Monday, August 17, 2015

Cop hurt in NPA attack

From the Philippine Star (Aug 18): Cop hurt in NPA attack

A police officer was wounded when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas harrased a police detachment in Calinog town, Iloilo on Sunday.

Police Officer 1 Junel Gardose, 26, was taken to a hospital for a bullet wound in the jaw, according to Chief Inspector Rogelio Ortigas, town police chief.

Reports said the rebels shot at the detachment in Barangay Agcalaga at around 11 a.m.

Authorities recovered eight bullet shells for an M16 Armalite and AK47 assault rifle.

Meanwhile, as the rebels assaulted the Calinog detachment, another group of communist insurgents clashed with government security forces in the nearby town of Tapaz in Capiz.

Maj. Ray Tiongson, spokesperson for the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said troopers belonging to the 61st Infantry Battalion were patrolling in Barangay Aglinab when they encountered the rebels at about 10:45 a.m.

None of the troopers was killed or injured in the firefight.  

Air Force chief: Still a long way to go in achieving minimum credible defense

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17): Air Force chief: Still a long way to go in achieving minimum credible defense

The Philippine Air Force received eight Bell 412EPs and two AW109E helicopters. Alexis Romero

The Air Force admitted on Monday that there is still a long way to go before the country can achieve minimum credible defense or the capability to defend and protect its national interests when necessary.

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said the military’s modernization program has just started but more air assets are expected to be delivered soon.

“It’s still a long way to go. We are just starting (to enhance) our capability. We still have a lot of things to do,” Delgado said after the turnover of eight Bell-412EP and two AW-109E helicopters to the Air Force in Villamor Airbase, Pasay City.

“Considering the limitations in the our budget, the limitations in our resources, we are taking these things one step at a time but for sure, we are moving forward, we are soaring high with our development,” he added.

The Defense department defines minimum credible defense posture as the establishment of an effective force presence inside the Philippines and its exclusive economic zone.

The government has embarked on an aggressive military upgrade program in the face of China’s expansion in the South China Sea, a resource-rich are where more than $5 trilion worth of trade passes through every year. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea while Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines have overlapping claims.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, for his part, said the military upgrade should continue despite the constraints brought about by limited resources.

“The goal of upgrading and modernizing our Armed Forces is a long and painstaking process. This is so, because the acquisition costs of our minimum requirements on materials and equipment for operational readiness are constrained by our financial capability,” Gazmin said in a speech delivered during the turnover ceremony.

“We, therefore, need to persevere and be contented with what we can afford based on the priorities of our urgent operational needs and their financial affordability. This means that we have to be frugal and acquire reliable platforms at very reasonable costs possible as allowed by our meager financial resources,” he added.

A total of P90.86 billion is needed to bankroll the military’s upgrade program until 2017.

Data obtained recently by The STAR showed that 55 military upgrade projects worth P11.71-billion have been completed under the Aquino administration.

Among the completed projects that benefited the Air Force were 18 units of basic trainer aircraft (P621.67 million), one aerial surveillance camera (P50.99-million), 20 units of MD 520 MG attack helicopters (PP214.34 million), and eight combat utility helicopters (P2.86 billion).


However, some big-ticket Air Force projects are facing possible delay because the Armed Forces modernization program is still awaiting the approval of President Aquino.

They include the acquisition of three air surveillance radars worth P2.68-billion; six close air support aircraft worth P4.97 billion; two units of long range patrol aircraft worth P5.98 billion; multi-purpose attack craft project worth P864.32 million; two C-130 aircraft worth P1.6 billion; two naval helicopters worth P5.4 billion; and lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion.

Earlier, the Air Force admitted its weaknesses in territorial defense and disaster response because of lack of equipment.

In its recently published 14-year strategic road map called Flight Plan 2028, Air Force said it has limited equipment, bases and facilities for defending the Philippine territory.

Ironically, the Flight Plan’s goal is to “build capability to detect, identify, intercept and neutralize intrusions in the Philippine Air Defense Identification Zone (PADIZ) and West Philippine Sea.

Air  Force’s weakness was also mentioned in a document released recently by Japan’s defense ministry.

According to the document, the Philippines has 26 combat aircraft including OV-10 Bronco attackers, F-27 jets, and aN-22SL nomad plane. The document noted that the Philippines has no fighter jets but cited the government’s purchase of 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets from South Korea.

The Philippines' air assets, however, were overshadowed by that of China, which has 2,582 combat aircraft including 689 fourth generation fighters.

Security officials, however, remain optimistic about the government’s support for the military’s upgrade program.

Among the air assets that are scheduled to be delivered by yearend are the two C295 medium lift fixed wing aircraft, six AW109 attack helicopters, two CN-212i light lift transport aircraft and two of the 12 FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets acquired from South Korea.

WATCH: Philippine Air Force's 'brand new birds'

From the Philippine Star (Aug 17): WATCH: Philippine Air Force's 'brand new birds'

Eight Bell-412EPs and two AW-109E helicopters are presented to the Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the media on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at the grandstand of Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. PAF photo/Released

Eight new Bell-412EPs combat utility helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW-109E attack helicopters were formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force on Monday morning.

The joint formal acceptance and blessing ceremonies took place at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

On Sunday, the Air Force released videos of its "brand new birds."
[PAF Video]

[PAF Video]

The Air Force, however, admitted that there is still a long way to go before the country can have the capability to defend and protect its national interests when necessary.

FULL STORY: Air Force chief: Still a long way to go in achieving minimum credible defense

"It's still a long way to go. We are just starting (to enhance) our capability," Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado said after the turnover of the new helicopters on Monday.

Farmer dead in NPA attack

From Tempo (Aug 17): Farmer dead in NPA attack

BUTUAN CITY – A farmer was killed while a member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit-Active Auxiliary (CAA) was critically wounded when some 30 heavily armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked them Saturday at secluded area of Barangay Bugdangan, Loreto town, Agusan del Sur, police said yesterday.

Supt. Martin M. Gamba, Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) spokesperson, identified the slain farmer as Ruel Miranda Sarona, 43, of Barangay Sabud, Loreto. He died from a bullet wound in the neck. The wounded CAA member, Martin Donson Arroyo, detailed at CAA Patrol Base of Sabud, was rushed a hospital in Tagum City. The attack happened at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, said Gamba.

NPA burns truck, kills civilian

From the Sun Star-Davao (Aug 17): NPA burns truck, kills civilian

ONE civilian was killed while a Cafgu Active Auxiliary (CAA) was wounded after suspected members of the New People's Army-Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (NPA-SMRC) went on a rampage in Barangay Kauswagan, Loreto town in Agusan del Sur last August 15, Saturday.

In a statement furnished by the 10th Infantry Division to Sun.Star Davao Monday afternoon, NPA rebels also torched a 10-wheeler truck.

The civilian, who was flagged down by the NPA rebels, was identified Roel Sarona, a resident of Barangay Bugdangan, Loreto.

