Thursday, July 2, 2015

MILF: BLMI, UNDP hold Seminar-Workshop on BBL for Moro Religious Leaders in Zamboanga City

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 1): BLMI, UNDP hold Seminar-Workshop on BBL for Moro Religious Leaders in Zamboanga City

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held Seminar-Workshop for Moro Religious Leaders (MRL’s) on June 24-26, 2015 at Hotel Salwa, Zamboanga City.

The three-day activity was attended by forty MRL’s and community Leaders from the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and the City Zamboanga of Western Mindanao.

The main objective of the program is to mobilizing Moro Religious Leaders in popularizing and supporting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in grassroots communities. It is one way of optimizing their efforts in raising public awareness and support to the proposed Bangsamoro Law in their respective religious institutions and communities and in intensifying people’s participation in peace-building efforts especially in the far-flung areas where advocacy and information seldom reaches them.

Mr. Tirso S. Tahir, BLMI Research Officer and Acting Training Officer who is a native of Tandubas Tawi-Tawi Province welcomed the participants. He stressed the important role of Moro Religious and Community Leaders in disseminating the benefits and advantage of the proposed BBL to the Bangsamoro that was crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Sheikh Abdulsalam D. Alabat, BLMI Extension Service Officer and Project Coordinator presented the BLMI-UNDP overview, program objectives and similar activities that were successfully conducted by the institution in the past.

A fundamental inputs and sharing of Islamic views on various human aspects was presented and elucidated by Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director who together with his personnel and staff have been going around in Mindanao  to conduct advocacy and consultation programs since the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) in 2012.

He shared to the program participants some valuable knowledge on mind-set change by stressing its crucial aspects that every individual and leaders must have the readiness to change one’s behavior if he/she thinks and feel that he/she is shying away from the right path. ED Ahmad considered that kind of attitude as destructive to oneself, family and community if tolerated.

Commissioner Pedrito Eisma, of the BTC focused his lecture on BBL and gave updates on the current status of the BBL which is still in congress for deliberation and enactment.

Mr. Joseph Rodriguez of the Kingsmaker Training Solutions, a private consultancy firm based in Davao City lectured on the basics of political campaign. Mr. Rodriguez presented categorically various aspects of campaign strategies, techniques and approaches.

During the open forum, the participants aired their concerns on the BBL but hoped for the collective wisdom of congress by passing an undiluted BBL that reflects the aspiration of the Bangsamoro in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), a fundamental peace deal signed between the GPH and the MILF Peace panels.

In the last day of activity the participants also engaged in workshop sessions by a group of facilitators headed by Mr. Darwin Matindo.

In their messages, the participants expressed their profoundest gratitude to BLMI Management, UNDP and to the resource persons for their informative and enlightening presentations. They considered the knowledge imparted to them as very important to relieve doubts and misconceptions being spread in their communities.

The participants also pledged to do their best as an Agents of Peace to broaden people’s understanding and wider acceptability of the proposed BBL in their respective institutions and communities.

The BLMI Outreach Advocacy Programs are supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC) region.

MILF: Gov’t panel hopes Congress come up with BBL that will satisfy the aspirations of Bangsamoro

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 2): Gov’t panel hopes Congress come up with BBL that will satisfy the aspirations of Bangsamoro

Gov’t panel hopes Congress come up with BBL that will satisfy the aspirations of Bangsamoro

Optimistic that the Congress will pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law soon, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel hopes that the legislative measure will satisfy the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and one that will be in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”

In a news item by Philippine News Agency, GPH panel member Senen Bacani said, “Hopefully with a fuller discussion of this law there will be a better understanding of what is in there for everybody.”

He added, “We’ve always said that we’re relying on the collective wisdom of the members of both houses [Senate and House of Representatives] to come up with a law that will basically satisfy the aspirations of the Bangsamoro and one that will be in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).”

“We know that there is no such thing as an overnight process. What is important is the implementation of the law,” Bacani said.

“And what is even more important is the spirit of the law. (And) how do you change the mindset of people? That cannot be done overnight. There has to be a new way of thinking,” he pointed out.

Bacani also admits that prejudices and biases brought by past and current social and cultural inequities “add to the challenges confronting the BBL.”

But he said “these should not be stumbling blocks in the approval of the proposed bill.”

The Moro people have been complaining for discrimination and biases committed by the non-Muslim Filipinos which have worsened after the Mamasapano incident last January 25.

The unfortunate encounter where 44 police commandoes were killed in an armed confrontation with Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces and other Moro armed groups heightened the negative impressions of the Christian Filipinos towards the Muslims.

The peace panel member said that the full implementation of the decommissioning process is concurrent to the enactment of the draft BBL into law. The MILF has subjected 75 firearms to decommissioning process last month.

Bacani also stressed that the “MILF has proven that it can partner with the government in providing security and in the implementation of the law, particularly in areas in Mindanao with presence of armed groups.”

He said the BBL “will be the first step towards a road to a just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro and in Mindanao.”

The BBL is the legal translation of the CAB that will usher the establishment of better autonomous government for the Bangsamoro people.

The MILF leaders hope that the proposed BBL drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission will not be diluted by Congress.

MILF: Young Moro Professionals to host “Iftar for a cause”

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 2): Young Moro Professionals to host “Iftar for a cause”

Young Moro Professionals to host “Iftar for a cause”

The Young Moro Professionals (YMPN) – Western Mindanao (WestMin) will be hosting “Iftar for a Cause” to help support their program - assisting the education of Young Moros and building Masjid.

Javz Nel Esturco of YMPN WestMin said, “This initiative will help build a mosque in a transitory site in Zamboanga City and will support the scholarship of Moro students through the organization’s ‘Bag of Knowledge Project’.”

The group invites Muslims to partake in the event which also provides an opportunity for the followers of Islamic faith to strengthen their unity while sharing their blessings to reward-reaping noble causes.

Interested individuals who wants to join the Iftar can contact Nelil: 09159661700 or Nuh. The activity will be held at Azenith Hotel on Thursday July 11.

YMPN is a civic organization founded in year 2000. Its members advocate peaceful means to improve the socio-economic well-being of the Bangsamoro people. They are also active in holding various activities in support to the peace process.

The organization espouses volunteerism, sharing of resources, talents and skills to help fellow Muslims in unfortunate circumstances.

MILF: Editorial -- BBL is not only over-politicized ….

