Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Government workers seek Supreme Court protection from state agents’ harassment

From the Business World (Jul 14): Government workers seek Supreme Court protection from state agents’ harassment

THE Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) has asked the Supreme Court to issue a protection order from the harassment of state agents, who accuse them of alleged ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

In a 41-page petition, the government workers’ union sought a writ of amparo to protect their life, liberty, and security from harassment and threats by the state.

The 22 union leaders also asked for a writ of habeas data that would order the government, police, and the military to disclose and destroy information it was able to gather.

The petition said the union leaders were subjected to threats and harassment from people who identified themselves as policemen or soldiers, being accused of ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

“In many instances, the Petitioners were told that their activities are anti-government and illegal and that they should cooperate with the military,” the petition read. “The message is rather clear: the Petitioners are being harassed and threatened because of their political affiliations and/or their organizational work.”

As to their request for the writ of habeas data, the petition argued that the threats, intimidation and constant surveillance clearly indicate that the government possesses information it has “unlawfully compiled and are using as basis in the cited spate of attacks.”

In an interview with reporters, COURAGE National President Ferdinand R. Gaite said that at least one of their members, Carlo “Caloy” Rodriguez, president of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa ng Calamba Water District, was killed under the administration of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers noted in a statement that the petitioners’ accounts show “the grisly pattern bearing the hallmarks of military and police intelligence operations conducted to stifle dissent.”

“Some of them were personally approached by people introducing themselves as soldiers who offered them ’help’ in light of an ambiguous threat to their lives,” NUPL said.

Named as respondents were President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Hernando Delfin Carmelo A. Iriberri, AFP Chief of the Intelligence Service Arnold M. Quiapo, recently-retired Philippine National Police officer-in-charge Leonardo A. Espina, National Capital Region Police Office Regional Director Carmelo E. Valmoria, Manila Police District Acting Director Rolando Z. Nana, Manila Police Station 8 Commander Nicolas S. Piñon, and Manila Police Station 8 Intelligence Section Chief Alfredo F. Agbuya.

Rodriguez’s death in 2010 was only one of the 238 extrajudicial killings recorded by human rights group Karapatan under the Aquino administration.

News Analysis: Resumption of peace talks between Philippine gov't and CPP dim

From Xinhua posted to the Shanghai Daily (Jul 14): News Analysis: Resumption of peace talks between Philippine gov't and CPP dim
While Philippine President Benigno Aquino III is keen on forging a peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) before he leaves office at the end of June next year, the prospects of resuming the stalled peace negotiations between the two sides have remained dim.

Secretary Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, said Monday that it is difficult to restart the stalled talks with preconditions.

Deles told the local media that "It was premature to talk about prisoner releases without a full appreciation of the context and parameters of the talks now being proposed."

Deles was responding to remarks made by Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel that the NDF would return to the negotiating table only if the NDF consultants and political prisoners held in jails across the country on criminal charges would be released.

Jalandoni said that of some of the political prisoners are " peace consultants" whom the NDF insisted were pass holders of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). JASIG was signed by both sides to allow political prisoners to sit with the NDF panel during the negotiations.

But the government has refused to release the prisoners, saying that they are facing criminal charges, including rebellion, homicide, and murder.

Notable among the prisoners are spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon whom the government tagged as top officials of the CPP and its military wing, the New People's Army (NPA). The couple was arrested in Cebu City in Central Philippines in March 2014.

The NDF is the umbrella organization representing the CPP and the NPA in negotiating with the government.

Jalandoni made the remarks during a dinner with Houser Speaker Feliciano Belmonte in Amsterdam last week. Jose Maria Sison, founder of the CPP and now NDF consultant, was also present during the dinner.

Sison, Jalandoni and the other top leaders of the NDF-CPP-NPA now live in exile in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Jalandoni said the rebel peace panel is willing to start negotiating a peace agreement and finish it before the end of President Aquino's term in June 2016. "With the signing of such an agreement (we'll) see if a truce and cooperation are possible," Jalandoni said.

Belmonte said the meeting with the NDF officials was "more like a confidence-building measure".

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. acknowledged that the recent meeting between Belmonte and the group of Sison in the Netherlands was a good confidence building measure toward peace. "We hope there will be progress in resumption of the peace talks following the initial meeting of Speaker Belmonte with the leaders of the NDF-CPP-NPA in the Netherlands," Coloma said in a radio interview.

He admitted, however, that the government, through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), must still reconcile some pending issues with the communist side about the possible resumption of the peace talks.

Talks have been suspended a few years ago due to a conflict on the rebels' demand for the release of some of their detained consultants.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos has also called for the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the local communist group after what he termed as "friendly overtures" with the CPP-NPA during his term.

Ramos, who actively engaged in peace talks with the communist rebels during his presidency, stressed the importance of forging peace that is "inclusive, honorable and just."

The NPA, which has been waging a guerrilla war against the Philippine government for the past 45 years, is considered as one of the world's longest-running communist insurgencies.

The number of NPA combatants, according to the latest figures from the military, has dwindled to about 3,200 and some 1,200 noncombatants from more than 26,000 in the late 1980s due to setbacks in encounters with government troops, surrenders and factionalism. But the resilient guerrillas remains the country's most serious security threat, after the Muslim rebellion in the Southern Philippines.

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

MILF: Jefry Tupas of Davao City Grand Winner of 2015 EU Peace Journalism Awards

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 11): Jefry Tupas of Davao City Grand Winner of 2015 EU Peace Journalism Awards

Jefry Tupas of Davao City Grand Winner of 2015 EU Peace Journalism Awards

Jefry Tupas of the Davao City-based Newsdesk was the Grand Winner of the EU 2015 Peace Journalism Awards in a ceremony held at the Hotel Intercontinental in Makati City on July 8, said a report by Mindanews on July 9.

Tupas won the grand prize for his article, “The Teachers of Raja Muda.” He received the award during the awarding ceremonies.

Three were named grand finalists or winners in their respective categories: Tupas for online; Stella Estremera, editor in chief of SunStar Davao, for written text in print media, for her piece, “Rituals for Peace,” and photojournalist Jes Aznar, a contributor of MindaNews, for photojournalism.

Aznar won for his black and white photo essay, “Bridge to Peace,” published in

MindaNews’ Froilan Gallardo was awarded the “Philippine‘s Choice Award” for his story,”In pursuit of Marwan, death in the Marshland,” published in a week after the Mamasapano Tragedy.

Tupas won an all-expenses paid trip to Brussels where he will meet with peace interlocutors in September.

A press release from the EU listed the following semi-finalists for written text in print media category: Nash Maulana of and Philippine Daily Inquirer; Ruji Peter Abat of Sun Star Davao. For the online category, semi-finalists were Joan Cordero of News Central Ph; Fritzi Rodriguez of Rappler .