Arona was on his way home on board his motorcycle when flagged down and shot by the rebels. However, his gunshot wound wasn’t fatal. He died from stab wounds instead when attacked by the rebels led by one alias Ronnie.

The wounded Cafgu member was identified as Martin Arroyo was in civilian clothes when killed.

The Cafgu member, who sustained two gunshot wounds, was brought to the Laak Provincial Hospital for treatment.

At around 9:20 a.m., the same group of NPA rebels torched at 10-wheeler truck owned by Simplicio Samar using improvised explosive device (IED).

After the successive incidents, the NPA rebels fled towards the direction of Barangay Ampunan, Laak town in Compostella Valley Province.

Soldiers belonging to the 26th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the 4th Infantry Division (ID) under Lieutenant Colonel Rolando Dumawa are already conducting pursuit operations in the area.

"The NPA rebels want to regain Loreto as their guerilla base, and we will not allow it," Dumawa said.

Army said the attack committed by the NPA rebels was a gross violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

MILF: Editorial -- From BBL to BAR

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Aug 17): Editorial -- From BBL to BAR

Both the House and Senate substitute bills for the original Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) have used Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BAR).

Their arguments hinged on stressing the autonomous character of the entity, as indetachable part and parcel of the Philippine state. They want to erase any hint of so-called substate status for the Bangsamoro new entity, and finally, any justification for secession. Fear has now become the prime enemy of peace through the BBL. 

Well and good! But they are only overstressing what is obvious. Redundancy is never the best practice in writing and in law-making. Besides, never in signed agreements, much more the BBL itself, any hint that the BBL does not seek to establish an autonomous entity, real and functional one. But alas! both the House and Senate versions will only establish an entity lower than the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

But here is the catch for the change of acronym from BBL to BAR. Soldiers and rebels alike are very much aware of the acronym BAR. It is the beginning letters of Browning Automatic Rifle, which was used by the United States and numerous other countries during the 20th century. It also saw action in the early part of the Vietnam War. The rifle was originally designed by John Browning in 1917 for the US Expeditionary Corps in Europe as a replacement for the French-made Chauchat and M1909 Benet-Mercie machineguns.

The imposed wars from the Spanish period to the advent of the Americans in the 19th century and onto the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 have compelled the Moros to defend and arm themselves or perish. Consequently, as warriors, their psyche is easier to sway to take the path of war than to embrace the so-called path of peace. It is only now under the Aquino dispensation that they see the peace process as genuine.

Perchance, the legislators failed to realize how strong the effects of symbolism in determining the mindsets and attitudes of people. By using BAR, it continuously reminds the Moros of their martial history as an unconquered people and the BAR as a very reliable weapon in their wars with government forces in early 70s. The BAR is next to the machineguns in effectiveness, both are using same ammunitions.

Another important point to stress is that both government and MILF have seen to it that the BBL does not contain any provision repugnant to the Constitution. The BBL has passed through various discussions including long sessions with constitutional experts like Fr. Joaquin Bernas, former Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide Jr., and many others to ensure that it is compliant to the Constitution.

Finally, there is one thing that many lawmakers refused to heed. In fact, they seemed to have ignored it at all. The BBL is designed to solve the Bangsamoro Problem or Question, which is the only agenda of the GPH-MILF peace negotiations way back in 1997. They overstressed the so-called constitutional infirmities of the BBL, which are disputed by other people including lawyers.

What then is the use of a law passed by Congress only to prolong the miseries and sufferings in Mindanao, because it violated the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) --- and the MILF is forced to reject it? Come to think of this, dear anti-original BBL solons?

MILF: HALF a MILLION pro-BBL signatures submitted to PNoy, Senate and Congress

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 18): HALF a MILLION pro-BBL signatures submitted to PNoy, Senate and Congress

OPAPP Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos Deles poses with the youth volunteers from CMYM on July 26, 2015, a day before the last SONA of the President.

OPAPP Secretary Teresita “Ging” Quintos Deles poses with the youth volunteers from CMYM on July 26, 2015, a day before the last SONA of the President.

A group of Marawi City-based youth leaders that gathered more than half a million signatures of Mindanaoans supporting the passage into law of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) today warned politicians that they would lose the votes of millions of Mindanaoans who want peace in the South if these politicians would vote against the law.

“We are giving these signatures to our political leaders to remind them that at least 500,000 of their constituents support the BBL. They should think twice before using the Bangsamoro for their political agenda because they could lose the support of half a million people,” Coalition of Moro Youth Movement (CMYM) chair Marjanie Macasalong said.

The group, which gathered and verified the 500,000 signatures in three months with no funding, had traveled in Manila to submit to the country’s political leaders the copies of the signatures in time for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

CMYM held a press conference on July 24, 2015 in Greenhills, together with other Bangsamoro law advocates. After the Islamic Friday prayer, the group further opened a signature campaign where hundreds of individuals signed support to the BBL passage, on top of the half-million signatures the group already collected and documented.  This happened simultaneously in Greenhills mosque and Golden Mosque in Quiapo.

Afterwards, the group proceeded to the Senate with a pro-BBL caravan of 100 vehicles to show support of Muslim communities in Metro Manila to the Bangsamoro law.

“We understand that both the House of Representatives and the Senate are still in the middle of the BBL legislative process. We hope that, with the help of these signatures, they will pass a BBL that responds to the genuine aspirations of our people,” Macasalong added.

The CMYM began collecting signatures early in March 2015 in response to declarations from legislators critical of the BBL that it does not have enough support among Filipinos, especially among Mindanaoans.

Stung by such statements, the members of the youth group decided to launch a signature campaign all around Mindanao. It took them three months to secure at least 500,000 unique signatures and another month to validate the authenticity of these signatures and the persons who signed them.

“The people of Mindanao are tired of war. They will vote for politicians who are for peace. If we were able to gather 500,000 signatures in three months without financial support from anyone, can you just imagine how many people are actually supportive of the peace process?” Macasalong noted.

 “The election in 2016 will be decided by the youth. And the youth are for peace. Those who want to win must also be for peace.”

Macasalong, in a manifesto accompanying the signatures, said that they are “aware that the biases, prejudices, and discrimination, and calls for an all-out war against the Bangsamoro people, are not the solution to the conflicts in Mindanao.”

After the infamous Mamasapano incident, a botched law enforcement operation wherein more than 60 were killed, including 44 members of elite police unit PNP Special Action Force, the whole Bangsamoro peace process was put under question.

Several senators, foremost among them Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, went on unrelenting tirade for weeks against the MILF and the peace process, triggering so much resentment among Muslim Filipinos in general and raising fears the BBL may fail to be passed into law, Macasalong noted.

“[T]he perpetuation of such… will worsen the situation, deepen the wounds, and widen the chasm of indifference and hatred among our people, and that it will be us, the youth, who will bear the burden and suffer the most,” the group’s manifesto continued.

“We are now in Manila because we want to show the leaders of this country that people from the ground clamor the passage of a BBL that is in consonance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB),” said Macasalong.

