Wednesday, July 29, 2015

PAF provides 10 helis in Thursday's earthquake drill

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): PAF provides 10 helis in Thursday's earthquake drill

In line with its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) deployed a total of 10 helicopters in Thursday's Metro Manila-wide "Shake Drill."

These include two UH-IHs from the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), another two UH-IHs from the Southern Luzon Command (Solcom), and two W-3A "Sokol" from Villamor Air Base which conducted "aerial rapid damage assessment and needs analysis" over different areas in Metro Manila.

Aside from this, the aircraft also helped transport Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) incident commanders and their staff to the four designated National Capital Region (NCR) command sectors and the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Incident Command Post Operation Center at the ASEANA compound.

An NVG-capable UH-IH was also flown over Pasig City for night-time earthquake drills Thursday.

A "Super Huey" also conducted helicopter rappelling and victim extrication at ASEANA compound while an S-76 air ambulance performed casualty evacuation from the Villamor Golf Course (South Sector command post) to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center at V. Luna Road, Quezon City.

Meanwhile, 2 UH-1H/Ds were on standby alert at Villamor Air Base for additional tasks.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said that in an actual earthquake scenario, the Air Force can provide all available 27 UH1H/D helicopters, 14 505th Search-and-Rescue Group helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, including three C-130s, one C-295M and one F-27 Fokker they currently maintain to airlift casualties, rescue personnel and their equipment and relief goods for HADR operations.

Parago's successor, 3 others bagged in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): Parago's successor, 3 others bagged in Davao City

Troopers from the 10th Infantry Division and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have arrested the successor of Leoncio Pitao alias "Cmdr. Parago" and three others during operations in Calinan District, Davao City Tuesday noon.

1st Lt. Alexandre Cabales, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, identified the arrested rebel as Christopher Rollon alias "Joel," the leader of the New People's Army's (NPA) Pulang Bagani Command.

Rollon is believed to have succeeded "Cmdr. Parago" who was killed in a military encounter exactly a month ago.

The arrest was made by virtue of two warrants for crimes of robbery and attempted murder issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 16 of Davao City.

Rollon was arrested while trying to evade a checkpoint.

Also arrested were arrested were Alexander Abalos Bartolome, Rannie S. Ninal and Mike B. Capito.

Investigation later revealed that Bartolome is a political officer for Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC), the Regional Unit of the NPAs covering Davao Region.

Recovered from their possession were .45 caliber pistol, two two fragmentation grenades and several improvised explosive device components such as detonating switch, blasting caps and wires.

“This arrest is a result of the overwhelming support by the community in our peace and development efforts,” 10th Infantry Division acting commander Brig. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr.

“The information they provided has translated into success in our efforts to clean up the community and free them of the terrorism brought by the NPAs,” he added.

For 2015, the 10th Infantry Division has neutralized 16 key leaders of the NPAs including Parago.

Of this number, five died during encounters with government forces while 11 were captured.

A total of 135 rebels has also surrendered to government and have now availed of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program implemented through the local government units.

AFP joins in MMDA's 'Shake Drill'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 30): AFP joins in MMDA's 'Shake Drill'
In line with its efforts to boost its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) calamities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP participated in the Metro-wide earthquake drill, dubbed the “Shake Drill”, spearheaded by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which took place 10: 30 a.m. Thursday.

Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said that this is in coordination with National Capital Region Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and the MMDA.

This is to ensure that its responders and facilities will be very effective in handling situations related to natural calamities, particularly a magnitude 7 earthquake which might originate from the West Valley Fault here.

Detoyato said that this is also in accordance with AFP’s existing HADR Contingency Plan “Pagyanig”.

The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR) will be taking the lead in all of AFP HADR efforts around Metro Manila in support of Philippine National Police (PNP) and other line agencies.

To further ready its troops, the JTF-NCR had its Earthquake and Landslide Search and Rescue Orientation Course (ELSAROC) in June to ensure that we will be able to respond to communities here that might be affected.

The AFP also had its three-day humanitarian assistance and disaster response exercise (HADRX) last July 22 to 24 which brought together 100 participants composed of personnel from the training audiences (AFP Battle Staff, HADR Crisis Action Team, Unified Commands, Major Services, and AFP-Wide Service Support Units), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), panelists, facilitators and support staff.

Parago’s protege falls?

From the Mindanao Times (Jul 29): Parago’s protege falls?

Arrest of leader another blow to NPA

A COMMUNIST rebel commander, said to be Kumander Parago’s replacement, was arrested in a random police and military checkpoint yesterday at 12 noon in Calinan District.

Christopher Rollon, a leader of Pulang Bagani Command 1 in Southern Mindanao Regional Command (SMRC), was arrested by virtue of warrant of arrest for crime of robbery and attempted murder filed before the Regional Trial Court 11, Branch 16.
The checkpoint was manned by the combined forces of the 10th Military Intelligence Battalion,1003rd Infantry Brigade, 69th Infantry Battalion, 84th IB, Task Force Davao, Intelligence Service of AFP (ISAFP) and the Calinan Police Predinct.
An army source said that Rollon took over the leadership vacuum when Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago was killed last month.
The Calinan precinct commander, Chief Insp. Randy Sambalo, confirmed that they arrested Rollon, and three other unidentified men, and were transferred to the main headquarters for security reasons.
To date, the military is still identifying three other men who were with Rellon at the time of his arrest.
He said that Rollon was on board a motorcycle with another man when they were flagged down at the checkpoint. However, they sped off prompting the authorities to give chase.
The source claimed that the NPA suffered another setback with the arrest of Rollon.
“They couldn’t sustain their forces anymore,” the army officer said. “So far, we have not received reports that they are gaining forces after the death of Parago.”
Recovered from their possession were one .45 caliber pistol; two fragmentation grenades, cell phones, subversive documents and personal belongings. The three motorcycles used were also impounded.
Last June 28 ,Pitao was killed in a reported encounter with government troops in Purok 9, Barangay Panalum in Paquibato District around 2:30 p.m.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo M. Aňo , commander of 10th Infantry Division, in an interview confirmed that Pitao, leader of the Pulang Bagani Command 1, was killed in a clash.
Ano said the encounter was a special operation spearheaded by the Scout Ranger Company, 69th Infantry Battalion, Task Force Minion and Military Intelligence Battalion under the 10th Infantry Division.
Troops were also able to recover two M16 rifles, three rifle grenades and three backpacks.
According to military accounts, Parago was able to evade the authorities who wanted to serve the arrest warrant on June 14 when the military received a tip that the NPA leader was in the house of Aida Seisa, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas leader, in Paradise Embac, Paquibato District.
Soldiers under 69th Infantry Battalion were deployed to serve the arrest warrant against Parago and another NPA leader.
“They were fired upon upon approaching the encounter site,” he said. “Anggoy and Parago escaped during the encounter.”
Three were killed, identified as Poligario Quimbo, Datu Ruben Cainlog and Datu Randy Carnasa, and the military claimed that they were members of New People’s Army.

