Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Scout rangers clash with BIFF in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 10): Scout rangers clash with BIFF in Maguindanao

Army’s elite soldiers in Maguindanao clashed with Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and seized an abandoned camp of the rebels on Sunday, the military said.

Soldiers from the Army’s 10th Scout Ranger Company figured with BIFF in Brgy. Macalag, Datu Unsay, in Maguindanao at about 7 a.m., said 6th Infantry Division public affairs office chief Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay.

The armed group fled toward an unknown area after 15 minutes of gunbattle. The soldiers recovered a 7.62-cal. rifle believed to be from the rebels.

Another batch of scout rangers located a kilometer away was able to find an abandoned camp with about seven huts that could accommodate an estimated 60 persons.

“The huts were already empty when the troops arrived,” Petinglay said.

There were also four jungle hammocks, two pairs of battle dress uniforms, one bandoleer for an M14 and M16 and a sweatshirt with the marking “BIFF.”

An upper Special Action Force uniform with name cloth bearing “Usman” was also found, she added.“The SAF uniform belongs to a SAF 44 because we believe that kind of uniform is not sold outside unlike other uniforms which can be purchased anywhere,” Petinglay said.

She added that it was possible that the name cloth was changed as it can be easily replaced.

Petinglay could not say if the name Usman referred to top bomb maker Basit, who was killed on May 3.

“It’s a common name,” she said.

The military launched all-out offensives against the BIFF in February after the Mamasapano incident in January. The Oplan Exodus that targeted top terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan killed 44 police commandos in a firefight with members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front and BIFF.

MILF: Sarangani Provincial Council for the Protection of Children supports Children, Not Soldiers

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 10): Sarangani Provincial Council for the Protection of Children supports Children, Not Soldiers

Sarangani Provincial Council for the Protection of Children supports Children, Not Soldiers

The Provincial Council for the Protection of Children (PCPC) of Sarangani Province expressed support to the campaign #Children, Not Soldiers, which seeks to end recruitment and use of children in armed struggle.

The PCPC will include in its proposed Provincial Children’s Code a provision for the protection of children from recruitment and use by armed groups.

In the 2015 First PCPC Meeting held inside the Provincial Capitol at Alabel on Tuesday, Plan International, one of the member-Non Government Organizations of the council, raised a motion which seeks provision for the children’s code “that persons below 18 years old must not be recruited or take any support roles in armed group.”

“It’s a grave violation of child’s rights if you involve a person below 18 years old in armed struggle as combatant or in any support roles like spy, porter or cook,” Jocelyn L. Kanda, Plan International Project Coordinator said.

Kanda presented in the meeting the Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CAAC) Project, a joint activity by Plan, United Nations Children’s Fund and Moro Islamic Liberation Front which promotes child’s rights and child protection.

The project is in support to the UN-MILF Action Plan, an undertaking primarily aimed to stop recruitment of minors in the military structure of the MILF.

The MILF has allowed UNICEF and its partner, Plan International, access to its base camps for the conduct of campaign to address “child soldier” issue. 

The MILF is the only non-state group in the world which have signed an action plan with the UN to stop recruitment of minors in its armed struggle.

The initiative seeks to educate Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) (MILF’s military wing) Commanders and MILF community members about child’s rights and protection as well as the general order of the MILF leadership that prohibits recruitment and use of minors in the BIAF. In Sarangani Province, BIAF camps are Malapatan and Masim towns under the 107th Base Command.

Kanda related the BIAF commanders and its members were already oriented last year by UNICEF. “This June 16-18, we are going to orient children, parents and community leaders about the #Children Not Soldiers campaign at Barangay Pananag in Maasim,” she said.

Board Member Arman Guili, requested that the campaign for the MILF must also be replicated in the province in order to protect minors from far flung communities from joining other revolutionary groups.

PCPC is a special body of the provincial government which plans and crafts policies for the welfare of the children in the province.

MILF: Davao Oriental, Del Norte, Compostela Valley supportive on BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 9): Davao Oriental, Del Norte, Compostela Valley supportive on BBL

Davao Oriental, Del Norte, Compostela Valley supportive on BBL

A three-day marathon advocacy campaign on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was held in Davao region organized by the United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) with the help of community-based organizations in the area on June 3, 4 and 5, 2015.

The UNYPAD National Secretary on Campaign and Advocacy Jordan L. Talusob disclosed that the first Community Peace Symposium on BBL was held at the Ampong Beach, Barangay Pindasan, Mabini, Compostela Valley participated in by the youths from Compostela Valley and other Moro communities in Davao del Norte.

“The first advocacy on BBL was conducted on June 3, the second activity was held at the covered court of Mati City beside the City hall on June 4 and on June 5, it was held at Barangay Pindasan, Lupon, Davao Oriental,” Talusob said. 

UNYPAD-ComVal OIC Provincial Chairman Habib Ranain has thanked the Bangsamoro Transition Commission under the Socio-Economic Office by providing lecturers on the peace symposium.
“We’re happy upon knowing that the BTC will go here in our area to explain the BBL. The lecture of Professor Alih Aiyub is a big help for us to understand the content of BBL,” Ranain said.
“All the delegates from other area will support the BBL,” he added.

In the City of Mati, there are at least 200 participants from various sectors attended the gathering together with the local government unit officials headed by City Administrator Engineer Joel A. Capalit along with Mati City Councillors Bobong Alcantara and Noli Baloso.
Capalit said "We are for peace and development in Mindanao, so we support the BBL".

Professor Alih S. Aiyub was asked on why to continue the BBL advocacy when it is most likely be revised by Congress and or may not be passed and ratified during President Aquino's term.
"We continue telling our people of its (BBL) content and spirit as a political solution, a product of 17 years peace negotiations, to ending the war in Mindanao and to addressing their aspiration for sustainable peace and development. Once grassroots people own it and believing that its implementation would change their lives and communities, they will have informed decisions whatever happens," Aiyub replied.

A young woman in her message during the program said “Huwag po nating isipin na may mga taong maapakan kung maisabatas na itong BBL bagkus isipin po natin ang positibong hatid nito.”

The UNYPAD-Davao Oriental Provincial Chairman Jake Sabello told that the BBL symposium in Lupon municipality has earned mass support. “The Vice Mayor of Lupon himself had asked on how their municipality could be included in the proposed territory of the Bangsamoro areas,” said Sabello.