The CAB is the peace accord signed between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF in 2014. It served as the basis for the drafting of the BBL, and contains provisions for the decommissioning of MILF forces and the transformation of conflict-affected areas into peaceful, productive communities. 

Bangsamoro dream 

Included in the group’s manifesto is the call “for a deep study and understanding of the Bangsamoro narrative to discover and learn the reasons and justifications of their struggle for self-determination that began with the coming of the Spaniards up to this time in accordance with the expressed provision [in] the Constitution.”

The 1987 Philippine Constitution mandates the establishment of autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and in Muslim Mindanao in order to accommodate the unique histories and cultures of their people and to provide them with genuine self-rule while remaining part of the Republic.

“We are not MILF. But we support the peace initiatives put forward by the MILF with the Government of the Philippines because it is clear to us that the MILF is representing the Bangsamoro’s hopes and dreams,” Macasalong said.

MILF: BIAF, parents, teachers, & LGUs in Lanao support #Children, Not Soldiers campaign

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 17): BIAF, parents, teachers, & LGUs in Lanao support #Children, Not Soldiers campaign

BIAF, parents, teachers, & LGUs in Lanao support #Children, Not Soldiers campaign

The Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), parents, local leaders and teachers in communities in Western Lanao area expressed their unequivocal support to the campaign #Children, Not Soldiers, a drive which seeks to delist the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the United Nations list of armed groups that recruit children to armed agenda.

During the activity dubbed “Pakaradiyaan o mga Kangudaan (Children’s Festival and Recreational Activities)” recently held this month, the BIAF, Local Government Units, community leaders, parents and teachers coming from of Pualas, Munai, Tangkal and Picong and its adjacent towns signed their respective “Statement of Support to Children.”

The signing of the statement is a manifestation of the teachers, parents and community leaders’ willingness to support initiatives for the protection of the children. They further expressed their support to children to exercise and enjoy their rights as young citizens.

Bilal 1 Base Commander Sultan Abu Subair Hadji Mustapha said in local dialect in his speech, “We commit to abide with the United Nations-MILF Action Plan on the non-recruitment of children to BIAF.”

“We declare our support to uphold child’s rights and child protection,” he added. “And we follow the directives of the Central Committee not to admit and use children in our military agenda,” he stressed.

Commander Minsupala of Bilal 2 Base Command also expressed their support to the campaign and urged the children to pursue their education for “it is very important to acquire both secular and Islamic knowledge.”

“Our base command has been adhering to the UN-MILF Action Plan of not to recruit children,” said Base Commander Abusalman Hamdam Pamaloy of Ansar Base command during the children festival held at Picong National High School. “We sincerely abide with the action plan and we are not fooling anyone,” he stressed.

The parents, teachers and representatives of Barangay and Municipal Local Government Units of the said communities also declared their commitment to support the campaign. They recognized the importance of education to build a bright future of the young generation.

The teachers and representatives of the Department of Education commended the organizations behind the initiatives that converged various sectors in order to uphold the child’s rights and refrain the children from holding arms.

“Ang mga bata ay hindi dapat humahawak ng baril, bagkos pluma at aklat ang kanilang hinahawakan (Children should not be holding guns but pen and books),” said Samsidar Torondaya of Banisilon Central Elementary School from Tangkal.

The young participants presented cultural dances, drama, and declamation to express their thoughts and dreams for a peaceful communities and achieve bright future.

In their statements, the children vowed to do their responsibilities to pursue education in order to achieve their dreams. They asked their parents and community leaders to protect and continue guiding them in their journey as a child.

The undertaking advocates child’s rights and child protection in MILF communities. Community leaders, LGUs, parents, children and the BIAF (MILF’s military wing) are the target audiences of the campaign.

Plan International staff said it has conducted awareness raising orientations on child’s rights and protection for BIAF, children, parents and community leaders respectively in eight base commands. The orientations are part of the benchmarks undertaken by the MILF and community members to comply with the action plan.

During the orientations, the facilitators explained the vulnerability of children to danger when involved with the armed groups and that engaging the young ones to armed struggle is one of “six grave child’s rights violation.”

The daylong children’s festival is a follow through activity that heightens the community’s commitment to the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers and celebrate children’s rights through the recreational activities.

It was facilitated by the Plan International with strong support of Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) and the local MILF organizations.

At least two hundred young participants from each target community joined the children’s festival and recreational activities.

The MILF signed an action plan with the UN in 2009 which concretized the mechanisms to heighten a holistic campaign to stop the recruitment of minors in the BIAF. The undertaking is a comprehensive communications campaign geared towards delisting the MILF from the UN list of armed groups that recruit and use children in armed struggle.

MILF: “Government answerable to international community if congress fails to pass good BBL”: MILF Chief Negotiator Iqbal

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 17): “Government answerable to international community if congress fails to pass good BBL”: MILF Chief Negotiator Iqbal
“Government answerable to international community if congress fails to pass good BBL”: MILF Chief Negotiator Iqbal
Mohagher Iqbal, Chief Negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said in a recent forum that the Philippine government will be answerable to the international community, if Congress fails to pass “a good Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).”
“Ninety-nine percent of the international community is supporting the passage of a good BBL. If the MILF does not accept the BBL, the government will have to answer to the international community”, Iqbal added.
The forum, “Peace at last?” was organized by the Moro Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA) and the Pilgrims for Peace, held at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City. It was a rare occasion that Iqbal appeared in a discussion with progressives after the 2012 signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).
Iqbal said the international community has “a deep involvement” in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government (GPH) and the MILF in the past 17 years.
“The international community would take the government to task if war breaks out,” Iqbal said. “We will have the moral ascendancy if the exit agreement is not signed…We will blame and shame the GPH for not complying with agreements signed by both parties.”
The exit agreement is the final document to be signed by the two parties, and to be validated by the third party monitoring team, headed by former European Commission envoy to the Philippines Alistair McDonald.
Both House Bill 5811 and Senate Bill 2408 are still under deliberations in congress with most of their original provisions were either deleted or amended.
The MILF had repeated said that they will not accept a BBL based on HB 5811, which they described as “50 percent bad” and “lower than the ARMM,” the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The ARMM was the result of the government’s peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
The BBL will entrench the new Bangsamoro political entity as provided by the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the MILF.
“Very clear, we will not accept it, if it’s lower than ARMM,” Iqbal answered at the forum, to the question, “What will the MILF do if a diluted BBL is passed?”
The small crowd of progressive leaders and church workers who are mostly critical of the BBL loudly applauded and cheered. Their cheers were considered an expression of support to Moro’s quest for lasting peace and progress in their homeland.

4 Abu Sayyaf members escape Basilan jail

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 17): 4 Abu Sayyaf members escape Basilan jail

Four suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group bolted the detention center of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Isabela City, Basilan on Monday dawn.

Navy Commander Roy Vincent Trinidad, chief of staff of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (Navforwem), said prisoners Muslimin Sayuman, Kayser Nassan, Bigmar Boso and Garwas Hakim Asadi escaped from the BJMP cell in Barangay Port Area in Isabela City at 4:30 a.m.