China's artificial islands now a third of Manila City

From Rappler (Jul 30): China's artificial islands now a third of Manila City

In the West Philippine Sea, China is building artificial islands the size of nearly 1,800 soccer fields combined

ISLAND BUILDING. A recent image shows China's reclamation on Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) in the Spratly Islands, located in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photo courtesy of Victor Robert Lee/DigitalGlobe   Photo by Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe Photo by Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe

ISLAND BUILDING. A recent image shows China's reclamation on Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) in the Spratly Islands, located in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photo courtesy of Victor Robert Lee/DigitalGlobe Photo by Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe Photo by Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe

Hold your breath: China's artificial islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) now add up to around a third of Manila City, the Philippines' capital. That's also like nearly 1,800 soccer fields combined.
China, after all, has reclaimed 12.82 square kilometers of land in the West Philippine Sea as of Thursday, July 30.
In these waters, the feature with the biggest reclaimed area is Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), which China seized from the Philippines in 1995. (READ: Creating mischief in Mischief Reef)
This is based on data from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a 53-year-old independent think tank based in Washington DC.
Through satellite images it produced with Digital Globe, AMTI is tracking the artificial islands built by China to assert de facto control over the disputed waters.
Data from AMTI's island tracker show the extent of China's reclamation in the following areas:
  • Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef) – 231,100 square meters reclaimed
  • Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) – 2,740,000 square meters reclaimed
  • Burgos Reef (Gaven Reef) – 136,000 square meters reclaimed
  • Hughes Reef – 76,000 square meters reclaimed
  • Mabini Reef (Johnson Reef) – 109,000 square meters reclaimed
  • Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) – 5,580,000 square meters reclaimed
  • Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) – 3,950,000 square meters reclaimed
MILITARY FACILITIES? A CNN report says China has built an airport tower and an early warning radar on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef). Photo obtained by Rappler
MILITARY FACILITIES? A CNN report says China has built an airport tower and an early warning radar on Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef). Photo obtained by Rappler

3-km runway on Zamora Reef?
The total size of China's islands, based on these data, is 12,822,100 square meters or 12.82 kilometers.
This is a third of the size of the city of Manila – 38.55 square kilometers.
(This is different from Metro Manila, the National Capital Region or NCR, which includes the city of Manila and other key towns and cities. The NCR is around 636 square kilometers big.)
This, too, is equivalent to around 1,795 soccer fields combined. An average soccer field measures 7,140 square meters.
Other sources show the extent of China's island building. (LOOK: IN PHOTOS: Artificial China island can fit 3-km runway)
Images of Zamora Reef, for one, show "intensive preparation of terrain for a likely airstrip," according to analyst Victor Robert Lee.
"A straight segment of reef that China has filled in with sand can easily accommodate a runway more than 3 kilometers long," Lee said in an article on Medium.
China is building these artificial islands as Manila pursues a case against Beijing over the West Philippine Sea. (LOOK: IN PHOTOS: Philippines challenges China in The Hague)
China earlier admitted it is reclaiming land for military defense, among other things.
In June, the Asian giant said it is about to complete its construction activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Manila urged Beijing to "desist" from its island-building.

IT'S THEIR RIGHT | AFP 'not threatened' by Chinese live fire drills

From InterAksyon (Jul 29): IT'S THEIR RIGHT | AFP 'not threatened' by Chinese live fire drills

East China Navy Fleet conducts a training exercise in the South China Sea, in a bid to temper the combat capability of the troops in a complex environment. (Photo: Xinhua)

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines does not see the live fire military drills China conducted in the South China Sea on Tuesday as a threat, saying it is the right of any sovereign nation to conduct “exercises that they think are relevant to their own security interests.”

At the same time, AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said they welcome the Supreme Court order to explain the questioned military drills it conducted with Japan recently because it would allow government, through the Department of National Defense, “to clarify certain activities we conduct with other countries.”

China’s defense ministry on Tuesday announced the live-ammunition drills, which involved more than 100 ships, dozens of aircraft, information warfare units as well as the nuclear force, although it did not specify where the exercise took place.

However, Padilla said the drills appeared to have taken place in international waters and not within territory being claimed by the Philippines.

He said it was natural for the Chinese exercises to be criticized as muscle-flexing, saying “any kind of military exercise is always subject to the interpretation of an outsider,” but in the AFP’s view, “that being their right, puwede nilang gawin ‘yun (they can do that),” so long as they do not violate any code of conduct or intrude into other country’s territory.

Nevertheless, Padilla said this is why the Philippines has been “very transparent” and invites observers to its military exercises to prove “that what we are doing is aboveboard and that … we’re not threatening anyone.”

This, too, he added, is why Southeast Asian countries as well as the United States have been encouraging China to be transparent with its military exercises “so that all of their motives, all of their activities, will not be questioned.”

He added this is a protocol militaries of “the community of nations” is “trying to establish.”

Citing the US-initiated Rim of the Pacific exercise, Padilla said China was invited “for transparency purposes. So, having initiated that action in agreement with all other allies, we are hoping that other nations, China included, will be as transparent … so that there are better opportunities for discussion and dialogue instead of no connection at all.”

Although Padilla was confident China would not carry out exercises in disputed territory, he said the AFP is capable of monitoring any such event.

The AFP spokesman also maintained that the military exercises with Japan were conducted in international waters and not within Philippine territory and, thus, did not violate any laws despite the absence of any status of forces or visiting forces agreement with the Japanese like the ones with the US and Australia.

He added that port visits by the Japanese are not prohibited by law.

While declining to detail how the DND would explain the exercises with Japan, Padilla said “the most important consideration … na dapat iniisip din natin ay ‘yung (and which we should also think of is) national interest. Ano po ba ang mas makakabuti sa bayang Pilipinas at saka sa mga kababayan natin (What is best for the Philippine and for our people).”

4 suspected NPA rebels arrested in Davao City

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jul 29): 4 suspected NPA rebels arrested in Davao City

A communist rebel commander and three of his followers were arrested by security forces in Davao City in southern Philippines, the military announced on Wednesday.

Army Captain Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said soldiers and policemen nabbed New People’s Army rebel leader Christopher Rollon and Alexander Bartolome, Rannie Ninal, and Mike Capito along McArthur Highway in Calinan village on July 28.

