Monday, July 13, 2015

CPP/NDF/NPA: NPA successfully raids 58th IB troops in Gingoog City

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 12): NPA successfully raids 58th IB troops in Gingoog City
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Media Statement
July 12, 2015

NPA successfully raids 58th IB troops in Gingoog City

The New People’s Army – North Central Mindanao Regional Command extends Red congratulations to Red commanders and fighters of the NPA under Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon (NPA-EMONEB) Sub-regional Command in its successful raid against COPD troops of the 58th Infantry Battalion camped in the barangay hall of Alagatan, Gingoog City in July 11, 2015, around 5:30 PM. The reactionary troops suffered eight casualties and one of them was captured and held as prisoner of war (POW) while the NPA seized two high-power firearms and other military equipment.

The NPA guerilla platoon attacked more or less 10 soldiers of the Bravo Company of the 58th IB, under the command of 1st Lt. Valiente Palomino, who were launching psywar and intelligence operations in Brgy. Alagatan. The reactionary soldiers were playing basketball in the village center when they were raided by the NPA. A firefight then ensued for the next 20 minutes. One soldier was killed while seven others were wounded while a Red fighter suffered a minor wound. The NPA seized a K3 light machine gun, an M203 grenade launcher, two ammo vests, three machine gun ammo links, 12 40mm ammunitions and two military packs. The NPA made a fast and organized withdrawal, bringing the seized equipment and the captured soldier.

The NPA is now holding in custody, as prisoner of war, Pfc. Adonis Jess Maghanoy Lupeba (serial number: 863573), 26 y/o, married and a resident of Iponan, Cagayan de Oro City. The NPA custodial unit ensures the humanitarian treatment of Pfc. Lupeba as a POW and in accordance to the rules of engagement, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and the three rule and eight points of discipline of the NPA regarding the humanitarian treatment of prisoners of war. As with the case of the two POWs last year, we are prepared to forgo the normal processes of investigation and revolutionary judicial process as a gesture of goodwill and the revolutionary movement’s sincerity in seeking the resumption of peace talks with the Aquino government. We assure the family of Lupeba and the general public that he is in being treated well and will be able to return as soon as conditions allow his safe and orderly release. We will release further advisories from time to time.

On the other hand, we regret the involvement of two civilians who were wounded in the firefight—Helen Mae Helodo, 14 y/o, and Leticia Cabrera. NPA medics gave Cabrera first aid before she was brought to the hospital. The two are now reportedly out of danger. As soon as possible, we will extend financial aid two aid their medication.

Meanwhile, we remind the people of the necessity of strongly resisting and condemning the illegal camping of AFP personnel amidst the civilian population. By camping inside the barangay hall of Alagatan, the COPD unit of the 58th IB violates CARHRIHL and puts in danger the lives of civilians whom they have used as human shields against the NPA.

Once again, we salute NPA-EMONEB for a successful tactical offensive against the 58th IB and we thank all the people who helped and inspired this action. With the firm unity of the NPA with the oppressed and exploited people, and with the guidance of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan is clearly being frustrated and the revolutionary movement will surely advance further and achieve more victories in the national democratic revolution with a socialist perspective.

Ka Allan Juanito
New People’s Army
North Central Mindanao Regional Command

Google hears Filipino netizens’ petition on Scarborough Shoal

From Ang Malaya (Jul 13): Google hears Filipino netizens’ petition on Scarborough Shoal

Days after an online petition was started at Change.Org, Google now shows Scarborough Shoal in Google Maps not as part of Zhongsha Islands of Sansha prefecture-level city in Hainan province. The petition said “Google maps showing this (Scarborough Shoal) is part of Zhongsha island chain gives credence to what is plainly a territory grab that peace loving nations should stand against.”

Prior to change, Google Maps online software showed that AutoNavi is the provider of the information which says Scarborough Shoal is part of Zhongsha Islands of Sansha prefecture-level city in Hainan province. AutoNavi is a China-based web mapping content and navigation, and location-based solutions corporation.

Now, AutoNavi was removed as the data provider for Scarborough Shoal.

However, if Zhongsha Islands will be searched in Google Maps, a red pointer will still appear at Scarborough Shoal. Zhongsha Islands (no English/other names unlike Spratly/Kalayaan Islands, Paracel Islands) is composed of submerged banks, seamounts, and shoals in West Philippine Sea with Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal as major features. Macclesfield Bank is being claimed by Taiwan (Republic of China) and China (People’s Republic of China).

Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Philippine Continental Shelf. It is part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales.

China claims Scarborough Shoal as part of Zhongsha District, a county-level area of the Sansha prefecture-level city in Hainan.

“We support that move to give them neutral names,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said pertaining to the online petition. “A lot of people use these maps and if you’re looking for names (of certain features), you resort to Google.”

Talks with CPP should restart without ‘preconditions’ – Deles

From Rappler (Jul 13): Talks with CPP should restart without ‘preconditions’ – Deles

The presidential adviser on the peace process says talk of prisoner release, as demanded by the Communist Party of the Philippines, is 'premature'

RESUMPTION OF TALKS? Malacanang is hopeful resumption of talks with CPP-NDF-NPA will prosper after the meeting of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and CPP founder Jose Maria Sison in Netherlands.

RESUMPTION OF TALKS? Malacanang is hopeful resumption of talks with CPP-NDF-NPA will prosper after the meeting of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and CPP founder Jose Maria Sison in Netherlands.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said it is actively seeking ways to “restart talks” with communist guerrillas, following the meeting between Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, however, said there should be no conditions before talks resume.

It is premature to talk about prisoner releases without a full appreciation of the context and parameters of the talks that are now being proposed. It is difficult to start with preconditions; what is more important to consider is where the talks will go,” Deles said in a text message.

Deles is set to meet with Belmonte after his return to Manila.

Belmonte, Sison, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni met in Utrecht, Amsterdam on Thursday, July 12. (Belmonte was part of the Philippine delegation to the oral hearings on the Philippines' case against China at The Hague.)

This is not the first time that Sison met with government officials and peace emissaries during the Aquino administration.

Sison, also NDFP chief political consultant, confirmed to Rappler in April that they have been talking to officials and emissaries since 2014, led by former Agrarian Secretary Hernani Braganza.

In December 2014, Braganza met with rebel leaders in an NPA camp in Surigao del Sur. But the initial talks did not lead to anything concrete.