"We strongly support the passage of the BBL, and expressing our willingness to join and asking on how we will become part of the Bangsamoro government since our place is not part of the core territories?" expressed by the community people through their multi-sectoral representatives and their LGU official headed by the Lupon municipality Vice Mayor  Hadji Bunso Barabag.

Barabag is in favour to include their municipality in the Bangsamoro government.

Sabello said that BTC Commissioner Hussein Muňoz has imparted an updates on the BBL in the afternoon program in Lupon.

Gabriel C. Palma, UNYPAD Regional Coordinator for Davao region said that other sectors who participated in the affairs were coming from Indigenous Peoples/Tribal Leaders, Farmers Sector, Fisher folks, Students, Academe, Transport Group, Cooperatives, Religious leaders both from Muslims and Christians, Medical and Rescue group like the Philippine Red Cross, and Radio Communications groups.

Palma also said that the community are hopeful that agreed version of BBL will be passed on June 11 so that just-peace and genuine development will reign in the Bangsamoro communities.
This writer discussed the Role of Youth in Nation Building and shared inputs on the status of the BTC-Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) partnership program called Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B) by which Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces are recipients of multi-purpose building in the CCDP-B Quick Impact Projects.

Among other organizations that supported the event are the Local Government Units of Mati City and municipality of Lupon all in Davao Oriental province, Bangsamoro Development Agency, United Youth of the Philippines, United Associations of Datus and Imam in Mati City, Bangsamoro Radio Assistance on Communication and Emergency Services, Bangsamoro Organization of Davao Oriental, Concerned Bangsamoro Youth, and Muslim Students Organizations-Davao State College of Science and Technology.

MILF: MILF appeal to Congress: Stay faithful to the original BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Jun 9): MILF appeal to Congress: Stay faithful to the original BBL

MILF appeal to Congress: Stay faithful to the original BBL

A member of the MILF Central Committee has appealed to members of Congress to stay faithful to the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) as embodied in the original Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and submitted to President Benigno Aquino III on September 7, 2014.

Sheikh Mohammad Muntassir, a senior member of the MILF Central Committee, told Luwaran that dilution or watering down of the BBL will not be accepted by the MILF, citing two major reasons: 1) It will not solve the armed conflict in Mindanao and instead invite more and more adverse consequences; and 2) the MILF will become the laughing stock for accepting a so-called autonomy lesser than what is in the Autonomous Region in Mindanao.

Asked what particular provision in the BBL that can easily turn-off the MILF from accepting it, he cited the provision of the FAB and CAB where the natural resources are classified as: non-metallic, metallic, and fossil fuels, but in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL it classified practically everything as “strategic minerals” including potential sources of energy (sun, water, wind).

“This is unacceptable,” referring to the provision, and added that this alone can force the MILF not to accept the BBL.

He explained that aside from directly violating the FAB and CAB, it renders the Bangsamoro entity not really autonomous.

“It is a pity that many people hate the Moros but are moving heaven and earth to deny us access to those God-given wealth beneath our lands.”

He disclosed that the most powerful lobby in Congress comes from the energy and mining sectors and followed by those so-called protectors of the interests of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Mindanao and the Cordillera.

“Who systematically grabbed the landholdings of the IPs?” he asked, without elaborating.
He also lamented that the principle of the “parity of esteem” was stricken out of the Committee report, which is very important in a principled and problem-solving negotiation.

He explained that parity of esteem is deeper than the principle of the equality of peoples which is more physical. Parity of esteem is not only about respect for competences, say of the central government and of the Bangsamoro, as provided in the BBL but is a phrase used in political philosophy to explain a theory to overcome inter-communal conflict. Promoters of the theory argue that parity of esteem offers a language for negotiation of a post-conflict equilibrium. This negotiation begins with the communities recognising the stalemate of their position. Rather than continue trying to out-do each other, the communities should attempt to negotiate a peaceful coexistence in a shared physical space despite their cultural differences.

CPP/NDF/KM: Release NDFP consultant Adelberto Silva, Rosanna Cabusao and Isidro de Lima!

NDF/KM propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jun 5): Release NDFP consultant Adelberto Silva, Rosanna Cabusao and Isidro de Lima!
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Spokesperson, Kabataang Makabayan
The Kabataang Makabayan (KM) condemns in strongest terms the illegal arrest and detention of Adelberto Silva by the US-Aquino’s mercenary troops last June 1, 2015 in Molino Bacoor, Cavite. Silva is a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant and covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

We demand the immediate release of Adelberto Silva, his wife Rosanna Cabusao and Isidro de Lima who were arrested with him and also charged with same cases as Silva. The PNP’s claim that they seized rocket-propelled grenade from each of them is utterly ludicrous and a clear alibi to justify the filing of non-bailable charges against them. Silva was charged with fabricated cases of murder and illegal possession of explosives.

The NDFP confirms Silva as a holder of NDFP Document of Identification ND978229 with the assumed name Percival Rojo, also containing his photo. Under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees which was signed by previous Philippine regimes with the NDFP, Silva and all peace consultants are guaranteed immunity from arrest, detention, surveillance, harassment, search and other punitive actions.

The AFP and PNP claim that the coordinated operations was hatched more than a year ago and Silva has been under constant surveillance from the mercenary troops of Aquino. This only proves that the Aquino regime has never been sincere in the peace negotiations in order to address the root causes of the armed revolution that rages in the countryside. The US-Aquino regime is viciously ridiculing the peace negotiations and the past agreements signed by Philippine government with the NDFP and systematically attacks the NDFP personages who are directly involved in the process.

This and the arrests of other NDF peace consultants Roberto Saluta, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, brings to 16 the number of peace consultants treacherously detained under the US-puppet regime of Aquino, and among the 527 political prisoners languishing in jails across the country.
KM demands the release of Adelberto Silva along with Cabusao and Isidro de Lima, and other NDFP consultants and all political prisoners under the US-Aquino regime.

With the US-Aquino regime’s failing to crush the armed revolution under its counter-revolutionary war and US-patterned fascist Oplan Bayanihan against the formidable New People’s Army and the revolutionary forces, it resorted to arrests and detention of peace consultants, leaders of the revolutionary movement and activists. The US-Aquino regime is hell-bent in criminalizing them, and further exposes itself and its fascist military’s modus operandi of planting of evidence upon their arrest and fabrication of charges.