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jul 1): Editorial -- BBL is not only over-politicized ….

If one has to look and evaluate the comments of many politicians and opinion-makers on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), clearly the reasons are either pure politics, beastly greed, unfounded fear, demonic hatred, or outright vendettas.
Patriotism or protection of the Constitution, as their motives, is highly suspect. One has to look at them in order to understand where they are coming from and their motives. Many of them have shadowy background or Moro blood in their hands.

Of course, this is not say that some commentators of the BBL do not have noble intentions. We do recognize that and we appreciate their constructive criticisms, which can result in “improved or enhanced” law for the Bangsamoro. We are not talking about them here.

Right now there is an emerging Marcos-Arroyo power-bloc, which is not necessarily as one, but they have common axes to grind against the Aquino administration. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is sent to jail by the government, continues to be under hospital arrest and Senator Bongbong’s father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, is still not buried in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). In parallel, examine those personalities who filed a petition against the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the Supreme Court. They are either identified with the Marcoses or the Arroyos. Former Senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad, who read the Martial Law declaration in 1972,  and Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, first cousin of Senator Bongbong Marcos,  are surely loyalists of the Marcoses, while former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, former Davao City’s Archbishop Fernando Capalla, and Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles are not only known Arroyo’s men or supporters but also members of the National Transformation Council (NTC) which called on President Aquino to step down after the January 25 tragedy in Mamasapano in Maguindanao.

Many politicians are over-acting against the “opt-in” provision in the BBL. They do not want any of their turfs to join the Bangsamoro entity, but on the contrary, they want Lake Lanao to be under their control. What kind of justice is that?

If they are sure of themselves as real leaders and the support of their people, why oppose the opt-in provision when it is one of the basic rights of people, following established legal process, to be part or not part of any entity. Again, why replace “central” to “national” and “territory” to “area” when these terms interchange so many times in many laws especially in the Local Government Code and Republic Act No. 9054 that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They also want to litter the BBL with all the restrictions they can imagine to prevent the Moros from seceding from this country.

They are ignorant that when one decides to be a rebel, he does not care about the law. That is why he is a rebel. It is not the law that prevents the Moros to secede from this country, it is the humiliation and deprivation that they suffer from this country that would force them to resort to extreme measures. The sure antidote to secession is treat the Moros fairly and let them live a good life.

In mature democracies, such as those in Europe, one can find all the terms in political science, such as autonomous republics, autonomous regions, substates, federal states, union of republics, etc. After all, democracy is not static – it proceeds in continuum. This explains why there are diverse forms of democracies. Even the communists called their system democratic. In the United Kingdom, several liberation organizations have offices or presence there. They are tolerated, if not encouraged.

But in this country, there is so much rigidity or legality, which forced people, rightly or wrongly, to circumvent the law or palusot in Tagalog. Strict unitary arrangement would either result in complete obedience or massive defiance. Either way, it is not healthy. There has to be a way out: genuine autonomous governments have to be organized for the Moros and the Cordilleras, who enjoyed them anyway during the American regime in this country. There were two special provinces, the Moro Province and the Mountain Province, which were administered directly by the Americans.

Summing up, those opposed to the BBL, except those with honest intention, do not want the Moros to live like the rest of the inhabitants of this country.  Their motive is pure and simple hatred and mistrust.

MNLF: "Bring Bangsamoro Question to the UN," MNLF Vice-Chairman Olamit to Appeal to OIC

From the MNLF Website (Jun 25): "Bring Bangsamoro Question to the UN," MNLF Vice-Chairman Olamit to Appeal to OIC

MNLF Vice-Chairman Abdul Aziz Olamit of the Central Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has recently expressed his willingness to appeal to the leadership of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to bring the Bangsamoro Question to the attention of the United Nations (UN). The projected plea came immediately after the May 27-28, 2015 42nd Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kuwait that highlighted the “Session of Joint Vision to Strengthen Tolerance and Reject Terrorism.” 

As representative of the Filipino-colonized Bangsamoro people of Mindanao, the MNLF has been annually invited to the OIC foreign ministers conference. The MNLF is holding a Permanent Observer status in the 57-nation global pan Islamic body. Since 1974, the OIC has embarked on helping search for the comprehensive solution to the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao catalogued as the Bangsamoro Question similar to the Palestine Question in the Middle East.

The acting MNLF Vice-Chairman and concurrently chairman of MNLF-Davao City Revolutionary Committee (DCRC) has indorsed the revolutionary idea to MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari for approval in the forthcoming MNLF Central Committee meeting. He has personally envisioned for the MNLF leadership to appeal to the OIC since the Philippine government has had shown no sincerity and seriousness to implement the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement and the 1996 Jakarta MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta Peace Agreements that the OIC has always considered an “international binding agreement.”

He has keenly observed that the Manila government only resulted to dilly-dallying tactics for almost 40 years now since the forging of the 1976 Tripoli agreement. Worse, he further observed that the present Aquino government has totally ignored the 1996 Jakarta Final Peace Agreement that led to the 19-day September 2013 AFP-MNLF war inside Zamboanga City.

The 2013 AFP-MNLF urban war happened because the Aquino dispensation showed no respect for the 1996 Jakarta peace agreement. It unilaterally decided to abrogate the peace process with the MNLF by ending the task of the Philippine government, OIC and MNLF in the Tripartite Ministerial Committee formed to review the 1996 Jakarta final agreement in order to arrive consensus towards the full and correct implementation of the international agreement. Instead, it maneuvered to pursue its hidden agenda with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to craft up the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB) and subsequently Basic Bangsamoro Law (BBL) that ended in a “debacle” after the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano invasion. The treacherous Mamasapano raid over the BIFM and MILF freedom fighters resulted in the killing of 44 Filipino colonialist PNP SAF invaders, 17 Bangsamoro fighters and 5 Muslim civilians.
Cardinal Orlando B. Quevedo, who cited “injustice” as the root cause of the Mindanao war, has lamented that the biggest casualty in the Mamasapano tragedy is not only the lives lost but the “future” (referring to BBL). The target date June 11, 2015 of the passage of BBL in both Houses of Philippine Congress fizzled out due to the controversial events surrounding the enactment of the new autonomy law designed by the Aquino administration.
The political move to short-circuit the MNLF-OIC-GPH tripartite committee and disrespect of the Aquino regime towards the 1996 peace agreement also led the MNLF to revert back to its independence objective instead of autonomy. The MNLF leadership under Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari proclaimed the establishment of the United Federated States of Bangsamoro Republik (UFSBR) as Davao City the capital center on August 2013. The MNLF proceeded to successfully conduct peaceful rallies in Jolo, Basilan and Davao City to campaign for independence and self-determination. But the MNLF demonstrators and supporters were banned by the Zamboanga City government in holding a peaceful demonstration in the urban center. The suppression of peaceful assembly resulted in the September 2013 AFP-MNLF war and humanitarian disaster that included the burning of “10,160 houses and mosques” by AFP soldiers in driving away the MNLF freedom fighters.