“They escaped from city lock-up cell by cutting the grill of the ventilation window using hacksaw,” Trinidad said.

Trinidad said Sayuman and Nassan are facing charges of murder and frustrated murder, while Boso was arrested for illegal drugs and Asadi for carnapping.

United States determined in supporting AFP modernization

From Ang Malaya (Aug 17): United States determined in supporting AFP modernization

The United States is determined in supporting the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and expressed unwavering support for the path the Philippine government chose in solving maritime disputes in West Philippine Sea.

“We help support Philippine modernization through excess defense articles,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said at the sidelines of the turnover ceremony for ten brand-new Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopters.

Ambassador Goldberg said there are two C-130s in the pipeline for PAF. He added that US also supports the AFP modernization through foreign military funding, which last year, was at around USD50 million.

“It’s also important because what happens when the equipment is similar and we train together is that interoperability, so that in humanitarian disasters, in cases where rescue missions have to take place that we are working from the same sheet,” the American ambassador added.

He noted that US position is clear “that the way to settle disputes in South China Sea is through legal, peaceful and diplomatic means.”

Filipino, American soldiers conduct urban battle training, company-size attack exercises

From Ang Malaya (Aug 17): Filipino, American soldiers conduct urban battle training, company-size attack exercises

Soldiers from United States Army and Philippine Army conducted bilateral medical skills training, close quarters and urban battle training, company-size attack exercises and cultural exchanges at Fort Magsaysay during a platoon-to-platoon exchange as part of Operation Lupao from July 9 to August 8.

American soldiers are part of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment “Cacti,” 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; while Filipino soldiers are part of 3rd Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division.

“The U.S. Army has a lot more in common with the Philippine Army than first meets the eye,” said Captain Andrew Garwitz, Bravo Company commander. “We share similar doctrine and tactics and they have a welcoming culture that lends itself well with working with another army.”

“The Philippine Army has been facing an insurgency for a long time now, so we have a lot we can learn from them as far as counter-insurgency and how to operate in the jungle,” said Garwitz “The best way we can do it is by working side-by-side with them.”

A team leader from Bravo Company, Sgt. Joseph Forrosuelo said there is a brotherhood and a closeness with our Filipino counterparts. “We work together flawlessly,” he added.

Mother of US Marine Pemberton testifies in murder trial

From Rappler (Aug 17): Mother of US Marine Pemberton testifies in murder trial

Lisa Pemberon, said by court officials to be a 44-year-old nurse, is the first defense witness in the case of alleged murdered transgender Jeffrey 'Jennifer' Laude

Joseph Scott Pemberton | Photo by Rappler

Joseph Scott Pemberton | Photo by Rappler

A United States Marine charged with murdering a transgender woman in the Philippines put his mother on the witness stand to start his defense Monday, August 17, lawyers said.

Lisa Pemberton testified to the "good character" of her son Joseph Scott Pemberton at the closed-door trial in the northern port of Olongapo in Zambales province, his lawyer Rowena Flores told Agence France-Presse.

He is detained at a Manila military camp, accused of murdering Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, whose remains were found in an Olongapo motel room in October 2014 shortly after the two left a local bar together.

Pemberton had been taking part in joint US-Philippine military exercises nearby.

The case has attracted national attention as the Philippines seeks closer defense ties with the United States in the face of Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The mother, said by court officials to be a 44-year-old nurse, was the first defense witness after Filipino prosecutors had presented their case.

Flores would not say if or when Pemberton himself would take the stand.

"Twenty-two people sent letters to show [the] good character of Pemberton.... [His] mother identified the letters," Flores said.

They came mostly from family friends, she added.

"I have never known him to exhibit any signs of hostility or violence. To the contrary, he has a reputation of 'never hurting a fly,'" the mother's best friend Diane Rioux was quoted as saying.

"Joseph has always been a non-judgemental person who is accepting of others' differences whether it is cultural, race, sexual orientation, or other," she added.

Harry Roque, a lawyer for the victim's family, said the mother also testified that her son did not discriminate against gay people.

The judical proceedings are expected to be completed this year.

Residents flee island after false text on 'terrorists'

From Rappler (Aug 17): Residents flee island after false text on 'terrorists'

The village chief of Aliguay Island was recently beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

FORCED TO FLEE. Residents of Aliguay Island in Dapitan City stay in a government center after fleeing their homes. Photo by Gualberto Laput/Rappler

FORCED TO FLEE. Residents of Aliguay Island in Dapitan City stay in a government center after fleeing their homes. Photo by Gualberto Laput/Rappler
DAPITAN CITY, Philippines – It all started with a harmless text message.
As the text message was passed from one person to another, its content became a false warning about supposed terrorists plotting to return to the island of Aliguay Island in this city.
This prompted at least 600 residents or 157 out of 172 families on the island to flee last Sunday, August 16, to a government center here.
Aliguay’s barangay captain, Rodolfo Buligao, was kidnapped and recently beheaded by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu. He was abducted in May this year along with two Coast Guard personnel on Aliguay Island.
Aliguay’s acting village chief, Seselda Mendez, said 70 families are now at the government center here while others decided to stay with their relatives in nearby Dipolog City and in Apo Island near Dumaguete City.
Ang akong mga tawo dili mamalik sa isla kun walay mouban nga mga Army (My people are not going back to the island if there are no Army personnel going with them),” Mendez said during an emergency Peace and Order Council meeting called by Dapitan Mayor Rosalina Jalosjos on Monday, August 17.
Chief Superintendent Divin H. Cereales, Dapitan City police chief, told Rappler that Buligao’s relative in Leon Postigo Municipality, about 130 kilometers west of the city, was trying to send a text message to a relative for Buligao’s sister to come over to get their share of copra proceeds.
“Because of poor signal, the text message was coursed through another relative somewhere in Negros Oriental and then passed to Aliguay where the message, perhaps jokingly, was already [altered] with kamo na ang isunod (you will be next). The text message was then passed to Dapitan where the relatives of Buligao were attending the wake of the Aliguay chief. When the text message was passed back to Aliguay, it already said: Kidnappers are coming, they will kill whether the old, women or children,” Cereales said.
At the height of the mass evacuation on August 16, Mayor Jalosjos called up the Army’s Special Forces (SF) stationed in Barangay Taguilon here to conduct patrols by the Dapitan Bay “just to show to residents of Aliguay that they should not panic.”
However, SF commander Captain Dante Ampoan told her they cannot deploy without clearance from the Army’s 101st Brigade. But when Mayor Jalosjos called up the 101st Brigade headquarters, nobody answered, she said.
“I’m really disgusted with you,” Jalosjos told Lt. Col. Mario Jacinto, commander of 10th Infantry Battalion who attended the POC emergency meeting.
Jacinto replied that he was just sent to represent 101st Brigade Commander Jesus Mananquil, who he said was in Manila.
He said he will send a squad of soldiers to put up a detachment in Aliguay.