The US-Aquino and its fascist military is day-dreaming in harping that with their arrest the revolutionary movement will weaken. The US-Aquino regime and its fascist armed machinery, armed to the teeth, never learn from our people’s history. It is the great swathe of poverty experienced by the people, oppression of the peasants, workers and people by a handful few, denial of basic people’s rights by this regime, US imperialist domination and prevailing unjust system that continue to inspire the Filipino youth and people to take the revolutionary road and armed struggle. It is the same reasons and aspirations for genuine freedom and democracy that continuously fire up the Filipino youth to embrace the people’s armed revolution in the countryside.

Release Adelberto Silva, Rosanna Cabusao and Isidro de Lima!
Free all peace consultants of the NDFP and all political prisoners!
Long live the people’s democratic revolution!
Long live the CPP-NPA-NDFP!

CPP/NDF/NPA: Ezekiel alias Itsoy napatay sa proseso sa pag-aresto sa iya sg RPC-NPA

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jun 9): Ezekiel alias Itsoy napatay sa proseso sa pag-aresto sa iya sg RPC-NPA (Ezekiel alias Itsoy was killed in the process to arrest him by the RPC-NPA)

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Spokesperson, NPA Roselyn Pelle Command
Northern Negros Guerilla Front
New People’s Army

Napatay sadtong Mayo 29, 2015, mga alas dos sang hapon(2pm), sa Sitio Pison, Barangay Minautoc, Calatrava ,Negros Occidental. Si Ezekiel alias “ ITSOY” napatay sa dirang ginpapanaugan sg “warrant of arrest” kg gindakop sa isa ka unit sg RPC-NPA agud dad-on siya sa talatapan sg rebolusyonaryong korte kg taralon sa kasong “murder” batok sa kay Bador nga isa ka lider mangunguma sa mao nga Barangay sadtong ulihi nga bahin sg 2007. Kun madomduman, ang mga mangunguma sa amo nga lugar naglunsar sg paghimakas sa pagpangapin sa ila duta batok sa pagpang-landgrab ni Lumayno. Si ITSOY amo ang aktibo nga tinawo ni Lumayno agud lutoson ang paghimakas sa mga mangunguma sa sina nga panahon kg siya ang nangunang nagpatay kay Bador sandig sa mga saksi kg “prima facie” nga ebidensya.

Si ITSOY, usab aduna’y extortion activity sa maong erya sadtong 2014 nga gamit ang ngalan sang NPA . Si ITSOY, usa ka civilian nga armado sang nagkalain-lain nga kalibre sang armas sama sa 45 kaliber pistol, KG-9 kag Inggram.

Sa panahon sa pag-aresto, siya nagbato sa arresting team sg NPA kg subo palandungon nga ang bilog nga hitabo nabutang sa “battle situation” nga amo ang kabangdanan nga napatay si ITSOY. Kun wala lang tani siya nagbato, indi matabo ang pagpatay sa iya kg hilway tani siya nga mangapin sa iya kaugalingon sa iya pag-atubangon sa rebolusyonaryong korte.

Ang Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo tampad nga nagakapot sa mga sandigan nga prinsipyo sg “due process” kg iban nga legal standards sa iya mga palisiya kg proseso, ginagarantiya sini ang mga pundamental nga kinamatarung sg mga suspetsado. Ginahimo ang mga maid-id nga imbestigasyon nga ginpatuman sa NPA sa idalom sg Roselyn Pelle Command (RPC) sandig sa mando sa rebolusyonaryong korte sa idalom sa Demokratikong Gobyerno sg Pumuluyo sa tion nga nabaton sini ang mga pormal nga reklamo kg pagpasaka sa mga kaso batok sa ila. Ginasiguro ang mabakud nga mga “prima facie” kg mga sirkumstansyal nga ebidensya kg panaysayon sa mga masaligan nga saksi nga nakalap. Ang nasambit nga kaso ginkabig nga KRIMINAL ang kinaiya sini batok sa pumuluyo kg rebolusyonaryong kahublagan kg naga-merito sg silot KAMATAYON kun mapamatud-an nga may sala.

Ginapanawagan man lang sa rebolusyonaryong kahublagan ang mga may kaso batok sa pumuluyo kg rebolusyonaryong kahublagan sa ila BOLUNTARYO NGA PAGSURENDER agud mas hapsay ang pagpatigayon sa ila seguridad kg kaluwasan kg matratar sg husto ang ila mga kaso. Ginapangayo man sg rebolusyonaryong kahublagan ang ila kooperasyon agud indi mabutang sa sitwasyon ang mga arresting units sg NPA sa aktibong pagdepensa kg mapilitan nga magsulod sa “battle situation” kun ang mga akusado armado kg peligroso sa tion nga sila paga-arestuhon. Determinado ang Rebolusyonaryong Korte sg Pumuluyo nga mahatagan sg makatarunganon nga proseso ang mga Akusado kg mahatagan sg makatarunganon nga hustisya ang mga Biktima labi na sa hanay sa malapad nga Pumuluyo.

Sa subong nga panahon, naga-operate na ang tanan nga mga units sg NPA sa idalom sg Roselyn Pelle Command (RPC) agud ipatuman ang Mandamyento De Aresto batok sa may mga kaso batok sa pumuluyo kg rebolusyonaryong kahublagan kg sa pagpanaug sa Silot Kamatayon sa mga may Standing Order na sg reblousyonaryong korte..

Sa liwat, nagapanawagan ang Rebolusyonaryong Kahublagan sa tanan nga may ara kaso batok sa Rebong Kahublagan kg sa Pumuluyo sa ila BOLUNTARYONG PAGSURRENDER agud mahatagan sg husto nga pagtratar ang ila mga kaso, maserbisyohan ang mga ini kg mahatagan sg ligwa sa pagbag-o sa kaugalingon.

Mabuhay ang CPP-NPA-NDF!

China cannot claim the entire sea: The world already rejected that 1600s-idea

From Ang Malaya (Jun 10): China cannot claim the entire sea: The world already rejected that 1600s-idea

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said, in an interview with Mario Esteban of Elcano Royal Institute, that in this modern time no country can claim an entire sea. “China can claim the islands and territories, and we can discuss that over time, but in this time and age, no state can claim an entire sea anymore. That era long passed and settled a long time ago.”