Jonathan Cellona of ABS-CBN News was semi-finalist for the photo essay category.

Special citations were also given to Gigi Grande of ABS-CBN; Bernardino Testa of Interaksyon; Voltaire Tupaz of Rappler; Gianna Francesca Catolico and Cristi Ilagan of Plaridel (De La Salle University).

The winners received trophies, gadgets and certificates.

The Board of Judges for the EU Peace Journalism Awards were composed of EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux, Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal as chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; Rowena Carranza Paraan, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines; and Dr. Mark Torres of the Mindanao State University’s Institute for Peace and Development.

Meanwhile, Ledoux reiterated the commitment of the European Union to “continue to support the Mindanao Peace Process, both politically and in terms of development assistance.”

The EU has responded to the request of the government and MILF peace panels for the EU to “put in place an Election Monitoring Mission whenever the plebiscite envisaged in the Bangsamoro Basic Law is called”, Ledoux said in his statement. (Mindanews)

MILF: Deles urges media to “tell better stories of hope and optimism”

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 12): Deles urges media to “tell better stories of hope and optimism”

Deles urges media to “tell better stories of hope and optimism”

Amidst the various challenges confronting the peace process, Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) urged members of the media  to “tell better stories of hope and optimism” 

“The challenge now is to continue expand the discussion on the realities of conflict and broaden the options for peace,” she said duringthe Awarding Ceremony of the EU Peace Journalism Awards held at Intercontinental Hotel in Manila on July 8, 2015.

She lauded members of the media who won in the awards in different categories. “Tonight, we will give due recognition to and celebrate people whom we consider as ‘craftsmen/craftswomen of peace’ who, with their hands, hearts and minds, brought out stories that contributed to the triumphs of peace,” Deles quoted in an article posted at the OPAPP website.

“I extend my congratulations and appreciation to the European Union Delegation in the Philippines and its partner organisations for affirming their long-standing commitment to the Philippine peace process by seeking to inspire Filipino journalists to be a positive force in conflict transformation—through their fairness, impartiality, and reliability, bolstered by their commitment to conflict sensitivity and peace promotion in their stories,” she said.

“We used to note what happened with the Al-Barka incident in 2011 as an example of the extent of the influence the media hold in terms of shaping mindsets and forming public opinion. This year, that example faded into the background, overtaken by what happened with the Mamasapano tragedy in January, 2015.”

Deles said, “The situation we faced with the Mamasapano clash was a number of times worse than the Al-Barka incident, and the role of media, as recorded and reviewed, was also stronger in its intensity and frequency.”

“The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), in its comprehensive review and assessment of the media coverage of the Mamasapano incident, concluded that (I quote) ‘Misinformation and even disinformation, sensationalism, as well as lack of context characterized the coverage,’ inflaming an already volatile situation that it, in fact, helped create.

“Until today, there are many who continue to think that the ongoing peace process is at fault, turning it into a culprit that brought harm to the people it sought to protect. The incident opened a Pandora’s Box filled with deeply-held prejudice and antagonism against our Moro brothers and sisters,” Deles added.

The secretary said, “Peace cannot thrive without the support of the people. And so we appeal that you, our friends from the media, to share our vision—for what we hope for transcends the now and aspires to offer a life free from harm, from fear, from prejudice for future generations.”

MILF: UNYPAD, IHH distribute food items in Moro communities of Metro Manila

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 14): UNYPAD, IHH distribute food items in Moro communities of Metro Manila

UNYPAD, IHH distribute food items in Moro communities of Metro Manila

The United Youth for Peace and Development  (UNYPAD) and UMMAHAT, a group of mothers, have facilitated the distributions of food items sponsored by the Insani Yardim Vakfi (International Humanitarian and Relief Organization or IHH)  at the Targan Community, Maharlika, Taguig City, and Barangay 649, Baseco, Metro Manila last July 09, 2015, respectively.       

“There were 675 families that received the packed-assorted food items. The recipients were very happy upon receiving the goods, which is good for their predawn meal and iftar (breaking of fast) or dinner,” said Sajid Khan T. Tula, UNYPAD-National Capital Region Chairman.

“We thank Allah for all these blessings, and we deeply appreciate the effort of Dr. Rahib Kudto, UNYPAD President, for accessing us to IHH,” he added.

Kamim Macmod, UNYPAD-NCR Regional Coordinator, said, “In Baseco, the distribution of goods is very successful. They are cheerful while falling in line and excited to get their share.”

“The activity is among of UNYPAD programs and services  to its members and communities. Since UNYPAD is a non-profit organization, it could not do this relief  actitivity without assistance from donor partners,” he clarified.

MILF: World Bank facilitates Development Planning Workshop for MILF Camp Commanders

Posted to the MILF Website (Jul 16): World Bank facilitates Development Planning Workshop for MILF Camp Commanders

MILF commanders, government, military and agriculture officials attended the Area Development Planning workshop aimed to convert the camps into peaceful and productive communities. Photo by OPAPP

MILF commanders, government, military and agriculture officials attended the Area Development Planning workshop aimed to convert the camps into peaceful and productive communities. Photo by OPAPP

The World Bank facilitated three-day training workshop for camp commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on how to start and implement development at the Front’s six camps in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces and convert them into a peaceful and productive communities.

The workshop was held from July 9-11, 2015 at Em Manor Hotel, Cotabato City.

Government, military and agriculture officials also attended the training workshop.

The training was facilitated by Roberto Tordecilla of the World Bank and engineer Nasser Sinarimbo.

The participants will jointly formulate priority development plans at the six camps after the workshop.

These areas include the former MILF camp Abubakar as-Siddique, Camp Badre, and Camp Omar ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao; Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao; Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, and Camp Busrah Somiorang in Lanao del Sur.

The camps were identified and acknowledged in 1999, during the term of former President Joseph Estrada, in order to facilitate the observance of the 1997 ceasefire agreement. In 2000, however, Estrada declared all-out war against the MILF that forced the latter to abandon the camps.

Former Agriculture Secretary and government peace panel member Senen Bacani briefed participants on the basic of development planning.

Bacani urged participants to identify quick-response projects that would address the needs of the communities such as electricity, water supply system, infrastructure and livelihood projects.

“These efforts should continue because we are all Filipinos and we should provide assistance to those who need help,” Bacani said.

Mohamad Saleh, MILF task force camp transformation coordinator thanked the government for its commitment to achieve genuine peace and development in Mindanao.

CPP/NDF/NPA: A fitting homage to a radiant red star of the revolution

NDF/NPA propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 12): A fitting homage to a radiant red star of the revolution
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
New People’s Army
Southern Mindanao
Regional Political Department

July 12, 2015
Press Statement

In behalf of the New People’s Army and the revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao, may we express our heartfelt thanks to all those who made the last journey of our dearly beloved Ka Parago a most meaningful and vibrant celebration.

