to the annual meeting. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chair Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim is also attending as representative of the Bangsamoro people.

Busran-Lao reiterated that the engagement with the MNLF would not end once the review process was completed. “The BBL offers a convergence of the two Moro peace processes, with the MNLF and the MILF. It clearly builds upon the gains of the previous peace accords introducing provisions that will ensure a more genuine autonomy within the framework of the Philippine territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

MILF: GPH, MILF agree on decommissioning task force

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 4): GPH, MILF agree on decommissioning task force

 GPH, MILF agree on decommissioning task force

Showing their resolve to end the decades-old armed conflict in Mindanao, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) negotiating panels signed an agreement creating the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities.
The new task force is mandated to “undertake all efforts related to socio-economic and development programs” and to “assist the Panels identify and implement socio-economic priorities and development projects” for decommissioned MILF combatants and their communities. The document is guided by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) as well as by the terms of reference of the Joint Normalization Committee.

The move is part of efforts by both the government and the MILF to kick off a program to hasten the return to civilian life of MILF combatants.

"The new Task Force is part of the continuing effort by the government and the MILF to move forward the other dimensions of the peace agreement, alongside the passage of the law establishing the Bangsamoro government," said GPH chief peace negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

Under the CAB, the MILF forces will undertake a gradual decommissioning program wherein their weapons will be put beyond use and their combatants will return to normal, productive civilian lives. The decommissioning process should be commensurate to the process of instituting the Bangsamoro Government, addressing other security concerns such as the private armed groups, and  transforming MILF camps acknowledged by the Government in 1998 into productive, civilian communities.

Moreover, the two panels also agreed to renew the mandate of the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) as well as the Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) for two years and nine months respectively.

The IMT is mandated to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the GPH and the MILF. The CPC monitors, verifies, and reports non-compliance of the two Parties to their basic undertaking to protect civilians and communities. Meanwhile, the AHJAG functions as a coordinating body prior to the conduct of law enforcement operations (LEOs) by government forces.

The IMT and the AHJAG were instrumental in restoring the ceasefire between the government forces and the MILF combatants following the Mamasapano incident last January. (OPAPP)
Coronel-Ferrer reiterated the need to protect the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process. “So much work remains to be done to build peace on the ground. We cannot afford to lose more time and resources before the  peace dividends are felt in the communities."

The new task force will also undertake  special socio-economic and development programs for the decommissioned women auxiliary forces of the MILF.  It will coordinate with government agencies, development partners, the private sector and other stakeholders in monitoring and supporting the transition of the decommissioned  combatants and programs for their communities, the internally displaced and other vulnerable sectors.

Composed of three members from the GPH and the MILF panels, the task force will exist until the signing of an exit agreement that will be signed when all agreements stipulated in the CAB have been realized.

CPP/NDF/NPA: NPA joint operations vs PNP-AFP troops in Davao Oriental yield 12 rifles, 10 casualties

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 24): NPA joint operations vs PNP-AFP troops in Davao Oriental yield 12 rifles, 10 casualties
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Spokesperson, NPA-Southern Mindanao Regional Command
Red fighters in a joint tactical command under the New People’s Army‘s 3rd Pulang Bagani Company, Front 15 Operations Command, and 8th Pulang Bagani Company, and with the help of the revolutionary masses, delivered fresh blows against the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the fascist rule of Governor Corazon Malanyaon on 22 May 2015, in two separate ambuscades in Davao Oriental.

The 3rd PBC and the Front 15 Operations Command attacked the 3rd Platoon Public Safety Company of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Patrol Base in Barangay (village) Bangol, Taragona, Davao Oriental. One PNP element was killed and five others were wounded. The NPA seized from them two M203 rifles, three M16 rifles, two M14 rifles, four pieces of 9mm handgun, and several military packs.

The attack, which occurred between 4:00am to 7:00am, was directed against the abusive PNP detachment which served as protector of, and collector of largesse for, the corrupt Gov. Malanyaon from a nearby developing gold rush area.

Almost simultaneously, in Barangay Kasunugan, Baganga, Davao Oriental, the 8th PBC ambushed a 14-man PDOP (peace and development outreach program) psychological warfare squad of the 67th Infantry Battalion. Three fascist soldiers were killed, one was wounded. During the short battle at 8:00am of 22 May, the NPA took possession of the enemy’s one Colt M16 rifle, one pack bag, and two cellphones.

The two ambushes are glaring testament to the superiority of guerilla warfare amid intensive enemy offensives in the region. The NPA attacks are conspicuous actions that further debunk the military and Gov. Malanyaon’s claim that Davao Oriental is already rid of the NPA. The NPA offensives also give justice to victims of Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha, December 2012) who suffered gravely from militarization, gross negligence and denial of typhoon assistance funds by Malanyaon’s camp.

Since the start of the first quarter of this year, the people’s army and revolutionary forces launched several tactical offensives against the 701st Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division-Eastern Mindanao Command, to wit:
  1. Attack against Mati city Police station
  2. A km450 military vehicle was hit by the NPA’s command detonated explosive on 7 April 2015 at 2:00am, in sitio Palina, Barangay Binondo, Baganga. There were undetermined number of casualties.
  3. Five military trucks in convoy were hit by the command detonated explosives near the 67th Infantry Battalion headquarters on 24 April at 1:00am
  4. On 8 May 2015, the NPA encountered the 67th IB elements and CAFGU paramilitary forces, and killed one CAFGU and two soldiers at Uwabangon patrol base.
  5. On 10 May, NPA ambush against Scout Rangers battalion test mission in Paglascon, Kasunugan, Mahanob, Baganga. Five were killed and two soldiers were wounded.
  6. On 19 May, an ambush through a command detonated explosive in Kamansi, Aliwagwag, Cateel, hit the car of the PNP chief
The tactical offensives were justified and legitimate punishment by the masses and revolutionary forces already fed up by Gov. Malanyaon and the AFP’s abuses. It is a slap on the face against the 67th Infantry Battalion which is blustering under the title of being the best battalion, and the 701st Brigade which is flaunting as the best brigade for allegedly having implemented successfully the Oplan Bayanihan program in the province.

In real terms, the military imposed a reign of brutal terror and psychological warfare to suppress the masses who fiercely struggled against the injustice brought about by Typhoon Pablo. The experience of 30 families from sitio Patong, Barangay Kasunugan, Baganga, is a blatant example of such repression. They were dislocated from their farms since last year and were threatened when they attempted to return to their farms. The military destroyed their rice and corn farms by defecating on the precious crops and throwing away their seedlings. Some of their leaders were forced to wear military uniforms to scare other residents. They were also filed with trumped up charges as NPA members on suspicion that they bought rice and food for the Red fighters.