Government officials admitted there is not enough time to complete a peace agreement with the Philippine Left. There is, however, keen interest to reduce the encounters between government troops and the CPP’s armed group, New People’s Army (NPA), especially in the coming elections. (READ: NDF proposes 6-month, time-bound peace talks)

Malacañang, for its part, welcomed the development.

"Sana po mula doon sa inisyal na pakikipag-usap ni Speaker Belmonte sa mga lider ng CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front) sa The Netherlands ay magkaroon po ng progreso hinggil sa muling pagbubukas ng diyalogo o usapan sa pagitan ng dalawang panig," Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said in a radio interview on DZRB Sunday, July 12.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist leadership have been delayed due to several issues, such as the communist party's demand to release its detained consultants.

Lt Colonel Kim Henares joins AFP reserve force

From Rappler (Jul 13): Lt Colonel Kim Henares joins AFP reserve force
She joins a list of politicians and government officials who have joined the military reserve force

RESERVE OFFICER. Chief tax collector Kim Henares is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve Force. AFP PAO photo

RESERVE OFFICER. Chief tax collector Kim Henares is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserve Force. AFP PAO photo

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares on Monday, July 13, joined the Philippine Air Force Reserve Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

A commissioning and donning of rank ceremony was held in Camp Aguinaldo.

The country's chief tax collector is a known gun enthusiast, collector and shooter.

She joins a list of politicians and government officials who have joined the military reserve force. Among them are Vice President Jejomar Binay (Marines Colonel), Senator Vicente Sotto III (Army Lieutenant Colonel) and Sarangani Representative Emmanuel Pacquiao (Army Lieutenant Colonel) among others.

Under Republic Act 7077 or the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reservist Act, reserve officers may be called to assist in times of war, invasion or rebellion. They may also assist in relief missions during disasters and calamities.

Hague tribunal sets new deadline for Philippines

From Rappler (Jul 14): Hague tribunal sets new deadline for Philippines

The Philippines ends the first two rounds of oral arguments at The Hague, Netherlands, in its historic case against China over the West Philippine Sea

LEGAL BATTLEGROUND. A picture made available July 28, 2014, shows the seat of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace), in The Hague, the Netherlands on August 27, 2013. File photo by Guus Shoonewille/EPA

LEGAL BATTLEGROUND. A picture made available July 28, 2014, shows the seat of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace), in The Hague, the Netherlands on August 27, 2013. File photo by Guus Shoonewille/EPA

The Philippines on Tuesday, July 14, announced that a UN-backed tribunal has given Manila a new deadline to bolster its historic case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"The Philippines has until July 23, 2015, to give its written submission to the tribunal to amplify its answers to questions posed by individual members of the tribunal," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a bulletin.
The arbitral tribunal handling the Philippines' case at The Hague, Netherlands, issued this deadline on Monday, July 13.
Monday was the last day of arguments on the tribunal's jurisdiction or right to hear the Philippines' case.
Valte said the Philippines on Monday also addressed "additional and clarificatory questions from the tribunal."
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay delivered the Philippines' closing statement, Valte said.
From July 7 to 13, the tribunal decided to hold the oral arguments behind closed doors.

The tribunal allowed observers such as Vietnam, however, to attend the hearings.
The Philippines also gave Filipinos a peek into its basic arguments by releasing Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario's statement at The Hague. (READ: EXPLAINER: Philippines' 5 arguments vs China)
Del Rosario, for one, told the tribunal that China's expansive claim over the disputed waters threatens the law of the sea.
He added that China "irreversibly damaged" the environment by building artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Led by American lawyer Paul Reichler, a powerhouse team is defending the Philippines at The Hague. (READ: PH lawyer vs China: 'Giant slayer' who defeated US)
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose reportedly said the tribunal is likely to rule on jurisdiction around 3 months later.

‘AFP modernization plan in tatters’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14): ‘AFP modernization plan in tatters’

The Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program is in tatters because President Aquino has not signed the national defense strategy plan two years after it was finalized.

Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, vice chair of the House committee on national defense and security, said this was the reason military purchases and deployments had become erratic or wishy-washy, where a single official could amend strategy based solely on perception and through deliberations.

Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, in a phone interview, said the House committee will conduct a “sunset” review of the first phase of the AFP Modernization Program, which spans three Presidents.

Biazon said he would summon Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and newly appointed AFP Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri to a committee hearing on July 29 to shed light on how the military had so far implemented the modernization program in the Aquino administration.

Among the topics to be discussed is the Department of National Defense’s probe of the P1.2-billion purchase of overpriced and defective helicopters and the suspension of the P6.5-billion purchase of a shore-based missile system finalized with the Israeli government two years ago in favor of purchasing helmets, body armor, night vision goggles and radio equipment for the same amount.

In a phone interview, Alejano said that military purchases should never be done on a whim as the acquisition of billions of pesos in arms and gear should involve long deliberate studies on how the hardware would fit in the military defense strategy.

“There is virtually no long-term planning. A defense strategy developed over two years can just be replaced in a few months by one individual mainly because the defense strategy has not yet been signed by the President,” said Alejano. “This is not just about the list of weapons, this is also about the rationality of buying the weapons.”

Alejano cited the recent decision of Gazmin and Iriberri to suspend the Israel missile deal for helmets as a reflection of the AFP’s moody acquisition behavior.

Alejano said the purchase of the equipment was questionable not only because it was approved less than two months after it was proposed by Iriberri and a few days before his predecessor, Gregorio Catapang, retired.

“Why are we buying this much equipment in one big package when this should be delivered in tranches? These equipment have expiry dates and it would be reckless to have a huge number of equipment expiring at the same time,” he said.

In the case of the SBMS purchase, a military source said the missile deal was not a priority because it was a government-to-government deal unlike the battlefield gear purchases, which would involve brokers and commissions.

Former National Security Adviser and Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez said Irriberri violated protocol laid out in the AFP Modernization Act by interfering in the purchase of the Israeli missiles which was under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Air Force.

When he recommended that the missiles be replaced with helmets and body armor, Iriberri was the Army commander.

“It is really questionable why it was General Iriberri as then Army chief who reportedly recommended the scrapping of the Shore Based Missile System, and not the Air Force chief who should be in charge of missile defense systems under RA 7898, the original AFP Modernization Act of 1995,” said Golez in an e-mail message to the Inquirer.