Indeed, in an outpouring of grief and gratitude, about 12,000 people came to pay their last respects to this outstanding Red warrior of the People’s Army, a communist who served the people with unstinting dedication, a comrade who most personified the people’s aspirations. They came all the way from many parts of Mindanao and from as far as Luzon and Visayas to pay homage to this radiant Red star of the revolution.

We thank you for honouring us with your presence and are deeply grateful for the time and resources you shared. We appreciate your uncompromising stand against the continuing abuses of the state’s armed forces and for your efforts towards the peace process in the face of the enemy’s desperately vicious Oplan Bayanihan which has done so much harm to the people and their livelihood.

The NPA, the people’s army, will always stand up to its highest standards of struggling and fighting for the interest and welfare of the poor. We shall live as our Ka Parago did, in selfless devotion to the people. His life will be the wellspring of our passion to persevere in the people’s war, to fight until total victory is achieved.

(Sgd.) Simon Santiago
Regional Political Director
Regional Political Department
New People’s Army- Southern Mindanao

CPP/NDF: Generals Ano and Baladad Must Answer for Their War Crimes

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 15): Generals Ano and Baladad Must Answer for Their War Crimes

NDFP National Executive Committee
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
National Executive Committee
July 15, 2015

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemns in the strongest terms possible the war crimes committed by Generals Ano and Baladad in the extrajudicial killings of hors d’combat, NPA Commander Leoncio Pitao (Kumander Parago) and Medic Vanessa “Kyle”Limpag on June 28, 2015 in Purok 9, Barangay Panalom, Paquibato District, Davao City.

Commader Parago was wounded and had ran out of bullets, when troops under Generals Ano and Baladad, summarily executed him in flagrant violation of the International Humanitarian Law strictly prohibiting such action against a combatant who is already hors d’ combat. The troops led by Lt. Col. Rodney Intal of the 69th Infantry Battalion riddled him with bullets and shot him in the head.

Autopsy results are proof of this war crime by Generals Ano, Baladad and their troops.

NPA Medic, Vanessa “Ka Kyle”Limpag, who was caring for the sick Commander Parago, was unarmed. She raised her arms and shouted “I am a medic! Do not finish off Commander Parago! He is sick!” She was razed to the ground. She died instantly. Killing an unarmed medic, a civilian according to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, is a war crime. It is killing a hors d’ combat.

The blatant violations of International Humanitarian Law are likewise flagrant violations of the GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels on March 16, 1998 and approved by their respective Principals later in 1998.

Generals Ano and Baladad, Lt. Col. Intal and other officers and soldiers involved in aforesaid flagrant violations of International Humanitarian Law and the CARHRIHL must be held accountable for their war crimes!

Justice for the families of Commander Parago and Medic Vanessa Limpag!

Luis G. Jalandoni
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee

CPP/NDF: Deles Is Engaged in Malicious Kind of Preconditioning

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 14): Deles Is Engaged in Malicious Kind of Preconditioning

Luis Jalandoni
Chief International Representative
NDFP National Executive Committee

Press Statement
14 July 2015

Compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG, 1995) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998) and other peace agreements is not a precondition. It is a solemn obligation arising from agreements forged meticulously by both Parties, the GRP and the NDFP.

Noncompliance means the Government of the Philippines (GPH) does not know how to honor agreements.

It is Secretary Deles who is engaged in extremely malicious kind of preconditioning. She is setting such a foolish precondition to formal peace talks as getting rid of existing agreements like the Hague Joint Declaration, the JASIG and CARHRIHL By such preconditioning, Secretary Deles obstructs the efforts to achieve an agreement on social and economic reforms and a possible truce and cooperation before the end of the current Aquino administration.

The positive actions of people like Speaker Belmonte, former President Fidel V. Ramos under whose adminstration ten agreements including the The Hague Joint Declaration (1992), the JASIG and the CARHRIHL, and former GRP Negotiating Panel Chair Silvestre H. Bello III are appreciated by the NDFP. Bello had declared, “The GPH must respect the peace agreements. For who would trust a government that does not honor and comply with agreements and contracts it has entered into.”

The NDFP likewise appreciates the call of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and other peace advocates to honor all agreements, address the roots of the armed conflict, and resume peace talks.

Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

CPP/NDF: Video -- NPA honors Parago with 21-gun salute

NDF propaganda video/statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 13): NPA honors Parago with 21-gun salute

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines

A New People’s Army unit in the foothills of Mt Apo honored Leoncio “Commander Parago” Pitao with a military parade and a 21-gun salute two days after the late rebel leader was cremated in Davao City last July 10.

A platoon belonging to the NPA’s Mt. Apo Operational Command performed the rare ceremony for its “shining red star” in front of hundreds of civilian supporters and people’s militia members.

Pitao was killed by soldiers of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division in Davao City’s Paquibato District last June 28. The NPA said he was being treated for a variety of ailments when he was mowed down by gunfire along with medic Vanessa “Ka Kyle” Limpag.

The ceremony followed an unprecedented public wake, tribute and funeral march in a major Filipino city for a rebel attended by an estimated ten thousand supporters and friends, including national and local political and business leaders.

Led by Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines colors, the rebel troopers marched in single file into a clearing and performed rifle drills before consecutively firing their rifles.

They proceeded to present arms before singing Ang Internasyunal, the universal anthem of communist parties all over the world.

The audience joined in the singing of the anthem.

The ceremony ended with with shouts of “Long live Ka Parago!”, “Long live the Filipino people!”, “Long live the New People’s Army” and “Long live the Communist Party of the Philippines!”

The 21-gun salute is traditionally a cannonade for surrendering ships but has developed through the centuries into an honorifical ceremony reserved for royalty, heads of state, high government officials and heroes, especially during important events and funerals using both cannons and rifles.

There is no universal pattern in performing the gun salute and every armed force may devise their own style.

Several NPA units around the country performed an honor drill and gun salute for the late CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal who died of natural causes in 2011.

“Ka Teo,” a veteran NPA fighter who once fought and worked with Pitao, described their fallen hero as an extraordinary leader who was a brilliant military tactician and inspiring revolutionary.

“The many military tactics that we use today to defeat the enemy were devised by Kumander Parago. His brilliance is proven by the fact that our casualties are always fewer than the number of our enemies killed and wounded in battle,” he said.

Teo said that Pitao’s influence was a major factor in his decision to become a full time NPA fighter in the 1980s.

“He did not convince us in so many words. His examples were enough for us to commit our lives to the revolution,” Teo said.

Ka Karen, a local Makabayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan member, said they will never forget Pitao who they consider their hero.

“He inspired us to stand and fight for a society that is just to women, peasant and Lumad,” she said.