Air Force chief flies brand new attack chopper

From Rappler (Aug 17): Air Force chief flies brand new attack chopper

The Air Force commanding general is a veteran combat pilot

TEST FLIGHT. Philippine Air Force commanding general Jeffrey Delgado flies the brand new attack helicopter from Italy. PAF photo

TEST FLIGHT. Philippine Air Force commanding general Jeffrey Delgado flies the brand new attack helicopter from Italy. PAF photo

Philippine Air Force commanding general Jeffrey Delgado personally piloted one of the brand new attack choppers formally turned over on Monday, August 17.

A veteran combat pilot himself, Delgado flew a AW-109E attack chopper from the PAF headquarters at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the 15th Strike Wing headquarters in Cavite.

The Italian chopper manufactured by Agusta Westland, one of the first two that have been delivered, is armed with a 50-caliber machine gun and a rocket. It is almost similar to the naval choppers that were commissioned last week. Six more are arriving within the year.

A total of 10 brand new choppers were formally turned over to the Air Force on Monday.

"He was a pilot of combat aircraft and attack helicopters of 15th Strike Wing and a Wing Commander, 15th Strike Wing from 1988-1994," said PAF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Enrico Canaya.

Delgado was the commander of the 15th Strike Wing, qualified to fly both fixed-wing combat aircraft and attack helicopters. He was Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for plans (J5) before he became Air Force commanding general.

More air assets are arriving within the year including the first 2 of 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea, the two other C-295s, and the rest of the AW-109 attack choppers.

SWS surveys say Pinoys prefer peaceful means over military ops

From MindaNews (Aug 17): SWS surveys say Pinoys prefer peaceful means over military ops

Despite the tragedy in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that left 66 persons dead on January 25 this year, Filipinos continue to prefer peaceful means over military operations in dealing with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the June 2015 survey of the Social Weather Stations, as well as 14 other SWS surveys on the same issue since 1999, show.

The findings are contained in the publication “Filipino Public Opinion on the Bagnsamoro Basic Law and the Mamasapano Incident” published by SWS and The Asia Foundation (TAF).

Launched during the 30th anniversary celebration of the SWS at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City on August 13, the monograph contains results of the three survey rounds: the study on Core Bangsamoro territories and nearby areas from February 22 to March 1, 2015; the First Quarter Social Weather Survey from March 20 to 23, 2015; and the Second Quarter Social Weather Survey from June 5 to 8, 2015.

SWS graph on surveys on how to deal with the MILF, from December 1999 to June 2015.
SWS graph on surveys on how to deal with the MILF, from December 1999 to June 2015.

TAF Country Director, Dr. Steven Rood, who presented the findings at the launch, said the SWS surveys on the issue since 1999 have debunked “the myth in the country that military means are popular.”

“The data are clear. The average Filipino citizen was in favor of the peace process until January 26, 2015 (when Filipinos woke up to the news about the Mamasapano tragedy a day earlier). That’s really what happened. If you look at the data asking them about the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, asking them about the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, you will see that there is favorability,” Rood said.

Referring to the surveys done after the Mamasapano tragedy, Rood noted that “when you ask them about Bangsmoro Basic Law … they turn negative.”

Still, he said, the people in the Bangsamoro “are in favor of the Basic Law, of the various provisions of it. They feel hopeful about the ability of the Basic law to bring peace in Mindanao.”

The BBL is a law that will apply only to the areas that will be under the Bangsamoro, including the core five provinces and two cities that constitute the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Rood added that despite Mamasapan, surveys show that nationwide, Filipinos “believe the peace process will benefit the Philippines as a whole (although) people down in Mindanao think it more… and very importantly, and I’ve been saying this for the better part of the decade, people prefer peaceful means to deal with the MILF.”

Debunking the myth

“It’s very important that we say this because it is a myth in in this country that military means are popular,” he said.

He explained that the “all-out war” waged against the MILF by then President Joseph Estrada in 2000 “did not raise his popularity (ratings).”

“It’s a terrible myth, that’s a dangerous myth because it might tempt some politicians to advocate for all out war but consistently, even now, the average person prefers peaceful means to military means,” he said.

In the March 2014 SWS survey, the number of Filipinos who preferred peaceful means was higher, at 62%, while those who favored military operations was only 9% and 29% said military and peaceful means were equally effective.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of the government and the MILF was signed on March 27, 2014.

In the March 2015 survey – done after the Mamasapano tragedy – those who favored peaceful negotiations declined by 17 points from 62% in March 2014 to 45% in March 2015; those who preferred military operations rose by 11 points from 9% in March 2014 to 20% in March 2015; while those who said peaceful and military means were equally effective rose to 35% from 29%.

“Despite the drop in March 2015, the ratio of those who prefer peaceful negotiations to those who prefer military operations is 2 to 1. This finding is worth emphasizing in the ace of a many calls for ‘all-out war,’” the SWS monograph said.

The 45% in March and 48% in June 2015 who favor peaceful means are low compared with 62% in March 2014 but MindaNews noted from the SWS data that these figures were not the lowest between 1999 and 2015.

June 2003 posted the lowest for those who preferred peaceful means, at 38%, while the Arroyo administration’s war against the MILF in Buliok was still ongoing. Only 26% preferred military operations then while 37% thought peaceful means and military operations are equally effective

Up and down
The June 2015 survey saw an increase of 3 points for those who prefer peaceful means, from 45% in March 2015 to 48% in June 2015. It also showed a 1 point decline for those who prefer military means, from 20% in March 2015 to 19% in June 2015; and a 2 point decline for those who said both peaceful and military means are as effective – from 35% in March 2015 to 33% in June 2015.

SWS surveys from 1999 to 2015.
SWS surveys on dealing with the MILF, from December 1999 to June 2015.

On the nationwide disposition toward the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) which government and the MILF signed on October 15, 2012, the SWS surveys showed that the general approval of the agreement since the December 2012 surveys on the FAB “was abruptly lost in early 2015.”

There was a high of +26 net rating (49% approve, 23% disapprove) in March 2014 compared with the figures in March 2015 of -24 (23% approve and 48% disapprove).

The March 2015 survey, done after the Mamasapano tragedy, already specifically asked about the BBL which was submitted to Congress in September 2014.

In June 2015, the figures from March 2015 improved a bit at -23 (24% approve, 47% disapprove).

Changes in the opinion of Filipinos nationwide on some proposals in the FAB between March 2014 and March 2015 were also noted.

While having a new police force for the Bangsamoro posted a +18 net rating (47% approve, 29% disapprove) in March 2014, its net rating by March 2015 declined after Mamasapano, to a low of -16 (31% approve, 46% disapprove).

Another major point that the SWS surveys showed that “in comparison to the overall nationwide results, in the Core Territories of the Bangsamoro, approval of the proposed BBL ranges from pluralities to overwhelming majorities,” notwithstanding the Mamasapano tragedy.