DND to prove new choppers can fly

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 14): DND to prove new choppers can fly

The Department of National Defense (DND) will stage a public demonstration of its recently purchased UH-1D and UH-1H helicopters to debunk claims the choppers bought by the Philippine Air Force are defective.

“This will debunk once and for all talk that the helicopters are defective and not flying, and that these are not mission-capable,” said DND public affairs service chief Arsenio Andolong.

The seven UH-1D and two UH-1H choppers were part of the P1.2-billion helicopter deal with a United States-based company that the DND had asked to partially terminate after the company failed to deliver the units on time.

Only seven of the 21 UH-1D units had been delivered and accepted by the Air Force.

Andolong said the demonstration would allow the Air Force to clarify allegations the choppers were not combat mission-capable.

“The seven Hueys we accepted are operational,” he said.

Earlier, the DND asked the US-based Rice Aircraft Services and Eagle Copters to partially terminate the P1.2-billion deal for failure to deliver the units on time.

Before the partial termination, a newspaper report said the choppers were “defective.”

PHL reinforcing rusting ship on Spratly reef outpost -Reuters sources

From GMA News (Jul 14): PHL reinforcing rusting ship on Spratly reef outpost  -Reuters sources

The Philippine navy is quietly reinforcing the hull and deck of a rusting ship it ran aground on a disputed South China Sea reef in 1999 to stop it breaking apart, determined to hold the shoal as Beijing creates a string of man-made islands nearby.
Using wooden fishing boats and other small craft, the navy has run the gauntlet of the Chinese coastguard to move cement, steel, cabling and welding equipment to the BRP Sierra Madre since late last year, two navy officers who have been inside the vessel told Reuters in recent interviews.
The 100 meter-long (330-foot) tank landing ship was built for the U.S. Navy during World War Two. It was eventually transferred to the Philippine navy, which deliberately grounded it on Second Thomas Shoal to mark Manila's claim to the reef in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea. A small contingent of Philippine soldiers are stationed onboard.
Reuters/Erik De Castro
Manila regards Second Thomas Shoal, which lies 105 nautical miles (195 km) southwest of the Philippine region of Palawan, as being within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. China, which claims virtually all the South China Sea, says the reef is part of its territory.
"We know China has been waiting for the ship to disintegrate but we are doing everything to hold it together," said one of the officers, adding that while the work was progressing slowly, it should be finished by the year-end.
The other naval officer said welding was being done at night because of the heat. Concrete foundations were being laid inside the ship's hull to try to stabilise it, he added.
Without giving exact dates, both sources said they witnessed the repairs taking place earlier this year. They declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
The soldiers currently stationed on the ship, who are demolition experts, were doing the work, said the second source.
Just to the west of Second Thomas Shoal is Mischief Reef, one of seven coral formations in the Spratlys that China is rapidly turning into islands that Beijing says will have undefined military purposes.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to the Spratly waterway, which is some 1,100 km (680 miles) from the Chinese mainland.
Reuters/Erik De Castro
Asked about the repairs, Philippine Foreign Affairs Department  spokesman Charles Jose declined to comment. But such work would not violate an informal code of conduct signed in 2002 by China and Southeast Asian states that prohibited any change to the status quo in disputed areas, he said.
"In our view, repairs and maintenance of existing facilities are allowed ... especially if such repairs and maintenance work are for the safety of our personnel and safety of navigation," Jose added.
The Philippine Defense Department declined to comment.
China's Defense and Foreign Ministries did not respond to a request for comment.
A Philippine general familiar with the repairs told Reuters the ship's hull and deck were being strengthened, and air-conditioning units added.
"We are improving the living quarters inside, to make life for our soldiers more comfortable," he said, declining to give further details about the repairs or be identified.
Pictures taken by a Reuters photographer who sailed to the BRP Sierra Madre with other media in March last year show a pockmarked vessel covered in rust, sitting on the permanently submerged reef but listing slightly to one side. Much of the boat's hull is visible.
Besides being a military outpost, the BRP Sierra Madre is also a commissioned Philippine navy ship.
That means Manila could request U.S. military assistance under a decades-old security treaty with Washington if the ship was attacked, said senior Philippine military officials.
"Even if it's covered with rust, it will remain an active duty commissioned navy ship. It's a symbol of our sovereignty," said the Philippine general.
Second Thomas Shoal illustrates the mismatch in power between the Philippines and China.
Since the start of 2014, the Philippine navy's regular attempts to re-supply soldiers on the BRP Sierra Madre with food and water have become a cat-and-mouse routine, with large Chinese coastguard vessels on patrol in the area trying to block the path of the smaller Philippine boats, naval officials said.
The Philippine vessels have always gotten through by making a run for the shoal's shallow waters, which aren't deep enough for the Chinese coastguard, naval officials said. The tear-shaped shoal itself is large, some 10-11 nautical miles from top to bottom.
Zhang Baohui, a mainland security expert at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said Beijing would be angry about the repairs, adding that Chinese ships would probably continue their "menacing" tactics. But they would not do anything that could be considered an act of war, Zhang said.
"The larger geo-strategic context is more important than Second Thomas Shoal," he said.  

'Army for peace' throws support behind GPH-MILF deal

From the Philippine Star (Jul 13): 'Army for peace' throws support behind GPH-MILF deal

The 6th Infantry Division had lost hundreds of combatants in so many encounters with forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) stands out among military outfits in Mindanao in supporting the government-Moro peace process.

The 6th Infantry Division (ID) had lost hundreds of combatants in so many encounters with forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Central Mindanao in the past two decades. 

The division covers the neighboring Central Mindanao provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao, and the cities of Tacurong and Cotabato, all known bastions of the MILF.

Thanks to four officers, the now retired Gens. Anthony Alcantara, Ariel Bernardo and Rey Ardo and 6th ID’s incumbent chief, Major Gen. Edmund Pangilinan, the division evolved into what is most known now as “AFP,” meaning Army for peace, from what used to be the country’s most combat-exhausted unit.

The 6th ID even drew flak from groups hostile to the current government-MILF peace process for not providing artillery and air support to police commandos that figured on January 25 an 11-hour firefight with armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The policemen were attacked while moving out from a barangay there after having killed in a dawn raid Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, most known as Marwan.