Transcript of the said interview dated May 11 in Madrid was provided by Supreme Court Public Information Office with video of the interview uploaded by Elcano Royal Institute in Youtube.
“We are now under the UNCLOS,” Justice Carpio said. “You cannot claim the entire sea. That’s all over now, that idea in the 1600s that the world has rejected, and China is reviving it today.”

When asked if how can the ruling help prevent the escalation of the situation, Carpio said “if the Tribunal will declare the nine-dash line as void, therefore, China cannot claim as sovereign territorial waters the entire South China Sea. It will have to limit its claim to the islands and the 12-nautical mile territorial sea. So that will drastically reduce the area of conflict from the entire South China Sea to the islands and that kind of conflict over small islands can be managed.”

Justice Carpio said the Philippine government is expecting a decision on jurisdictional issue to be released in August or September and another hearing will be help in November. “And after that, we wait for the decision of the tribunal. We expect the tribunal to decide on the merits with finality in the first quarter of 2016.”

The Elcano Royal Institute is a think-tank for international and strategic studies that analyses world events and trends from a Spanish, European and global perspective.

“If we have a favorable ruling, the area of the dispute will be reduced considerably and we can leave on that kind of dispute,” he said. “If the Tribunal will allow the nine-dash line to stand, then the law of the sea, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, will not apply in the South China Sea. If it can’t apply in the South China Sea, it cannot apply in other seas or oceans because other naval powers will demand the same rights as China.”

China tells G7 to stop making irresponsible remarks

From Ang Malaya (Jun 9): China tells G7 to stop making irresponsible remarks

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs today responded to statement released by leaders of seven major advanced economies known as G7. G7 leaders said in their declaration that they “strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large scale land reclamation.”

G7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“What the G7 does and says are way out of step with the facts and the internationally recognized principles. China strongly urges the G7 to respect the facts, shed prejudices, stop making irresponsible remarks, and do more to help properly handle and settle the disputes and promote regional peace and stability,” Foreign Affairs Ministry of China said.

The Chinese government added that they do not recognize the status quo in Senkaku Islands and Spratly Islands “that were illegally snatched and occupied by other countries.”

“As a sovereign state, China will make necessary response to any attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” China added.

The spokesman at the said ministry added that China will be the first to stand up against anyone who deliberately stirs up troubles that pose a threat to the freedom of navigation and overflight in relevant waters.

G7 opposes China’s massive reclamation in West Philippine Sea: Maintain a rules-based order

From Ang Malaya (Jun 9): G7 opposes China’s massive reclamation in West Philippine Sea: Maintain a rules-based order

The leaders of seven major advanced economies known as G7 released a statement – after a two-day summit June 7 and 8 at Schloss Elmau, Krün, Bavaria, Germany – strongly opposing China’s unilateral actions including massive land reclamation in West Philippine Sea. G7 is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large scale land reclamation,” says in G7 Leaders Declaration.

“We are committed to maintaining a rules-based order in the maritime domain based on the principles of international law, in particular as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We are concerned by tensions in the East and South China Seas,” the leaders added.

They also underlined that peaceful settlement of disputes along with free and unimpeded lawful use of the world’s oceans in important.

“We, the G7, emphasise the importance of freedom, peace and territorial integrity, as well as respect for international law and respect for human rights,” they declared.

Present at the summit are Prime Ministers of Canada, Italy, Japan, and United Kingdom, President of France and United States, Chancellor of Germany, European Union Commission President and Council President.

Malaysia sends Royal Navy, Maritime Enforcers to guard territory against China: Taking diplomatic actions

From Ang Malaya (Jun 9): Malaysia sends Royal Navy, Maritime Enforcers to guard territory against China: Taking diplomatic actions

Malaysia is now taking a firm position against China’s aggressiveness. The Malaysian government sent the Royal Malaysian Navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to guard the Luconia Shoals, known as Beting Patinggi Ali in Malaysia, where a Chinese Coast Guard vessel (CCG-1123) intruded.

The said territory is located approximately 100 kilometers off Sarawak coast of Borneo and approximately two thousand kilometers from mainland China.

Malaysia’s National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim said in his social networking site account last week that the territory is not within overlapping claims and that foreign ships who come are intruders. He also posted images of Chinese Coast Guard vessel (CCG-1123) anchored at Luconia Shoals.

On Monday, June 8, The Wall Street Journal quoted Kassim saying Malaysia is taking diplomatic action possibly at the highest level between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Luconia shoals are being claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan), the People’s Republic of China, and Malaysia. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea including the Spratly Islands in West Philippine Sea.

China deploys surveillance vessels off Hawaii: US won’t be caught surprised

From Ang Malaya (Jun 9): China deploys surveillance vessels off Hawaii: US won’t be caught surprised

The US Pacific Fleet made a statement on the report of Taiwanese newspaper Want China Times regarding China’s deployment of surveillance vessels off the coast of Hawaii. The action of China, according to the report, was in response to the US Navy’s monitoring activities of disputed islands in West Philippine Sea.

“I will say that it is a fundamental right of all nations for military ships and aircraft to operate in international waters and airspace in accordance with well-established international law,” Captain Darryn James, U.S. Pacific Fleet chief spokesperson said as quoted by, a US Department of Defense authorized news outlet.

“The U.S. Navy closely monitors all activity in the Pacific, so regardless of what the Chinese navy does, we won’t be caught surprised,” Capt. James added.

He added that he is not “going to speculate about a vague news report on Chinese surveillance ship intentions.”

US Secretary of Defense Carter earlier vowed that US will remain as the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come. “The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”

Royal Brunei Navy, Philippine Navy aim deeper, stronger relationship

From Ang Malaya (Jun 10): Royal Brunei Navy, Philippine Navy aim deeper, stronger relationship

The Royal Brunei Navy wants a deeper and stronger relationship with the Philippine Navy. RBN Commander First Admiral Pengiran Norazmi Bin Pengiran Haji Muhammad expressed his enthusiasm in deepening and strengthening of the relationship between the PN and RBN, the Navy said. The RBN commander assumed office March 13 this year. He arrived last Sunday for an official visit and introductory call to Philippine military and defense officials.

First Admiral Norazmi had a meeting with PN Flag-Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Jesus Millan June 8 at Philippine Navy Headquarters, Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Blvd., Manila.