Caber said security forces also recovered a .45-caliber pistol, two fragmentation grenades, 10 cell phones and assorted batteries, including two blasting caps and materials used in the manufacture of improvised explosives.

He said Rollon’s group was allegedly planning to carry out bombings in Davao City.

There was no immediate statement from the NPA, which has been fighting for a separate state in the country.

Navy flagship to be equipped with missile system

From the Philippine Star (Jul 28): Navy flagship to be equipped with missile system 

BRP Gregorio del Pilar (top) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (below), two of the navy warships that maintain the territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea. File photo

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar Patrol Frigate (PF) 15 will be equipped with missile system for long range threats, according to official.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, one of the two Philippine Navy (PN) flagships, arrived in this city as part of its routine patrol in southern Philippines.

Navy Captain Vincent Sibala, commander of BRP Gregorio del Pilar said the main firepower of his warship is the 7mm Oto Melara cannon and other armaments which are still working with upgraded sensors.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a mainstay in the West Philippine Sea is also equipped with long range radar system that can detect other crafts in the sea.

Sibala said additional guns and sensors are already in the pipeline of the Department of National Defense (DND).

The missile system however is not yet installed.

“But we are looking forward that we will have missile capability soon,” Sibala said. “Because the trainings of our personnel and their performance we are already up to far. Kayang-kaya na po nila yong mag-acquire ng missile.”

Sibala maintained that they strictly follow the trust of the Philippine government not to escalate the situation at the West Philippine Sea.

“We are here for peace and not basically to fight for a war,” Sibala said. “We should be ready but as much as possible, we try to avoid it.”

Sibala cited that they follow the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES), an agreement signed by 21 countries, including the Philippines and China, which aims to deescalate naval encounters.

Freedom’s face won’t blur, art exhibit shows

From GMA News (Jul 28): Freedom’s face won’t blur, art exhibit shows

Some of the portraits on exhibit at 'PortrAYAL'.

“As art objects, portraits have traditionally been visualisations of the so-called ruling elite: objects denoting prestige, power and patronage; displays of individual stature and status, denoting the capacity to commission and consume,” said Lisa Ito, a lecturer at the Department of Theory, College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

This trend in the creative arts sector was interrupted by the launching of "PORTRAYAL: Faces of Freedom" art exhibit on July 24 at the Maximillian Gallery on Scout Madriñan in Quezon City.

The exhibition, organized by human rights groups Karapatan and Selda, displays 55 portraits of some political prisoners in the country, created by renowned local artists using various kinds of artistic media.

“Portrayal connects with previous artistic interventions in its aspiration to help set free the stories behind statistics on human rights violations in the Philippines.The process of linking both artist and detainee is a challenging and negotiated act of empathy: of venturing beyond fidelity to the visage and distilling their stories to the viewer. In instances where it was not possible to directly visit and meet the subject, the artists had to rely on secondhand information to produce the portraits: mug shots, I.D. photos, archival testimonies, case reports, and recollected memories, for instance,” explained Ito, who is also the curator of the exhibit.

Among the 537 documented political prisoners are National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Alan Jazmines and Eduardo Sarmiento, who are also visual artists and writers.

Jazmines was arrested on February 14, 2011, just a few hours before the resumption of the long-stalled peace talks, and despite the assertion of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). His image is depicted in a painting by former UP Fine Arts Dean Leonilo “Neil” Doloricon. Doloricon is a recipient of the Thirteen Artists Award of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and of Manila's Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award.

In February 2009, Sarmiento was abducted by five men in plainclothes while walking along Star Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. On December 11, 2013, Ka Edong was sentenced to reclusion perpetua and is now detained at the maximum security unit of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. Art teacher and CAP member Renan Ortiz rendered an image of Sarmiento. Ortiz is also among the 2012 Thirteen Artists Awardees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

 Free ALL Political Prisoners added a new photo — with Deogracias S. Iniguez and 21 others.
Cause · 1,804 Likes  July 19 at 1:10am
41 Likes · 1 Comment · 14 Shares
 Free ALL Political Prisoners with Linangan Ng Kulturang Pilipino and 30 others
Cause · 1,804 Likes  July 19 at 7:07am·
45 Likes · 1 Comment · 4 Shares
“This diverse sourcing of images for visualizing the political detainee has yielded portrayals that convey not only the psychological weight of their stories but also the detainees’ prevailing sense of optimism and resolve amidst the odds they face. It is this spirit of resilience which remains unshackled and unrestrained, moving across and beyond the confines of prison space,” said Ito.

Among the artists who participated in the exhibit are Dhan Louie Bautista, poet Rustum Casia, musician Maan De Loyola, cartoonist Bheng Densing, graphic artist Emil Mercado, Rensi Managase of UGATLahi Artists Collective, Ding Royales, Palanca awardee Aleli Dew Ayroso, father and son poets Jesus Manuel Santiago and Daniw Santiago, Arnie Jarabilo, Yasmin Almonte of Kasibulan, Gwen Bautista, James Hermogenes, graphic artists Cristina Ponce and Lorraine Bermejo, art conservator Eden Ocampo of Kasibulan, Jamica Lois Bonifacio, feminist Mylene Foronda Factora, musician and Concerned Artists of the Philippines member Boy Dominguez, Crisanto de Leon of UGATLahi Artists Collective, multi-awarded artist and sculptor Egai Talusan Fernandez, Melvin Pollero, Bryan Pollero, illustrator Oji Valencia, Adelson Genito, graphic artist Jason Valenzuela, former political prisoner Ericson Acosta, street artist Sim Tolentino, multi-awarded artist Buen Abrigo, 2009 CCP Thirteen Artists Awardee Iggy Rodriguez, Jade Alfonso, performance artist Racquel de Loyola, Yani Ela of Kataga Quezon City, Bayan-NCR artist Aldrein Silanga, installation artist Emil Yap, graphic artist and Karapatan volunteer Tom Estrera III, illustrator Stephen Prestado, trade union activist Rose Bucud, cultural worker Ranma Ramones, Manila Today’s Max Santiago, US-based Filipino illustrator Enrico Maniago, Charlene Bayani, illustrators Glenda Maye Abad and Tinsley Garanchon of Kasibulan, street artists collective Gerilya, Pedro Bucud, Kasibulan President Vivian Nocum Limpin, Kasibulan secretary Doris Rodriguez, and Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino. 

GMA News Online cartoonist Manix Abrera made a digital print portrait of Edward Lanzanas. The latter was arrested with the daughter of Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.

