Thursday, August 27, 2015

15 farmers, including minor arrested in Bukidnon, forced to board helicopter

From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Aug 27): 15 farmers, including minor arrested in Bukidnon, forced to board helicopter

Graphics by Sid Cayon

Fifteen peasants including a mother and his 12-year old son were allegedly rounded-up by soldiers and forced to board a helicopter on Thursday in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, a town-based peasant organization said.

Isidro Indao, spokesperson of the Kahugpongan sa mga Mag-uuma Sa Kitaotao (KMK) said they have received sketchy report from its chapter, Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Culaman (NAMABAW) that its chairperson, Ellen Manlimbaas, was among those arrested by Army men.

Arrested with Manlimbaas were Felizardo Labadan, Editha Bontao, Jun Pellazar, Camilo Asunan, Noeda Manlumaray and her 12-year old son and eight others, all residents of Sitio Placatta, Indao said.

“Troops from (the Army’s) 23rd and 8th Infantry Battalions searched through the houses at Poblacion, Barangay White Culaman since 5:00 am yesterday (Wednesday) and arrested Manlimbaas and the others,” said Indao.

Indao said that the arrested were made to stay at the barangay hall since yesterday and at 8:00 am to lunchtime today, “they were taken aboard a helicopter and taken to Cagayan de Oro in two batches”.

“Evidence like subversive documents, bombs and other materials were planted to have a reason to arrest them,” said Indao.

Indao alleged that White Kulaman Barangay Captain Felipe Cabugnason “had knowledge and consent of the incident and in fact tolerated it even if the rights of the individuals were clearly violated.”

“He demanded to immediately halt the operation of Misfi (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Incorporated) School in Sitio Dao,” he said.

Indao said the school was “requested by the people” and was built thru Misfi last 2014.
Misfi schools and another tribal schools ran by missionaries have complained in May this year that their students and teachers were being harassed by the Army.

The Army has denied the allegations and accused the schools of “teaching IPs (indigineous peoples) to hate the government.”

A post in Misfi Academy’s social media Facebook account a year ago shows administrators, teachers, students and IP leaders in a tribal ritual opening the school classes and its grade seven program.

Meanwhile, Indao said he and other officer and members of the provincial IP and peasant organization Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC) will conduct an onsite fact-finding mission tomorrow.

MILF: ICAN sponsors Seminar on Peace advocacy-“Communicating for Peace” at BLMI

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 27): ICAN sponsors Seminar on Peace advocacy-“Communicating for Peace” at BLMI

ICAN sponsors Seminar on Peace advocacy-“Communicating for Peace” at BLMI

The International Children’s Action Network (ICAN) in conjunction with Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) held a Seminar on “Communicating for Peace” with the theme:” Bangsamoro’s Quest for Right-to-Self-Determination and Just Peace” at BLMI Training Center, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on August 24-26. 2015.

Thirty individuals from BTC Communication Group, Committee on Information of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and from other affiliate agencies of the Moro Front participated in the activity. 

In the opening program, Mr. Abdullah Cusain, Head of the BTC Communication Group expressed his gratitude to ICAN for their initiatives in sponsorship the program and hoping that the participants optimize their time in acquiring knowledge that will enable them to educate and inform the people on  the significance of peace-building. 

Ms. Akiko Matsuuda, a dynamic Peace Builder lady from Japan and ICAN Foundation Project Manager presented the organization’s programs. She related the ICAN active involvements particularly in Peace-Building Education, Conflict resolution and other Humanitarian Affairs interventions not only in Mindanao but throughout the country. 

Mr. Edwin Antipuesto and ICAN team leader presented the course overview and its objectives. He cited them as technical knowledge on peace advocacy initiatives, planning, techniques and their corresponding applications. 

Mr. Antipuesto presented the definition of advocacy, concept and principles and stressed its significant dynamics by understanding its context vividly. Thereafter, the participants engaged in workshops by group and presented them. 

Mr. Antipuesto wrapping up the group presentations by synthesizing the ideas, issues and concerns that each group wanted to stress in their outputs. Antipuesto also emphasized the context analysis on the influential stakeholders which are directly or indirectly involved in decision making on issues specifically the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)  

Identification of problems and analysis are very important in coming up with calibrating mechanisms responsive to the problems, he said. To address the concrete problems must be first solved the root causes of the problem, hence, the problem must be viewed in a broader perspective, Mr. Antipuesto further said. 