“The PN and RBN has a regular bilateral training codenamed Maritime Training Activity Seagull (MTA Seagull) hosted alternately to strengthen the bilateral relationship and enhance the mutual cooperation and understanding between the two navies,” the Navy said.

MTA Seagull is being held every other year in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam signed on August 22, 2001 which serves as a framework for fostering closer defense relations and cooperation between the armed forces of both countries.

Last year, MTA Seagull was held in Philippines within Naval Forces West area of responsibility in Palawan. RBN sent one Darussalam Class Offshore Patrol Vessel, one fast patrol boat and one diving section.

Female NAVSOG member won gold in SEA Games shooting event

From Ang Malaya (Jun 10): Female NAVSOG member won gold in SEA Games shooting event

Seawoman 1st Class Elvie Baldivino bagged one gold medal for the Philippines in the Women’s Precision Pistol Individual event of the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore June 8, 2015.

She defeated Norizan Mustafa of Singapore, 230-228, in the finals. Baldivino together with Franchetta Shayne Quiroz and Carmen Guillermo won the silver medal in the Women’s Precision Pistol Team event.

Baldivino, 34 years old, “a female enlisted personnel of the Philippine Navy captured the gold medal after ruling the Women’s Precision Pistol Individual event,” PN says in a news release.

The Navy added that she is a member of the Naval Special Operations Group.

Guv: Peace declaration to draw more investors

From the Visayan Daily Star (Jun 10): Guv: Peace declaration to draw more investors

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said the declaration of Negros Occidental as “Peaceful and Ready for Further Development” will further boost investor confidence in the province.
The Provincial Peace and Order Council will convene at the Capitol in Bacolod City at 9 a.m. today to declare the 1st, 5th and 6th districts of Negros Occidental “Peaceful and Ready for Further Development Districts”, Provincial Planning and Development Officer Marlin Sanogal said.
Earlier, the 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 th districts had similar declarations.
This will be followed by a program at the Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose Activity Center at 10 a.m. today, where the governor will declare the entire province as “Peaceful and Ready for Further Development”.
The governor will then deliver a message, to be followed by the signing of a pledge for peace and development.
Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will deliver a message at the program.

4 Aeta NPA commanders yield

From Tempo (Jun 10): 4 Aeta NPA commanders yield

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga –Four Aeta commanders of the New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly operating in the mountainous western part of this province have surrendered to provincial government officials during the commemoration of Independence Day.

Governor Lilia Pineda said the NPA rebels had decided to lay down their arms and trust their local officials and become partners with the community “in their quest for genuine change and development.”

Senior Supt. Rodolfo Recomono, Jr., Provincial police director, identified the surrenderees as Western Pampanga commanders Eduardo Abuque, Ka Rannie Vital, Ka Omer Trajano, and Ka Lanlan Serrano. The surrender of the rebels was coordinated with the Pampanga-Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) headed by Elizabeth Baybayin, he added.

Commander Abuque faces 10 arrest warrants for multiple murder and other crimes and is now under the custody of the Pampanga-Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) under the supervision of Superintendent Bernardo Perez.

Police records showed that Ka Abuque is allegedly responsible in the series of killings of high-ranking officials from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Air force, and Armed forces of the Philippines. During interrogation, Abuque told local officials that difficulty of their living conditions in the mountains is the reason behind their surrender.

Opinion/Research: Fixed term for AFP chief staff: Why it's needed

From the "Thought Leaders" section of Rappler (Jun 10): Fixed term for AFP chief staff: Why it's needed (by Jose Ramon Albert and MJ Raymundo)

A constantly changing leadership and institutional environment for the military could be detrimental to the military and its personnel

Under the 1987 Constitution, the primary government body mandated to guard national security and territory is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Comprised of three major services (the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force), the AFP is put under the command and control of a civilian, the President, who acts as its Commander-in-Chief. The President exercises control over the entire AFP through the Department of National Defense, which is headed by the Secretary of National Defense. In pursuing its mandate, the AFP has to ensure that its internal system is fully functional through a chain of command.

While remaining externally apolitical, the AFP has to create an internal culture of a stable environment. To be successful in carrying out sustainable programs, the institution also needs to sustain good governance within its organization.

Changing roles of the AFP

When the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the military establishment grew in political prominence. The military was viewed with fear as Marcos' private army. Within the institution though, cracks started with the AFP promotion system that was based largely on personal loyalty to the President.

Marcos chose his trusted military officer Fabian C. Ver in 1981 as chief of staff, who further instituted favoritism in the military to the disappointment of qualified officers. The tour of duty of favored military officers who should have been effectively retired was extended, causing internal grumblings.

In 1986, a faction headed by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and AFP vice-chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos broke away from Marcos. This led to the People Power Revolution that installed Corazon C. Aquino as president.

It was no surprise that in the immediate post-Marcos era, it was a challenge for certain military personnel to see a vastly diminished political role of the AFP in a civilian-led society. During President Corazon Aquino's term, although the AFP remained largely loyal to her, various coup attempts were launched against her government either by some Marcos loyalist factions in the military or by military officers who helped her assume power. In contrast, coup attempts were practically unheard of during the time of her successor, Fidel V. Ramos, perhaps because he came from the establishment.

In early 2001, then President Joseph Estrada, who a year earlier ordered the AFP to launch an "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was removed from power in the two-day Edsa 2 People Power revolt.

Here, the AFP again played a key role with the then AFP chief of staff Angelo T. Reyes announcing a withdrawal of AFP support for Estrada. Four years later, Gloria M. Arroyo, who finished the term of Estrada, won the presidency in a hotly contested election, which reportedly involved the participation of some military personnel. This fueled resentment that certain elements of the AFP practice partisan politics. The view of the AFP as a guardian of national security was further challenged with reported fat allowances received by military officers upon their retirement (which led Angelo Reyes to take his own life).

Transformation roadmap

By far, the biggest shift in redefining the AFP role is its development of the 2028 AFP Transformation Roadmap (AFPTR), a 15-year strategy layout which will shepherd reform agendas and development goals.

The AFPTR’s two main priorities are capacity-building and personnel professionalization. It is further subdivided into three components: (1) Charter Statement, which is the core values and mission-vision of the AFTPR; (2) Strategy Map, which blueprints the institution’s concrete actions and end-goals in fifteen years; and (3) Governance Scorecard, which will be the evaluation material of strategies and plans. In essence, the AFPTR is a blueprint in laying out and executing strategies of the AFP until the year 2028.