The MNLF in tandem today with the freedom fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), a breakaway group of the autonomy-seeking MILF under Chairman Murad Ebrahim, have pursued a militant liberation struggle for complete independence and national self-determination of the oppressed Bangsamoro people of Mindanao.


In the recent Senate House hearing conducted by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., chairman of the committee on local government, in determining the feasibility of BBL to achieve the highly-hyped Mindanao peace and to end the decades-long Mindanao war, it was found out that the Malacanang version BBL proved to be defective to guarantee peace. The senate committee head clearly noted: “After a series of meetings with the stakeholders, it became obvious to me that no substantive consultations had been held with them prior to or during negotiations. The Office of the Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) totally ignored the major stakeholders. The Sultanate of Sulu, the Moro National Liberation Front, the Lumads, the Indigenous People, the Christians, the local government and businesses were abandoned and removed from the negotiating process.”

On this note, both OPAPP and MILF collaborators have reasoned out that various negotiations with the stakeholders in Mindanao had been conducted to point out the merits of the passage of BBL that included meetings with the MNLF and other sectors. Nonetheless, the reality does not validate the actual situation. The reality cannot just be ignored that Malacanang and OPAPP have had maneuvered to divide the MNLF leadership and Bangsamoro people by creating MNLF factions to serve their colonial interest to deceive both the Filipino and Bangsamoro communities. And possibly the global community of nations that wish the half century-long Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao come to an end.
Father Eliseo R. Mercado, a strong advocate of Mindanao peace and author of “The Moro People’s Struggle for Self-Determination,” in Facebook has written some relevant points on “MNLF beyond soundbites and rhetoric,” outlining the following observation: “
The OIC continues to recognize the MNLF as the legitimate and sole representative of the Bangsamoro people. For this reason the MNLF enjoys the membership as an Observer status in the OIC.
The OIC recognizes Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari as the Head of the MNLF as agreed upon last year of all the so-called factions of the MNLF in their Jeddah Manifesto.
The OIC is firmly committed to the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front.
The OIC, GPH and the MNLF are fully committed to review the implementation of the 1996 FPA and address all the gaps in said implementation.
The OIC takes cognizance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro between the GPH and the MILF as partial fulfillment of the 1996 FPA.
The OIC seeks the unity between the MNLF and the MILF through the Bangsamoro Solidarity Forum, but sad to say, there is very little done in the said unification process.
All the leaders of the other so-called factions of the MNLF have signed the Jeddah Manifesto to acknowledging the leadership of Prof. Nur Misuari as the legitimate and sole chair of the MNLF.
Reverend Absalom Cerveza is the official spokesman of the MNLF and no one else.
The only authoritative person that represents the MNLF is one who carries the official mandate from Maas Nur Misuari. No one from the so-called factions and much less from pretenders can speak for and in behalf of the MNLF.
They are not recognized by MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.
Note: Until the OIC changes its official position vis-à-vis MNLF headed by Maas Nur Misuari, the above ten points constitute the reality about the MNLF! All other claimants are bogus and or mirage!”

MNLF Vice-Chairman Olamit has assessed that the result of the 42nd OIC Kuwait conference of foreign ministers held this year has expressed the clearest terms of the implementation of the MNLF-OIC-GRP Jakarta final peace agreement that the Aquino government totally ignored to implement.

 On the Bangsamoro Question, the 42nd Kuwait OIC Resolution has categorically “renewed its support to the Agreement on the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement between the GPH and MNLF initialed on 30 August 1996 in Jakarta and officially signed in Manila on September 2, 1996.”

The OIC Resolution also “calls for quick and full implementation of the provisions of 1996 Final Agreement on implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement concluded between the GPH and the MNLF with good intention and genuine interest so that just and lasting peace and comprehensive development can be achieved for the Bangsamoro people.”

Furthermore, the OIC Resolution “calls upon the Secretary General to exert his efforts to find common grounds between the Parties to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro and the 1996 Agreement on the implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement and 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 Bangsamoro are fully implemented with the end goal of integrating the gains achieved in these peace agreements in the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

Moreover, it also “renews the mandate of the Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (PCSP) which is currently chaired by the Secretary General to

continue the necessary contacts with the GPH and the MNLF for the full implementation of the 1996 Final Agreement on the implementation of Tripoli Peace Agreement.”

Finally, it “calls on the Secretary General to hold another session of the tripartite meeting in order to overcome on the pending major difficulties and calls upon both parties namely the GPH and MNLF to show flexibility that would allow progress on the pending issues, and also calls upon the GPH to consider positively the request by MNLF on conducting a new plebiscite under neutral supervision to consult the population on whether they are willing to join the autonomous region.”

On the conduct of the present Aquino government to presumably solve the Filipino-Moro war in Mindanao, the 42nd Kuwait OIC conference “welcomes the conclusion of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for comprehensive peace in Mindanao and a first major step toward the implementation of the previous agreements as they are binding international commitments and still valid and ought to be fully implemented in the rest of the Bangsamoro homeland as stipulated in the aforementioned two agreements (referring to 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement and 1996 Jakarta Final Agreement).”


On the alarming environmental crisis affecting the Bangsamoro homeland, particularly Lanao region, the OIC annual global meeting “calls upon the GPH to take urgent action to address the environmental problems reported caused by non-compliance with environmental standards in Lake Lanao and its environment which had serious environmental repercussions with adverse effects on people’s health, economic and social conditions.”

 In anticipation for the negative attitude of the Manila government to remain still heedless to the call of the OIC to implement the 1996 Jakarta Final Peace Agreement, the MNLF vice-chairman has therefore advocated the idea of the OIC elevating the Bangsamoro Question to the UN for final arbitration similar to the Palestine Question. He has stressed that only a comprehensive solution to the Bangsamoro Question can bring permanent and durable peace to war-ravaged Mindanao.