At least 44 operatives of the police’s elite Special Action Force, 17 MILF guerillas and five innocent civilians were killed in the hostilities, which shook the entire nation to its core and, as a consequence, mired the congressional approval for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The bill, which is pending in Congress, is the enabling measure for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an MILF-led Bangsamoro entity, based on the group’s final compact with government, the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

For most local peace advocates, among them Christian religious leaders, the 6th ID’s having adhered to the 1997 government-MILF Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities in handling the January 25 situation in Mamasapano prevented escalation of hostilities that could have derailed Malacañang’s diplomatic dealings with the rebel group.

“My position then, as commander of 6th ID was based on wisdom and peace ideals,” Pangilinan told reporters from across Central Mindanao during an Army-media fellowship gathering on June 12 at Camp Siongco in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

Except for what is now known as the infamous “Mamasapano incident” there was not a single encounter between MILF forces and the 6th ID and its component brigades and battalions from late 2009 until January 25.

“The January 25 `Mamasapano incident’ was, in fact, an encounter between the police and rebels in three areas in Mamasapano, not an Army-MILF encounter,” said a local official in Mamasapano in south of Maguindanao.

The conversion of the 6th ID into a peace advocacy unit was partly ushered in by the Nov. 23, 2009 “Maguindanao Massacre” involving members of the then feared Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao and their private militias.

The now detained patriarch of the clan, Andal Ampatuan Sr., had used units of 6th ID to fight groups in the MILF he had wanted to drive away from the 11 towns in the second district of Maguindanao.

During Ampatuan’s incumbency as Maguindanao governor, a tenure that lasted from 1998 to 2008, commanders of 6th ID were labeled as his “puppets” for condoning blatant violations of GPH-MILF ceasefire protocols his private militias perpetrated.

It was Alcantara and Bernardo, his deputy, who first reinvented the 6th ID from something that was so isolated from the local communities and hostile to the MILF into a peace advocacy unit.

Alcantara and Bernardo assumed as 6th ID commander and assistant commander, respectively, in January 2010 following a revamp in the division leadership structure as a consequence of the Maguindanao Massacre, which left 58 people dead, more than half of them journalist, and led to the incarceration of leaders of the Ampatuan clan.

Among Alcantara and Bernardo’s first major peace-building stride in tandem was declaring Camp Siongco, the command center of 6th ID, open 24 hours to all people with security problems, regardless of their faith and ethnicity.

They also both restrained 6th ID’s component units from siding with local officials locked in clan wars owing to the involvement in most conflicts of active MILF commanders, many of them enemies of the Ampatuans.

Among the bitter adversaries of the Ampatuans then was Imam Ameril Ombra Kato, who was to become the founder and figurehead of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Kato, then chief of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, and his men figured in more than a hundred encounters with the governor's military-backed private army.

“Those peace initiatives then catalyzed the restoration of public confidence on the 6th ID and improved the security climate in Maguindanao effectively," said Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi town southwest of the province.

An ethnic Teduray chieftain, Piang, as member of the government’s peace panel, helped craft the wealth and power-sharing component of the GPH-MILF October 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Alcantara and Bernardo also dismantled the monopoly on candidacy of barangay officials in towns controlled by the Ampatuans to enable elders not hostile to the MILF to get to the helm of the leadership in barangays where rebel forces and combined members of the Ampatuan militia and soldiers had figured in bloody encounters.

“We eventually realized that over and above our security missions is a peace process we need to support for lasting peace to reign in these troubled lands,” said Sgt. Nelson Usog, a former photographer of 6th ID, now a civil-military relations operative of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion under the 10th Division.

Ardo, who took over the 6th ID’s top post following Alcantara’s completion of his term as division commander, was bolder in his peace maneuvers.

He immediately built linkages with members of Central Mindanao’s Islamic Darul Iftah (House of Opinions), comprised of Moro preachers trained in Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, the World Islamic Call University in Libya, and other religious schools in the Middle East and Pakistan, to boost Muslim-Christian relations in the 6th ID’s area of coverage.

Ardo was the first ever Philippine Army general to attend peace dialogues, involving the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and top leaders of the MILF in Camp Darapanan, the rebel group’s main headquarters, in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

Ardo and members of 6th ID’s command staff even repeatedly hosted Iftar, the first meal after day-long fast, for members of Islamic religious groups during the 2011 Ramadhan fasting season.

“That was something we have not witnessed before. The gesture made us realize that this secessionist conflict in Mindanao can easily be won through diplomatic means, not through firepower,” said Cpl. Benito Baer.

Baer, a Visayan, said Ardo’s examples inspired him to host, as a personal tradition now, at least one Iftar for his Muslim neighbors during the yearly 30-day Ramadhan season.

Ardo had also offered to provide free medication for Kato at 6th ID’s Camp Siongco Hospital when he learned that the rebel leader suffered a hypertensive stroke in 2011.

Kato declined the offer and went on to live as a paralytic until April this year.

Pangilinan said what his now retired superiors had started was worth continuing, especially their examples in settling family feuds involving big clans and rebel groups in Central Mindanao.

Pangilinan and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu had facilitated the settlement of more than 20 clan wars in the province in recent months.

Mangudadatu had earlier settled more than 30 clan wars in the second district of Maguindanao with the help of Pangilinan, while he was still commander of the 601st Brigade in Tacurong City.

Pangilinan was the assistant commander for the Mindanao peace process of the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City before he assumed as 6th ID chief last year.

“All of our current diplomatic efforts are being done for the good of the peace process,” Pangilinan said.

The 6th ID saw extensive combat actions during the time of past commanders, the now retired Generals Raul Urgello, Gregorio Camiling Jr., Genereso Senga, and Agustin Demaala.

Camiling was the commander of the division when soldiers liberated from MILF control in 2000 what was touted then as “impregnable” guerilla stronghold Camp Abubakar in the tri-boundary of Maguindanao’s Buldon, Barira and Matanog towns.

The celebrated fall of the camp, established in the early 1980s by the MILF’s founder, Egyptian-trained cleric Salamat Hashim, did not even weaken the group tactically.

Urgello, while at 6th ID, even taunted repeatedly the MILF in radio interviews every after an encounter anywhere in Maguindanao, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.

Urgello had challenged the MILF then over the radio to bring on the fight and, in some occasions, warned its forces not to mess with 6th ID.

Attack on site eyed for Meralco power plant results in soldier’s death

From the Business World (Jul 13): Attack on site eyed for Meralco power plant results in soldier’s death

MEMBERS of the communist New People’s Army attacked the location being surveyed for a 1,200 megawatt, coal-fired Meralco power plant in Quezon province, resulting in the death of a soldier belonging to the Philippine Army detachment tasked to secure the area.