This strategic blueprint developed under the term of then AFP chief of staff General Emmanuel T. Bautista, is currently being implemented under current AFP chief of staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. through its Performance Governance System (PGS), with the active support of its Multi Sectoral Governance Council (PGS).

The PGS, a local adaptation of Kaplan & Norton's Balanced Scorecard, helps provide organizations a mechanism to translate their visions into actionable and concrete strategies through measurable outcomes that will lead to the realization of breakthrough results which will make organizations more sustainable and more responsive. The establishment by the AFP of the MSGC (chaired by former Secretary Dr. Jesus Estanislao) highlights the AFP's thrust in pursuing genuine reforms in the military, particularly in promoting good governance, while actively involving and engaging prominent persons (representing various sectors of society including the academe, media, commerce, other government agencies, and non-government organizations) in the implementation of AFPTR.

Short leadership duties

A clear area of reform in the AFP is in the rather short term of duty of the AFP chief of staff in the post-Marcos era.

Since 1986, the Philippines has had 5 presidents: Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992), Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998), Joseph Ejercito Estrada (1998-2001), Gloria M. Arroyo (2001-2010), and Benigno S. Aquino III (2010-present).

In nearly three decades of the past four and incumbent presidents of the country, there have already been 26 men who have held the post of AFP chief of staff (with one in acting capacity, Nestor Ochoa). The President with the most number of persons serving as AFP chief of staff was Arroyo who had a total of 11 in a little less than 10 years. It was also under Arroyo’s term that Benjamin Defensor served as AFP COS with only more than 2 months in position.

Figure 1: AFP Chiefs of Staff: 1986 to current

Note: Authors’ estimates based on media sources on duty periods of post-Marcos AFP Chiefs of Staff

President Benigno S. Aquino III has also continued this revolving door policy in appointing the chief of staff, with General Catapang being the fifth AFP chief of staff to serve under the term of PNoy. On average, thus, PNoy has appointed a chief of staff annually.

This period of duty for a chief of staff in the AFP is extremely fast-phased, especially in relation to other ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and to the United States of America, where the military leadership gives a service averaging three to four years.
Figure 2. Average Years of Services of Military Chiefs or Commanders in Select Countries

Note: Authors’ estimates based on numerous media sources

Note: Authors’ estimates based on numerous media sources

The two bills also reached their third and final reading. However, the President unfortunately vetoed the bill that aimed to curtail the revolving door policy on appointments to the chief of staff and improve governance of the AFP.

The President’s veto said that the bill was against Article 16, Sec.5 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that "Laws on retirement of military officers shall not allow extension of their service." However, the President could select a future chief of staff whose term could fit 3 years, and the same goes for army, air force and navy commanders.

In previous times, even the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) had a tour of duty of three months, an extremely short period for anyone serious in making changes in the PMA, whether in its curriculum, or pedagogical practices.

Under the current legislative set-up, the Commission on Appointments also has the power to confirm all appointments of ranking generals and flag officers in the AFP. While there is sense to have such check and balances especially over commanders of the three services, and the AFP chief of staff and vice chief of staff, one wonders whether this practice of having would-be-generals go through the rigors of appointment processes in the legislature politicizes the military.

Clearly, the executive and legislative leaders will need to seriously work together in transforming the AFP into becoming more mission capable against internal or external threats to national security.

In the wake of emerging threats to national security, the country needs not only to have increased defense spending that includes investments in equipment for our troops, but also improved governance by which the military organization is directed and controlled.

Giving a fixed term to the AFP chief of staff, the commanders of the three AFP major services, and the PMA superintendent will be a mechanism to provide better opportunities in implementing necessary reforms in the military service, including the AFPTR, thus ensuring better governance for our national defense.
 Dr. Jose Ramon "Toots" Albert is a professional statistician. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the government’s think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), and the president of the country’s professional society of data producers, users and analysts, the Philippine Statistical Association, Inc. for 2014-2015. He is also a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Multi-sectoral Governance Council.
Martin Joseph M. Raymundo is a Research Analyst at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). He received a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies from the University of the Philippines Manila in 2014, where he graduated cum laude.

Mamasapano general finally gets promotion

From Rappler (Jun 10): Mamasapano general finally gets promotion

The Commission on Appointments confirms the promotion of Army Major General Edmundo Pangilinan

PROMOTED. Major General Edmundo Pangilinan

PROMOTED. Major General Edmundo Pangilinan

The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, June 10, finally confirmed the promotion of Army Major General Edmundo Pangilinan.

He is the commander of the Maguindanao-based 6th Infantry Division.

Senator Alan Cayetano blocked his promotion in March over questions regarding his decision to withhold artillery fire that the senator believed could have saved the elite cops decimated in the ill-fated January 25 operation inside the territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano.

The cops stealthily penetrated the MILF territory to kill international terrorist Zulkifly bin Hir or "Marwan," who had been hiding among them. But the cops were trapped by various armed groups on their way out, resulting in 44 deaths.

Pangilinan said the cops were unable to provide complete information to guarantee that there'll be no collateral damage if they fire artillery. Pangilinan blamed it on lack of coordination.

In Numbers: Philippines-China relations

From Rappler Newsbreak (Jun 9): In Numbers: Philippines-China relations

Although the two countries have been locked in territorial tug-of-war issues, they have maintained ties. Here's a quick overview of their relationship – as told in figures.

In 2002, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation No. 148, which officially declared June 9 as Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.