AFP EastMinCom’s Chief Gen. Baladad and 10th Infantry Division Chief Gen. Ano aim for more medals and accolades by imposing poverty and oppression on the masses. Their target is more imagined than real. Their objective of decimating the NPA is far from being achieved because the NPA has thwarted Oplan Bayanihan by persevering against enemy suppression and launching sustained tactical offensives in many parts of the region.

Meanwhile, local government unit heads like Gov. Malanyaon of Davao Oriental serve as criminal reactionaries who, time and again, face the wrath of the masses for their neglect and plunder of people’s money. The revolutionary forces are ever stronger to escalate the people’s war and punish Malanyaon and her minions and the AFP in order to attain justice and pursue genuine development.

CPP/NDF: Koordinadong Taktikal na Opensiba, Isinagawa ng BHB sa Sorsogon at Camarines Sur !

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (May 31): Koordinadong Taktikal na Opensiba, Isinagawa ng BHB sa Sorsogon at Camarines Sur !

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Pahayag sa Midya
Mayo 31, 2015
Sa loob ng dalawang araw, Mayo 29-30, magkasunod na isinagawa ng BHB sa magkahiwalay na operasyong militar laban sa kaaway sa ilalim ng tropa ng 9th IDPA. Nagresulta ito ng Pagkamatay ng tatlong myembro ng militar at pagkasugat sa labanan ng isa pa.
Sa Prubinsya ng Sorsogon:

Matagumpay na inilunsad ng pulang mandirigma sa ilalim ng Celso Minguez Command- BHB Sorsogon ang operasyong ambus kontra sa tropa ng 31st IBPA na kasalukuyang naglulunsad ng Peace and Development Team (PDT) sa ilang bahagi sa bayan ng Gubat, Sorsogon noong Mayo 30, 2015. Bandang alas-otso ng umaga nang tambangan ng isang tim ng pulang mandirigma ang dalawang myembro ng PDT Team sa Brgy. Benguet, Gubat, Sorsogon. Kinilala ang mga ito na si PFC Ardy Tunge 25 taong gulang at PFC Gerry Gorda na siyam (9) na taon nang nasa serbisyo. Sugatan sa operasyon ng BHB si PFC Tunge at agad namang namatay si PFC Gorda. Habang ligtas na naka-atras sa lugar ang mga pulang mandirigma.

Matagal nang nirereklamo ng mga residente ang presensya ng militar sa lugar dahil sa matinding takot na idinudulot nito sa mamamayang Sorsoganon. Hindi na bago para sa mamamayan Gubatnon ang mapanlinlang na programa na dala ng PDT sa kanilang baryo at ang pagsuot ng magarang maskara ng 31st IBPA upang pilit nang pagtakpan ang berdugong mukha nila at hugasan ang madugong kamay dahil sa sunod-sunod na pagpaslang ng mga magsasakang lumalaban.
Sa Prubinsya ng Camarines Sur:

Nitong Mayo 29, 2015 naman, nang isagawa din ng isang tim ng Norben Gruta Command sa ilalim ng Eduardo Olbara Command-BHB Camarines Sur ang parusang kamatayan kay Cafgu Alan Madrilejos, 39 taong gulang sa Centro ng Casay sa Bayan ng Lupi, Camarines Sur. Ipinataw ang parusang kamatayan ng Hukumang Bayan ng Camarines Sur kay Madrilejos dahil sa pagiging embwelto nito sa Droga at aktibong asset ng militar.

Kasabay nito, bandang alas-10:40 ng umaga isinagawa din ng isang tim ng pulang mandirigma ang parusang kamatayan na ipinataw ng hukumang bayan kay Cafgu Rayno Merando sa Brgy. Panggasuan, Libmanan, Camarines Sur dahil sa mabibigat na kasong nagawa nito laban sa rebolusyonaryon kilusan at mamamayan. Pagiging aktibong asset ng militar at pagiging embwelto din nito sa operasyong kubkub ng 42nd IBPA laban sa BHB noong 2010 at ang huli nitong 2015 sa brgy. Udoc, Libmanan, Camarines Sur na nagresulta sa pagkamatay ng isang magsasaka.

Ang koordinadong Operasyon ng mga Pulang Mandirigma ay tugon sa hinahangad ng mamamayang Bikolano laban sa sunod-sunod na pang-aabuso ng tropa ng 9th IDPA. Sagot din ito ng Bagong Hukbong bayan sa Rehiyon para sa Pambansang panawagan ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan na paigtingin ang pagsusulong ng pakikidigmang gerilya upang makamit ang mga rekisitos sa tungo sa Estratihikong Pagkapatas !

Mabuhay ang Rebolusyong Pilipino!
Mabuhay ang mamamayang Bikolano!

Maria Roja Banua
Tagapagsalita- NDF-Bicol
Ipinaskil ni NDFP Bicol Information Office sa 6:32 PM

CPP/NDF: Stop Harassing and Threatening Luis Jalandoni,, Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel

NDDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jun 3): Stop Harassing and Threatening Luis Jalandoni,, Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Press Statement
by Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant of the NDFP Negotiating Panel
June 3, 2015
Since the 1990s, Luis Jalandoni the chairperson of the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has visited the Philippines a number of times for peace consultations and family visits under the protection of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) . He met and conversed with Presidents Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo.

Also since the 1990s, Jalandoni has acted as the Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel and as authorized representative of the NDFP, including the CPP and NPA, in facilitating the safe and orderly release of personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the custody of the NPA as prisoners of war.

In sharp contrast to previous regimes, the Aquino regime has emerged as the worst violator of the JASIG by harassing Jalandoni with an invalid and improperly served subpoena and threatening to arrest and imprison him on trumped up charges of nonbailable common crimes, such as “kidnapping and serious illegal detention of four named policemen (captured by the NPA on July 10, 2014 in Surigao del Norte and released on July 29, 2014) and violation of R.A. No. 9851 (Crime against Humanitarian Law and other Crimes against Humanity”.

The Aquino regime is the most malicious of all regimes by using its representatives (like DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Nani Braganza) to seek the release of the aforesaid policemen with the help of Jalandoni on humanitarian grounds and now hurling against him false charges of common crimes as aforementioned. Defense Secretary Gazmin and OPAPP Secretary Deles were with Secretary Mar Roxas during the safe and orderly release of the aforesaid policemen.

It is reprehensible that the Aquino regime is acting viciously and maliciously by violating the safety and immunity guarantees that protect Luis Jalandoni and by misrepresenting as a crime the facilitation done by Jalandoni to help realize the humanitarian act and goodwill measure of the NDFP in causing the release of the four policemen and seeking to improve the atmosphere for the resumption of formal talks in the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations.