While the overall figure in the March 2015 nationwide survey on the approval of the BBL showed a -24 net rating (23% approve, 48% disapprove), the figures in the core area of the proposed Bangsamoro – the area that will be governed by the BBL — are all positive.

Positive in the Core

The lowest figure was recorded in Sulu at +18 (31% approve, 14% disapprove), and in Isabela City in Basilan, also at +18 (38% approve, 20% disapprove); followed by Tawi-tawi at +30 (52% approve, 22% disapprove) and Basilan at +48 (59% approve, 12% disapprove).

Cotabato City posted a +71 (76% approve, 18% disapprove), Lanao del Norte near ARMM (or the six Lanao del Norte towns that voted yes to inclusion in the ARMM in the 2001 plebiscite) at +77 (83% approve, 6 disapprove); Maguindanao where the Mamasapano tragedy happened, posted a +80 rating (83% approve, 3% disapprove); Lanao del Sur registered a +86 (90% approve, 4% disapprove) and the highest was posted in “Cotabato near ARMM,” referring to the 39 towns in North Cotabato that also voted yes to inclusion in the ARMM in 2001, at +91% (93% approve, 2% disapprove).

Rood said it is important to bring the data to the public’s attention to “remind everybody that the constituents of the Bangsamoro … want the Bangsamoro law.”

Addressing MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, who was guest of honor as chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the 15-member joint GPH-MILF body that drafted the BBL, SWS President Mahar Mangahas said, “your presence underscores the duty of opinion polls to give special respect to minority groups. Democracy is for all, not only for the majority.”

Mangahas said SWS is gratified “to be of assistance in furthering peace with our Moro sisters and brothers ….” but addressing Iqbal again, said: “Allow me to advocate Chairman Iqbal that the Bangsamoro develop its own independent capability to regularly generate scientific statistics about the conditions and opinions of your peoples. Let us know how we can help you.”

Bangsamoro voice

Iqbal acknowledged that the MILF’s struggle has been difficult and cited as among its major problems “our lack of voice in the great events of our national life.”

“Worse, lawmakers and policy makers will prescribe medicines, so to speak, for our problems which we know more than anybody else,” Iqbal said, as he asked the audience to “look at the two versions of the proposed BBL now under deliberations in Congress.”

“If these are the ones made into law, surely the whole mess in Mindanao will continue,” he said.

The substitute bills to the BBL – HB 5811 and SB 2894 – have both been criticized for providing a Bangsamoro that will be “less than the ARMM it seeks to replace.”
Iqbal said he hopes they can “acquire once again our voice as a real partner of the Filipino people.”

“For the longest time, our voices have been stifled, muffled and scrambled. We have been relegated to the margins of the national life and discourse, we have been rendered as if we were invisible. That is one of the reasons why we do not have peace in Mindanao,” he said.

He thanked SWS for giving them a voice in the national discourse, adding that “slowly and surely, the collective voices and opinions of the Bangsamoro, long silenced and disregarded, (are) now being heard by the rest of the country.”

He noted that the purpose of surveys is “not to maintain the status quo but to change for the better. In other words, it is liberation.”

The government and MILF under the FAB agreed that the status quo in the relationship between the national government and the Moro people is “unacceptable” and that they would work on a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro, to replace the ARMM.

MNLF faction won’t participate in proposed Bangsamoro Law

From the Business World (Aug 16): MNLF faction won’t participate in proposed Bangsamoro Law

ONE of the several factions within the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has rejected the move to include their group in the recently drafted substitute bill to the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), saying they do not see any fruitful talks happening between them and the current administration.

“It is already too late for us to expect anything honest out of this administration. Perhaps in the next administration, there would a possibility if the sitting president will be more open and friendly to the MNLF,” MNLF Spokesperson Atty. Emmanuel C. Fontanilla, spokesperson of the Misuari-led MNLF Faction, told BusinessWorld in a phone interview earlier last week.

Under Senate Bill No. 2894, the substitute bill to the draft BBL proposed by Malacañang, the MNLF will be a part of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), the interim governing body during the transition period from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the new Bangsamoro region.

The substitute bill was authored by the chairman of the Senate committee on local government -- Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

“We are happy with the intentions of senator Marcos, however, we cannot participate on these actions of the Senate,” he added.

In previous statements, Mr. Marcos said the MNLF was not given any participation under the original BBL version, hence, the need for the substitute bill which changed some of the provisions in the draft law including the composition of the transition body.

There are at least three recognizable factions within the MNLF, namely the groups led by its founding Chairman Nur Misuari, the Central Committee led by Muslimin Sema and the Islamic Command Council led by Habib Mudjahab Hashim.
Mr. Fontanilla said their group is supported by a 160,000-strong armed force with a support base of about eight million civilian and unarmed contingents.


Marcos told vice-governors in Mindanao on Saturday the substitute bill to the original BBL was “inclusive and fair to all: Moros and non-Moros alike.”

“I believe we tried very hard to be fair to everyone concerned,” said Mr. Marcos in response to allegations that the substitute bill waters down the powers of the Bangsamoro government that will be established once the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region is enacted.

Mr. Marcos was a guest speaker in the Mindanao Vice-Governor’s Conference in Cagayan De Oro City.

Mr. Marcos said that provisions of the Senate’s version of the BBL “treated the Bangsamoro government similarly to other local governments in the country, in order to draw them closer to mainstream Filipino society instead of treating them as a separate group.”


Meanwhile, problems in attendance at the House of Representatives may hinder the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro law.

“At the rate we are going, it will really be very hard. It’s really of primary importance now that there should be a quorum and the quorum stays until probably 10 p.m.,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez (2nd district), chairman of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said in a dzBB interview on Sunday.

“We should really look at this problem. The Speaker and the Majority Leader should be able to appeal to all the congressmen to at least come to have a quorum and stay until the deliberations are finished.”

After Congress resumed sessions on July 27, the House has been able to muster a quorum only twice. A quorum requires at least 146 lawmakers present for their Monday to Wednesday plenary sessions which start at 4 p.m.

Since the President’s last State of Nation Address, a quorum was only reached again last week, which effectively delayed the resumption of the floor debates on the Bangsamoro bill by two weeks.

Mr. Rodriguez said it is working to the advantage of lawmakers against the BBL to question the quorum, as they cannot proceed with the day’s agenda if there are not enough warm bodies present.

The chamber is targeting to approve the controversial BBL by mid-September, or just before budget deliberations reach the plenary. As a rule, no other bills can be tackled once the budget talks are opened on the floor.

“We appeal to the Speaker, we appeal to the Congressmen to be present. After all, if they are against it, in the voting they can vote against,” Mr. Rodriguez said, adding that they must be finished with the BBL before Sept. 28 when the proposed P3.002-trillion spending plan for 2016 is expected to be taken to the plenary.

The Senate, meanwhile, is expected to start their own plenary debates on their version of the BBL on Monday afternoon after Mr. Marcos’s committee came up with their new version of the proposed law.