“Contrary to what the Armed Forces of the Philippines said, his death does not weaken our resolve to push the revolution forward. His death strengthens our determination to defeat the enemies of the people,” Karen said.

The NPA usually holds public parades during the CPP’s anniversary on December 26, but only when both the CPP and the Philippine government reciprocally declare ceasefires in observance of the Yuletide season. These parades do not include live fire salutes.

The AFP often violates these ceasefires, however, by putting up roadblocks and harassing the NPA’s civilian supporters, even media persons and local and national government officials who wish to cover or attend the rebel’s celebrations.

Last year, Philippine Army soldiers in Surigao del Sur tried to prevent Bayan Muna representative Carlos Ysagani Zarate and special envoy for the peace negotiations Hernani Braganza from attending the CPP’s 46th anniversary celebrations and peace consultations in Marihatag town. The presence of Surigao del Sur vice governor Manuel Alameda in behalf of governor Johnny Pimental also did not deter the troopers from violating their government’s own ceasefire declaration.

As a rebel guerilla force, the NPA can only hold open celebrations, especially involving live gunfire, in areas where it enjoys strong support from the residents.

The NPA’s Mt Apo Operational Command includes the First Pulang Bagani (Red Warrior) Battalion and other company-sized formations. Pitao was the most famous commander of this famed command known for conducting the most audacious operations in the rebel army’s history.

China cries of becoming the ‘victim’

From Ang Malaya (Jul 15): China cries of becoming the ‘victim’

The Chinese government is crying for becoming the victim in West Philippine Sea dispute. “Being a victim of the South China Sea issue, China, bearing in mind the whole situation of regional peace and stability, however, has been exercising utmost restraint,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said after Philippines presented its position before the Arbitral Tribunal on the issues of jurisdiction and admissibility.

China says Philippines is illegally occupying some islands and reefs in China’s Spratly (Nansha) Islands since the 1970s.

The Chinese spokesperson added that China has always adhered to and has been committed to resolving, in accordance with international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts, relevant disputes relating to territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests with relevant states directly concerned through negotiation and consultation.

The Arbitral Tribunal is giving China an opportunity to comment until August 17 in writing on Philippines’ arguments during the Hearing on Jurisdiction and Admissibility.

Though China chose not to participate in the arbitration, the tribunal wants to “assure each party a full opportunity to be heard and to present its case” as prescribed under Article 5 of Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS).

The Tribunal commits to make a decision on jurisdiction before year ends. “In the event that the Arbitral Tribunal determines that it has jurisdiction over some or all of the Philippines’ claims, it will then proceed to a hearing on the merits,” the five-man tribunal said.

China tells Philippines to stop BRP Sierra Madre repairs: Reserves right to take further actions

From Ang Malaya (Jul 15): China tells Philippines to stop BRP Sierra Madre repairs: Reserves right to take further actions

After the Philippine Navy confirmed minor repairs are being done in BRP Sierra Madre at Ayunging Shoal, the government of China is telling Philippines to stop what it called ‘illegal activities’ and tow away the grounded vessel.

“The Chinese side is resolute in safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China once again urges the Philippines to immediately stop all illegal activities that infringe upon China’s sovereignty and maritime rights, and honor its commitment of towing away the vessel,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

“China reserves the right to take further actions,” she added.

The Chinese spokesperson said, with the repairs being done, “the Philippines not only refuses to fulfill its commitment of towing away the vessel, but also aggravates the situation by carrying out illegal activities in an attempt to permanently occupy the Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal/Second Thomas Shoal).”

Philippine Navy spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo earlier said minor repairs in BRP Sierra Madre ensure that troops deployed in the vessel are not neglected.

New Army chief vows to crush armed communists down to 1,000

From Rappler (Jul 15): New Army chief vows to crush armed communists down to 1,000

Major General Eduardo Año says he will send the best commanders to eastern Mindanao, where about half of the strength of the New People's Army is concentrated

VETERAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER. Major General Eduardo Año. Malacañang photo

VETERAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER. Major General Eduardo Año. Malacañang photo

Newly appointed Philippine Army chief Major General Eduardo Año has set what is perhaps the most ambitious target set against the 4-decade-old communist insurgency in the Philippines.

The veteran intelligence officer, who has scored big wins against the New People's Army (NPA) throughout his career, vowed to diminish the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) from their current number of about 4,000 armed regulars down to "less than a thousand scattered all around."

He said he will accomplish this in 2016 upon the target completion of the military's Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan or before he steps down in October 2017."It's at tall order. But I think we can do it," Año said after he formally assumed the post on Wednesday, July 15.

"The objective of the IPSP is to defeat the CPP/NPA by the end of 2016. Defeat does not mean there's no more NPA but that we have reduced them to inconsequential level," Año said.

He boasted of his accomplishments as chief of the Davao-based 10th Infantry Division, a unit of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

Davao NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, better known as Kumander Parago, was killed in clashes with his men.

The Eastmincom areas, where about half of the NPA strength is concentrated, will be his priority. He will send the best commanders there, he said.

"Your army will always respect the primacy of peace. But make no mistake, we will remain to be a lethal force capabale of striking down any threat to our nation," Año said in his assumption speech.

It was also when he was chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) that CPP/NPA leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were arrested.

Retired Army General Jovito Palparan, who is facing criminal charges for the disapperance of two University of the Philippines students, was also arrested under his watch.

Año himself is accused of committing human rights violations.

He was accused of being behind the disapperance of activist Jonas Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Jose Burgos.

He vowed that there will be no violation of human rights in his watch.

Año replaced Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri, who assumed his post last week as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

They are mistahs (classmates) in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1983.

Mamasapano tragedy: NBI files charges vs MILF, BIFF, armed groups

From Rappler (Jul 15): Mamasapano tragedy: NBI files charges vs MILF, BIFF, armed groups

More than 100 members of Muslim rebel groups and private armed groups face charges of 'direct assault with murder' and theft over the death of police commandos

Almost 6 months after a bloody police operation resulted in the deaths 44 elite cops, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed charges against more than 100 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs) on Wednesday, July 15.

NBI recommended the individuals to be charged with “direct assault with murder” for the killing of 35 members of the 55th Special Action Company of the Philippine National Police Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF).

The NBI report also noted that the people involved committed theft for taking the firearms, gear, and personal belongings of the slain SAF commandos.

Among those charged were MILF commanders Ben Tikaw, Makku Tikaw, and Salik Kikuk; and from its breakaway group, BIFF commanders Mer Amilil and Muslimin Gumanding Amilil.The investigators determined 97 others as elements of MILF, BIFF, and PAGs.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that the investigators had not found 3rd-party witnesses for the investigation into the deaths of the 9 other SAF commandos.

The report from the NBI and the National Prosecution Service special investigation team (NBI-NPS SIT) was based on “eyewitness accounts, forensic examinations, and other evidence gathered.”