It is unfortunate that the Aquino regime is making a vicious and malicious attack on the NDFP and the person of Jalandoni exactly at a time that he and I have just recommended to the NDFP Executive Committee to give permission to the NDFP Negotiating Panel to undertake exploratory talks prior to formal talks, despite the recent outburst of Aquino against the NDFP and the undersigned.

In order for the GPH and NDFP to engage in exploratory talks, as urged by the Royal Norwegian Government as third party facilitator and the many peace advocates, the Aquino regime should respect the JASIG and allow the safe passage of Jalandoni to his negotiating post and office in The Netherlands. Thus, the exploratory talks will proceed and not be disrupted by petty-minded and malicious obstructions.

Raytheon awarded $25 million 2nd phase of National Coast Watch Center

From Ang Malaya (Jun 4): Raytheon awarded $25 million 2nd phase of National Coast Watch Center

Raytheon Company announced in a news release that it secured the competitively-awarded second phase of the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) maritime border security contract for the Republic of the Philippines known as National Coast Watch Center.

“Under the $25 million contract, Raytheon will deliver sensing, command and control, and communications systems along with the training and sustainment services necessary to operationalize maritime border security capabilities,” Raytheon said.

“Under this latest contract award, Raytheon will enable the government of the Philippines to stand up a fully-operational security capability that detects, deters, and prevents threats along its coastal borders,” said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services (IIS).

“This work continues our strong partnership with the Republic of the Philippines and our direct support of DTRA’s efforts to help nations secure their borders and coastlines.”

The government of United States provided $20 million for the first phase of National Coast Watch Center. National Coast Watch Center located at Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters in Manila, in initial phase, was formally inaugurated last April 28.

Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano, NCWC Secretariat, said NCWC “shall be equipped with the needed capabilities to achieve maritime situational awareness, coordinated inter-agency response, and disposition in accordance with the rule of law. This will be done in phases until full-mission capability is achieved.”

PHL Coast Guard vessels getting upgrades from Raytheon

From Ang Malaya (Jun 4): PHL Coast Guard vessels getting upgrades from Raytheon

Philippine Coast Guard vessels are getting communications and surveillance upgrades as part of $25 million contract for the second phase of National Coast Watch Center. The contract was awarded by United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

The said contract also includes installation of a common operating picture platform in the National Coast Watch Control (NCWC) and National Coast Watch Stations in two different Philippine provinces. Raytheon will also design, install and test electro/optical infrared cameras.

Raytheon will also establish a training center and work on the sustainment, training, and transition of capabilities to the government of the Philippines.

“Our approach is based on a deep understanding of security needs that results in tailored solutions with the most appropriate capabilities to protect the sovereign borders of our customers,” said Todd Probert, vice president for Mission Support and Modernization at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services.

The government of United States provided $20 million for the first phase of National Coast Watch Center. It was inaugurated April 28 this year.

MILF fighters, government forces first encounter at Brigada Eskwela

From  the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): MILF fighters, government forces first encounter at Brigada Eskwela
RAJA MUDA, Pikit, North Cotabato -- Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops made their first encounter after the all-out-war many years ago, but this time they work as volunteers for Brigada Eskwela at Camp Raja Muda on Wednesday.

Led by the deputy commander of the national guard 3rd command base of the MILF, about 30 MILF fighters, who are skilled carpenters, and the same number of contingent from the AFP’s 602nd Infantry Brigade were on ground for the event.

Simultaneous with Raja Muda, another group of MILF fighters and army troops volunteered for Brigada at Camp Bushra, Lanao del Sur.

Together, they repaired roofs damaged by war…dents on windows…clean the grounds and painted the building of Raja Muda Elementary School.

Gen. Carlito Galvez, chair of the government’s Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said the Brigada Eskwela in the MILF camps is part of the signed commitment to transform the rebel camps as social progressive entity. He added that it is also part of the normalization process which also include de-commissioning of MILF firearms and the fighters in all camps; transitional justice, individual social and economic livelihood in recognition of the fact that the Moro areas have long been marginalized.

The activity also manifests the transition of the MILF members from combatants to becoming civilians living normal lives in their communities with their families.

Galvez said they have targeted three schools per MILF camp. Aside from Camp Raja Muda and Bushra, Galvez disclosed they will be conducting Brigada Eskwela in Camp Abubakar, Matanog, Maguindanao and in Camp Omar Thursday. On Friday, they will be at Camp Badre in Maguindanao.

“This is the first time we are meeting after the war. First time kong nakatapak dito (my first time to step in here) sa ibang (in different) perspective,” Galvez said, adding that the school was burned during the all-out war in 2000.

Galvez admitted they are already delayed to hold the Brigada Eskwela because they still need to do political arrangements and process financial requirements for the procurement of P100,000 worth of materials. Other costs were covered by other government agencies and public officials.

Seeing the MILF fighters and government troops working together during the Brigada Eskwela buoyed up the situation. The children were excited.

Monera Paglala, whose three of her four children are studying at Raja Muda School, said seeing the MILF and the government meeting at a different setting is good.

“Maganda ito para maganda din pag-aaral ng mga bata (This is good because this is also good for the learning of the children,” she said.

Mindira Lamping, a Grade 5 teacher of Raja Muda for 17 years, hoped they would finally achieve peace in the area because the children are the ones affected.

She said they were in difficult situation before. Their classes were disrupted three times because of the armed conflict in 1997, the all-out war in 2000 and in 2008 due to the failed MOA-AD. Lamping said they held classes in evacuation centers. According to her, before – the children were sometimes prevented by armed men to go to school; and, on many occasions, children do not go to school if they see a man carrying a firearm.

“But I have never been afraid as I always emphasized to everybody nothing should hinder the education of the children,” she said in Tagalog. “I am ready to die in the service,” she added.

The Office of the Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), which helped facilitate the holding of the activity, said the activity highlighted the advocacy of the MILF in improving the lives of their members and ensuring the future of their children and the Bangsamoro.

There were also services rendered such as the medical and dental service, hair-cut, and distribution of medicines.

Philippines Moves Toward New Naval Base Near the South China Sea

From The Diplomat (Jun 3): Philippines Moves Toward New Naval Base Near the South China Sea

Manila is making progress on a new facility.

As I have written earlier, the Philippines has been in the process of constructing a new naval base opposite the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (See: “A ‘New’ Philippine Navy Base in the South China Sea?”).

Though Philippine armed forces chief General Gregorio Catapang, Jr. recently indicated that the base was a “top priority,” he also admitted that construction had been delayed by funding bottlenecks and the infrastructure there was still very much a work in progress.

On June 2, IHS Jane’s reported that the Philippine Navy (PN) had released images confirming that it had completed the first major access road to a naval pier being built there – a clear sign of progress.