Relatives of political prisoners led by Nikki Gamara, daughter of political prisoner Renante Gamara, and Amado Cadano, father of political prisoner Guiller “Guilly” Cadano, imparted a few words at the launching. Sarmiento’s collection of children’s short stories was also on display.

The exhibit ran for two days but the artworks are set for display at the House of Representatives in August. Afterwards, they will be brought to schools and galleries in and outside of Metro Manila.

MILF: Editorial - Critical period

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jul 28): Editorial - Critical period

Beyond October this year, it is most unlikely that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) passes Congress.

The momentum will then be seriously punctuated, if not aborted. The focus of government including Congress will be to other else. Those running for positions in 2016 will be busy finding ways to win, including forging of alliances and sourcing of funds. Thus, the period from July 27 to October is deemed critical to pass the BBL.

We have not wavered in believing that President Benigno Aquino III will come true and clean in his commitment to deliver the BBL --- a good one. By placing the BBL as number in his list of priority legislations during his sixth and last “State of the Nation Address” (SONA) is a testimony of this commitment. We don’t think it is just for billing or just for show. But racing against time and in view of the strong opposition to the BBL by his political enemies and those who hate Moros to be like anybody else, any chance of success would require extraordinary efforts and pushing. The President should work closely with his allies in both Houses of Congress to make sure that the BBL would not be sidelined.

But passing the BBL is one thing; its substance is another thing. Certainly, the MILF will not accept a diluted BBL. If a law is based on the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL, which is 50 percent bad, the MILF will outright reject it.  This is not to say, however, that we do not recognize the efforts of the lawmakers especially Speaker Sonny Belmonte to make the report 90 percent quantitatively good and 50 percent good. We saluted them for their extra-efforts in championing the BBL in the Lower House. Moreover, it is just the first step in the ladder of legislation. There is still the plenary level and ultimately the bicameral conference between the Senate and the House. We can still hope and work for an acceptable BBL.

Many quarters are beseeching the MILF to compromise. We do not know where to compromise. The BBL has passed through various levels of review and decision-making. Changes have already taken place during this process: first by the Office of the President (OP), then back to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), then to the GPH-MILF peace panels and then back to the OP and finally by the President and Chairman Murad during their meeting in early September 2014.

 Of course, we are not saying Congress is going to be deprived of its plenary power over legislation. We never had such a notion or intention. But the BBL is not an ordinary legislation; it is crafted on the basis of the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Minding this not, the law that will be passed is not the law intended to translate political documents (FAB and CAB) into a legal document which is the “agreed version” of the BBL presented to Congress during the ceremony in Malacañang Palace on September 10 last year. More seriously, it will not lead to solving the Bangsamoro Problem or Question which the two parties have agreed to address during their 18 years of hard and long negotiations.

Some of the serious revisions or deletions in the Ad Hoc Committee report are the following:

1.      Allocation of income derived from the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources in the Bangsamoro must be 100% for non-metallic; 75-25 in favor of the Bangsamoro for metallic; and 50-50 for Bangsamoro and the Central Government for fossil fuels such as gas, oil, coal, and uranium was totally abandoned. To classify them as simply strategic minerals, which include all potential sources of energy such as wind, water, and sun, is not only to maintain the status quo but an outright deprivation of what remains of the wealth in our lands which have been raped by outsiders;

2.      The original provisions on the Shariah and other justice systems in the Bangsamoro should be retained;

3.      Retention of the original provisions on the Bangsamoro Police. Any reduction of those provisions provided in the BBL would be to render the Bangsamoro Police not only inutile but also reducing it to a category lower than what is currently in place in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The nature and makeup of the Bangsamoro Police whether it can effectively secure the limbs and properties of the people has direct relevance to the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants, especially in the Third Phase of the Normalization Process which is 35 percent of the number of weapons submitted by the MILF to the Turkey-led Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB); and

4.      Allowing other national laws such as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and labor laws, etc., except those reserved to the Central Government to apply and operate in the Bangsamoro is simply destroying the essence of autonomy. Not only that they will create problems instead of promoting harmony, homogeneity, and coherence;

Some people also ignored the importance of basic principles in favor of what is practical and convenient. One reason is their utter disregard or lack of understanding of the context of the various provisions in the BBL. Principles are fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior especially in governance and relations of peoples. For instance, the Ad Hoc Committee deleted some basic principles or concepts and introduced other phrases that make the BBL incongruous.

1.      The parity of esteem is very a important principle in relation to people-to-people relationship or how to live together. It is acceptance by both sides of each other peculiarity. It should be restored, alongside the principle of mutual respect.

2.      The inclusion or repeated use of the phrase “within the framework of the Constitution and national sovereignty as well as the territorial integrity of the Republic of the Philippines” goes against the spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and disregards the agreement with the Panel and the Office of the President (OP) Team. Its continuous assertion and explicit inclusion in the BBL reinforces the centrist unitary set-up of the Philippines; and

3.      The asymmetric relationship redefined, the wali as titular head of the Bangsamoro Government deleted, provision for solicitor general for Bangsamoro added, and deletion of entrenchment provision, among others, have effectively reduced the Bangsamoro entity into a local government unit. Worse, many of the amendments have reduced the powers of the ARMM, which the MILF rejected three times. In short, there is no autonomy at all but an entity lower than the ARMM.

For what reason, the MILF can accept a diluted BBL?

CPP/NDF-Mindanao: NDFP-Mindanao condemns the current appalling State of the Nation

NDF-Mindanao propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 27): NDFP-Mindanao condemns the current appalling State of the Nation

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Benigno Simeon Aquino will deliver his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) to sum-up and boast of his administration’s achievements in the past 5 years, which is expected to shamelessly gloss over his crimes against the Filipino nation. While the ruling classes and their imperialist master will surely applaud this, the vast majority of the Filipino people, who have long suffered under a semi-feudal, semi-colonial system and know better about the real state of the nation, will only meet him with militant protests across the country.

In the past five years, the main thrust of the US-Aquino regime was the completion of neo-liberalization in the country in line with the dictates of his US imperialist boss. This meant scrapping all legal impediments, including policies that safeguard patrimony and sovereignty in the constitution, to give way for the unbridled plunder of natural resources, and the intensification of the exploitation of the workers, peasants, Lumad, Moro, and the middle class in the name of raking in super-profit for imperialist businesses running in collusion with that of the big landlord class, to which Aquino III belongs, and the big bourgeois compradors. This also meant the intensification of its brutal suppression campaign through Oplan Bayanihan (OPB), designed to crush armed and non-armed resistance opposed to its political and economic interests.