He has also expressed the necessity for the OIC to elevate the case of the oppressed Bangsamaoro people to the United Nations in order to end the genocidal war in Mindanao. He has always batted for peaceful arbitration instead of violent means to end the occupation of Mindanao by the Filipino colonizers.


On the idea of peacefully ending the 4-decades long Mindanao war, the MNLF Vice-Chairman shared the peaceful solution expressed by Reverend Absalom Cerveza, MNLF peace panel spokesman, that “Independence Referendum is the Correct Solution to the Bangsamoro Question, not ARMM or BBL.”        

On the controversial BBL issue, he shared the cautious opinion of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that the Aquino government should not rush the passage of BBL because at the end of the day it may court more violent hostilities in Mindanao similar to former President Corazon Aquino-created ARMM that only ended in a “failed experiment.”

In reality, the fake ARMM only produced more chaos, humanitarian disasters and misery for the Filipino-colonized Bangsamoro people of war-torn Mindanao. -osm/

CPP/NDF/NPA: A tree falls but the forest lives forever

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 2): A tree falls but the forest lives forever

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
New People’s Army
Regional Political Department
Southern Mindanao Region
July 2, 2015

A tree falls but the forest lives forever

 A thousand Ka Parago have risen.

On behalf of the New People’s Army and all the revolutionary and progressive forces in Southern Mindanao, may we express our most profound salute to Comrade Parago (Leoncio Pitao) and to our medic comrade Kyle (Vanessa Limpag) who were both killed by the military on June 28, 2015 in Barangay Panalum, Paquibato district, Davao City.

They have served the masses with all their hearts and have given their lives to the cause of national democratic revolution. They are the people’s most cherished heroes who will inspire us to persevere in the struggle until victory is achieved. As Ka Parago defiantly roared at the very last moments of his life, “long live the revolution, long live the oppressed masses!”

May we also express our heartfelt condolence to the wife and children of Ka Parago who have endured the travails of being members of a family of a famous Red fighter. They have been constantly maligned, harassed and subjected to many atrocities by the military, including the horrific death of their young daughter/sibling Rebelyn. We salute your courage in your devotion to Ka Parago and the path that he had taken. We are one with you in your grief and shall assist you in whatever way we can and will always consider you as a part our growing revolutionary family.

May we also take this opportunity to thank the masses, allies and friends and acquaintances for their continuing support especially to those who in these long years of struggle, have stood by Ka Parago and the revolution. We call on them to pay their last respect to their friend and comrade who now lies in state at Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes and whose interment is scheduled on Friday, July 10, 2015.

Let us not be afraid to express allegiance to our friend and comrade who had constantly represented our aspirations and struggle for a just and better life. As we grieve the demise of Comrades Parago and Kyle, we turn this grief into an occasion to better understand and appreciate the challenges that lie ahead. We turn this grief into greater revolutionary passion and commitment. For as long as the basic problems of our people remain, the people’s war continues.

As the old saying goes, “a tree falls but the forest lives forever.” Ka Parago may have been gone but a thousand Ka Parago have risen.

(sgd.)Ka Simon Santiago
Political Director
New People’s Army
Regional Political Department

Bell 412EP Combat Utility, AW-109E Attack Helicopters appear at PAF 68th anniversary

From Ang Malaya (Jul 2): Bell 412EP Combat Utility, AW-109E Attack Helicopters appear at PAF 68th anniversary

Brand-new Philippine Air Force helicopters appeared during the celebration of PAF 68th founding anniversary at Clark Air Base in Pampanga Wednesday, July 1. Brand-new choppers that were displayed include two Bell 412EP combat utility helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW-109E attack helicopters.

PAF is set to receive a total of eight Bell 412EP helicopters. Five of this helicopter variant will be configured as combat utility helicopters, while three will be configured as VIP choppers.

Four Bell 412EP have already arrived (2 CUH, 2 VIP).

The Air Force will also have eight AgustaWestland AW-109E attack helicopters.

Two of eight were delivered.

These attack helicopters are armed with Rocket Machine Gun Pod system (left, right) comprising a 12.7mm (.50 caliber) FN M3P machine gun, a NATO Standard 2.75inch/70mm 3-tube rocket launcher and a 400-round machine gun ammunition box.

According to PAF these helicopters are still undergoing technical inspection and acceptance process.

Four American F-18 reportedly switched on radar weapons systems after PLA Navy challenge

From Ang Malaya (Jul 2): Four American F-18 reportedly switched on radar weapons systems after PLA Navy challenge

Former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan III made a post in his Facebook account today saying he received report, July 1, that China’s PLA Navy challenged four United States F-18 Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 deployed to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). The incident allegedly happened in West Philippine Sea above the Kalayaan Island Group.

As of July 1, aircraft carrier USS George Washington is in Philippine Sea. The aircraft carrier with its embarked air wing is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

According to Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office Chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc the military has not received report on the said incident.

“We have not received any report about this incident,” Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said.

Alunan said he received a message saying “4 F-18 Super Hornets from CVW 5 aboard USS George Washington CVN 73 were again challenged by the PLA Navy above the disputed island group (KIG).”

The PLA Navy allegedly threatened to scramble a squadron of “JT 15″, but the American pilots ignored PLA Navy’s warning. Lt.Cmdr. Marion “Mitch” Paulson reportedly “ordered the Super Hornets to switch on their radar weapons systems and continued on with their mission and sortie.”

Lt.Cmdr. Marion “Mitch” Paulson responded that they were over Philippine territorial waters and were are conducting routine patrol flights on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines,” says in the post of Alunan.

The National Military Strategy of the United States of America (2015)

From the Department of Defense/Joint Chiefs of Staff (Jun 2015): The National Military Strategy of the United States of America (2015)

The URL for the full copy of the document is provided below:

New US Military Strategy says China poses serious security concerns

From Ang Malaya (Jul 2): New US Military Strategy says China poses serious security concerns

The United States military released, July 1, The National Military Strategy of the
United States of America. The last National Military Strategy was published in 2011. Since the last release “global disorder has significantly increased while some of our comparative military advantage has begun to erode,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey said in the foreword of National Military Strategy 2015.

“We now face multiple, simultaneous security challenges from traditional state actors and transregional networks of sub-state groups – all taking advantage of rapid technological change,” the top US military official, General Dempsey said.