According to the PN, the road, which is part of what is described as a three-year development to make Oyster Bay a major naval anchorage for the Philippines as well as visiting allies, would now allow the construction of the naval pier to move ahead at a greater pace.

IHS Jane’s also reported that the project development program report describes a facility that will eventually have a secure helipad, an amphibious jungle warfare training center in the surrounding area, a coast watch radar station and communications center on the hills overlooking the site, a network of armed outposts and monitoring systems, and potentially an area forward joint operations center for visiting “security and treaty” partners of the Philippines. More specific details are still publicly unavailable as many of these plans remain classified.

Once completed, Philippine officials had previously indicated that the base would be able to hold a few large naval vessels, including a few U.S. ones as well. And as I noted in my previous piece, beyond the infrastructure mentioned, military officials have also stressed that possessing a base so close to the South China Sea would enable the armed forces of the Philippines to drastically shorten the travel time of its vessels and minimize fuel and other logistical costs, as well as boost the morale of troops stationed nearby.

While the progress being made on the new naval base is promising, it remains to be seen whether the facility will be completed in time. The timing matters because of China’s rapid land reclamation activities, refusal to participate in the case Manila filed against it with the arbitral tribunal at The Hague, and its out-muscling of Philippine ships and aircraft in recent weeks, suggests that Beijing is quickly trying to change the status quo in its favor, and that the Philippines needs to urgently secure its own position in the South China Sea. As I have written before, the current dynamics in the South China Sea make it such that it is a race against time, and time is not on Manila’s side (See: “Why Kissinger’s South China Sea Approach Won’t Work”).

China’s Island-Building Pushes U.N.’s Legal Boundaries

From World Politics Review (Jun 3): China’s Island-Building Pushes U.N.’s Legal Boundaries

China’s increased pace of island-building in the disputed South China Sea has angered many of its neighbors, but China insists that its land-reclamation activities are no cause for concern. In an email interview, Mira Rapp Hooper, a fellow with the Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the director of its Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, discussed China’s rights under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

WPR: What rights do countries have to develop features and outcroppings into artificial islands under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and what maritime rights do these artificial islands then accrue?

Mira Rapp Hooper: Land reclamation is not illegal under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is within a coastal state’s sovereign rights to reclaim land within its own territorial waters, or 12 nautical miles from its coast. If reclamation is within 12-200 nautical miles of a country’s coast, it is governed by UNCLOS’ provisions for the use of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and continental shelves. A coastal state may also legally conduct land reclamation on the high seas beyond 200 nautical miles.

Artificial islands constructed through land reclamation do not, however, generate new maritime entitlements of their own. When evaluating the maritime entitlements of a reclaimed island, it is crucial to know what the status of that land feature was before building took place. If the feature was formerly a rock, then under Article 121 of UNCLOS it is entitled to a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea and adjacent air space. It is not entitled to an EEZ or a continental shelf provision. If the feature was formerly a submerged reef, or a low-tide elevation, it is not entitled to anything: no territorial waters, no EEZ, no airspace, no continental shelf provisions. In fact, it is not even subject to a sovereignty claim under UNCLOS. The only zone that is legally afforded to an ersatz island built atop a submerged feature is a 500-meter “safety zone.”

WPR: How do these rights apply in the case of the features and outcroppings that China is developing in the South China Sea, some of which involve maritime areas claimed by other countries?

Rapp Hooper: Artificial island-building is illegal if it takes place in the territorial waters or exclusive economic zone of another state. Some of the islands that China is building in the Spratly Islands are within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines’ coast, meaning they are likely within its EEZ. But because the sovereignty of Spratly land features is highly contested, China also may claim that its new artificial features are also within its own EEZ as measured from Itu Aba or other Spratly Islands that may generate additional maritime entitlements.

WPR: What impact are these developed features and outcroppings likely to have on the adjudication of competing maritime claims in the South China Sea?

Rapp Hooper: China’s island-building has implications for the resolution of disputes in the Spratlys. The seven features on which China is building are all part of an arbitration case that the Philippines has brought against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in Hamburg. In its case, the Philippines argues that some of the features that China occupies are rocks and others are reefs. By building on top of these features, China may make it more difficult for the court to determine their prior status. Moreover, China has already announced that it will not abide by any decision that the court hands down. If, therefore, the court were to rule that some of China’s features are, in fact, reefs, and therefore not subject to sovereignty claims, it would make it all the less likely that China would stop building and vacate the features in question. China’s building spree appears to signal that Beijing believes possession is nine-tenths of the law.

Is U.S.-China Conflict Imminent in the South China Sea?

From the Huffington Post (Jun 3): Is U.S.-China Conflict Imminent in the South China Sea?

by Joseph Nye                                                                       
Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University; Author, 'The Future of Power'

When a U.S. Navy P8-A surveillance aircraft recently flew near Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, it was warned eight times by the Chinese Navy to leave the area. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that, "China's determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock." U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter replied that, "There should be no mistake [about this]: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows us, as we do all around the world." So, is a U.S.-China conflict in the South China Sea imminent?

In 1995, when I was serving in the Pentagon, China began building structures on Mischief Reef, which is claimed by the Philippines and lies much closer to its shores than to China's. The U.S. issued a statement that we took no position on the competing claims by five states over the 750 or so rocks, atolls, islets, cays and reefs that comprise the Spratlys, which cover a vast area -- 425,000 square kilometers (164,000 square miles) -- of the South China Sea. We urged that the parties involved to settle the disputes peacefully.

But the U.S. took a strong stand that the South China Sea, which includes important sea lanes for oil shipments from the Middle East and container ships from Europe, and over which military and commercial aircraft routinely fly, was subject to the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty.

To back up its territorial claim, China relies on a map inherited from the Nationalist period -- the so-called "nine-dashed line," which extends nearly a thousand miles south of mainland China and sometimes as close as 40 or 50 miles from the coastline of states like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. All of these states claim the 200-mile exclusive economic zones granted under UNCLOS.

When the dispute over Mischief Reef erupted, Chinese officials failed to clarify the meaning of the nine-dashed line, but, when pressed, they agreed that the dashes demarcated areas where China had sovereign claims. At the same time, they agreed that the South China Sea was not a Chinese lake, and that it was governed by the UN treaty. On this basis, the U.S. and China avoided conflict over the issue for nearly two decades.

But China did not avoid conflicts with its maritime neighbors. Although it pledged to adhere to a code of conduct negotiated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2002, it used its superior military might in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2012, Chinese patrol vessels chased Philippine fishing boats away from Scarborough Shoal off the Philippine coast, and the Philippine government has taken the dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which China claims has no jurisdiction. In 2014, after China stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, ships from the two countries engaged in ramming and water-cannon battles at sea; anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam followed.