Congress leaders have tagged the budget and the BBL as the two key priorities of the chamber for the ongoing stretch of sessions until Oct. 9, when they adjourn for the filing of candidacies for the upcoming May 2016 elections.

Abu Sayyaf bandit, 3 others bolt Basilan jail

From ABS-CBN (Aug 17): Abu Sayyaf bandit, 3 others bolt Basilan jail

An alleged Abu Sayyaf bandit and three others escaped from a jail in Isabela City, Basilan before dawn on Monday.

The Isabela Bureau of Jail Management and Penology said Kayser Nassan, Bigmar Boso, Garwas Hakim Asadi, and Muslimin Sayuman escaped by sawing off the jail bars.

Authorities said Nassan, who is facing murder and frustrated murder charges, is a suspected member of Abu Sayyaf.

Sayuman, Boso, and Asadi are facing robbery, illegal drug, and carnapping charges, respectively.

Police and jail officials have launched a manhunt operation against the four.

Photo: A military chaplain blesses 2 new Bell-412EP helicopters

From ABS-CBN (Aug 17): Photo: A military chaplain blesses 2 new Bell-412EP helicopters

Air Force's new helicopters blessed

A military chaplain blesses 2 new Bell-412EP helicopters during a turnover ceremony at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday. Canada and Italy donated 10 brand new helicopters to boost the Philippine Air Force’s capacity in providing support in humanitarian and disaster response and counter-insurgency efforts.  Photo: ABS-CBN News

Ilocos Sur students embark on West Philippine Sea info drive

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17): Ilocos Sur students embark on West Philippine Sea info drive

Vigan City, Ilocos Sur– The call to help make the issue on the West Philippine Sea popular among their families, friends and fellow youth  struck the students of the University of Northern Philippines to the core during the multi-sectoral forum on West Philippines Sea led by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Today, the College of Political Science students are rallying for a blast on the issue. They are urging their fellow students to actively respond to “what is  ours, is ours,”  focusing on the destruction of the West Philippine Sea by the Chinese and the loss of livelihood of affected families in these areas.

When DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose challenged the UNP students to help share what they learned in the forum, Marie Therese Rodriguez, 20,  president of the Politically-Inclined Students (POLIS) of the university, and Rosiebelle Torrano,18,  senior mayor of the Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, not only noted it on their pads. They also etched a plan in their own college organization, the  POLIS.

With their position paper, joining the government in the fight for the West Philippine Sea properties of the country, the POLIS will  come out with  a big  campus  event on September 1-10 this year, Rodriguez told the Philippine Information Agency- Ilocos Sur at the Provincial Capitol in this city.

The event will start not only on just another ordinary day, but  on September 1, the  day announced by the Vatican as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  This is the latest action of Pope Francis to stir environmental issues into the world. September 1 is the Orthodox Church’s day for environmental protection, and the students want to pray with the world in the protection of the West Philippine Sea.

Using resources from their group, the POLIS, with the support of the adviser, Cid A. Javier, the political science students will distribute leaflets, bookmarks, badges, posters while they will discuss their position paper on the West Philippine Sea issue in every classroom.

During these encounters with their fellow students, added Rodriguez, they will gather opinion, and conduct further research  from which they will base the foundation of the September 10 forum.  A post-forum  research will help them file the students’ reactions on the issue.

After this, they will continue to share  this issue via the Facebook page, Environmental Activism, and their personal Twitter and Instagram accounts, with the hashtag, “What is ours, is ours.”

The Kabataan Party List will also help in the campaign, added Torrano, by inviting speakers for the forum.

With the support of Dr. Gilbert Arce, the school president who was recently re-appointed for another four-year term,  the students hope to go on with the campaign.

Gingoog, Army, PNP to parade for peace

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 17): Gingoog, Army, PNP to parade for peace

Waving the theme “Ihunong na ang Kagubot, Hatagi’g Tsansa ang Kalinaw,” the city government of Gingoog has joined hand in hand with the 58th Infantry Battalion “Dimalulupig” of the Philippine Army (58th IB-PA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stage and invite Gingoognons to convene from the People’s Playground and parade along the city’s main thoroughfares then culminate at the Pahayahay sa Pantalan Area on August 18, 2015.

Being the keynote speaker, Mayor Marie Guingona has been voicing out that peace and order is everyone’s primordial concern.

“Let us always strive to attain peace as an essential element for our soaring economic development and citywide progress. Let us continually regard ourselves as messengers and keepers of peace. Let us share about our local government unit’s (LGU) programs, projects, plans and accomplishments for the general welfare to our brothers and sisters who opt for armed struggles so that they will know that our advocacies are for everybody’s goodness and societal development,” the mayor said.

The chief executive has initiated the well-collaborated event which reiterates the challenge to live in peace and love peace for Gingoognons’ safety, security, prosperity and well-being.

Mayor Marie has been very grateful to the Army stationed in some barangays in the city for always patrolling for the people, environment and government.

She has been lauding the efforts exerted by the police led by P/Supt. Michael Bawayan, Jr. in deterring crimes and eliminating proliferation of illegal drugs in cooperation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

She sincerely acknowledged the collaboration of priests, religious leaders from the faith-based groups, Gingoog Evangelical Pastors Association (GEPA) and other members of Gingoog Movement Against Immorality and Drug Addiction (GMAIDA) who read her letter request for peace caravan to churchgoers and for their wide dissemination regarding the upcoming affair which definitely attracts massive participation.

Davao City on heightened alert as Kadayawan Festival begins

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Davao City on heightened alert as Kadayawan Festival begins

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte urged police, army and other security forces to extend utmost goodwill in conducting “stop and frisk” on people including tourists as police and army authorities heightened security level in the city for the Kadayawan Festival.

“Smile. It doesn’t cost you even two hundred pesos to smile,” Duterte told police and army through his Sunday’s Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program. He said he already ordered them to extend courtesy to the people.

The mayor discouraged them to be hostile and antagonistic and “not make an identity crisis” because Kadayawan is for all people they may be lumads or Muslims.

At the same time, Duterte also rallied the people for their cooperation and expect lot of searches and checkpoints as part of the security plan for the weeklong Kadayawan activities, which kick off formally open today.

“I want a safe city,” Duterte said, emphasizing that he will fully assume responsibility and liability “if something goes wrong because I am the one giving orders”.

Meanwhile, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) is deploying about 3,000 police and force multipliers. The number does not include members of the Task Force Davao.

DCPO spokesperson, Sr. Inspector Milgrace Driz said they will adopt the same security measures for big events.

“We will implement stop and frisk for any suspicious looking persons,” she said. Driz advised the public not to bring backpacks, canisters, bottled water, firearms inside activity or event venues.

Driz also emphasized on the strict implementation of the Liquor Ban, Speed Limit and Anti-Smoking.

The Task Force Davao, Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard are also on alert in their respective areas of responsibility.