An unknown number of NPA troops fired upon soldiers of the 85th Infantry Battalion at around 5 p.m. last Sunday in the survey location for the Atimonan One Powerplant in Villa Alibaba village in Quezon, the Philippine Army said.

The 130-hectare land area is the future site of the Manila Electric Company’s $2 billion power plant.

The firefight lasted for about an hour and 50 minutes, killing Corporal Michael S. Lubian, Col. Rhoderick M. Parayno, Brigade Commander of the 201st said in a phone interview on Monday.
The rebels wanted to “recover the area by fire,” meaning by tactical offensive so they can easily get the support of the masses. After they get that, what comes next would be extortion activities. By that time, the power plant would be possibly finished and then they will extort there,” Mr. Parayno said.

Mr. Parayno said that there are three NPA groups operating in the area including two guerilla units and one provincial operations command.
“In Quezon there is Guerilla Unit 2 with a total of 28 troops with 34 firearms. There is also a unit from Laguna, the Guerilla Unit 1. There are six of them with six firearms. The one from Bicol, the Armando Catapia Command, has 23 troops with 23 firearms,” he said.

The Army said it is currently conducting pursuit operations to track down the NPA troops responsible for the attack.

The 85th Infantry Battalion is under the 201st Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

ASG bomb expert eludes arrest

From Tempo (Jul 13): ASG bomb expert eludes arrest

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Police authorities in this city raided a suspected hideout of an Abu Sayyaf bomb maker from Basilan province at a village of Talon-Talon in this city.

The police team led by Supt. Felix Martinez and Chief Inspector Edilberto Alvarez, armed with a search warrant for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, raided the safe house at Nurbin Drive, Talon-Talon, Friday, in search of Asaid Alkamhajain.

Alkamhajain is the top student of ASG hard core leader Puruji Indama of Basilan province in bomb making course, the police said.

The police said they failed to arrest Alkamhajain but they were able to seize an MK2 fragmentation grenade, blasting caps and some improvised explosive device or IED and wirings from the safe house.

The police also arrested Pandugan Abdumuin and Loti Kabukisan, son of a former mayor of Albarka town in Basilan. Kabukisans is a close relative of Indama.

The policemen brought them to the police station for questioning after they were caught inside the safe house of Alkamhajain during the raid.

The raid came a day after police and army operatives captured an ASG member in Barangay Talabaan Thursday afternoon.

Kids pulled out of Negros schools due to NPA attack rumors

From Rappler (Jul 13): Kids pulled out of Negros schools due to NPA attack rumors

The reports come a day after slain 5th District Board Member Renato Malabor was buried in his hometown in Isabela, Negros Occidental

Rumors of an impending attack by the communist New People's Army in Isabela town prompted parents to pull out their children from at least 4 public schools on on Monday, July 13.
The police and the army are on full alert while validating the reports.
Isabela Mayor Enrique Montilla III said "imaginations have run wild," but ordered the authorities to step up security measures in the area.
These reports came a day after 5th District Board Member Renato Malabor was buried in his hometown. Malabor and his bodyguard, Leody Jomilla, were gunned down in Isabela town on June 28. The board member's family are crying for justice as they called on the witnesses to come out and help with the investigation.
Senior Inspector Ramil Sarona, town police chief, said most of the classes in 3 public elementary schools and one public high school were cancelled.
Colonel Franciso Delfin, commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said, "We're trying to control the situation so the people will not panic. We have deployed additional troops to assure the residents there."
He added that the army have contained the area.
Pressed if he could be the target of the alleged NPA attack, Mayor Montilla said: "There's a million in one possibility. I've said my piece – less talk, the better. I've been in this exercise so many times."
Earlier, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. offered a P2 million bounty to anyone who can give information that can lead to the arrest of the unidentified suspect.
Marañon believes that the killing of Malabor was "politically motivated" since he had expressed plans of running as Isabela mayor in 2016.

Joma on Belmonte meet-up: ‘More than just a social call’

From GMA News (Jul 13): Joma on Belmonte meet-up: ‘More than just a social call’

Belmonte, Joma meet in Amsterdam

 House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (right) and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria"Joma" Sison have dinner in Amsterdam on July 9 (July 10 in Manila), a move Belmonte describes as a way to build confidence between the two parties. Photo courtesy of Jon Bustamante

UTRECHT, The Netherlands — Revolutionary leader Jose Maria Sison met with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte at a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam last July 9, and it was more than just a social call.

While Sison said the meet-up started as an informal dinner among friends, he added that the most important topic discussed was that of the peace negotiations.

“The most important part of the conversation was the issue of the peace talks. Speaker Belmonte asked us about our ideas and expectations since [President Benigno Aquino III's] term is already ending next year,” the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

Belmonte was joined by fellow House members Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, Isidro Ungab and Budoy Madrona, while Louis Jalandoni, who chairs the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accompanied Sison during the dinner at Sapporo restaurant in the southern part of Amsterdam.

Sison applauded Belmonte's interest and continued support for the peace negotiations to succeed, but reiterated that immediate action from the Aquino government is needed to proceed with the talks.

The talks of peace between the government and the NDFP are currently stalled after the government refused to release 16 NDF peace consultants, including the couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were arrested last year.

Sison is not giving up hope though. If the government is determined to pursue peace, he said, it can be done even before Aquino's term is up.

“There is still a lot that can be done even before Aquino's term ends. The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and  Agreement on Truce and Cooperationcan be finished. The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law was done in 4 to 6 months. If the government wants peace, it can be done,” he said.

But according to Sison, the government panel may have to put its house in order first.

“The side of the government seems problematic. They're also quite slow. At the moment, it is not even clear what the composition of their negotiating panel is. We heard that their chairman resigned and that they need to form a new team,” he said.

When asked by GMA News if there were also talks of him going home, Sison said:  “No, because they know what my answer will be.”

“My job is to make sure that the peace treaty is signed. I can only go home once it is signed. Maybe we can sign it before the new president is sworn in. We can sign it in the Philippines and then I can probably stay there” he said.