The region's smaller states sought American support. But the U.S. remained careful not to be drawn into the competing claims over sovereignty, some of which are tenuous, while on others China sometimes has a stronger legal position. Moreover, the U.S. had to focus on larger issues in its relationship with China.

This began to change when China initiated an active policy of dredging sand to fill in reefs and build islands in at least five locations. Earlier this year, analysts released images of what is expected to be a 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) runway on Fiery Cross Reef.

The U.S. argues that UNCLOS grants foreign ships and planes free access beyond a 12-mile territorial limit, while China claims that military flights cannot cross its 200-mile economic zone without its permission. If China claimed such a zone for each of the sites it occupies, it could close off most of the South China Sea. As one U.S. official put it, China seems to be trying to "create facts on the ground" -- what Admiral Harry Harris, the U.S. commander in the Pacific, calls a new "great wall of sand."

China correctly declared that it was within its sovereign rights to dredge, and that it was merely following the lead of its neighbors, whose governments had also been creating structures to bolster their claims. But American suspicions were heightened by the fact that in 2013, in a separate dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Daiyou Islands in the East China Sea, the Chinese government unilaterally declared an Air Defense Identification Zone without prior warning. The U.S. response was to fly two B-52 bombers through the unrecognized zone. This set a precedent for the recent naval reconnaissance flight (which had a team of CNN reporters on board).

The U.S. response was designed to prevent China from creating a fait accompli that could close off large parts of the South China Sea. Nevertheless, the original policy of not becoming embroiled in the sovereignty dispute continues to make sense. The irony is that the U.S. Senate's failure to ratify UNCLOS means that the U.S. cannot take China to ITLOS over its efforts to convert reefs into islands and claim exclusion zones that could interfere with the right of free passage -- a major U.S. interest.

But, because China has ratified UNCLOS and the U.S. respects it as customary international law, there is a basis for serious direct negotiation over clarification of the ambiguous nine-dashed line and the preservation of freedom of the seas. With properly managed diplomacy, a U.S.-China conflict in the South China Sea can and should be avoided.

MILF warns of propaganda meant to derail peace process

From CNN Philippines (Jun 3): MILF warns of propaganda meant to derail peace process

A senior official of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) warns that some sectors are out to discredit the group with the goal of derailing the ongoing peace process and the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Spokesperson Von Al Haq of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) — which is the military arm of the MILF — said on Monday afternoon (June 1) that reports claiming that 85 of the rebel group's commanders were planning to leave the organization were not true.

He said all BIAF field commanders, along with their men, remained loyal to the group and and supportive of the ongoing peace process.

This developed after a report from a national daily recently claimed of disintegration among the MILF ranks and the disillusionment of 85 of its field commanders over the current peace negotiations.

Al Haq said he met with all field commanders who all expressed loyalty to the organization and its leadership as well as the peace process.

He stressed that the false reports were part of the propaganda from some sectors were out to destroy their organization, the peace process, and the BBL.

He urged the people in the Bangsamoro to rally behind the peace initiatives of the MILF and the government.

The reports were also dismissed by Gordon Sayfullah, commander of BIAF in Central Mindanao. Sayfullah said that all BIAF commanders and men in the area supported the peace negotiations.

Army unit, first responder in major quake events in MM

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): Army unit, first responder in major quake events in MM

The 525th Engineering Combat Battalion, which is based in Libis, Quezon City, is one of the first units being deployed by the Philippine Army (PA)in the event a major quake strike Metro Manila.

This was disclosed by PA spokesperson Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato in an interview with the PNA.

"We have in Libis the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion (which) is dedicated as our humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) unit," he added.

An engineering battalion consists of around 500 to 1,000 officers and enlisted personnel.

It is equipped with a variety of bulldozers, backhoes and other heavy construction equipment.

The 525th Engineering Combat Battalion was one of the first military units deployed to Leyte during the aftermath of Supertyphoon "Yolanda" in Nov. 8, 2013.

Together with units of the Catbalogan-based 8th Infantry Division, the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion helped clear roads leading to Tacloban City and other parts of Leyte of debris.

Detoyato said that the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion is also be aided by other military units based in Metro Manila.

Aside from this, military dependents will also be playing a role in the HADR efforts.

"Our units in the National Capital Region are ready to move out and help. That's the reason why we already conducted a disaster preparedness training to our dependents here and around Fort Bonifacio so that in case of a disaster, they can also respond since the troops inside the camp will also respond outside," the PA spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Major Emmanuel Garcia, 1st Civil Relations Group commander, said that Metro Manila military units will be reinforced by troops coming from the Armed Forces' Northern and Southern Luzon Commands.

"As per recent plans and earthquake drills, emanating from the West Valley Fault (which runs through Marikina, Pasig, and Muntinlupa) troops from NOLCOM and SOLCOM will reinforce military units in the National Capital Region," he added.

Aside from this, Garcia said that all military personnel, in an event of major calamity, are tasked to respond.

"There is a dedicated tasking per unit, specially those in NOLCOM and SOLCOM," Garcia pointed out.

An estimated 37,000 will be killed while another 300,000 will be injured and 10,000 to 14,000 structures are expected to be destroyed should a major earthquake hit Metro Manila, Garcia said.

NPA says it is holding soldier but Army commander says trooper 'AWOL'

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): NPA says it is holding soldier but Army commander says trooper 'AWOL'

The communist New People’s Army said it is holding an Army soldier its guerrillas had “arrested” in Tboli, South Cotabato almost two months ago.

Alejandro Magiting, spokesman of the NPA-Far South Mindanao Region Sub-Regional Operational Command, said Private First Class Khen R. Subere was captured on April 12 while “conducting civic military operations within (our) guerrilla zone."

The NPA made the announcement only on Tuesday, June 2.

Subere is a member of the 27th Infantry Battalion based in Tupi, South Cotabato.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Alcudia, commander of the battalion, however declared Subere AWOL (absent without official leave) after losing contact with the soldier on April 13, the day after he was abducted by the rebels.

“Subere was dropped from the roster of troops effective 23 (April),” Alcudia said in a statement, saying the soldier reportedly expressed “interest to discontinue his military service” even before he went missing.

However, Alcudia said they will exert efforts to work with law enforcement authorities and Subere’s family to locate the missing soldier who will be investigated for his “unauthorized” disappearance once he is found.

The NPA are demanding a suspension of military operations in South Cotabato to facilitate the release of Subere who they said has not committed “crimes against the people.”

“The Mt. Daguma SROC assures the family and loved ones of POW (prisoner of war) Subere that he is being accorded with his right to due process and humane treatment while in detention in keeping with the CPP - NPA's legacy in abiding by international humanitarian laws,” the rebels said.