Aquino III is expected to brag of the 6.3% GDP average increase in the last five years, which is based mainly on a marked increase from the service sector. There is, however, the marked decrease of production in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors from the 60% share of the GDP in the 1980s, before the start of globalization policy, to less than 40% in the last 5 years. As a result, more imported goods were dumped on our local market that led to the steep decline in the production sector. Consequentially, under the current regime we have the worst labor crisis in history, where the unemployed and underemployed reach 11.8 million or 27% of the total labor force nationwide. Poverty incidence remain unalleviated within the range of 25% to 26%, where 56 million or more than half of Filipinos live below Php100 per day family income. This, in spite of statistical data manipulation and the billions of pesos spent for the inflationary, dole-out and corruption-laden 4Ps poverty alleviation program.

Neoliberal policies, which the US-Aquino III regime so doggedly implement, promise to achieve inclusive growth, but in reality, this only brought about a one-sided growth exclusively for the privileged classes and their imperialist masters, on one hand, and the marginalization of the producing classes, the peasants and workers, on the other. This growth in our economy is not felt at all by the people because only the big landlords, the big bourgeoisie and their imperialists masters are getting super-richer while the poor getting even poorer. These policies also lead to the wanton destruction of the environment by allowing imperialist mining companies, large-scale plantations and logging to operate with impunity.

In his inaugural address, Aquino III made a rebuke against public officials’ traffic privileges and called for “walang wang-wang” supposedly to curb the traffic problem in Metro Manila, yet now metro Manila traffic is no less bad. The corruption laden privatization policy of the administration failed to upgrade the mass transport system in the metropolis. “Daang matuwid” as a catchword for anti-corruption was popularized. To this effect, he uses the PDAF pork barrel issue to showcase the imprisonment of opposition politicians supposedly for corruption, and invented DAP to fatten even more the source of corruption of the entire bureaucracy, in spite of an en banc decision of the Supreme Court declaring it unconstitutional. In fact one of the presidential sisters was implicated in a shadowy deal with a Czech company. Corruption is not only deeply ingrained among politicians but also within the AFP-PNP and other bureaucratic lines such as the Bureau of Customs, DENR, DPWH, DSWD, PhilHealth, Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), down the line , and is even getting worse. With the intensification of the dispute on the West Philippine Sea, Aquino III will pass himself off as the ultimate champion of Philippine sovereign right over its territories. However, in the tussle between two giants, China and the US, slobbering over the $5 trillion-worth South China Sea trade route, Aquino III is wont to obey and defend the interests of his US imperialist master rather than fight for sovereignty, especially with the EDCA already firmly in place. But we must be aware that the US will not sacrifice its trade relations with China and fight for the Philippines. The Filipino people, for its part, must be united and stand firm to defend its sovereignty against the continuing incursion of China and, at the same time, must resist to be used by the US containment in the Southeast Asian region.

Aquino III’s “Kayo Ang Boss Ko” slogan does not speak of Filipino people empowerment. In fact the US-Aquino regime further entrenched the power monopoly of the big landlords, big bourgeois compradors and the political grip of US imperialism in the country. Not only do the ruling classes reign, in fact, the political dynasties of a few political families from the municipal up to the national level is worst under the current regime. And the most ballyhooed electoral party system is nothing but a constant realignment of political parties of “balimbings” in favor of the political group in power.

True democracy emanating from the popular demand of the people for genuine social emancipation is being suppressed through the US-Aquino’s counter-revolutionary campaign, Oplan Bayanihan (OPB). Dwelling on the hype of the yellow ribbon, it wishes to hide from the public eye the ugly face of its brutal OPB suppression campaign nationwide, which particularly focuses on Mindanao. Aquino III’s fascist regime deployed over 60% of the total AFP forces to Mindanao, apart from the battalions of PNP SAF and RPSB forces, and the corresponding increase in air assets and artillery units. Under the EDCA pact that Aquino III concluded with his US imperialist master, more and more US troops are stationed especially in Mindanao where it enjoys special access to military facilities in any area, freely gathering intelligence information and overtly and covertly participating in combat operations as it did in the infamous Mamasapano incident.

In Mindanao, the current regime fast evolved into a warmonger machine, committing various human rights violations through its OPB in the name of protecting imperialist mining and plantations and other economic interests, and of its daydream to dismantle the revolutionary movement. But with his term of office ending in less than a year, it is nowhere near achieving its goal of defeating the revolutionary forces nationwide, even less in Mindanao; nor has it achieved anything historic for the people, except for its legacy of militarizing Mindanao and perpetrating numerous human rights abuses.

Many areas in Mindanao are militarized under sustained combat military operations, occupation of barangays through COPD and CAFGU detachments, harassments and forcible closure of some community schools, summary execution of several mass leaders and suspected revolutionaries, aerial bombings and Howitzer shelling, and other forms of terror and suppression against the people. Even the cities are not spared as the AFP deploys COPD teams in major school campuses and urban communities. To suppress the growing resistance, it resorts to the filing of trumped-up cases and jailing of several mass leaders to decapitate the leadership of open progressive mass organizations.

The Aquino regime speaks of peace for the country but its peace effort in Mindanao, particularly in the Bangsamoro, ends up with more division among the Moro masses. The reactionary government prefers whatever Moro group they are facing to capitulate rather than truly addressing the Bangsamoro aspiration for their genuine right to self-determination. On the other hand, the Aquino reactionary government failed to honour the government signed commitment with the NDFP, among others The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG); in fact, it continues to detain leading NDFP peace consultants, and blames the NDFP for being demanding and insincere.

Despite the superiority of state armed forces in launching vicious military suppression campaigns, the people fight back with even more intensity and determination. The US-Aquino regime failed to quell but instead rekindled Moro armed resistance in Mindanao; it did not stop as well the advance of the revolutionary movement led by the CPP-NPA-NDF. In fact since the start of the US-Aquino regime, the NPA fronts in Mindanao have increased from 42 to 47 guerrilla fronts and its Red fighters and mass base have significantly increased, while its Party organization is getting bigger and stronger.

In the last 5 years of the US-Aquino III regime, the armed struggle in Mindanao continued to intensify with bolder and more frequent NPA tactical offensives island-wide, confiscating around a thousand high powered rifles and inflicting an average of one battalion enemy casualty every year. The revolutionary movement’s agrarian reform in the countryside have benefited hundreds of thousands of peasant population nationwide in contrast to the lip service, anti-people and bogus land reform of the US-Aquino III regime. Open resistance have also intensified in the cities of Mindanao, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets against militarization, plunder and destruction of natural resources and US intervention.