On the final day of the program, presentation and discussions were focused on the elements of advocacy and negotiations by elucidating its core components, techniques and the aspects of social marketing through the mass media. 

During the closing program, the participants expressed their profoundest gratitude to officials and Staff of ICAN, Japan-Bangsamoro Initiative Reconstruction Development (J-BIRD) and BLMI for the opportunity and knowledge imparted them.

Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director in his closing message appealed to the participants that they can impart and apply the knowledge they acquired to Bangsamoro cause and share it to their fellowmen. 

Mr. Antipuesto on his part expressed his appreciation to participants for their active participations and their desire to enhance their respective expertise, and looked forward to have more engagements with BTC and BLMI. 

I C.A.N Foundation is an International Non-Government Organization based in Japan and has been operating in Philippines since 1994. Its programs are mostly concentrated on Peace Building Education but also actively involved in relief operations and other humanitarian affairs throughout the country.

Authorities nab 9 farmers suspected to be NPA rebels

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 27): Authorities nab 9 farmers suspected to be NPA rebels

Nine farmers suspected to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA), were recently arrested in a hinterland village in Kitao-tao town in Bukidnon.

Authorities said they recovered from the suspects an improvised explosive device and several subversive documents.

One of those arrested was identified as Helen Manlibaas, secretary-general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Bukidnon and a resident of Barangay White Kulaman, Kitao-tao.

It was in Manlibaas’ possession that the arresting officers seized subversive materials, according to reports.

Also arrested were Camilo Asunan, Selmo Manlomaray, Lolok Manlipay, Ronaldo Gesta, Markie Manlomaray, Ar-ar Manlomaray, Jun-Jun Pilisar, and Tonton Labadan, all farmers and members of KMP-Bukidnon.

The suspects were placed under the custody of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Army in Kitao-tao, one of the arresting units.

Relatives and neighbors of the suspects considered the arrest unjust and a clear violation of human rights.

Claro Lawigan, also a KMP member and a resident of Barangay White Kulaman, said the pieces of evidence were planted by the arresting officers.

“The landmines were planted, even the subversive documents. They were arrested because of intrigues,” said Lawigan.

Lawigan said the raid on Wednesday was the second in Kitao-tao since May this year.

In May, four residents of Barangay Calapaton, suspected of being NPA members, were arrested by government troops.

Rebel returnees receive livelihood projects from the government

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 27): Rebel returnees receive livelihood projects from the government

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City — Heavily armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who voluntarily returned to the fold of the government on Tuesday received P70,000 each for the livelihood program extended to them by the government to start their new way of life, a regional Army spokesman yesterday said.

The rebel returnees will also receive cash assistance from the AFP Guns for Peace Program as remuneration for the high powered firearms they’ve surrendered on Tuesday, said Capt. Joe Patrick A. Martinez.

“The government wants them to be productive in their respective localities, in their new way of life,” the spokesperson of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division said.

From the original list of 35 former NPAs who yielded on Tuesday, 7 rebels were added to the list during the surrender rites at the municipal gym in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday.

Vilma Quillano, a 24-year-old mother who joined the armed movement last 2010 to avenge the death of her mother during an encounter with the military in Surigao del Sur, was among the rebel returnees who took their oath of allegiance.

After having her own family, she then realized the importance of being a mother. She chose to leave the armed struggle because she wanted her family, especially her two-year-old son to have a better and brighter future.

 “Before, I cannot understand my anger against the government because of the death of my mother who was a member of the NPA. But now that I already have my own family, I realized the importance of my family especially my two-year-old son, how I love them so much. I don’t want them to experience the bitter life that I’ve experienced. I thank the Lord and everyone who helped me along the way. Everything went normal when I chose my family over revolution,” she said in vernacular.

MNLF intel officer escapes in drug bust

From the Philippine Star (Aug 27): MNLF intel officer escapes in drug bust

An intelligence officer of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) escaped a drug buy-bust operation Wednesday in a coastal village of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

Police Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, information officer of the Police Regional Office 9, identified the suspect as Muksin Batulla, 45, intelligence officer of the MNLF central committee.

His alleged cohorts, Botchoy Ybernas-Daud and Aldazer Idai Sapurani, both residents of Barangay Bucana were captured by the authorities.