Subere’s abduction by the rebels is the first in the region since 2001 when guerrillas under the NPA’s Valentin Palamine Command seized four alleged military informants in barangay Datal Blao, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

The four were later executed after the government refused to negotiate for their release and their remains exhumed in April 2005.

PH gov’t urged to preserve gains of Bangsamoro peace agreements

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 4): PH gov’t urged to preserve gains of Bangsamoro peace agreements

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) composed of 57 members passed a resolution on May 28 calling on the government of the Philippines to ensure the gains of all peace agreements it entered with the two Moro fronts, be preserved in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The OIC resolution refers to the peace agreements of the Philippine government with the Moro National Liberation Front (1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement in Jakarta) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed on March 27, 2014).

The Annex on Power Sharing of the CAB stipulated that all gains of previous peace agreements should be preserved.

The OIC’s appeal that the BBL contains all the gains of the peace agreements with the Moro fronts is likewise in line with the Philippine government’s efforts to ensure that the Bangsamoro entity be inclusive, in which all the Moro groups, non-Moros, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders and sectors are fully represented to secure just and lasting peace in Mindanao, putting an end to all armed conflicts.

Philippine government chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer earlier said the government took all efforts to make sure that the BBL would build on the gains of all peace agreements in Mindanao to bring genuine autonomy to the Bangsamoro.

The resolution approved by the powerful group of Islamic nations during the two-day 42nd Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, “calls upon the Secretary General, Iyad Ameen Madani, to exert his efforts to find common grounds between the parties to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the 1996 Agreement on the implementation of the 1976 Peace Agreement.”

Furthermore, OIC leadership should “develop a mechanism to ensure that the gains of the 1996 Final Agreement on the implementation of the 1976 Peace Agreement are preserved and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro are fully implemented with the end goal of integrating the gains achieved in these peace agreements in the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” says in the resolution.

The OIC said it “commends the efforts of the Secretary General at narrowing the gap between the positions of the leaderships of the MNLF and MILF to continue their joint coordination and work to achieve peace and development for the people of the Bangsamoro under  the framework of Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) established between the two fronts at the Islamic Conference in Dushanbe, in particular, his quick action to avoid widening the gap of mistrust and division between the two liberation fronts.”

Sec. General Madani led an OIC delegation that visited the Philippines for a series of meetings in April, which included overseeing the BCF conference among the leaders of the two Moro fronts in Davao City.

In its resolution, the OIC welcomed the efforts of Special Envoy Ambassador Sayed El-Masry for leading the “activation and operationalization of the BCF and their pledge to consolidate their efforts towards achieving the Bangsamoro people’s aspirations.”

“They further pledged to work for harmonizing the two peace tracks through finding common grounds between the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Jakarta Agreement on the one hand and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on the other, in order to preserve the gains contained in these agreements,” the resolution reads.

On top of these, the OIC also commended “the firm commitment” of the Philippine government and the MILF to the peace process and its “determination to work for achieving an enduring, just and lasting peace” despite the Mamasapano incident in January.

Navy to acquire 101,640 .50 machinegun rounds

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): Navy to acquire 101,640 .50 machinegun rounds

The Philippine Navy (PN) is allocating the sum of Php20,328,000 for the acquisition of 101,640 .50 caliber heavy machinegun rounds.

It will be used in arming the Navy's .50 caliber machine gun mounts which is the secondary armament of most PN patrol boats and ships.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the munition within 90 calendar days.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on June 10, 1 p.m. at the Office of the PN Bids and Awards Committee Bonifacio Naval Station, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Contact.

Tabak chief lauds 53rd IB’s feat in bringing down CPP-NPA’s influence in Zambo. Sur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 1): Tabak chief lauds 53rd IB’s feat in bringing down CPP-NPA’s influence in Zambo. Sur

GUIPOS, Zamboanga del Sur, – 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division commander BGen. Gerardo Barrientos Jr. got impressed with the achievements of the 53rd Infantry (MATAPAT) battalion, as it succeeded in bringing down the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the province.

Speaking on Friday before the officers, enlisted personnel, stakeholders, and dependents during the 13th Refilling Anniversary of the unit at Camp Major David Sabido here, Barrientos cited the efforts undertaken by the battalion in the implementation of the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) or “Bayanihan” campaign resulting in the decline of the CPP-NPA’s influence in the area.

In his report, Lt. Col. Alvin Luzon, commanding officer, said “the influence of CPP-NPA in the province is on steady decline, as there was no record of terror activities and/or NPA-nitiated violent incidents for more than a year now. As local communist movement members are gradually returning to the mainstream society.”

Meanwhile, Barrientos said the success of the unit in preventing the threat of insurgency is attributed to the support extended by various stakeholders.

“I thanked the local chief executives, national government organizations, and peoples organizations for their active support and cooperation because without the involvement of stakeholders I am certain that the 1st Infantry division could not achieve their mission in making the province peaceful,” Barrientos said.

“Imposible pong magampanan ng ating mga kasundaluhan ang kanilang trabaho kung hindi magbibigay ng tulong ang ating mga stakeholders, kaya palagi natin silang ini-involved sa ating mga peace efforts,” Barrientos added.

(It would be impossible for our soldiers to perform their work without the stakeholders’ help. Thus, we always involved them in our peace efforts).

Barrientos said collaborations have been made by the AFP with all stakeholders to intensify their engagement as mandated by “Oplan Bayanihan”.

Proof of this, Barrientos said “the 1st Infantry division has organized the Multi-Sectoral Governance Council (MSGC) to monitor the soldiers if they are sincerely performing their work as protector of the people. They serve as the ‘eyes of our people’ and it is their duty and responsibility to check if the soldiers are efficiently performing their work.”

“To our forces, let us continue to serve with excellence to show our dedication.  Let us continue to be the soldiers of the Filipino people and by doing so, we can say that we are slowly getting towards our main objective that is the Philippine army the source of our national pride,” Barrientos concluded.     

Among those present in the said occasion were Governor Antonio H. Cerilles, Vice Governor Juan Regala, 103rd Brigade Commander Colonel Andres Aguinaldo Jr.,  local chief executives, and stakeholders.

WestMinCom promotes peace through football

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 1): WestMinCom promotes peace through football
To promote peace and foster camaraderie among the youth in some conflict areas in Mindanao, some 320 young football enthusiasts joined the first Football Festival here on May 28-30, spearheaded by the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“We find football to be a unifying sport, especially for kids coming from remote and conflict areas,” said Lieutenant General Rustico O. Guerrero, commanding officer of  WesMinCom.

The participating groups came from Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao del Norte and Cotabato.

“Through this initiative, we build their characters and teach them team work,” explained Guerrero.

He said they have noticed teams coming from conflict areas were not comfortable with one another “but when they play football, they get along well,” he said.