The probers also anchored their complaint on the testimony of a witness, identified only as “Marathon,” who named commanders from the MILF and BIFF as having been involved in the killing of the 35 SAF commandos.

DOJ released last April its report on “Oplan Exodus,” a SAF mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” Filipino bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman, and Amin Baco alias “Johan” in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao on January 25.

The MILF also released its version of the investigation last March and recommended filing charges against SAF survivor Police Officer 2 Christopher Lalan for allegedly committing war crimes and human rights violations.

They have also accused the police SAF of firing the first shots and that their group also sustained 18 casualties.

The MILF, which has signed a peace agreement with the government, has denied responsibility for the clash and claimed self-defense after investigating the bloodbath.

De Lima said that the special investigation team is expected to release this month the second part of its probe into the Mamasapano clash.

They were originally given until June to complete the second part of its investigation, but De Lima later gave the team a one-month extension.

Party-list group asks SC to stop further PH-Japan military drills

From InterAksyon (Jul 16): Party-list group asks SC to stop further PH-Japan military drills

A party-list group on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the government from further conducting military exercises with the Japanese military saying that it violates a Constitutional prohibition.

In asking the High Tribunal to issue the injunction, ACT Teachers party-list Representative Antonio Tinio said the respondents committed grave abuse of discretion when they initiated and signed the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges between Japan’s Ministry of Defense and the Philippines’ Department of National Defense as well as the Japan-Philippines Joint Declaration: A Strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security, and Growth in the Region and Beyond.

Named respondents were President Benigno Aquino III, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri and Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Jesus MIllan.

Tinio and the other petitioners, namely ACT for sovereignty spokesman Carl Marc Ramota and ACT Private Schools Vice Chair Mark Benedict Lim, said the Philippine government allowed the presence of Japanese troops during the joint military exercises in Palawan despite the Constitutional prohibition on the presence of foreign troops, bases and facilities in the country.

"The substance of the Memorandum and the Joint Declaration, given that they bring the presence of Japanese military troops in the Philippine territory, require that they be via treaty. Being merely in the form of non-binding agreements, and not having been submitted to the Senate for concurrence and to Congress for deliberation on whether the treaty requires ratification by the people in a national referendum, they should be held unconstitutional,” they said in their petition.

“The conduct of military exercises with the Japanese armed forces on our territory—without the permission of the Filipino people—is a brazen violation of this prohibition.  This unconstitutional act embodies President Aquino’s endorsement of the militaristic path of the Abe administration, proof that he is all too willing to act as an enabler of a resurgent Japanese militarism,” the petitioners further said.

They said the High Tribunal should issue an order stopping the government from conducting any further military exercises with Japanese troops like the one held last month between the navies of the two countries in Palawan.

They stressed that such military drills showed that the respondents allowed Japanese military forces to enter the country’s territory without securing the right to do so by way of a treaty following the Constitution's requirements.

“Petitioners seek the writs of certiorari and prohibition on the ground that the Respondents committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they entered into the assailed agreements and implemented the same, mainly through the conduct of joint military drills in Philippine territory with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, that is, the service branches of the Japanese military,” they explained.

At the same time, the petitioners said that in as much as they want the country to develop its own defense capability in the face of Chinese aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, including the forging of alliances with other countries, “this must be done within the bounds of the Constitution and existing laws.”

“Pursuing an alliance is one thing, but transforming the Philippines into a base of operations for Japanese military forces would be a humiliating act of subservience. For a country formerly occupied by Japan to host Japanese military forces on its territory would be unprecedented in post-World War II history, and President Aquino will earn the ignominy of making it happen,” they said.

Japan in WPS: Beyond China evoking World War II atrocities, Part 1 of 3

From InterAksyon (Jul 16): Japan in WPS: Beyond China evoking World War II atrocities, Part 1 of 3

Joint military drills between the Philippine and Japanese coast guards in Palawan. FILE PHOTO

Japan’s entry into the West Philippine Sea has been fully supported by the Philippines and vigorously protested by China. This action by Tokyo has revived memories of the Second World War as Beijing has been using the records of Japan’s transgressions and atrocities during the previous global conflict as propaganda to counter Japanese security initiatives in the region.

The Philippines, which ironically had been a country occupied by Imperial Japan, is now rapidly finding itself marching in step with what may turn into its strongest ally after the United States should anything formally be drawn up between Manila and Tokyo. It has also used the World War II past but not against the Japanese but against Beijing.

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III had stated that China has been acting very much in the same manner that Germany had been treating its neighbors in the 1930s leading to the outbreak of war in Europe. Oversensitive Chinese took exception to this declaration by the Philippine president overlooking the fact that what was compared was the similarity in the bullying tactics and unilateral actions of Germany with what China has been doing for the past decade and it was never alleged or claimed that the Chinese ruling elite were a bunch of murderous genocidal maniacs which the Nazis were.

Despite of course the fact that Beijing is systematically destroying Tibetan culture and Maoist tenets do have a tinge of genocidal tendencies itself as seen in the massive deaths caused by the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

The thing is, while everyone is harking back to the Second World War to warn about what either China and Japan are doing, one of the most essential factors that led to the outbreak of war here in Asia in 1941 seems to be overlooked especially by the Chinese.

China and Japan: It’s personal

For centuries, both China and Japan have been at each other’s throats.

In many instances the Korean Peninsula had been the real estate where the two squared off against each other.

However following the reclusive Tokugawa Shogunate, the newly modernized Japan fought and pulverized the armies of the decaying Manchu Dynasty and won the 1895 Sino Japanese War. The next decades would see Japan carve out territory after territory at the expense of China.

In 1910, Japan annexed Korea and in the next decade firmly established itself in Manchuria. This made war inevitable and it broke out after being instigated by Japan in 1937.

The brutality of that war has left a lasting impression on the Chinese and atrocities like the Nanking Massacre, the Burn All-Kill All-Loot All anti-guerrilla punitive operations by the Japanese and the notorious Unit 731 chemical and biological weapon experiments have never been forgotten.

Following the war, Japan really did drag its feet in acknowledging and apologizing for its atrocities and it is indeed true that for every effort by Japan to extend remorse for its wartime past, there was an attempt within the country to justify the reasons why Japan went to war.

That obviously did not sit well with many Asian countries, most especially the Chinese. Those are the reasons why it had become personal between the two countries.

The trigger of World War II in Asia

As mentioned, Japan had been deeply involved in China following the undeclared Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and even much earlier than that, and the bulk of the Imperial Japanese Army was deployed in operations against the Chinese.

The Imperial Japanese Navy was also involved in the war with its warships and aircraft effectively conducting a blockade of China by seizing strategic ports and locations along the coast. Although the war was localized it was sending a chilling effect on the rest of the region and the Europeans and Americans took steps to ensure that its interests in Shanghai and Hong Kong were safe from any spillover from the conflict.