Barely three months before the filing of candidacy for the next presidential elections, Aquino III is still in a dilemma declaring his anointed successor who has a better chance of winning and who will defend him from imprisonment for his crimes once he is no longer in power. However, whatever is the result of next year’s national elections, the people must hold Benigno Simeon Aquino III accountable for his crimes against the Filipino people.

(sgd.) Ka Oris

CPP/NDF-NEMR: Dungandungan nga operasyon military sa 4ID PA sa NEMR sa wala pa ang SONA ni Aquino III napatay'g 5 KA Army

NDF-Northeaster Mindanao Region propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Jul 23): Dungandungan nga operasyon military sa 4ID PA sa NEMR sa wala pa ang SONA ni Aquino III napatay'g 5 KA Army

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Hulyo 26, 2015


Surigao del Sur: July 23, 2015, napatya’g (2) duha ug may duha (2) nga samdon ang mga sakop sa 75th IB PA, 401st Brigade sa Brgy. Doña Carmen, Tagbina, Surigao del Sur. Giharass/isnayp sa mga Pulang manggugubat sa BHB-Front 14 ang mga pwersa sa 75th IB PA nga naglunsad sa operasyon militar niining mga lugara. Tulo ka hugna nga naigo sa mga Pulang manggugubat sa managkalahi nga oras sa maong adlaw ang mga army.

Agusan del Norte: July 23, 2015, dunay (3) ang patay sa duha ka hitabo sa isnayp/harass sa Sityo Zapanta Valley, Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del norte. Sa may alas 9:30 sa buntag, duha ang patay sa mga army scout ranger nga naigo sa pagharass/isnayp sa mga Pulang manggugubat sa Front 16-Agusan del Norte. Pagka-alas 2:35 sa hapon, naharass/isnayp na usab ang laing usa ka kolom sa 29th IBPA sa mga Pulang manggugubat nga napatyan og usa ka sundalo.

Sa may alas 11:45 sa mao gihapon nga adlaw nagpabuto ug duha ka bala sa kanyon ang 29th IBPA Alpha Coy nga naa nagbase sa Brgy. Bangonay, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. Didto sa bukid palibot sa Zapanta Valley mitugdang ang duha ka bala sa kanyon-105. Gipabuto ang kanyon human sa mokabat sa duha ka oras nga napatyan ang army og duha. Gitantya sa mga Pulang Manggugubat nga opisyal ang usa ka army nga ilang naigo tungod kay baby MI6 ang naa sa duol niini samtang naglingkod.

July 23 2015 sa may alas 4:55 sa hapon dungandungan nga miabot ang 5 ka sakyanan sa kahanginan sa Philippine Air Force (PAF). Naghulog og (8) ka bomba ang (2) duha ka bomber plane, dungan niini ang (2) duha ka MG-520 attack helicopter nga naghulog usab og wala maihap nga mga rockets ug nagpa-arak sa machine gun cal. 50. Samtang ang usa ka huey helicopter kaduha nagbalik sa pagkuha sa patay’ng lawas ug samdon sa mga army sa duha ka managkaatbang nga bukid sa palibot sa Zapanta Valley.

Sumala sa koresponsal sa BHB Front 16, kadto pa nila nasaksihan nga dungan nga nag-atake ang 2 bomber plane, 2 attack helicopter MG-520, samtang usa lang ka Huey Helicopter ang nagkuha sa ilang patay ug samdon.

Boundery Surigao Sur, Agusan del Sur: July 24, 2015, nagsugod na usab ang operasyon militar sa bukirong boundery sa Surigao del Sur ug Agusan del Sur sa mga barangay sa San Miguel, Surigao del Sur ug sa Sibagat Agusan del Sur. Ang mga tropa sa 23rd IBPA ug 36th IBPA ubos sa 401st brigade ang anaa niini nga mga erya. Nabalda na usab ang naandan nga panguma sa katawhan sa lugar kay matag may operasyon militar pugngan sa mga army ang mga mag-uuma nga moadto sa ilang umahan.

Surigao del Norte: Niining July 24, 2015 naglunsad usab ang 30th IBPA sa operasyon militar sa mga kabaryohan sa Gigaquit, Claver ug Alegria.

Hangtud niining pagsulat wala pay report nga nadawat kung natapos na ang dungandungan nga operasyon militar sa NEMR. Madumdoman nga sa matag SONA sa Presidente sa Pilipinas adunay ilunsad ang operasyon militar. Busa nahimong target sa mga yunit sa BHB kini nga mga tropa nga anaa sa kabukiran. Kanunay mabahiran sa dugo sa mga militar ang mga SONA nga mahitabo.

Ang pinakabag-o nga dungandungan nga operasyon sa 41D PA wala nakahatag og kadaut o kaswalti ngadto sa mga yunit sa BHB nga nag-kontra atake sa nagsulod sa erya mga nga army. Walay nareport nga mga yunit nga naigo sa maong mga tropa sa 41D PA.

Ka Maria Malaya

133 All-navy peacekeepers receive UN medals

From Ang Malaya (Jul 29): 133 All-navy peacekeepers receive UN medals

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the United Nations (UN) welcomed home the all-navy 18th Philippine Contingent to Haiti (PCH) in a ceremony July 27 at the General Headquarters Canopy in Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City. They returned to the Philippines last July 10, the AFP said.

The 18th PCH, consisting of 133 peacekeepers, received UN Medals for their stint in conflict and earthquake torn Haiti during the same ceremony. The UN Medal is mandatorily given to every peacekeeper member and their unit upon completion of their tour of duty in the country they were deployed to.

18th PCH was replaced by 135-strong all-air force 19th PCH.

Peacekeeping operation is the Philippine military’s commitment to the United Nations in the advocacy for international peace and solidarity, delivery of humanitarian relief, alleviation of human suffering due to conflict, respect to rule of law, protection of human rights, women and children and participation in conflict mitigation.

China fires missiles, torpedoes in South China Sea to test ‘real combat abilities’

From Ang Malaya (Jul 29): China fires missiles, torpedoes in South China Sea to test ‘real combat abilities’

China’s People’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy conducted live fire exercise in South China Sea “to improve its maritime combat ability,” says in a report posted at China’s Ministry of Defense. Dozens of missiles and torpedoes and thousands of shells and jamming bombs were fired during the exercise, the report added.

PLA Navy’s exercise started July 22 and will end on July 31. The military of China earlier said it will conduct training in waters near eastern Hainan Island which is near the disputed Paracel Islands in South China Sea. No civilian vessel is allowed to enter the areas where PLA Navy is conducting drills.

China’s military training involves more than 100 naval vessels, dozens of aircraft, several missile launch battalions and an unknown number of information warfare troops.