The new US military strategy says “China’s actions are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region” adding that “its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea are inconsistent with international law.”

“The international community continues to call on China to settle such issues cooperatively and without coercion,” says in 2015 NMS. “China has responded with aggressive land reclamation efforts that will allow it to position military forces astride vital international sea lanes.”

It added that none from Russia, Iran, North Korea and China are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or its allies. Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns which the international community is working to collectively address by way of common policies, shared messages, and coordinated action.

“We continue to invest in a substantial military-to-military relationship with China and we remain ready to engage Russia in areas of common interest, while urging both nations to settle their disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law,” the new US military strategy adds.

Drillship Maersk Venturer to start exploratory drilling offshore Southern Palawan

Posted to Ang Malaya (Jul 2): Drillship Maersk Venturer to start exploratory drilling offshore Southern Palawan

Otto Energy Investments Ltd. (OEIL) – operator of Service Contract 55, Offshore Palawan – has notified Palawan55 Exploration & Production Corporation that Otto Energy has notified Maersk Drilling to start the mobilization for an exploration in Southern Palawan.

“The drillship Maersk Venturer which is currently in Labuan, Malaysia, is expected to arrive at the well location by 31 July 2015, with actual drilling to commence 1 to 2 days thereafter,” Trans-Asia Petroleum Corporation (TAPET) said in a disclosure to Securities and Exchange Commission today, July 2.

“Please be informed that the SC 55 Operator, Otto Energy Investments, Ltd. (“OEIL”) notified Palawan55 Exploration & Production Corporation (“Palawan55”) a subsidiary of Trans-Asia Petroleum Corporation, that OEIL has issued a formal notice to Maersk Drilling to commence mobilization for the drilling of the Hawkeye – 1 exploratory well,” TAPET said.

“Service Contract 55 (SC55) is a deep-water block located in the southwest Palawan Basin, covering an area of 9,880km2,” Otto Energy said. “SC55 is not located in disputed territory.”

Otto Energy has 78.18% stake in Service Contract 55, Red Emperor with 15% and Palawan55 has 6.82%.

Otto Energy says Hawkeye contains a ‘Best Estimate’ stock tank oil-initially-in-place (STOIIP) of ~ 480 million barrels of oil and a ‘Best Estimate’ Net Prospective Resource of 89 million barrels of oil.

“Success at Hawkeye will unlock a significant new hydrocarbon play in the deep water Southern Palawan region,” Otto Energy says.

China not sending representative to Arbitration; tells PHL return to negotiation

Ang Malaya (Jul 2): China not sending representative to Arbitration; tells PHL return to negotiation

A week before The Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration hears Philippines case against China, the Chinese government said it will not send observers and maintains that it will not participate in the arbitration.

The Philippine legal team, headed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, is set to defend Philippines’ case against China’s claim over virtually the entire West Philippine Sea from July 7 to 13.

Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said today, “China has made it pretty clear of not accepting nor participating in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.”

“What the Philippines does is an obvious political provocation under the cloak of law,” she added. “The Philippines attempts to attain more illegal interests for itself and force China to make compromise on relevant issue. This is impractical and will lead nowhere.”

The spokesperson said that Philippines should discard illusions and return bilateral negotiation and consultation to resolve disputes and meet China halfway.

China stands that it owns virtually the entire West Philippine Sea.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio earlier said that the arbitration tribunal is expected to come up with a decision on jurisdictional issue from August to September. After the jurisdictional issue has been resolved another hearing will be held in November this year.

“We are quite confident that we will get a favorable decision both on the issue of jurisdiction and merits of the case,” DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose previously said.

8ID troops encounter NPA anew in Northern Samar

From the Samar News (Jun 18): 8ID troops encounter NPA anew in Northern Samar
June 18, 2015

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan CityArmy troops operating in Northern Samar Province encountered NPA members in a remote area of Barangay El-empon, Las Navas, Northern Samar early in the morning of June 15, 2015.

According to Lt. Col. Miguel E. Ceballos, Commanding Officer of the 20th Infantry (We Lead) Battalion, his troops led by 1Lt. Robbi Irvin Cruz received information from the residents on the activity of the NPAs of the said barangay and immediately conducted Focused Military Operation in the outskirts of Barangay El-empon when they saw a group of NPA rebels who were also in the area. Firefight ensued forcing the enemy to withdraw from their position leaving behind one (1) hand grenade at the encounter site.

There were three casualties on the government forces who were slightly wounded caused by the shrapnel’s inflicted by the grenade launcher while one NPA member was killed whose cadaver was brought to the barangay officials for proper disposition and identification.

Names of the wounded troops are being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. They will be evacuated to Camp Lukban Station Hospital for their recovery.

It can be recalled that the same encounter happened last week at Brgy McKinley, Catarman, Northern Samar wherein the NPA also suffered one casualty.

Major General Jet B. Velarmino, 8ID Commander, expressed his appreciation to the operating troops of the 20IB for doing their role as vanguards of the people in Northern Samar. Further, he reiterated the government’s call for the rebels to return to the folds of the law and live a peaceful and productive life thru Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

8ID and PNP capture high ranking NPA leader, recovers IED

Posted to the Samar News (Jun 22): 8ID and PNP capture high ranking NPA leader, recovers IED

June 22, 2015

CAMP VICENTE LUKBAN, Catbalogan City Troops under 801st Infantry Brigade and personnel from PNP Sta. Rita, Samar Municipal Police Station captured a high ranking NPA leader operating in Samar at Barangay Magsaysay, Sta. Rita, Samar at around 11:58 P.M. of June 21, 2015.

Based on a report from Colonel Leoncio A. Cirunay, Commander 801st Brigade, a concerned civilian reported about a suspicious person roaming around their community. Acting on the information, Cirunay immediately ordered an entrapment operation which resulted to the apprehension of a certain Erwin C. Lagucay alias Eman who was found out to be the NPA Commanding Officer of Sentro de Gravidad “Botchoy” and Head, Organizing Department of Jorge Bolito Command during the time of his arrest. The rebel yielded a cellular phone, one hand grenade, one blasting cap, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and bladed weapons.

The subject during an interview admitted that he was involved in the 2010 raid at Cancaiyas detachment and the ambush of PNP personnel at Barangay Binanalan, Sta. Rita, Samar in 2005. Lagucay is now under the custody of PNP Sta. Rita for proper disposition and filling of appropriate charges.