In June 1940 when the Germans vanquished the French, the Japanese sensed that France’s colonial possessions were ripe for the picking. After browbeating the Vichy French authorities to accept Japanese military presence in Indochina, Tokyo then began establishing bases in that French colony. Simultaneously, the Japanese entered into the notorious Tripartite Agreement with Rome and Berlin and became a member of the Axis alliance. These two actions were the straws that practically broke the camel’s back for Washington and London. Economic sanctions were immediately called for by the Americans against the Japanese. The British together with the Western European governments in exile supported that US initiative and a crippling economic blockade of strategic materials such as rubber, metals, and most especially of oil was imposed on the Japanese.

As Japan had no such resources, this embargo would have a devastating effect on Tokyo’s national interests. Japan’s war leaders were now in a dilemma. Should they buckle under the pressure of the Americans and Europeans and cease their operations in China and lose face in the process, or should they continue with the war and run out of the means to conduct it?

For quite some time, the Japanese high command was undergoing a debate as to which front to expand next as there were those who favored concentrating against the Soviet Union while others cast covetous eyes on the rich possessions of the colonial powers in Southeast Asia. Following a series of defeats against the Soviet Union at Mongolia in the late 1930s, and the pressures and demands of the war in China, the focus shifted towards the colonies at Southeast Asia. Now with the US led embargo in full effect against Japan, the capacity for the Japanese military to conduct operations was measured in several months before oil and other essentials run out. The plan then was to strike southwards and conquer the rich colonies there. The trigger then that started the war for Japan was the reality of being starved to submission by the economic embargo.

Part 2 of 3, ‘The strength of Japan: the second type of island-nation mentality’ will be published on 19 July 2015, Sunday.

Part 3 of 3, ‘Why China is apprehensive about Japan’s entry into West PH Sea’ will be published on 22 July 2015, Wednesday.

[Editor's note: Jose Antonio A. Custodio is a security and defense consultant and was a technical adviser for a US defense company working for the US Pacific Command. He also specializes in military history and has post-graduate studies in history from the University of the Philippines. He also teaches history and political science at several universities in Metro Manila.]

NPA raid in Gingoog village leaves women, children shocked

From MindaNews (Jul 15): NPA raid in Gingoog village leaves women, children shocked

The attack by the New People’s Army (NPA) on soldiers of the 58th Infantry Battalion here Saturday afternoon has left several women and children traumatized.

“My four-year old daughter kept on saying ‘God help us, please God help us’ while crying,” Gem, who asked that her full identify be withheld, recalled.

“As the gunfight ensued, we thought we were going to die as we crawled on the bamboo floor. I held on tight to my two children and just prayed for our lives with our neighbors who were with us,” she said.

She added she was still experiencing fear and had difficulty getting sleep at night. “I can’t sleep properly; whenever the dogs bark we get out of bed in fear.”

“My daughter was in a state of shock after the incident; she can’t talk and would just cry. We just tried to keep on talking to her and thank God she now responds better,” Gem said, although she noted her daughter has been behaving differently after the incident.

“The frightening part was that the NPAs were hiding beneath the bamboo floor [of the house] where we were. If the soldier in the CVO (Civilian Volunteer Organization) outpost fired back I’m sure we all would have been dead. The soldier just shouted to let the civilians get out of the house in exchange for his surrender to save us,” another woman said.

Residents pointed out that 15 people, including five children and two pregnant women, were in the balcony of the house in front of the CVO outpost, either playing cards or just watching the game when the incident happened.

“We were all trapped and we did not have time to run away from the house as we all just dropped on the floor when the firefight started. We then slowly crawled towards the lower part of the house which was concrete but one of us was already injured,” said a source named Neri, referring to Leticia Bonghanoy Cabrera, 52, who was hit by a bullet in the right shoulder.

The women said an NPA medic gave first aid treatment to Cabrera, but they felt sorry for the soldier who yielded to the rebels to save them from harm.

Barangay chair Emelyn Bucio said around 30 other residents, mostly children, were near the basketball court and stage when the incident happened.

“Some of the soldiers were playing basketball with the residents while a lot of people were watching and children were in the area when the firing started. The soldiers tried to hide inside the barangay hall to avoid the NPA’s superior firepower,” Bucio said.

“One grenade landed on the stage where there were several children. That is the area where the 14-year old child was wounded,” a teary-eyed Bucio said, referring to Ellen May Hinampas Hiludo, who was wounded in the back.

The grenade did not explode, but the barangay official admitted she could still remember how the residents screamed as explosions and gunfire erupted.

“We have a small barangay with around 530 people. We know each other I cannot image what might have happened if someone was killed,” she said.

No children in school

On Tuesday morning, only 10 out of 120 pupils from kindergarten to grade six went to school.

“Only 10 kids came to school today. We went to the parents and asked around and they said most of the children are still traumatized and don’t want to go to school,” said Cecil Rana, grade 2 teacher at Alagatan Elementary School.

“We just asked those who came to go home, and we also encouraged the parents to let the children just play and enjoy the company of other children,” she said.

Gingoog City Mayor Marie Guingona expressed her concerns over the welfare of the children.

“We have sent a team of trauma volunteers to help the children cope with what they had been through. Right now this is a priority and we don’t want the children and other people in the community to be traumatized and remember this incident,” Guingona said.

In April 2013, former Gingoog mayor Ruthie Guingona, mother of the incumbent mayor, was wounded in an ambush staged by the NPA near Alagatan.

Three of the elder Guingona’s aides were killed in the attack.

A Hero

All of those who hid in the house in front of the CVO outpost said they were grateful to the soldier who surrendered to the NPA to avoid harm to the civilians.

“For us he was a hero, he exchanged his life for our safety. He could have killed several NPAs from his vantage point above the CVO outpost but he did not fire back or even throw a grenade towards the house,” said Greg, who requested not to reveal his real name.

Gem said the soldier shouted: “Please, there are civilians. The civilians are in the house.”

“If the soldier fired back, my God, we all would have been dead. Thanks he did not fire at our location and even surrendered.

“It was a very frightening experience. I just left it all to God if he would take us that day. Then I asked for forgiveness in my prayer and for my children. I held on to my faith in God.”

The Clash

“The incident happened at around 5:30 in the afternoon within the community after around 30 members of the NPA opened fired upon the troops unmindful of the presence of the civilians in the area. This lead to the death of one of our trooper, while the rebels dragged another soldier after he was hit in the right leg,” said Captain Jo Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the Army 4th Infantry Division.

“The soldier that was killed in action is Cpl Nadir Bairulla. The trooper who was abducted by the NPA is Pfc Adonis Jess Lupeba. Private First Class Ronlie Ascaro was also wounded in action,” he said, adding the military condemned the attack which could have killed civilians or wounded more of them.