“The annual, regular drill by the Chinese navy aims to test the troops’ real combat abilities, boost their maneuverability, search and rescue power and the abilities to fulfill diversified military missions,” Chinese navy spokesperson Liang Yang said.

Iqbal: There was transparency in BBL peace talks

From the Philippine Star (Jul 29): Iqbal: There was transparency in BBL peace talks

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal urges the legislature to approve the original draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. File photo

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Wednesday said there was transparency in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) it wants to be approved by the Congress without revisions before the term of President Benigno Aquino III ends on June 30, 2016.

Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), said there is no reason for cynics to make what is for them is lack of openness in the peace talks, a reason to stop the BBL’s passage.

Iqbal on Wednesday urged the legislature to approve the draft BBL as is, after President Aquino made his final pitch for its passage on Monday in his last State of the Nation Address.

President Aquino, who wants to make the BBL his main legacy before he steps down from office, had told senators and congressmen that time is running out for lasting peace in Mindanao.

The draft BBL, which aims to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new MILF-led Bangsamoro political entity, was mired by controversies and challenged by the deadly January 25, 2015 encounter between policemen and rebels in three barangays in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, amid a ceasefire being enforced by foreign peacekeepers.

“There is no truth to assertions that there was no transparency in the peace talks. Some of our sessions in Malaysia were attended by local officials from Mindanao, members of Congress and representatives from the national government and from civil society organizations,” Iqbal said.

He said some of the engagements between peace brokers of the MILF and the national government even involved lawmakers.

Iqbal said the MILF wants a BBL according to its original draft which the BTC submitted to Congress last year via the Office of the President.

“The MILF wants a BBL based on the version agreed bilaterally by the government and the MILF. We cannot accept a weak BBL,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal, chair of the MILF’s peace panel, said they will reject a BBL different from the parameters of the October 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Iqbal said skeptics and cynics ought to ponder too on why there are non-Muslim blocs and Christian religious leaders, among them Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, supporting the draft BBL.

Quevedo, a concurrent archbishop and a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, whose pontifical base is in Rome, has been vocal in his unrelenting endorsement of the draft BBL.
Quevedo called for support to the Mindanao process during last week’s Mindanao Media Forum in Cotabato City, which he presided over.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the interim House committee handling the draft BBL, on Tuesday said President Aquino’s pitch for the proposed law via his SONA would hasten its passage.

“We will hit the ground running once floor discussions resume,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the prospects for the BBL’s passage remain good.

President Aquino’s reiteration of support for the bill would lead to its approval in Congress and the successful conclusion of the Bangsamoro peace process, Rodriguez added.

ARMM officials on Wednesday renewed commitment to the government-MILF peace initiatives and endorsed the draft BBL anew.

ARMM's chief executive, Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chair of the region’s inter-agency peace and order council, said he and members of the regional cabinet are all for the approval of the draft BBL.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, which are to become the main bastion of the proposed Bangsamoro self-governing entity once the BBL is approved and ratified via a plebiscite.

The original version of the draft BBL was crafted by members of the Iqbal-led BTC, which is comprised of seven representatives each from the government and the MILF.

MILF draws flexible timeline for Bangsamoro

From Rappler (Jul 28): MILF draws flexible timeline for Bangsamoro

The MILF is counting on President Benigno Aquino III to deliver on his promises, but the Muslim rebel group also recognizes the realities in Congress

STILL CONFIDENT. The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are aiming to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the 2016 elections

STILL CONFIDENT. The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are aiming to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law before the 2016 elections

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim has presented a flexible timeline for the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity that will replace the failed Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), amid delays and opposition in Congress.

Murad said the MILF is willing to wait for the new president, or after the 2016 elections, if the 16th Congress cannot pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is compliant with the signed agreements between the government and the MILF. (INFOGRAPHIC: The Bangsamoro peace deal at a glance)

"What we see as a worst case scenario would be a BBL that is not compliant with the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and the FAB (Frameowrk Agreement on the Bangsamoro). We will not accept it unless it is compliant," Murad told reporters in Camp Darapan in Maguindanao on Saturday, July 25.

He did not elaborate on the actions the MILF will take if Congress would pass an "unacceptable" BBL.

"We are working very hard in order that an acceptable BBL will be passed within the term of the President. Granting that it will not be passed during his term, then we do hope that the next president will not be anti-peace," he said.

In this scenario, Murad said they will continue to demand that the government implement the CAB and the FAB.

Further delays, however, are prompting fears of dissatisfaction on the ground that may prompt some MILF members to return to violence.

BBL under Aquino, elections in 2019?

In his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, President Benigno Aquino III told Congress the BBL is his foremost priority measure, and challenged its critics to present an alternative.

The House of Repsenatives passed in May a version that was unacceptable to the MILF. Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, chairman of the committee on local government, is expected to file a substitute bill next week.

"Senator Marcos may have his own version but what’s important is its compliance with the CAB and the FAB. That is our bottomoline. We can no longer renegotiate the CAB and FAB because it is a finished agreement," Murad said.

"It’s just a matter of interpreting into law the agreement so that is why we will not allow violations of the CAB and FAB. But we may allow improvements in some provisions of the BBL which is not directly coming from the agreement. That is the bottomline of the MILF," he added.

Chief presidential adviser Teresita "Ging" Deles is confident that the BBL wil be passed under Aquino's term.

"It will not be a walk in the park but we are determined," she told Rappler.

The elections for the leaders of the new Bangsamoro continues to be debated because the MILF prefers a longer transition period.

One scenario floated is to pass the BBL before the elections, but hold the elections simultaneously with the 2019 midterm elections.

The government's side of the bargain

The MILF, the dominant Muslim rebel group that has waged decades-long violent wars with government forces in Mindanao, agreed to lay down its firearms and drop its bid for secession.

In exchange, the government promised to give the new Bangsamoro entity wider political and economic powers than the ARMM.

Decommissioning is MILF's commitment. The BBL is the government's side of the bargain.

Mindanao saw relative peace in the last several years because of the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF. But this was interrupted in January when 44 elite cops were killed by armed elements including some MILF fighters during a suposed stealth operation inside MILF territory in Maguindanao.

The already delayed Bangsamoro timeline was derailed by public sentiment against the MILF, over the death of the elite cops.

The MILF said it was a "misencounter" resulting from the cops' failure to recognize mechanisms put in place to make sure that the ceasefire is protected. The police acknowledged tactical blunders.

The committment to peace of the MILF leadership, Malacañang, and the military prevented the situation from causing the collapse of the peace process.

Aquino will now try to save a legacy that was bungled by his own friend, dismissed Philippune National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima. On the ground, the MILF needs to show its leadership and persuade the people that the President can deliver.