This serves as a commemoration of the strong alliance between the two nations and their diplomatic relations established on June 9, 1975, when Chinese Premier Chou En-lai and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed the Joint Communique that forged “mutual recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level” between the two countries.
Arroyo’s proclamation states: “it is thus fitting to designate one day in the year as Philippine-China Friendship Day to celebrate all that both countries enjoy and cherish together especially in the fields of socio-cultural, economic, and educational cooperation.”
Although the two countries have been locked in territorial tug-of-war issues, they have maintained relations in the areas of trade and tourism.
Here's a quick overview of the relationship of the Philippines and China – as told in figures:
Estimated Chinese living in the Philippines as of 2010
Filipinos living in Mainland China as of 2011
Estimated Chinese visitors to the Philippines as of 2013
Filipino visitors to China as of 2010

Diplomatic Relations
Year when diplomatic bilateral relations between the Philippines and China were established
Signing of Joint Action Plan for Strategic Cooperation
Number of Philippine foreign service posts in China
Pairs of "sister cities" or "sister provinces" between China and the Philippines

Bilateral Agreements
Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement signed
Cultural Cooperation Agreement, Civil Aviation and Transportation Agreement signed
Memorandum of Understanding on Sports Cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Information Industry, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Crackdown on Transnational Crimes, Treaty on Extradition, Pact on Cooperation Against Illicit Traffic and Abuse of Narcotic Drugs signed
Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation signed
Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation, Pact on Cooperation in Youth Affairs signed
Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation, Memorandum of Understanding on Education Cooperation, Pact on Protection of Cultural Heritage signed
Pact on Sanitary Cooperation signed

State Visits
President Ferdinand Marcos visited China
Premier Zhao Ziyang visited the Philippines
President Corazon Aquino visited China
Premier Li Peng visited the Philippines
President Fidel Ramos visited China
President Jiang Zemin visited the Philippines
Premier Zhu Rongji visited the Philippines
President Joseph Estrada visited China
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo first visited China
President Hu Jintao visited the Philippines
Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Philippines
President Benigno Aquino III visited China

Economy and Trade
$1.27 billion
Development assistance to the Philippines from China from 2002 until 2010
$14.6 billion
Bilateral trade between China and the Philippines as of 2013
$5.7 billion
Philippine exports to China as of 2010
$4.61 billion
Philippine imports from China as of 2010
$2.78 billion
Philippine investments in China as of 2010
$125.41 million
Chinese investments in the Philippines as of 2010

Year when the Chinese New Year was first proclaimed as a special non-working holiday in the Philippines, as per Proclamation No. 295

Sema: MILF “wanted the moon and stars and everything” but is getting only the rays of the sun

From MindaNews (Jun 10): Sema: MILF “wanted the moon and stars and everything” but is getting only the rays of the sun

One of the vice chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law on Tuesday night said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which signed last year a comprehensive peace agreement with the government “wanted the moon and the stars and everything” but within the framework of the 1987 Constitution, are getting only the “rays of the sun” in the committee-approved BBL.

“The MILF wanted the moon and stars and everything but because the Bangsamoro Basic Law has to … conform to the Constitution, I think they have to content themselves with the rays of the sun,” Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema, who took the sponsorship role in the Tuesday night interpellation by Gabriela party-list Representative Luz Ilagan, said.

WOMEN. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan (L) interpellates Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema (on video screen). the lone woman among eight vice chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
WOMEN. Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan (L, standing) interpellates Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema (on video screen). the lone woman among eight vice chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Ilagan was the sixth representative to have finished interpellating out of 38 who had signed up. Five had interpellated on June 2, 3, 4 while Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat will again continue interpellating Wednesday, the scheduled last day of session before Congress adjourns sine die, his fifth day at interpellating.

There wasn’t a debate on Tuesday night between Ilagan and Sema as the latter agreed mostly with the points Ilagan raised, such as self-determination, structural reforms, and addressing the roots of historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro people.

It was the first time in the five-day interpellations that a woman representative interpellated, and the first time a woman sponsor was on the floor to defend the substitute bill, HB 5811 or the “Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.”

Sema, wife of Muslimin Sema, chair of one of the factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is the lone woman among the Ad Hoc Committee’s eight vice chairs.

Rep. Sema was Education Secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) when then President Joseph Estrada waged the “all-out war” against the MILF.

“Failed experiment”
Ilagan’s first question was on President Aquino’s speech on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) where he described the ARMM, as a “failed experiment” and how it was necessary to have structural reforms to address the root causes of the conflict.

The government and MILF in 2012 had agreed that the status quo was unacceptable and that they would work for a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro, that would replace the ARMM.

“Does the sponsor agree with the statement of the President that the ARMM is a failed experiment?” Ilagan asked.

Sema said she believes the ARMM is “not embodiment of the agreement entered into by the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MNLF.” She noted that
the ARMM has “partly.. helped in establishing relative peace in the area of autonomy” but “did not in totality address the basic conditions that we needed in the autonomous region to become a region that operates under a genuine autonomy.”

Sema narrated the history of the Bangsamoro struggle, the history of the peace agreements, the ARMM and said “both the MNLF and MILF do not see the ARMM as the embodiment.. as the manifestation of the genuine autonomy that they have struggled for.”

Ilagan wanted to know what caused the failure of the ARMM and if the Ad Hoc Committee’s version of the proposed Bangsamoro will not lead to yet another failure.

Is 5811 addressing historical injustices?
She cited the initial study of the Cotabato City-based Bangsamoro Study Group that the Ad Hoc Committee’s HB 5811 violated the GPH-MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and how the future Bangsamoro as envisioned under HB 5811 is going to be less autonomous than the ARMM as it took away from the future Bangsamoro powers already given the ARMM.

Ilagan asked if HB 5811 was addressing the historical injustices committed against injustice to the Moro identity, political sovereignty and economic development.

Sema talked about transitional justice, the normalization process, about how “we are part of the Philippine system,” and how the Bangsmaoro parliament would be deciding on the priorities on the block grant that it would receive.

Ilagan noted the HB 5811, what she repeatedly referred to during her interpellation as “BBL Ad Hoc version,” appeared to be “ too concerned with constitutionality but … is far removed from the spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

She wanted to know if the Ad Hoc version is, indeed, correcting the historical injustice or “we are actually perpetuating the injustice to the Bangsamoro?”

“I fully agree,” said Sema, adding “this can still be amended.” She urged Ilagan to bring this up during the period of amendments.

Ilagan asked what is meant by self-determination and why the Committee deleted “chart their own political future” from the Preamble of the draft BBL. Sema replied it was “already subsumed by self-governance.”

The Gabriela party list representative also asked why the Committee changed “territory” into “geographical area” when provinces, cities, municipalities and even barangays have territories.

Sema explained that she wanted “territory” to be retained but it was replaced because “according to our Chairman, the term ‘territory’ is an element of state.”

“Are we not in fact castrating the territory of the Bangsamoro?” Ilagan asked.

“It could mean that way,” Sema replied, adding she shares Ilagan’s sentiment.

“What harm would the word ‘territory’ inflict if we retain it?…. If a barangay can have a territory, why cannot the Bangsamoro?” Ilagan asked.