In a statement Sunday, Ka Allan Juanito, spokesperson of the NPA-North Central Mindanao Regional Command said seven soldiers and one guerrilla were also wounded in the attack.

“The NPA seized a K3 light machine gun, an M203 grenade launcher, two ammunitions vests, three machine gun ammunition links, 12 40mm ammunitions and two military packs. The NPA made a fast and organized withdrawal, bringing the seized equipment and the captured soldier,” he said.

Juanito assured Lupebaa would be accorded humane treatment in accordance with international humanitarian law and released “as soon as conditions allow his safe and orderly release”.

“On the other hand, we regret the involvement of two civilians who were wounded in the firefight. 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,” he added.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the National Democratic Front-North Central Mindanao said it was “open to start negotiations for the safe and orderly release of the POW (prisoner of war) as soon as possible”.

“This is another gesture of peace, underscoring our call for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the NDFP and GPH so the people can understand the root causes of the continuing armed conflict in the Philippines and the means by which just and lasting peace can be achieved,” the statement signed by NDF-NCM spokesperson Cesar Renerio said.

“As of writing, we are yet to contact the local third party facilitators composed of the religious sector and peace and human rights advocates and the Local Crisis Management Committee headed by the Misamis Oriental governor regarding coordination and cooperation on the matter,” it added.

Soldier gunned down in Cotabato

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 15): Soldier gunned down in Cotabato

Two motorcycle gunmen shot dead an army soldier in a daring attack Wednesday in Cotabato City in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the 6th Infantry Division, said the gunmen also took the soldier’s money and fled after the killing. She said the soldier, who was also a member of the Military Police, just came from a bank and was on his way to the army base on his motorcycle when gunmen attacked him.

“A soldier died today after withdrawing savings money from a financial institution in Cotabato City.
 He was clad in his civilian clothing and was on board his personal single motorcycle when two ruthless persons who were riding in tandem went after his hard earned money and took his life with it,” Petinglay said.

“That soldier is one of the common faces I often see in the command headquarters building being one of the members of the Color Guard and one of the dutiful MP personnel who guards the front doors of the command,” she added.

The motive of the killing is still unknown and no individual claimed responsibility for the attack.

Just recently, suspected members of the jihadist group Khilafah Islamiyah Movement or KIM also ambushed a group of army soldiers in Lanao del Norte’s Pantar town that killed one member of the 4th Mechanized Battalion.

Over a dozen of gunmen ambushed a squad of the 42nd Company while the soldiers were travelling in a truck. Six soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

The KIM, a black flag movement which pledged allegiance to the ISIS, is an emerging jihadist movement in Southern Philippines fighting for an independent state.

Troops neutralize ASG member in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): Troops neutralize ASG member in Sulu

Government forces have neutralized a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province of Sulu, a top military official announced Wednesday.

Col. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the slain ASG member as Mahmur Jupuri, who had standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping, illegal detention and murder.

Arrojado said Jupuri was neutralized in an intelligence operation around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in Barangay Poblacion, Indanan, Sulu.

Arrojado said the task group has placed its troops on alert to preempt escalation of violence in retaliation to the death of Jupuri.

He said a company-sized team from the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion was also placed on call for needed reinforcement.

He added that another company-sized team from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion was sent to Indanan to retrieve the cadaver of Jupuri to be brought to the trauma hospital and eventual turnover to proper authorities for proper burial.

He said the neutralization of Jupuri is a result of the continuous law enforcement operation against the lawless elements, especially the ASG, in Sulu.

F/A-50 December deliveries on schedule --DND official

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): F/A-50 December deliveries on schedule --DND official

Deliveries of the two South Korean-made F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" jet aircraft will proceed as scheduled in December, this year.

This was confirmed by Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Modernization and Materiel Fernando Manalo in an interview with the PNA on Tuesday.

"It is on schedule for December," he said.

The DND official added that it is very probable that the F/A-50s will be put on aerial display on the 80th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) this coming December.

Manalo also disclosed that a team from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will be flying to the Philippines by September to discuss delivery details for the two F/A-50s.

The Philippines has signed a P18.9-billion contract with KAI for 12 F/A-50s.

The Philippines' F/A-50 took its maiden flight in South Korea last June 19.

The F/A-50 has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one-and-a-half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted with air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

The F/A-50 will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and both have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons) -- five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner. (

ASG sub-leader killed in Sulu encounter

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): ASG sub-leader killed in Sulu encounter

An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader, long wanted for kidnapping and murder, was killed government troopers during intelligence operations in Barangay Poblacion, Indanan, Sulu Wednesday afternoon.

Killed in the 4: 30 p.m. encounter with Joint Task Group Sulu was ASG sub-leader Mahmur Jupuri alias "Mahmur".

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Col. Alan Arrojado said that Jupuri has outstanding warrants of arrest for his involvement in kidnapping, serious illegal detention and murder.

The warrants were issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 of Jolo.

Arrojado added that upon the successful neutralization of the ASG bandit, all Joint Task Group Sulu units were directed to preempt any escalation or "pintakasi".

He also said that the body was recovered and taken to the Kutang Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital (KHTBSH) at Barangay Busbus, Jolo, Sulu for autopsy at 5 p.m.

"Recovered during neutralization was one cal . 45 pistol, one magazine and ammos," Arrojado said.

No losses were reported among government troops.

Jupuri is also known to be involved in the kidnapping of the Malaysian couple in Sandakan, Malaysia last May 14.

PHL’s Deles, Ferrer hailed by int’l think-tank for key roles in Bangsamoro peace process

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): PHL’s Deles, Ferrer hailed by int’l think-tank for key roles in Bangsamoro peace process

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles and Government Peace Panel Chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer have been feted as ideal women peacemakers in a report recently released by the New York-based International Peace Institute (IPI).

The IPI report, entitled "Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes," went into great lengths to study and compare two peace processes that reached milestones in the Philippines: the government peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The report highlighted the breakthrough in the country’s peace process from the time Deles, the Philippines’ first woman peace presidential adviser, took the lead in peace talks in 2010. It likewise underscored the critical roles played by Deles and Ferrer in the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Ferrer is the first female to chair the Philippine government panel in talks with the MILF.

The study’s authors noted how the inclusive and direct participation of Deles and Ferrer, among other women participants both from the government and the MILF panels, in the peace process impacted the signing of the historic Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), primarily ensuring economic, social, and political guarantees for women through provisions that promote gender equality and greater women’s participation in public life.

“Women negotiators united across the table, both to promote gender issues and to push the overall process forward. They emphasized the importance of this united approach when presenting to the media throughout the talks. They worked to demonstrate progress and build support for the peace process, and to persuade the public that continuing the negotiations was a smarter, better approach than returning to violence,” the authors remarked.