The uncertainty of the next elections has raised fears that this may be the best chance for peace in Mindanao to be achieved.

Former West PH Sea commander is new DND official for plans

From the Rappler (Jul 29): Former West PH Sea commander is new DND official for plans

Retired Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda joins the DND hierarchy as the country awaits the ruling on its arbitration case against China

ASEC FOR PLANS. Retired Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda is the new DND Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs

ASEC FOR PLANS. Retired Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda is the new DND Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs

Retired Lieutenant General Roy Deveraturda, former chief of the Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom), was appointed chief Assistant Secretary of the Department of National Defense.

Deveraturda was appointed on June 1 to lead the DND office on plans and programs, according to DND public affairs service chief Arsenio Andolong.

"This is more strategic than operational," Deveraturda told reporters in a chance encounter on Wednesday, July 29.

He joins the DND hierarchy as the country awaits the ruling on its arbitration case against China. (EXPLAINER: Philippines' 5 arguments against China)

Wescom is responsible for the country's territorial defense. The disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) off the coast of Palawan and Scarborough Shoal off the coast of Zambales are parts of its area of responsibility.

Deveraturda is the predecessor of current Wescom chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez.

Before leading Wescom, Deveraturda was chief of the Cebu-based Central Command (Centcom) when Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the country.

AFP welcomes SC order directing ranking military, defense officials to explain drills with Japan

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): AFP welcomes SC order directing ranking military, defense officials to explain drills with Japan

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday welcome the Supreme Court (SC) order directing ranking military and defense officials to answer a petition seeking to stop joint exercises between the Filipino and Japanese militaries.

The latter was filed by the Alliance of Concern Teachers (ACT) party-list last month.

Named respondents in the petition are President Benigno Aquino 3rd, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen Hernando Iriberri and Navy flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan.

ACT argued that the respondents committed grave abuse of discretion when they entered into the defense agreements and implemented them through the conduct of joint military drills in Philippine territory with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

"The Armed Forces, in reaction to the SC directive to explain (the) Philippine-Japan exercises that were recently conducted, (welcomes) the opportunity (as) the Armed Forces is actually appreciative of these kinds of measures to clarify certain activities we conduct with other countries, it’s a legal issue that the Department of of National Defense is well aware of and they are preparing to have the explanation brought to the SC," AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said.

"But be that as it may, from the perspective of the Armed Forces and the Philippine Navy, we believe that the exercises were conducted with firm basis on our existing policies and laws which will be clarified thoroughly when we bring this matter up at the SC level during the session," he added.

Padilla said what is prohibited by the Constitution is the conduct of actual military exercises in Philippine territory without a formal treaty.

He added that the June exercises with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force was done outside Philippine territory.

These involved a Japanese Lockheed P-3 "Orion" and Philippine Navy Island patrol aircraft.

These drills involved maritime search-and-rescue training which began June 22 and ended on the 24th.

Afghanistan learns from PH experience in peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 29): Afghanistan learns from PH experience in peace talks

The Philippines will provide technical assistance to Afghanistan in its own peace talks with its local Islamic rebel group Taliban by sharing lessons of its own peace process, primarily in its successful peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A delegation from Afghanistan is currently on a three-day visit to the Philippines to learn from the country’s peace process, especially in terms of promoting women empowerment in peace talks.

The delegation is composed of 16 out of 70 members of the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC), which was created last June 2010 and is composed of government officials, former Jihadist leaders, peace activists, and women. The HPC aims to accelerate the process of peace reconciliation and reintegration of elements of the Taliban and other armed military groups in Afghanistan.

“I am very happy that the Afghanistan peace council’s delegates are coming here to learn from the Philippine experience about the peace process,” HPC Secretary and head of delegation Shaila Samimi said.

“We need to learn how women’s roles have been defined and recognized within the peace process in the Philippines,” she related, adding that the meeting with Philippine officials will provide a good opportunity for ”experience-sharing and exchange of information.”

The delegation was received and briefed on the Philippine peace process by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, OPAPP Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval, government peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, and government peace panel member and former Agriculture Secretary Senen Bacani.

During the meeting, the delegation indicated interest in OPAPP’s experience in effective advocacy techniques aimed at promoting gender equality and women empowerment in the peace process, and in responding to gender-related issues and problems within peace negotiations.

Last May 2015, the HPC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UN WOMEN to enhance capacity building and women’s participation in the peace process, emphasizing that the role women play is significant in achieving a just and lasting peace. Part of the MoU’s activities include cross-learning experiences with countries that have a history of successful peace and reconciliation process with a gender perspective such as Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines.

Samimi thanked the peace officials for discussing the Philippines’ experience in peace talks, saying “it was a very constructive session, very important, and we learned a lot, so it was a very happy session.”

“It was very useful for us,” she added.

Dr. Socorro Reyes of the Center for Legislative Development, which coordinated the visit of the Afghan delegation, also highlighted the importance of the meeting with OPAPP officials in helping Afghanistan’s own peace initiatives.

“It was very enriching… [we] covered a lot of topics that [the HPC] has always been trying to get answers on and would help them in their own peace negotiations in Afghanistan,” Reyes said.

Deles for her part emphasized that the Bangsamoro peace process has gained much by learning from the experiences of other countries, and said that the Philippines is ready to give back and share its own experience with other countries working on their own peace talks.

“Our own peace process gained a lot from exchanges with other countries and support from other countries so we are happy to share what we can and continue to learn from your experiences as well,” she said.

Women leading PH peace talks

The Bangsamoro peace process has received national and global acclaim for its gender-inclusive thrust. Just this month the New York-based International Peace Institute (IPI) recognized both Deles and Ferrer as ideal women peacemakers, saying that “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 report also noted that for the Bangsamoro peace process, “direct participation at the negotiation table was combined with official consultations, a transition commission, and mass action.”

“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 report added.

During the meeting Sandoval recognized the crucial role of women in the Philippines’ peace process, and noted that the government continues to actively encourage women’s participation in the peace talks.

“The Philippines, in terms of participation of women in the peace process, has also been very active and has encouraged women to actively sit, actively participate either as formal negotiators, as part of the formal negotiations, or as part of the civil society supporting the peace process,” Sandoval explained.

“Women have journeyed with these processes all along…women play key roles in the peace processes in the country,” she emphasized, noting that in total there are 48 women leaders in the peace talks being conducted by the government.

The Philippines is recognized as being the first in the world to have a major peace agreement signed by a woman chief negotiator, Ferrer, under the purview of a peace process chief who is also a woman, Deles.