The discovery of IEDs in Lagucay’s is significant as it is a proof of the continuous violation of Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), an agreement between the government and the National Democratic Front which represented the New People’s Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines where use of landmines is prohibited. It was an upfront of their disregard to human life as well as of international humanitarian law.

Col. Cirunay lauded the success of the entrapment operation conducted with the PNP and bowed to continue their effort in going after the NPAs in his unit’s area of operation. He said that with the arrest of the NPA leader and the seizure of IEDs, the people in Samar will be spared from becoming possible casualties of the seized IED. He also acknowledged the civilian who tipped the information and call on the people to report NPA activities in their communities so that the rebel group’s inhumane acts can be prevented.

Army checking on alleged NPA extortion in Leyte

From CNN Philippines (Jul 1): Army checking on alleged NPA extortion in Leyte

Col. Dino Dolina (left), commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, has started operations to confirm reports that NPA rebels are into extortion activities in Leyte.

Leyte government troops are verifying reports of extorion exercises carried out by the New People's Army (NPA) victimizing provincial politicians and private contractors.

Col. Dino Dolina, commander of the Army's 802nd Infantry Brigade, shared this with Leyte Gov. Leopolod Petilla in a recent meeting with the Leyte Peace and Order Council.

"I received some information that there [are] extorion activities going on and we are confirming these," Dolina said.

Such activities of the NPA have been confirmed by Bohol and Cebu officials, and Dolina said they might continue as election time approaches.

Influential and wealthy families are known to reside in the western to the central part of Leyte, where the members of the NPA are concentrated.

Petilla said that a breakdown in peace and order is more likely in poor areas.

Dolina added that the rebels were seldom encountered in the province, as 87 out of 189 villages have been declared as NPA-clear areas.

The provincial government aims to clear 102 villages by the end of this year.

These villages are in the towns of Carigara, Burauen, and Albuera, and also in the cities of Baybay and Ormoc.

Rebs say slain leader, medic unarmed when gunned down

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 2): Rebs say slain leader, medic unarmed when gunned down

MAYOR Rodrigo Duterte at the wake of slain rebel leader Leoncio Pitao. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MAYOR Rodrigo Duterte at the wake of slain rebel leader Leoncio Pitao. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

DAVAO CITY—A high ranking communist rebel leader and a medic slain by government soldiers were unarmed when they were attacked by Army troopers, according to the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao on Tuesday.

Rigoberto Sanchez, the NPA spokesperson for Southern Mindanao, said Leoncio Pitao, alias “Parago,” was suffering from diabetes, hyperthyroidism and hepatitis, and was receiving his daily medication when soldiers of the 6th Scout Ranger Company appeared and opened fire.

In a statement, Sanchez said the medic, Vanessa Limpag, known in the rebel underground as “Ka Kyle,” was already raising her arms in surrender and shouting that she was a medic when she was shot by the soldiers.

“The Philippine Army must be very proud and happy to have killed a very sick man and an unarmed medic,” said Sanchez.

The military earlier claimed that Pitao and a female rebel, which the Army described as a medic, were killed in a clash with government troopers on Sunday.

“He was cornered,” said Col. Harold Cabreros, head of the Army’s 1003rd Infantry Brigade.
“His comrades left him behind and fled after the fighting,” Cabreros said.

Rules of engagement

Cabreros said the military had been hunting Pitao for about a week already when soldiers, acting on a tip, found him in Purok 9 in Barangay Panalum.

Sanchez accused the military of violating the rules of engagement in the Geneva Convention and terms of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that was signed by the national government and communist rebel leaders previously.

“They (soldiers) kill with impunity,” he said.

Sanchez said Parago was an inspiration to many rebel fighters because he lived a “spartan life” and was always ready to help people. “The revolution did not die with him,” he said.

“The masses and the comrades grieve his death, yes, but they turn his grief to greater revolutionary fervor as the people’s war goes on,” he added.

The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) turned down Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s call for a ceasefire between the government and NPA to allow the family and friends of Pitao to mourn for the slain rebel leader.

Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastmincom spokesperson, said a ceasefire is “not possible at this time.”
Duterte called for the ceasefire as he visited Pitao’s wake on Monday. Duterte considers Pitao a friend.

Most wanted list

Pitao had been on the military’s most wanted list for years before he was killed on Sunday.
“Let’s have a ceasefire as respect for the dead,” Duterte was quoted as saying. Caber said the decision to declare a ceasefire rests with higher officials.

“That is not in our control,” he said. “It’s the higher headquarters’ decision,” Caber said.

He said the NPA should see the death of Pitao as a sign for guerrillas to lay down their arms.

BIFF massing for possible attacks, bombings in Maguindanao - intel report

From InterAksyon (Jul 2): BIFF massing for possible attacks, bombings in Maguindanao - intel report

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is supposedly massing for possible attacks, including bombings, in Maguindanao province, a police intelligence report indicated Thursday.

The report, seen by this reporter, said around 20 fighters, led by BIFF deputy chief operations officer Kamad Tankle Benito, were monitored gathering in the vicinity of Barangay Malingao in Shariff Saidona Mustapha town around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

They were then joined by other fighters under Commander Talio and Commander Zaibodin Pasawilan.

The report said the BIFF is planning to assassinate military and police personnel, particularly from the Special Action Force, and also intend to carry out roadside bombings within the so-called “SPMS box” (for the towns of Shariff Aguak, Pagatin (Datu Saudi), Mamasapano and Shariff Saydona), the area where a month-long military “all-out offensive” against the rebels earlier this year was concentrated.

The BIFF broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front a few years ago over differences in the direction peace talks with government were going.

The MILF signed a peace deal with government last year while the BIFF says it is committed to establishing an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

PNoy set to interview 5 ranking military officers for top AFP post

From InterAksyon (Jul 2): PNoy set to interview 5 ranking military officers for top AFP post

At least five 3-star generals are to be interviewed Friday at the office of President Aquino as part of the selection process for the replacement of outgoing Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.

On Wednesday, the Board of Generals (BOG) led by Catapang submitted names of the candidates to the President. They were Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado, Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, Western Command (Westcom) commander Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, and Central Command's (Centcom) Lt. Gen. Nicanor Vivar.
Catapang, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56 shortly, is expected to transfer the command responsibility of the AFP to his successor on July 10.