Police Chief Inspector Joseph Reales-Maulad, acting police chief of Siocon, said Batulla is ranked No. 2 in the drug watch list personalities of the region.

Maulad and his team conducted the drug buy-bust operation at the house of Batulla, sending a poseur buyer to purchase a small pack of shabu using the marked money.

Batulla however sensed the presence of the authorities and immediately fled the area, leaving his two companions behind.

The operatives recovered a piece of heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing suspected shabu, including drug paraphernalia.

Maulad said a manhunt operation is launched to capture Batulla.

US Pacific Command chief ends Philippine visit

From ABS-CBN (Aug 27): US Pacific Command chief ends Philippine visit

US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris on Thursday capped his three-day visit to the Philippines with a meeting with the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)'s Western Command chief.

AFP WesCom is involved in military operations in the disputer areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"He is an operational commander and I am also an operational commander, so it's a matter of meeting of the minds how do we do things," said AFP Western Command chief Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez, referring to his meeting with Harris.

Harris arrived at the Wescom headquarters in Puerto Princesa City around 10 a.m. Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri also joined the meeting.

According to Lopez, they briefed Harris on the recent developments in the disputed sea, where the Spratly Islands are located.

Earlier reports said China has turned aggressive in its claims in the area over the past years, reclaiming at least seven areas.

"They (Americans) knew it, actually he said 'we know that'," said Lopez, who believe that the US may be more knowledgeable of the developments in the area than the Philippines.

For Lopez, it is only natural for Harris to stay neutral on the issue of China's reclamation.

"They would want to be neutral. They won't take sides…They will be rooting for regional peace and stability, that's all what they want. They don't want violence to break out."

"In whatever form, they will try to be present and prevent (violence), they have plans," said Lopez.

"When we asked how will they (Americans) help, they said they will help in whatever ways," he added.

Wescom spokesperson Lt. Cherryl Tindog said they also introduced Harris to their group.

"We told them what is Wescom, what do we do, what are our peculiar challenges."

"Definitely, West Philippine Sea was part of the briefing because that is where we are busy at present…We discussed the reclamation and construction activities (by China) at the West Philippine Sea because that is our biggest concern, and what we are doing about it," said Tindog.

Tindog said the common reaction of both American and Filipino officials was to maintain security and stability in the area.

"He (Harris) renewed the assurance that US is for the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and they value the long-enduring alliance and friendship of Philippines and US."

Lopez also narrated that it was him who invited Harris to visit the country. He met with Harris at the Shang-rila Dialogue in Singapore in May, a few days after Harris assumed his position as Pacific Command chief.

"I told him that when you're already on area familiarization, you may visit Philippines, visit me at the Western Command. And he said 'I want to visit our command', thus the visit," said Lopez, recalling his conversation with Harris in Singapore.

AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said Iriberri described the meeting "as a great opportunity to further enhance a long lasting and enduring alliance."

"It was also in furtherance of a collective effort at ensuring regional security and stability as well as leveling of expectations," added Padilla.

According to Lopez, he and Harris did not talk about the possibility of US assistance in delivering supplies to Filipino troops in the disputed areas, contrary to what Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

"We didn't discuss that during our meeting," said Lopez, adding there was no US commitment to deploy US ships or aircraft in the disputed areas.

"Based on the meeting between the SND (secretary of national defense) and Adm. Harris, the US PACOM is ready and willing to lend assistance in our maritime security concerns particularly in ensuring freedom of navigation and flight in the sea," he added.

According to Galvez, the topic of US assistance was raised by the Philippine side during the meeting.

"We brought the issue up due to our previous experiences," he said, referring to harassments done by Chinese ships against resupplying Filipino vessels.

Galvez said such US assistance is needed, given the Chinese threat to Filipino soldiers in the area.

"For security reasons, we are constrained to give details of said assistance…For security missions, we cannot give details on the exact assistance," Galvez said, refusing to elaborate on said assistance.

Harris went back to Manila after the meeting. He arrived in the country on Tuesday.

The USPACOM is the US' unified combatant command tasked to protect US interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Its area of operation comprises 36 countries, including the Philippines, Japan, and China.

It covers the largest area among all American geographic combatant units, and utilizes the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to serve its purposes.

This is Harris' first visit to the Philippines as USPACOM commander.