NDFP: Free prisoners before talks

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jul 13): NDFP: Free prisoners before talks

The chief negotiator for the Philippines' communist insurgents, Luis Jalandoni, speaks during a Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) forum in Manila on September 3, 2011. Philippine communist rebels said September 3 they see stalled talks with Manila resuming with Norway's help, while suggesting a limited deal that they said would swiftly end the decades-long insurgency. The two sides held on-and-off talks for over 20 years but in a meeting brokered by Norway in February, both agreed to speed up negotiations in an attempt seal a peace accord by June 2012. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

Luis Jalandoni. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS
The dinner-meeting in the Netherlands between House of Representatives officials and exiled communist rebel leaders has improved the atmosphere for the possible resumption of the stalled peace talks, the rebels’ chief peace negotiator said on Sunday.

However, Luis Jalandoni, peace panel chair of the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said the group’s return to the negotiating table still depended on the release of political prisoners and “peace consultants” languishing in jails across the country on various criminal charges.

“The release of detained NDFP consultants is not merely a procedural issue. Nor is the release of political prisoners,” Jalandoni told the Inquirer in an online interview.
Of the 528 political prisoners, 17 are “peace consultants” whom the NDFP insisted were Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) pass holders.
Notable among them are spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon whom the government tagged as top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). The couple were arrested in Cebu in March 2014.

Despite the contentious issue on imprisoned rebels, Jalandoni shared the optimism of Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., calling the three-and-a-half-hour meeting in Amsterdam as “bridge building.”

“The bridge building that occurred in the dialogue between Speaker Belmonte and his colleagues with Joma (Jose Maria Sison), myself and Fidel Agcaoili a few days ago has improved the atmosphere for possible resumption of peace talks between the Aquino government and the NDFP,” Jalandoni said.

Quoting Sison, CPP founder and NDFP chief political consultant, Jalandoni said the rebel peace panel was willing to start negotiating an agreement on social and economic reforms, and seek to finish it before the end of the term of President Aquino in June 2016.

“And with the signing of such agreement [we’ll] see if truce and cooperation are possible,” Jalandoni said.

The NDFP has been engaged in on-and-off negotiations with the government for the past 27 years. The talks have not moved beyond minor agreements.

Sison, Jalandoni, Agcaoili and Ruth de Leon-Zumel, head of the NDFP secretariat met with
Belmonte, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab and Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus Madrona met in a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam on July 9.

Sison, living in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, and other top communist rebel leaders are all based in Utrecht.

Belmonte and other government officials are in the Netherlands to attend the hearings on the government petition in the United Nations arbitral tribunal against China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described the meeting between rebel leaders and government officials as a “good start” for the possible resumption of peace talks.

Jalandoni said the respect for binding bilateral agreements—Jasig and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights—as well as the International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl) could affect the future of peace negotiation.

He emphasized that the respect for Jasig, Carhrihl, The Hague Joint Declaration signed in 1992 and other binding peace agreements “is essential to build trust and prove sincerity in pursuing serious peace negotiations.”

The NDFP chief negotiator said achieving a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, and working for truce and cooperation “would be major achievements of both parties.”

But Jalandoni said signing the socioeconomic, constitutional and political reforms should precede the signing of an agreement on ending hostilities and on disposition of forces.

“These agreements have to be done in the above-mentioned order—not otherwise,” Coni Ledesma, wife of Jalandoni and member of the NDFP negotiating panel, said in a speech in April.

Under Jasig, signed in 1995 by the government and communist representatives, consultants and staff of NDFP who are part of the negotiating team are granted immunity from arrest, detention and provide safety guarantees “to create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussion and free movement during the peace negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiation.”

But Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said the government was not violating Jasig. She cited the NDFP’s failure to follow a July 2011 procedure to verify the true identities of alleged peace consultants on the list.

A list of 75 rebel consultants supposedly with pictures was jointly deposited by the Philippine government, NDFP and Church witnesses in a Dutch vault in 1996 so it could serve as a future basis for identifying guerrilla consultants who could be immune from arrests.

But in 2011, both parties discovered that two diskettes containing the list had been damaged with the passage of time and its details could no longer be retrieved. It made it impossible for the government to verify rebel claims that some of their captured comrades were on the roster of guerrillas with immunity guarantee.

The government’s refusal to release those rebels led to the collapse of peace talks brokered by Norway.

The NPA rebels have been waging a Maoist-inspired war against the government for the past 45 years, considered one of the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.

Their numbers, according to the latest figures from the military have dwindled to about 3,200 armed component and 1,200 noncombatants from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s amid battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism. But the resilient guerrillas remain the country’s most serious security threat.

The war has claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures.

New AFP chief respects human rights, says Army

From the Philippine Star (Jul 13): New AFP chief respects human rights, says Army

Army chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri is the new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. USARPAC photo/Kyle J. Richardson/File

The Army yesterday defended newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri from allegations that he condoned human rights abuses and attacks against civilian communities.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato maintained that soldiers were taught to respect human rights in all their operations.

“The allegation that General Iriberri led the Army in committing human rights violations is not true. Respect for human rights is part of our training,” Detoyato said in a phone interview.

Earlier, human rights group Karapatan assailed the appointment of Iriberri as the new military chief, replacing retired AFP chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. The group described Iriberri as “the same dog, only with a different tag.” 

“Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri led the whole Philippine Army in perpetrating human rights violations and international humanitarian law across the country, especially in the Mindanao regions,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

Palabay claims that as far as their records show, the AFP could not boast of killing and jailing members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) because “those killed were civilians and all of the arrests were illegal.”

Karapatan said as of the second quarter of 2015, there are 262 documented victims of extrajudicial killings and 293 victims of frustrated killings.

Detoyato doubts the Karapatan data and dared its officers to come up with proof.

Ex-Isafp chief new Army head

From The Standard (Jul 13): Ex-Isafp chief new Army head

Major General Eduardo Año, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, will assume his new position as chief of the Philippine Army this afternoon.

Año had earlier been linked to the abduction eight years ago of activist Jonas Burgos, who has remained missing up to this time.

Año was chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) when Burgos was allegedly kidnapped by soldiers in 2007.

Año is also reportedly a protege of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Gazmin is believed to have engineered the appointment of new Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Hernando Irriberi, who was chosen over President Benigno Aquino III’s personal choice for the top military post, Southern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya.

Irriberi was Gazmin’s former senior military adviser and spokesman.

Irriberi, Visaya and Año were classmates in the Philippine Military Academy’s “Matikas” Class of 1983.

Gazmin, himself a former Army chief, was the Presidential Security Group commander during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino, the President’s mother.

After his assumption to the post of AFP chief last Friday, Irriberi admitted his closeness to Gazmin.