“I think there is no violation but again we have a process…” Sema answered.

Structural reforms

In the course of the 91-minute interpellation, Sema would repeatedly tell Ilagan, “I agree” or “I share your sentiment” but would add “but again we have a process and the result of the process is what we have now.”

Ilagan asked for provisions that she did not find in HB 5811 that would ensure it will not be another failed experiment. “Where are the provisions on structural reforms?”

Sema again said, “The MILF wanted the moon and stars but because of constitutional limits (they’re just going to get) the rays of the sun.”

“We just want and end to war,” Sema said. “I want this BBL because I want the war to stop.”
Ilgan tied up the amendment introduced by the Ad Hoc Committee that took out the power of the Bangsamoro over natural resources, with moves to amend the restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.

“It is beyond me that our colleagues have no qualms allowing foreign investors so why cannot we extend the same liberality to the Bangsamoro people?” she asked.

She also asked why there is only one seat for the women sector in the Committee draft.

“Worse than ARMM”
Ilagan ended her interpellation by saying “this Ad Hoc version BBL, measured in terms of genuine autonomy, is worse than the ARMM,” to which Sema replied, “I agree with you but we have to respect the collective wisdom of the Committee.”

Zamboanga City Rep. Lobregat resumed his interpellation after Ilagan, facing Committee chair, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro.

In contrast to the women, the men debated over alleged unconstitutional provisions that Rodriguez said had been addressed in the substitute bill.

“What is the cause, the justness, the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro cause?” Lobregat asked. Rodriguez cited the Constitutional provision on creating the autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras, to which Lobregat replied the peace agreements do not cite the Constitution.

Constitution is basis”
Rodriguez countered that the Committee version states the Constitution, that it is “within the framework of the Constitution and national sovereignty as well as the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Lobregat repeatedly said “please save this country from dismemberment.”

Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat continues his interpellation, his fourth day Tuesday night. Lobregat will continue his interpellation Wednesday, the last session day before Congress adjourns sine die. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat continues his interpellation, his fourth day Tuesday night. Lobregat will continue his interpellation Wednesday, the last session day before Congress adjourns sine die. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Rodriguez repeated the phrase “within the framework of the Constitution….” And wondered why Lobregat finds that difficult to comprehend, ‘as if we don’t believe in the Constitution, as if we do not understand simple English.”

“Help save the dismemberment of our country,” Lobregat again said.

Rodriguez replied: “The basis of this bill is the Constitution, not the FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro), the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsmaoro.”

Lobregat’s interpellation, his fourth day, was not finished as Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza rose to the rostrum at 9:33 p.m. apparently to question the quorum but before he could be acknowleged, the presiding chair suspended the session until 10 a.m. Wednesday. It was 9:35 p.m.

Army reservist shot dead

From ABS-CBN (Jun 10): Army reservist shot dead

COTABATO CITY -- An army reservist was shot dead in El Manuel Compound in Quezon Avenue, Cotabato City on Tuesday, police said.

Based on initial investigation, the victim, Abdul Campiao, was parking his motorcyle when he was shot by three armed men who were waiting in the area.

Campiao sustained several gunshot wounds in different parts of his body, leading to his death.

Recovered from the scene were 24 bullet slugs from different kinds of guns.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

109 rebels surrender to Eastern Mindanao Command in 5-and-half months of 2015

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): 109 rebels surrender to Eastern Mindanao Command in 5-and-half months of 2015

Unremitting military pressure and development projects brought about by Internal Peace and Security Program "Bayanihan" has so far caused the surrender of 109 New People's Army (NPA) fighters operating in the Easternn Mindanao Command area-of-operations for the first five and half months of 2015.

"Bayanihan" is the strategy where development efforts are being used to deny the rebels a support base in the countryside.

"Based on record, a total of 109 NPA members have surrendered to different military units of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command since January 1, 2015 (up to June 9)," Eastern Mindanao Command public affairs office chief Capt. Alberto Caber said.

He also said that this resulted in the surrender of 13 high-powered firearms and seven low-powered ones, while military offensives have resulted in the capture of 70 high-powered weapons and 17 low-powered guns for the first six months of the year.

Caber said more rebel surrenderees are expected to surface before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Eastern Mindanao Command head Lt. Gen. Aurelio B. Baladad urged remaining NPA members in the region to return to the folds of the law and join the peace and development efforts of their respective communities.

Army to declare three Samar towns as rebel-free

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): Army to declare three Samar towns as rebel-free

The Philippine Army will declare the three island towns in Samar province as insurgency-free, in time with the celebration of Philippine Independence Day on Friday.

Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division described the declaration as one of the first steps in attaining lasting peace in the province.

The three towns are part of the five island towns in Samar province that the Philippine Army is planning to declare as insurgency-free areas.

Included in these three towns is the fishing and coconut farming town of Almagro. The two other towns are still being verified, but sources from the military said these are Santo Niño and Tagapul-an.

The declaration will be held at the provincial capitol grounds on Friday in the presence of Samar governor Sharee Ann Tan-de los Santos.

Samar province is already declared as manageable-conflict affected and ready for development area, the first classification before military could declare a place as insurgency-free.

"Declaration of insurgency-free is made at the ground level through the local peace and order council which passes a resolution that we in the military validates," Velarmino said.

OPAPP holds forum on peace process in Zamboanga City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 10): OPAPP holds forum on peace process in Zamboanga City

A Malacañang official has allayed fears of the residents that this city will be included in the future into the Bangsamoro region because of the “opt-in” provision in the proposed Basic Law of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).

The Bangsamoro region will replace the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) once the proposed BLBAR is enacted into a law.

Undersecretary Jose Lorena of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) made this clarification Wednesday during a media forum on the peace process, citing this city is not contiguous by land to the ARMM.

Lorena said what is being discussed now in Congress is contiguity by land to be able to avail of the opt-in provision if and when in the future a city or a province wanted to be part of the Bangsamoro region.

Lorena said this city will not be a part of the Bangsamoro region even if there will be petitioners since “the requirement of contiguity will not be complied.”

“If it is contiguity by sea, it is possible since this city is an immediate neighbor of Basilan,” he said. Basilan is one of the five ARMM provinces.

Lorena said the only areas contiguous by land to the Bangsamoro region are the provinces of Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Lorena spearheaded the conduct of a forum to update the public on the development of the peace process through the media.