Visaya and Iriberri were classmates at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class "Matikas" 1983, while Delgado, Vivar and Lopez belong to PMA "Sandigan" Class '82.
Aside from Catapang, Delgado and Iriberri, the three other BOG members are AFP Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John Bonafos, Deputy Chief of Staff (TDCS) Maj. Gen. Edgar Fallorina and Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Milan.
After their interview with Aquino, the five senior officers will attend the AFP command conference at Camp Aguinaldo, where Aquino is also expected to attend.

In the past weeks, both active and retired officers could only speculate if Aquino was going to again use the "revolving door policy" in selecting the next military chief despite his repeated statements that he will appoint one who will serve beyond his term, which is to end in June next year.

"Knowing the President, he doesn't want to tolerate the 'revolving door policy' that his predecessor had abused. He is allergic to the practice. He wants to be the opposite," a senior officer told

The officer holds star rank, but declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak on the matter.

On some occasions in the past, President Aquino had said he wants younger officers to lead the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Meanwhile, observers are saying the race for the post of AFP chief may be focused on the three-cornered contest between Visaya, Delgado and Iriberri.

But, in principle, both Iriberri and Delgado are already disqualified if Aquino's yardstick to appoint a younger officer prevails, because the two have less than a year remaining in service.
This gives Visaya the edge, because his mandatory retirement is in December 2016.

Visaya is considered the "dark horse". He became a member of the President's "troubleshooter group" and was appointed commander of the 4th Infantry Division after the President sacked former Maj. Gen. Nestor Añonuevo after the near slay of Guingoog City Mayor Ruth Guingona by NPA rebels.
Just recently, Aquino promoted Visaya to three-star general, which some quarters in the defense and military reportedly tried to delay in connection with the race for the military top post.

Generals who knew the President very well said Aquino values friendship and trust very much when it comes to security matters involving him and his family.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin used to command the Presidential Security group at the time of the late former president Corazon Aquino, which coincided with a series of coup d'etat actions by rebel soldiers that put the presidency at serious risk.

Gazmin is seen today as being capable of playing favorites in the appointment of senior officers, but he has consistently denied this.

Iriberri is considered Gazmin's protege. He served as the secretary's Senior Military Adviser (SMA) and spokesman. But Iriberri is facing criminal and administrative cases before the Office of the Ombudsman. The complainant is seeking a six-month preventive suspension against him.

Delgado also served with the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the Cory administration, and was for a time the chief security aide of presidential sister TV host Kris Aquino.

Army's 2nd IB head apologizes to sisters' group for 'hostage drama' in convent

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Army's 2nd IB head apologizes to sisters' group for 'hostage drama' in convent

The 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army led by Lt. Col. Perfecto Peñaredondo and two of his men personally and officially apologized and asked for forgiveness from the administration of the Good Shepherd Home sisters and the women-residents of the institution for the incident that happened on July 16, 2014 involving the unit's two members.

It can be recalled that two 2IB's men -- Pfc. Ariel Licayan and Cafgu Auxiliary Army member Ronel del Castillo -- forcibly entered the convent in Barangay San Roque, Legazpi City, with their firearms hidden in a sack, and held hostage the occupants of the convent.

Typhoon "Glenda" had just ravaged the city and neighboring areas.

Licayan and Castillo allegedly had family problem and were starving at that time, factors that forced them to do the crime. Hundreds of kibitzers swamped he area, prompting Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and other city officials to come to the scene and appeal to the two not to harm all those inside the Good Shepherd Home.

The two finally yielded to the call for them to give up to the authorities.

After surrendering and thorough investigation, Licayan was committed to the V. Luna Hospital for mental rehabilitation.

Peñaredondo personally handed the copy of the "nostra culpa" to Sister Ma. Alicia Andres, head of the Good Shepherd Home.

In the letter dated June 25 2015, Peñaredondo said Licayan and Del Castillo apologized and swore that the incident will never happened again.

Another letter with the same date, signed by lawyer Juan D. Peralta, 2IB legal counsel, expressed the battalion's official request for apology and forgiveness.

Peñaredondo said in the document that as the commander of the battalion, he assumed the full responsibility of what Licayan and Del Castillo had done -- entering the convent without permission and bearing their firearms placed inside a sack.

He stressed that what his men had done violated their sworn duty to the Filipino people as their protectors.

“Kami ay nanunumpa sa abot ng aming kakayahan, na hindi na hahayaang maulit ang ganitong pangyayari at sisikapin namin na gampanan ang aming tungkulin na pangalagaan ang kapayapaan at maging tunay na lingkod ng mamamayan (We swear, to the best of our ability, never to allow this incident to happen again and try our best to fulfill our duty to ensure peace and be true servants of the people),” the soldiers said in the signed nostra culpa.

Topnotch 42IB undergoes retraining to enhance capabilities

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Topnotch 42IB undergoes retraining to enhance capabilities
The 42nd Infantry (Tagapagtanggol) Battalion has started retraining of its personnel with opening ceremonies on Wednesday at the parade grounds of the 9th Infantry Division here.

The ceremony was graced by Maj. Gen. Yerson E. Depayso, 9ID commander, as the keynote speaker to formally welcome the brave and gallant warriors of the 42IB under the command of Lt. Col. Joselito P. Pastrana, battalion commander, according to Mardjorie Paimela Panesa, division spokesperson.

Tracing the humble beginning of 42IB, Panesa said, it was organized under the 2nd Infantry Division on March 2, 1977 pursuant to Section 1, General Order Number 77, Headquarters Philippine Army, dated March 9, 1977.

It was first deployed in the Quezon-Bicol Zone but before the end of year 1977, the battalion was redeployed in Davao del Sur where it operated in many provinces of Mindanao, confronting the southern Philippines’ secessionist groups.

When the battalion was recalled to Luzon on April 19, 1982, it was accorded with a Heroes’ Welcome at Headquarters Philippine Army, Fort Bonifacio, for its remarkable achievements.

In the same year, the unit was redeployed in Quezon-Bicol Zone.

On Dec. 29, 1991, the unit was transferred at Camp Busig-on, Barangay Tulay na Lupa, Labo, Camarines Norte, with the whole province of Camarines Norte and Sipocot, Camarines Sur as its area of operation.

In 2000, when the 9th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was activated, the battalion was placed under its operational control, with Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte as its area of operation.