“I am proud to be identified with him because I learned a lot from him. But my record speaks for itself,” Irriberi told reporters.

Irriberi has criminal and administrative cases pending against him before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with three allegedly anomalous ammunition supply contracts worth P97.8 million filed by a military supply firm.

If the Ombudsman finds probable cause against him, Irriberi could suffer the same fate as dismissed national police chief Director General Alan Purisima, who was first preventively suspended before being removed from the service.

Earlier, Aquino vowed to appoint younger generals in the AFP and Philippine National Police who will serve beyond his term.

In the case of Irriberi, Aquino has to extend his term for two months until June 30, 2016 because of the election ban on appointments during the election campaign period.

Irriberi is scheduled to retire in April 2016.

NPA says 1 soldier killed, 7 others wounded in Gingoog attack

From MindaNews (Jul 13): NPA says 1 soldier killed, 7 others wounded in Gingoog attack

An Army soldier was killed and seven others were wounded in a raid Saturday on a unit of the 58th Infantry Battalion in Gingoog City, the New People’s Army (NPA) North Central Mindanao Regional Command said in a statement Sunday.

The statement said the NPA’s Eastern Misamis Oriental-Northeastern Bukidnon Sub-regional Command attacked at least 10 members of the 58th IB Bravo Company camped in the barangay hall of Alagatan, Gingoog City, around 5:30 PM on Saturday.

The NPA seized a K3 light machine gun, an M203 grenade launcher, two ammo vests, three machine gun ammo links, 12 40mm ammunitions and two military packs, it said.

It added one soldier was taken captive after a 20-minute gunfight.

The NPA identified the captured soldier as Pfc. Adonis Jess Maghanoy Lupeba (serial number: 863573), 26, married and a resident of Iponan, Cagayan de Oro City.

The rebel group assured humanitarian treatment for Lupeba and his release “as soon as conditions allow his safe and orderly release”.

It also admitted that two civilians identified as Helen Mae Helodo, 14, and Leticia Cabrera were wounded during the firefight but were treated by NPA medics before being brought to a hospital.

Soldier killed, 7 injured in Pantar ambush

From MindaNews: Soldier killed, 7 injured in Pantar ambush

A soldier was killed while seven others were wounded in an ambush along the national highway in Pantar town, Lanao del Norte at around 7:40 a.m. Monday.

Col. Gilbert I. Gapay Commanding Officer of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade based in Ditucalan here said a squad of the 42nd Company of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion on board a six-by-six truck was on its way to Pantar for “admin rotation patrol” when ambushed by an undetermined number of armed men in Barangay Calanganan.

“The troops were able to return fire. Two of the armed men were also wounded,” he said.

The wounded troops were rushed to hospitals in neighboring Iligan City for treatment. The body of the soldier was also brought to Iligan.

Gapay said troops are still on hot pursuit against the armed group who withdrew towards the interior part of Pantar.

The national highway was closed for traffic for at least an hour while the firefight lasted for 15 minutes, he said.

The military and the Philippine National Police had earlier established a buffer zone inside Pantar to prevent further bloodshed caused by a rido (clan feud) and political dispute, Gapay added.

Gapay said they are looking at three possible motives behind the ambush: that this was perpetrated by kidnappers; due to rido; or the arrest in Marawi City last Friday of eight alleged members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who allegedly identified themselves as operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Gapay said further investigation is needed to determine who the perpetrators are.

Fr. Teresito Soganub, Vicar-General of the Prelature of Marawi told MindaNews in a telephone interview that the ambush caused massive traffic along the highway between Iligan and Marawi cities.

Soganub said he was at the terminal in Marawi City shortly before 8 a.m. to board a passenger van for Iligan City but drivers declined to leave because of the ambush.

When the vans finally moved, they got stuck in traffic for about two hours. He said there was a long queue of vehicles, “about two kilometers long” along the highway, portions of which were one-lane only due to repairs.

Soganub said the six-by-six truck that was ambushed was on the left lane from Iligan City, on a portion that had drilled holes, apparently in preparation for bulldozing. He said the windshield bore several gunshot wounds, indicating the perpetrators may have ambushed them frontally.

“Bold and daring,” Soganub said.

He said he saw many Army vehicles, armored personnel carriers and the vehicles of the International Monitoring Team en route to Iligan City, a 40-minute ride from Marawi on ordinary days. Soganub said they arrived in Iligan at around 10 a.m.

DPWH-12 suspends South Cotabato road project after NPA landmine attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): DPWH-12 suspends South Cotabato road project after NPA landmine attack

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region 12 has temporarily suspended the development of a vital road network at an upland village in South Cotabato following a landmine attack by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels last week that left three people dead.

Reynaldo Tamayo, DPWH Region 12 director, said Monday they stopped all development works involving the PHP80 million Surallah-Lake Sebu road project pending the resolution of the area’s security problems.

He said the project’s private contractor Gemma Construction Corp. has pulled out from the area following the killing of one of its engineers in an attack staged by NPA rebels at the construction site in Sitio Lamsuguing, Barangay Upper Sepaka in Surallah town last July 9.

Two alleged NPA rebels were reported killed while three other militiamen were wounded in an ensuing firefight.

“We have no choice but to temporarily stop the project as the private contractor has already left the site due to concerns regarding the security of its personnel,” Tamayo said in a radio interview.

The official said he already reported and endorsed the matter to the Office of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson for appropriate actions.

He said their main concern at the moment is the possibility of a complete pullout from the project of Gemma Construction due to the volatile security situation at the site.

The affected road project, which is one of the identified priorities of DPWH-12, is a component of the Surallah to Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu road network.

Barangay Ned is considered as one of the remotest barangays of the province and a potential growth area for agribusiness and mining ventures.

Tamayo said that prior to the July 9 incident, the road project is already 20 percent complete and with around four kilometers already opened and paved.

He said they were supposed to start the construction next month a bridge component that will connect the town proper of Lake Sebu to the area.

“We really feel bad for the area’s residents who have long been dreaming of this project’s completion,” Tamayo said.

For her part, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said they are considering a possible takeover of the project by personnel from the Philippine Army’s Engineering Brigade.

She said the Army engineers are the only viable option in case the private contractor will later decide to totally pull out from the project.

“Our private contractor will really have a hard time completing this project since they don’t have enough capacity to secure their personnel and equipment,” she said.