“Hindi naman pala  kailangang mag giyera eh. Nakikita ‘to ng mga bata. They can compete in a friendly game. So, hindi nila kailangang tularan ‘yong mga ginagawa ng mga matatanda. This is the purpose of the game,” (War is not the answer. The kids can see this. They can compete in a friendly game, so they don’t have to follow the actions of their predecessors. This is the purpose of the game) underscored Guerrero.

The commander expressed his gratitude to all stakeholders who have extended support to the activity. “We cannot do it alone. We rely on our stakeholders. We certainly need the support of our partners in this endeavor,” he opined.

As an educational tour, the group visited some historical places and scenic spots in the city on the last day of the activity.

PNP promotes 4 officials to one-star General, 21 to Senior Superintendent

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): PNP promotes 4 officials to one-star General, 21 to Senior Superintendent

President Benigno Aquino III has approved the promotion of four police officials as Chief Superintendents (equivalent to one-star General in the military) and 21 others promoted as Senior Superintendents, PNP Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said on Thursday.

Espina formally led the oath-taking and donning of rank ceremony held in PNP Multi-purpose Center in Camp Crame.

The following were promoted to the rank of Chief Superintendent: Chief Supt. Rudy Gamido Lacadin for the Directorate for Plans (DPL), Chief Supt. Buenaventura Mercado Viray, Jr. for the Directorate for Research & Development (DRD), Chief Supt. Noel Alvarez Baraceros for Center for Police Strategy Management (CPSM) and Chief Supt. Benjamin Tomas Hulipas as the director of Police Regional Office 1 (PRO 1)

Meanwhile, the following were promoted to the rank of Police Senior Superintendent (Colonel): Sr. Supt. Jerry Crisostomo Valeroso and Sr. Supt. Romeo Alerta Baleros for Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Sr. Supt. Armando Marinas Mariano and Sr. Supt. James Jamandre Afalla for Internal Affairs Service (IAS), Sr. Supt. PSSupt Felix Callangan Dayag and Sr. Supt. John Cayaban Chua for Headquarters Support Service (HSS), Sr. Supt. Julius Saligan Muñez for Police Regional Office 9 (PRO 9), Sr. Supt. Arnold Martinez Aguilar for Aviation Security Group (AVSEG), Sr. Supt. Araceli Salita Pulmano for Health Service (HS), Sr. Supt. Remus Zacharias Pedregosa Canieso for Police Regional Office 6 (PRO 6), Sr. Supt. Ronelo Dungo Jaurigue for Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), Sr. Supt. Rolando Verdeflor Bade for Police Regional Office 8 (PRO 8), PSSupt Manuel Sukarno Barton Alvarez for Police Regional Office 10 (PRO 10), Sr. Supt. Rommel Bernardo Abrea Cabagnot for Police Security Protection Group (PSPG), Sr. Supt. Leumar Udaundo Abugan for Police Regional Office 2 (PRO 2), Sr. Supt. Julius Macellones Coyme for Police Regional Office ARMM (PRO ARMM), Sr. Supt. John Gorospe Atela for Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), Sr. Supt. Juan Binamira Añonuevo Jr. for Police Regional Office 4B (PRO 4B), Sr. Supt. Francisco Damayo Dungo Jr. for Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), Sr. Supt. Remus Balingasa Medina for Police Regional Office 2 (PRO 2).

In his speech, Espina lauded the police officials for performing a great job in fulfilling the duty of the PNP which is to serve and protect.

PNP-OIC also thanked the officers for their sacrifices and hard work especially on holidays where the police are needed the most.

Espina reminds the officials to be committed to their sworn duty to the country and the public.

Ranking rebel leader arrested in Cavite not a peace consultant - AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): Ranking rebel leader arrested in Cavite not a peace consultant - AFP

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday dismissed reports that ranking rebel leader, Adelberto Silva, who was arrested by military and police operatives in Bacoor, Cavite, is a peace consultant as claimed by militant group Karapatan.

"Adelberto Silva is facing criminal cases filed by the family members of the victims of the New People’s Army (NPA) purging in Leyte. It is surprising that he is named as a National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant despite his act of ordering the NPA to wage armed violence against the people in the countryside," AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

He added that the militants could not prove that Silva is listed in the Joint Agreement on the Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which was signed by the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front peace panels in 1995.

"They could not present any evidence to prove this claim," Cabunoc said.

Silva and his wife Sharon Cabusao were arrested during a joint military and police operation in Bacoor City, Cavite last June 2 by virtue of warrant of arrest for15 counts of murder issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 18of Hilongos, Leyte.

A certain Isidro De Lima was arrested with them.

The arrest was conducted in the presence of local officials showing transparency in the conduct of law enforcement operations by the Philippine National Police.

Silva is accused of heinous crimes such as murder and frustrated murder.

He was also tagged as among those who had a direct hand in the infamous Inopacan massacre which claimed the lives of more or less 400 people.

Some of these victims were buried in a mass grave scattered in the hinterlands along the municipal boundary of Mahaplag, Hindang and Inopacan, all in Leyte.

Elements of 43rd Infantry Battalion discovered a mass grave at a placed called “Garden” in the vicinity of Mt. Sapang Dako of Barangay Culisihan, Inopacan, Leyte on Aug. 27, 2006 which led to the discovery of this heinous crime.

Troopers exhumed 68 skeletal remains which led officialsand media to dub the place as the “Inopacan mass graves”.

Silva is just one of the 52 others who were accused of involvement in this massacre.

He is also a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples’ Army, National Democratic Front (CNN).

To maintain organizational unity, the CPP/NPA/NDF adopts a committee system in its organization based on the principle of democratic centralism.

The Central Committee directs and supervises the different functional staffs and regional committees.

It is the highest and leading CPP committee in the country.

Its functions are:

•in between National Congresses, it leads the entire work of the Party;

•makes current decisions and issues statements about national policies;

•to abolish or create new party organs;

•directs and allocates party cadres and attend promptly to appeals from lower party organizations;

•to prepare the standards and means of elections of all leading committees at every level;

•to call or order the holding of conferences by the territorial committees; and,

•at its plenum, which is once every six months, elects the following:

Politburo and its composition, the CC Chairman and Deputies, the Secretariat, and the General Secretary.

Silva is the Secretary of the National Organizational Department of the CNN which is in charge of the recruitment of cadres, units, and organization and works for the Secretariat of the CPP.

He was first elected to the Central Committee during the 9th Plenum on June to November 1985 which was held in Nueva Vizcaya and changed venues until they reached Bondoc Peninsula.

He was re-elected to the Central Committee during the 10th Plenum on July to August 1992.

Among his colleagues in the Central Committee are the Tiamzon couple who were arrested recently.