In 2002, the 9th Infantry Division was activated with the entire Bicol Region as its area of responsibility and placed the battalion as one of its operating units under the 902nd Infantry Brigade.

The battalion was then relocated in Barangay Mabalodbalod, Tigaon, Camarines Sur.

Its area of operation covered Camarines Sur and Catanduanes.

In 2005, its area of operation was again realigned after the 65th Infantry Battalion assumed responsibility over Catanduanes province.

The 42IB was adjudged as the Best Battalion of the 9th Infantry Division and the Best in Civil-Military Operation in the entire Philippine Army for the year 2006.

The unit achieved numerous accomplishments and once again adjudged as the best battalion of 9ID for the third quarter of Calendar Year 2009.

It was also adjudged as the Top Four Battalions in the whole Philippine Army of 2010.

In 2012, the battalion was tasked to clear the 1st, 2nd and 5th Districts of Camarines Sur by way of Bayanihan Team Activities.

This year, the normalization of Camarines Sur was realized as manifested by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding declaring the province as Conflict Manageable and Ready for Further Development last May 25, 2015 between the Provincial Government Unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The 42IB will undergo two months of retraining in order to enhance its operational readiness, develop unit cohesion, fighting spirit and combat performance of the troops and improve core competencies and functional capabilities.

During the two-month retraining, the area of responsibility of the 42IB is temporarily taken over by the Task Group “Cam Sur” composed of one company from HHSBn, 91st Division Reconnaissance Company, 92nd CMO Coy and 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company which will be under the command of Col. Ferozaldo Paul T. Regencia as Task Group commander, concurrent to his designation as deputy brigade commander of 902nd Infantry Brigade.

Former rebel leader welcomes Negros declaration as 'zone of peace'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Former rebel leader welcomes Negros declaration as 'zone of peace'

A former top official of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) welcomes efforts to declare Negros as a zone of peace even as Negros Oriental had been declared a conflict manageable and development-ready province.

Former rebel leader now Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Partylist based in Bacolod City, said declaring Negros Island Region as a Zone of Peace is fair enough and would be a great challenge for the leaders in both provinces, knowing how guerilla warfare is fought.

“I’ve been there for more than 20 years and I know the problems, the root cause, ideology and direction of the rebel movement including the real politics within the organization,” Paduano pointed out.

Declaring Negros Occidental and the entire island as a Zone of Peace is a welcome development but he said there must be safety nets to prevent rebels from having a hand in it, he added.

Paduano further said during his recent visit here that he has observed that armed engagements between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) in Negros Occidental and the entire island is waning while the parliament of the streets is not so frequent unlike before.

The two major indicators that the problem of insurgency is not anymore significant in this part of the country, he went on to say.

However, Paduano said a major blow against government should be avoided, because declaring the island as a zone of peace does not mean the NPAs are no longer around, especially with reports they come from either Bohol or Cebu and that the South East Front of the New People Army in Negros Oriental is headed by a Boholano.

He explained that under guerilla warfare, insurgents can move freely as long as there is room for maneuver.

On the other hand, Governor Roel Degamo said this is a struggle for both provinces of Negros to become insurgency-free.

Insofar as Negros Oriental is concerned, the governor stressed there is no need to rebel against government because his administration is seriously attending to the needs of the masses and the people while programs and projects are directed to the poor, such as opening and construction of roads, energizing hinterland barangays, construction of water facilities and livelihood opportunities, among others.

This developed as five more barangays have been declared by their respective councils as being free from any affectations of the rebel movement.

These are barangays Milagrosa, Talalak, Nagbalaye and Nagbinlod in Sta. Catalina and barangay Apoloy in Siaton, all in Negros Oriental.

According to Major Dranreb Canto, civil military operations officer of the 302nd brigade, the Philippine Army has conducted an area clearing validation of the five barangays, thus a joint resolution for that matter was submitted to Gov. Degamo for his approval.

Two PAF-acquired attack helicopters still under technical inspection

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Two PAF-acquired attack helicopters still under technical inspection

Two armed AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" helicopters acquired by the Philippine Air Force (PAF)last November remained on display at the former Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga for technical inspection.

"They were just displayed there for appreciation of visitors but they are not yet turned over to the PAF. They are still undergoing technical inspection and acceptance process,"PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said.

Canaya declined to comment on when this process will be completed and how many armed AW-109Es are now undergoing technical inspection and acceptance process.

The two attack helicopters were part of the eight attack units of the AW-109E acquired by PAF for Php3.44 billion. Two units were delivered last January with the remaining six expected to be delivered by this year and the next.

The contract also includes initial logistics support and training for aircrew and maintenance personnel.

The PAF’s AW-109E attack helicopters feature a dedicated mission package and equipment, including a combination of weapon systems which includes pods for .50 caliber machine-guns and 20mm auto-cannon.

The AW-109E "Power" is a three-ton class eight-seat twin engine helicopter.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety and survivability features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109E's superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective helicopter in its class for a range of government tasks.

Over 580 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 LUH helicopters have been ordered for para-public, military and commercial applications by customers in around 50 countries.

Military's Eastern Mindanao Command tops LMD rating

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 2): Military's Eastern Mindanao Command tops LMD rating

The Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) has received the highest excellence rating for leadership, morale, and discipline (LMD) among the six unified command in the country.

The award was personally handed by AFP Office of the Inspector General head Major Gen. Benito De Leon to EMC commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad Thursday.

It was given after a week-long inspection, which aimed to check the performance of every unified command on matters about readiness condition; finance and logistics management; and leadership, morale and discipline.

The inspection also served to evaluate the command's over-all capability based on the given mission.

Officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees of the command were evaluated based on their job description, its office function and accomplishment. 

De Leon said that EMC was on top for LMD rating among the six unified commands inspected.

“This award speaks about the excellent leadership of your commander, Lt. Gen. Baladad, this command has accomplished much more than our expectation at higher headquarters,” he added.

Baladad said he was humbled by the award and stressed that he was very satisfied with the excellent rating.

“This award speaks about the dedication and commitment of Team EastMinCom troopers. By all means, we will concentrate winning the peace here in Eastern Mindanao," the EMC chief.

The AFP’s unified commands are NOLCOM based in Tarlac; SOLCOM in Lucena City; WESTMINCOM in Zamboanga City; WESCOM in Palawan; CENTCOM in Cebu; and EMC in Davao City.