Peace panel lauds retention of parliamentary system but decries change in seat allocation in Senate bill

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): Peace panel lauds retention of parliamentary system but decries change in seat allocation in Senate bill

The government peace panel that negotiated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) today lauded both the Ad Hoc House Committee chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for retaining the proposed parliamentary form of government for the Bangsamoro region in its version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“We laud the two chambers of Congress for retaining the provisions establishing a parliamentary form of government in the region, seeing it as crucial to the reforms we hope to put in place in the Bangsamoro,” government chief negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said.

According to Ferrer, the parliamentary system is the most important structural change being introduced, and that it’s “a shift well within the powers of Congress to grant since the Constitution left it up to Congress to define the structure of government in the autonomous region.”

She noted, however, that while the House version retained the original proposal in the BBL, the Senate’s substitute bill radically altered the allocation of seats in the proposed Bangsamoro legislature.

The original proposal allocated 24 seats in the Bangsamoro parliament to parliamentary districts, 30 seats to party lists and the remaining six seats to reserved seats for non-Moro indigenous peoples, settler communities, and women, among others.

In the Senate version submitted by Senator Marcos’ committee, district representation was jacked up to 40 seats, reserved seats were increased to 12, and only eight seats were allocated for party lists.

In both versions, 60 seats would make up the Bangsamoro parliament.

“Lopsided representation in favor of district representatives, presumably elected on the basis of plurality or highest number of votes, will perpetuate personalistic politics, clan dynasties and weak political parties,” said Ferrer.

“On the other hand, we believe that allocating more seats to regional political parties and sectoral representatives would encourage the practice and development of a political culture in the region that is based on broad-based political parties with defined programs of governance competing in free and fair elections,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer appealed to senators to seriously reconsider the seat allocations in the regional parliament in order to ensure that new entrants in the electoral arena such as the erstwhile Moro liberation fronts, women’s groups, environmental advocates, and indigenous peoples will stand a good chance to win seats.

“Our goal with this parliamentary form of government as envisioned in the original BBL is to ensure inclusive and more participatory governance. Allocating a large majority of the seats of the Bangsamoro parliament for parties and marginalized sectors will encourage politics based on principles and not personalities. It will empower the different segments of the people in the Bangsamoro,” Ferrer explained.

Ferrer said the government peace panel is ready to provide technical assistance to the Senate when floor debates start on the Bangsamoro bill to help provide insights on the intent of the proposed provisions in the original BBL, especially the rationale behind the proposed parliamentary form of government for the region.

F/A-50s has air-to-air capabilities - PAF chief

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): F/A-50s has air-to-air capabilities - PAF chief

Although primarily designed as "light-interim fighter trainer," the South Korean-made F/A-50 "Fighting Eagle" has capability to intercept and engage in air-to-air combat planes intruding in Philippine airspace.

This was stressed by PAF chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado during the sidelights of the turnover of eight brand-new Bell-412EPs and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es Monday at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

"The aircraft that we’ll be getting (F/A-50s), has the capability to intercept and engage in air-to-air (missions)," he added.

But despite these advanced capabilities, Delgado said the F/A-50s is but a transition aircraft and will be utilized by the PAF in training the next generation of Filipino fighter pilots.

"We consider it a transition aircraft, and hopefully by the time, in the next few years we will come up with a more advance aircraft," the PAF chief stressed.

Two F/A-50 units are scheduled to be delivered to the PAF before the end of the year.

The Philippines has 12 F/A-50 order from Korea Aerospace Industries worth Php18.9 billion.

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 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 they 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.

8 brand-new Bell-412EPs, 2 attack AW-109E turned over to PAF Monday

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): 8 brand-new Bell-412EPs, 2 attack AW-109E turned over to PAF Monday
Eight brand-new Bell-412EPs combat utility helicopters and two attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109Es were formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Monday morning.

The joint formal acceptance and blessing ceremonies took place at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said the delivery and acceptance of the eight Bell-412EPs completes the "Combat Utility Helicopter Aircraft Acquisition Project" under the PAF modernization amounting to Php4.8 billion negotiated with the Bell Textron Helicopter of Canada who started their delivery by batch last June.

Five of the Bell-412EPs will be assigned to the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing (THW) while three Bell-412EPs will be assigned to the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing with a blue-white paint scheme and configured similar to their existing Bell-412s to be used for the transport of VIPs in the upcoming APEC Summit.

Eventually, the three Bell-412EPs of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing will be transferred to 205th THW after the APEC summit.

With its four-bladed main rotor and twin-engine design and night capability, it provides better performance and better capability for the PAF in providing heli-lift operations for combat support and in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

On the other hand, the two Augusta Westland AW-109Es are the first batch to be turned over to the Air Force while six more will follow to complete the PAF’s eight "Attack Helicopter Aircraft Acquisition Project".

The night capable AW-109Es will be assigned to the 15th Strike Wing and will perform the role similar to their existing MD-520MG in conducting closed-air support, armed air reconnaissance, forward air control and armed escort.

The AW-109Es are armed with .50 caliber machine gun pods and rocket launchers.

It was supplied by AugustaWestland of Italy after winning a public bidding with contract price of Php3.4 billion for the eight AW-109Es.

It is the same aircraft platform acquired by the Philippine Navy (PN) with a slightly different equipment package.

Having similar aircraft with the PN is advantageous since it allows commonality in operation, training and maintenance procedures, Canaya said.

He added the PAF is still waiting for the arrival of the remaining six AW-109Es, two C-295M medium-lift aircraft from Spain, two CN-212i light-lift aircraft from Indonesia and two FA-50 lead-in fighter aircraft from South Korea which are all expected before the year ends.

EMC units pursuing NPA band who committed atrocities in Agusan Del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 17): EMC units pursuing NPA band who committed atrocities in Agusan Del Sur
Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) units are now tracking the New People's Army (NPA) band who conducted a series of atrocities that resulted in the death of one civilian, wounding of a militiaman, and destruction of 10-wheeler truck in Loreto town, Agusan Del Sur Saturday morning.

The rebels are under the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee which is led by one Maximo Catarata.

Capt. Alberto Caber, EMC public affairs office chief, in a statement Monday, identified the slain civilian as Roel Sarona, a resident of Barangay Bugdangan, Loreto town.
The victim was on his way to his farm at Sitio Yamaticon, of the above-mentioned barangay, when flagged and stabbed dead by NPA bandits led by a certain "Ronnie".

After the incident, another group of rebels stopped unarmed militiaman Martin Arroyo in Purok 3, Bugdangan, and shot him twice.

Arroyo was brought by concerned citizen to Laak Provincial Hospital for medical treatment.

In another incident, a 10- wheeler truck owned by a certain Simplicio Samar, a resident of Tagum City, was bombed by rebels led by a certain "Tata" using improvised explosive device in Purok 3, Crossing , also of Barangay Bugdangan.

After the incident, the bandits withdrew towards Barangay Ampunan, Laak, Compostela Valley Province.

The soldiers of 26th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Rolando Dumawa are now pursuing the rebels.

"The NPA bandits want to regain Loreto as their guerilla base, and we will not allow it to happen," he added.