Army chief orders immediate distribution of new rifles

From ABS-CBN (Aug 27): Army chief orders immediate distribution of new rifles

Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano has ordered the immediate distribution of brand new M4 Remington rifles.

Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the Army is hoping to complete the distribution of the rifles to troops in the frontline before the end of the year.

"The instruction of the commanding general is we will issue these firearms to our troops as soon as the processes are finished. Our target is these firearms will be with our troops before the end of the year," said Hao.

"Right now, the instruction of the commanding general is to release it as soon as all procedures are met," Hao also said, adding that these firearms were supposed to have been distributed as early as last year.

The military set aside P1.9 billion for the acquisition of over 50,000 M4 rifles as part of its ongoing modernization program. Remington began delivering the firearms as early as July last year.

Hao said 44,000 of the firearms were for the Army while the 6,000 others were for the use of Marine soldiers.

President Aquino led the ceremonial turnover of the firearms to Army soldiers the following month, only to be discovered by the military's Technical Inspection and Inspection Committee that the firearms had defects.

Remington was informed of the problem - moving rear sight - involving the firearms for the Army, and the company replaced the part of the firearms and formally accepted by the military last August 13.

The firearms for the Marines, on the other hand, had no defect because they had no rear sights. Placed in the slots for the rear sight were optics or rifle scopes.

At present, a large part of the firearms for the Army are still undergoing ballistic testing by the PNP Crime Laboratory - the last procedure to be hurdled. The firearms are kept at a storage facility in Camp Aguinaldo.

The official said the PNP Crime Laboratory is using the Integrated Ballistic Identification System, a computer-based system that gathers digital images of cartridge casing and bullets fired from these firearms.

Hao acknowledged that the issuance of these firearms was "definitely" delayed brought about by the defects in the delivered firearms.

"It was indeed delayed. You know, when it was first shown to us, the soldiers, including the officials, were very happy. But we don't want to have firearms that have problems…We don't want a moving rear sight," he said.

Soldier dead, another wounded in NPA ambush in Davao del Sur

From GMA News (Aug 27): Soldier dead, another wounded in NPA ambush in Davao del Sur

A soldier was killed while another was wounded after they were ambushed by suspected members of the New People's Army in Banganga, Davao del Sur on Wednesday, the Armed Forces revealed on Thursday.

Capt. Alberto Caber, the public affairs officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the soldiers were on a security patrol in Barangay Binondo when they were shot at by the rebels at 11 a.m.

Caber said the rebels withdrew after a 20-minute firefight.

There is no report of deaths from among the rebels.

Meanwhile, members of the 60th IB have arrested a suspected NPA rebel in Barangay Datu Davao in Laak, Compostela Valley.

Caber said the rebel, whose identity isn't immediately available, was inside a nipa hut when he was caught. Two M-16 rifles were seized during the operation.

Photo: New guns

From The Standard (Aug 28): Photo: New guns

New guns. An Army officer inspects one of the newly procured carbines in Camp Aguinaldo that will soon be supplied to Army troops. Lino Santos

Army prepares issuance of new, improved rifles

From Ang Malaya (Aug 27): Army prepares issuance of new, improved rifles

The Philippine Army said that it is preparing to issue to its troops the newly procured and improved 5.56mm R4A3 carbine rifles from Remington. The issuance will be done as soon as the required inspections and tests are finished, the Army said in a statement.

“The Army has procured a total of 56,843 carbine rifles as part of its capability upgrade program. Out of this total procurement, 44,186 rifles are now on-hand of which 24,300 are now ready for issuance and 19,866 still has to undergo ballistic test for record purposes,” the Army said.

The ballistic test is being conducted by Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory using Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS).

According to Army, IBIS is a computer-based system which has the capability to capture, store, rapidly compare and retrieve digital images of cartridge casings (shells) and bullets for the purpose of connecting or tracing this to the guns from which these were fired.

“With these new upgraded weapons, the Philippine Army is on the right track of transforming into a modern Army that our country deserves to have,” the Army said.

Procurement of the rifles is under the Revised AFP Modernization Act under RA 10349 signed in December 2012 seeking to develop a credible strategic Armed Force and the professionalization of the AFP.