The series of arrests of prominent members of the CNN is the result of the collaborative efforts between security forces and disgruntled members of the organization who have finally realized the futility of the communist movement.

This is a clear indication of the existing divisiveness and breakdown of the party’s ideological purpose.

His arrest will have a huge impact to the CNN and to their strategic direction and programs.

The CNN is slowly breaking apart and is using the peace talks as their last straw to free its CPP-NPA leaders who were arrested by the government forces.

"Finally, justice will now be served to those members of the NPA who were tortured and murdered by their own comrades in their purging campaign against suspected military agents in their group," Cabunoc concluded.

Navy to acquire 4,000 CTG 25mm high-explosive ammunition

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): Navy to acquire 4,000 CTG 25mm high-explosive ammunition

In a bid to improve the offensive capabilities of all its active warships, the Philippine Navy (PN) is allocating PhP24,000,000 for the acquisition of 4,000 CTG 25mm high-explosive ammunition.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the munition within 90 calendar days.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for June 10, 1 p.m. at the Office of the PN Bids and Awards Committee, Bonifacio Naval Station, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The munition is for the use of all Filipino naval vessels mounting the 25mm "Bushmaster" auto-cannon.

The "Bushmaster" cannon is the secondary armament of the three JCPV (Jacinto Class Patrol Vessels) and two Gregorio Del Pilar frigates currently in PN service.

CPP crippled with arrest of top rank officer

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 4): CPP crippled with arrest of top rank officer

The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) is now crippled with the arrest on Monday of a top-ranking leader, who was “turned in” by another senior CPP-NPA personality, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said yesterday.

Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP-Public Affairs Office chief, said that the arrest of Adelberto Silva is a huge setback on the part of the CPP-NPA.

According to Cabunoc, the information that led to the arrest of Silva, his party wife Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima last Monday night in Bacoor, Cavite, was provided to the military by another senior CPP-NPA leader.

“The overall operation of the CPP-NPA is now crippled — both political side and the armed component…they are headless, so no one is directing the communist operations,” said Cabunoc.

Prior to his arrest, Silva was serving as the overall operations leader of the CPP-NPA as secretary general of the CPP-Central Committee.

“As secretary general, Silva directed all political and combat operations of the communist group…he has control over the fronts, he plans and orchestrate the operations,” added Cabunoc.

Silva succeeded Wilma Austria as CPP-Central Committee secretary general after her arrest in March 2014, along with her husband Benito Tiamzon, who was the committee chairman.

According to Cabunoc, Silva rose from the communist rank starting in Region VIII and went up to the CPP-NPA’s high command.

“He was also involved in the Inopacan massacre in Leyte in the 1980s…he slowly rose to the communist ranks as their leaders were neutralized one after the other,” said Cabunoc.

Silva is wanted for 15 counts of murder and the subject of arrest warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 of Hilongos, Leyte.

Cabunoc expressed optimism that more communist leaders would be neutralized soon with the continuing relentless operations being conducted jointly by the AFP and the police.

Meanwhile, two NPA bandits voluntarily surrendered to the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion in North Cotabato province.

Those who surrendered were Roger Antipuesto, alias Jess, and Ryan Calio, alias Bunso. They brought along an M16 rifle with magazines and 250 rounds of ammunition.

As of yesterday, there are 79 NPA members who have surrendered to different military units of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command while 38 others with warrant of arrest from different concerned courts were arrested by the joint AFP/PNP elements in Eastern Mindanao area since Jan. 1, 2015.

AFP Junior officers ask superiors to correct ‘flawed’ promotion system

From the Daily Tribune (Jun 4): AFP Junior officers ask superiors to correct ‘flawed’ promotion system

Junior and mid-ranking officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now asking their senior officers to start correcting the “flawed” promotion system to ensure that only those deserving and qualified would be leading the military in the future.

The officers, who requested anonymity, urged the current AFP leadership to act on the defective promotion system that provides opportunity to non-performers in the 125,000-strong military organization.

They called on their generals to act now before it’s too late.

“The promotion system is one challenge that current generals must start to act on. We can win battles and wars if the AFP would be led by capable and credible, and incorruptible officers who will do what is right for the organization,” a mid-grade Army officer told The Daily Tribune.

Another officer stressed the need to overhaul the promotion system, and get rid of the flawed senior lineal listing (SLL) system.

“Our current leaders must start the reforms before it is too late. We cannot afford to have poor leaders in the crucial years to come. It is high time to embrace merit system and jettison the SLL system,” the second source said.

The second officer said that the SLL does not promote meritocracy and runs contrary to the AFP Transformation Program (ATP) which is aimed at having a world-class armed forces by 2028.
“How can we have a world-class AFP if our leaders are not the best?” he asked.

Another officer said that the AFP leadership should promote meritocracy and get rid of the non-performers through normal attrition.

“There should be no accommodation. We must all work and earn our ranks, through sweat and blood,” the third officer said.

Currently, those vying for full-fledge colonels are clogged due to much lesser quota compared to the number of qualified officers,” he added.

Earlier, The Daily Tribune sources expressed demoralization over the continued observance of the “flawed” SLL which also gives room to favoritism.

“The current promotion system is demoralizing and it does not promote excellence,” a mid-ranking Camp Aguinaldo officer told The Daily Tribune.

“There is no guarantee that the best officers who possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes of a future leader of the AFP will have the fair chance to get the sensitive posts that require excellent leaders,” he added.

Currently, the AFP is observing the SLL as among the primary factors in the promotion of officers. The system is based on the officers’ grades and performance during pre-entry training — cadetship in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) or Officer Candidate Schools (OCS).

As such, cadets at the PMA or OCS who obtained high grades during school days but did not perform well after graduation will always be ahead in the SLL to those who excelled in their duties after commissionship in the active service but lower scholastic records.

On the other hand, getting rid with the SLL , the officers said, will ensure that only the “cream of the crop” will be climbing up the ranks.

“We, junior officers, want to implement meritocracy in promotion so that every officer will be rated properly according to their actual performance while in active duty,” an Army captain told The Daily Tribune.

“The non-performers or mediocre ones will be gradually separated through attrition system as they climb through the ladder of the bureaucracy,” he added.

Navy to acquire rocket weapons

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 4): Navy to acquire rocket weapons

The Philippine Navy (PN) allocates Php 37,641,816 for the acquisition of rockets which will be used in arming the two brand0new AW-109 (power" helicopters.

The money will be use to acquire 360 rounds of 2.75 high-explosive and 288 rounds of 2.75 inert rockets.

The latter rockets are use as more powerful supplements and/or replacements for guns in both air-to-air and air-to-ground applications.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the munitions within 90 calendar days.

Pre-bid conference is on June 10, 1 p.m. at the Office of the PN Bids and Awards Committee Bonifacio Naval Station, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.