The governor said that based on the information they received from concerned individuals, the NPA rebels have reportedly extorting revolutionary taxes from Gemma Construction and other companies working on some government projects in the area.

She said the rebels were supposedly mulcting the contractors as much as three percent of a project’s total cost.

Fuentes said the same problem is being faced by private contractors assigned on road projects under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA Program in T’boli town.

“We will request that our Army engineers will instead take over with the implementation of road projects in our upland areas to address these problems,” she added.

NPA confirms custody of captured army soldiers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): NPA confirms custody of captured army soldiers

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) on Monday confirmed the capture of an army soldier during a firefight in Gingoog City last Saturday afternoon.

Allan Juanito, the NPA spokesperson of the North-Central Mindanao Regional Command, said that 26-year-old Pfc. Adonis Jess Maghanoy Lupeba, serial no. 863573, married, of Iponan, Cagayan De Oro City, is now considered as Prisoner of War (POW).

In a statement released to the local media, Juanito assured the wife, relatives and friends of Lupeba that as a POW, the soldier is protected under the rules of engagement, as mandated in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

He said that the NPA captured Lupeba during the siege of the village hall of Alagatan in Gingoog City Saturday where the soldiers of the army’s 58th Infantry Battalion were camping and while the others were playing basketball.One soldier was killed while two other civilians, including a 14-year-old teenager, were wounded during the exchanged of gunfire that lasted for about 30 minutes.

Juanito issued a public apology for the wounding of the two civilians and promised to extend assistance to the families while issuing a stern warning to the civilian communities who are coddling the military of dire consequences.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the Cagayan De Oro City-based army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that Lupeba voluntarily gave up in exchanged of the civilians who were held captive and used as human shields by the NPA rebels.

He said that during the initial investigation headed by Gingoog City Mayor Marie Guingona, the civilians recalled that Lupeba shouted to the NPA to ceasefire and offered him to be captured in order to spare the innocent civilians.

Martinez accused the NPA with violation of the (CARHRIHL) for firing indiscriminately toward the civilians and the seizure of the community where the civilians reside.

Village Chief Evelyn Bucio of Alagatan reported that the volley of gunfire damaged the village hall and the civilian outpost where the soldiers and the civilians took cover during the firefight.(

NPA rebels torch contractor's payloader in Catanduanes town

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): NPA rebels torch contractor's payloader in Catanduanes town

New People's Army (NPA) rebels on Monday morning burned a multimillion-peso worth of payloader being used in the construction of the Macawayan Bridge in Catanduanes inside the construction company's barrack at Barangay Cabungahan, San Andres town of the province.

The equipment's owner, the JD Legazpi Construction based in Makati City, and contractor Edwin Delos Santos allegedly did pay revolutionary tax being asked by the communist dissidents.

An initial report said 15 workers of company were busy in the construction project when the group of armed rebels struck at about 10:30 a.m.

The insurgents immediately gathered the employees and told them that the project contractor refused to pay the revolutionary tax they had demanded a for a long time now.

They then poured gasoline into the equipment and burned it, but harmed no one among the witnesses.

Army: Gunmen target village chair in Maguindanao ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): Army: Gunmen target village chair in Maguindanao ambush

Military authorities on Monday said the target of about five men in an ambush in Maguindanao last week was the village chair and not the military who happened to have traveled with the victim.

Capt. Joann Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said the killing of village chair Udsalon Ambiton of Barangay Masigay, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, in the nearby town of Datu Piang on Friday was aimed at neutralizing the village official.

Ambiton was driving his multi-cab vehicle where a certain Capt. Melendrez and his escort hitchhiked when the suspects tossed a hand grenade that exploded under the vehicle. The gunmen immediately opened fire on them.

Ambiton died instantly while a soldier and Capt. Melendrez were rushed to Camp Siongco Hospital in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

The unidentified soldier died hours later while Melendrez is now recuperating from non-fatal gunshot wounds.

"Clearly, the main target was the village chair and police investigators are looking at personal grudge or family feud as the motive of the attack," the Army spokesperson told reporters.

Police in Datu Piang could not say whether members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were involved.

But in another incident, suspected BIFF members fired rocket propelled grenade toward a detachment of the 22nd Mechanized Company in Datu Piang that left one soldier slightly wounded.

The grenade attack came at past 8 p.m. Sunday.

Plans for Pacific Partnership 2015 now being finalized

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 13): Plans for Pacific Partnership 2015 now being finalized

Plans for the annual Pacific Partnership 2015 are now being finalized by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and its US counterparts.

Members of the US Pacific Fleet, AFP Central Command and the 3rd Infantry Division together with the local government unit of Capiz are now working hand-in-hand to ensure the successful launch of Pacific Partnership which is scheduled this coming July 20 in Roxas City, Capiz.

3rd Infantry Division spokesperson Major Ray Tiongson said Pacific Partnership 2015 will include engineering, medical, dental and veterinary civic action programs as well as community relations, civil affairs and disaster preparedness trainings.

Doctors and engineers from the AFP will work alongside their US counterparts to provide engineering, medical, dental and veterinary aid to the survivors of Supertyphoon "Yolanda".

Pacific Partnership is an annual US Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission that arose from the military-led humanitarian response to the devastation brought by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that swept through Southeast Asia.

For 2015, the Philippine (Visayas) leg of the Pacific Partnership will be held in Capiz Province specifically at the vicinity of Roxas City and the neighboring municipalities of Cuartero, Sigma and Dumarao.

Specific activities include the repair of Basiao Elementary School in Roxas City, construction of a new school building at Roxas City School for Philippine Craftsman and construction of a new health care center in Barangay Talon, Roxas City.

The medical and dental civic action programs will be held in Barangays Culasi and Loctugan all of Roxas City and in the municipalities of Cuartero and Sigma, Capiz while the veterinary civic action program will be held in Dumarao, Capiz.

A cooperative surgical engagement will also be held on board USS Mercy, a US Navy hospital ship where at least 300 patients will be accommodated for surgeries; while dental symposium for military and civilian dentists will also be conducted on board the said ship.

Among the trainings to be conducted are Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Table Top Exercise and Water Search and Rescue Training which will be participated in by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council-6 and Capiz Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The primary objective of Pacific Partnership is to improve interoperability and cooperation between the partner and host nations ahead of major natural disasters that require a multinational response.

All activities will be conducted side-by-side with the participating countries, ensuring that the mission’s impact will continue long after its conclusion.