On the other hand, they observed that in the Philippine government-NDF peace talks, “the women’s engagement in the NDF process beyond the peace table in Oslo was limited. The process lacked additional mechanisms for inclusion… the influence of women in the NDF process was weak.”

They added that “women were not meaningful participants in the peace process. Instead, the women participating in the NDF negotiating panel were the wives of the organization’s leaders, which compromised their inputs.”

The authors concluded that “while peace processes between the Philippine government and both the (NDF) and the (MILF) represent(ed) high points of women’s participation, women attained lasting influence only in the MILF process.”

“In the MILF process, direct participation at the negotiation table was combined with official consultations, a transition commission, and mass action,” they said and added: “When the selection of female delegates in the Philippine context was based on qualifications such as their past work for peace or their leadership of organized constituencies of women, they appeared more likely to bring women’s priorities into the negotiations and to push for a sustainable agreement.”

Also, the IPI report took note how Deles and Ferrer remained steadfast and resilient in their roles as peace negotiators even after they were vilified by government critics following the tragedy in late January that killed 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers during an encounter with members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The Mamasapano tragedy slowed down congressional deliberations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), an important component in the CAB. This, however, did not diminish the resolve of the peace panel to continue the peace process with the MILF.

“Though the immediate future remains uncertain, the panels are utilizing their established links to women’s groups and pro-peace civil society groups to rebuild public support for the Bangsamoro agreement. As with every peace process, reaching an agreement is only the first step on a long and arduous road toward rebuilding trust. (And) based on their (Deles and Ferrer) experiences in helping to bring about the Comprehensive Agreement, women will likely have more contributions to make in this journey toward peace,” the IPI report added.

The IPI report affirmed Deles’ testimony in the recently held United Nation (UN) discussion on Power of Empowered Women in Geneva, where she recalled how she bravely took the challenges that she endured each time she presented herself as the head of the country’s peace negotiating panel in meetings, which were attended mostly by men. She said that because of her determination, those who doubted her in the beginning subsequently acknowledged and accepted her role as the first woman in the Philippines to negotiate peace.

“Their judgment made me choose something that I felt needed to be done, because my children are growing up and I don’t want a world of violence for them,” she told her audience of international women peace leaders, adding that she came prepared for the job and was relentless and persistent, ready to discuss and debate with her male counterparts.

The IPI report likewise acknowledged the vital roles that other women played in the Philippines’ peace process, among them, Irene Santiago, who served as one of the first female negotiators for the Philippine government in its negotiations with the MILF, from 2001 to 2004; Emily Marohombsar, 2001-2004; Annabelle Abaya, another female leader of conflict resolution initiatives, who was presidential adviser from November 2009 to June 2010; and, Raissa Jajurie, who served as key negotiator and consultant on behalf of the MILF in 2013.

Also mentioned were members of the Philippines peace panel during the GPH-NDF talks, among them Jurgette Honculada and Maria Lourdes Tison, who were appointed in late 2010.

Newly-appointed PA chief vows to further develop Army capabilities, comply with ATR

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 15): Newly-appointed PA chief vows to further develop Army capabilities, comply with ATR

Newly-appointed Philippine Army commander Major Gen. Eduardo Año vowed on Wednesday to develop and increase further the capabilities of the PA.

"As the new commanding general, I have set my sights on the following thrusts. First, we will increase our strides toward the third Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR) base camp by year 2016 which envisions a well equipped Army, with a respectable image in Southeast Asia," he said in his assumption speech at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Año added that he envisions the PA to become a land power capable of multi-dimensional operations which include humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

He replaced Lt. Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri, who was appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff last July 10.

Año, now the 57th PA commanding general, is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983.

"For while we remain to be a fighting force to protect the people and the state, we will also be the force of hope our people can count on in the face of disaster and capability," the new PA chief said.

He added that he remains committed to the ATR as the latter is an effective monitoring system.

"The ATR will ensure that we are on the track in our security sector reform agenda and maintain our effectiveness as a government institution. We will continue to manage our resources well while we develop mechanisms to better support and provide the needs of our fighting troops in the front-lines and at the home front," he pointed out.

The ATR also seeks for the PA to become a "world-class Army by 2028."

The strategy is now being cascaded down to the levels of units, offices, and individuals and subsidiary performance scorecards being aligned with that of the enterprise, he said.

"This is being done through various projects and activities, framework systems and processes designed to institutionalize the Performance Governance System,"he added.

Under the ATR, the PA revised and simplified the corevalues into three most essential, enduring, and elementalsets of values that truly represent the organization, namely:

1. Honor, which is attributed to self-worth, personaldignity, integrity, and discipline;

2. Patriotism, which resonates as love of country and manifests as loyalty, courage, and allegianceto the constitution; and,

3. Duty, which is expressed through professionalism, excellence, resourcefulness, dynamism, dedication, and commitment to sworn duty.

"Our soldiers are our best assets; we will train and equip them to their best fighting potential, provide them adequate protective gears to increase survivability in battle, and beyond providing them with services to support their dependents, we will develop programs that will arm them with tools to improve the living condition of their families and achieve the goals in the personal score card.Second, we will entrust the strategic objectives to the Internal Peace and Security Plan 'Bayanihan' and protect the gains it has made in the past years. Out of the 76 CPP-NPA-NDF affected provinces in the country, 60 have been already been declared conflict manageable and for further development-ready provinces, a remarkable 78 percent," the PA chief stressed.

Año said that they will do this not only to win the peace but to secure and sustain it and bring continuous prosperity to the people.

"While in the south, we will actively support the government’s peace initiatives and create partnership to complement the triumphs we have achieved, all these in honor of the sacrifices our soldiers have made and prove our maturity as an organization by showing our willingness to give enduring peace a fighting chance," he said.

"Third we will continue the parallel development of our territorial defense and internal security operation capabilities that will enhance and ensure our ability to attain the goals our nation has set for us. Internal security and territorial defense are both important for the Army," Año added.

"Fourth, in the continuity of organizational purpose and efforts, we will develop our force structure and capability anchored to the PA operating concept crafted during Gen. Iriberri's tenure as CGPA, the PA operating concept as an enduring concept will provide the broad guidelines on the manner of employment of PA capabilities in current developing and future environments."

"To attain its military objectives and achieve the strategic objectives set by the Department of National Defense, this operating concept will set your army as a land power in multi-dimentional operations to address internal and external security concerns, terrorism, disaster response and other peripheral security challenges. To this end we will rationalize the current army structure and review our current capability upgrade."

"Fifth, in being true to our duty as the protector of the people and the state, count on us your army to remain professional, nonpartisan and apolitical in our pursuit of ensuring a peaceful and credible elections this coming 2016. Sa ating kasundaluhan, the challenges ahead may be daunting but united we shall remain strong, resolute, and ready to serve the people and secure the land," Año said.