USPACOM commander receives thorough briefing from West PHL Sea military commander

From Ang Malaya (Aug 27): USPACOM commander receives thorough briefing from West PHL Sea military commander

A “meeting of the minds,” this was what the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called the visit of US Pacific Command head Admiral Harry Harris to Western Command (WESCOM) headquarters in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Thursday. WESOM’s area-of-responsibility includes islands of Palawan and Kalayaan, including the disputed Spratly Islands group.

“Admiral Harris wanted to be appraised of the situation on the ground and follow on a previous meeting with Vice Admiral Alex Lopez, Commander of WESCOM who he met earlier in Singapore during the Shangri-La Dialogue,” said AFP spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla.

Harris arrived in the Philippines Wednesday and visited ranking Filipino military and political leaders making his trip to WESCOM headquarters Thursday. “Admiral Lopez afforded him a thorough organizational and situational briefing on his command and its area-of-operation,” he added.

In the same vein, the US official’s stopover at Western Command was dubbed by AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri as a “sort of area familiarization for the new Commander of the Pacific Command.”

He summed Harris’ visit as a great opportunity to further enhance a long lasting and enduring alliance.

It was also in furtherance of a collective effort at ensuring regional security and stability as well as leveling of expectations.

Philippines, US agree to jointly protect maritime freedom, oppose unilateral actions

From Ang Malaya (Aug 27): Philippines, US agree to jointly protect maritime freedom, oppose unilateral actions

Admiral Harry Harris, United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Commander, had a meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario at Malacañang Palace August 26, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. “Secretary del Rosario and Admiral Harris exchanged views on how to further strengthen the long-standing alliance between the Philippines and the US.”

“They also discussed the current regional security environment, and agreed on the need to jointly protect freedom of the seas and oppose unilateral actions that aim to change the status quo,” DFA noted.

Admiral Harris made a courtesy to President Aquino yesterday. The American Admiral also met with Armed Forces of the Philippine chied General Hernando DCA Iriberri and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at Camp Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Admiral Harry Harris took command of USPACOM on May 27. He was the Commander of US Pacific Fleet from 2013 to May 2015.

Navy’s newly acquired vessels prove capabilities in first response mission

From Ang Malaya (Aug 27): Navy’s newly acquired vessels prove capabilities in first response mission

Newly acquired Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) from Australia, BRP Ivatan (AT 298) and BRP Batak (AT 299) of the Philippine Navy were tested in a humanitarian assistance and disaster response mission to Northern Luzon. The mission was in response to Typhoon Ineng. The LCHs arrived in Poro Port, San Fernando City, La Union August 26.

“BRP Ivatan (AT 298) and BRP Batak (AT 299) the two newly acquired Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) arrived in San Fernando City Pier carrying 13,602 family food packs from DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) intended for delivery to Ilocos Region and Abra,” Naval Task Force 11 said.

“This is in line with the commitment of the Philippine Navy in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Operations in Northern Luzon under the Operational Control of Naval Task Force 11,” it added in a statement.

The two LCHs were donated by the Australian government and were turned over to the Navy last July 23.

Philippine Marines opens training for civilians: Be measured physically and psychologically

From Ang Malaya (Aug 27): Philippine Marines opens training for civilians: Be measured physically and psychologically

The Philippine Marines is opening its training for civilians to have a taste of how Marines train. “Be measured physically and psychologically by the challenging obstacle that is both man-made and natural,” said LTCOL Stepehn Cabanlet, Philippine Navy(Marines) in a statement.

The racing with obstacles event, KARERA LAKAS PILIPINAS: The 2nd Commandant’s Cup, to be held on October 25, 2015 will simulate ‘marine life in the operational area’. The rare event will be held at the training ground of the Philippine Marine Corps in Marine Base Gregorio Lim, Ternate Cavite.

Interested civilians can choose between Astig and Bangis categories which are 5km and 10km run with obstacle courses, respectively. Registration fees are 500 pesos and 750 pesos. Races are also open for the military.

“Funds raised in this event shall be used for the MARFIT (Strength and Conditioning Program) as well as Wounded Warrior’s Recovery and Reintegration Program,” LTCOL Cabanlet said.

“A serendipitous and unsung hero of our country is hoping for your support. These soldiers has given immense sacrifice for our country to protect our freedom especially now with what’s happening in Palawan and some areas in Mindanao. We believe that the strength of the nation is the people itself,” he noted.

Registrations can be done online or onsite at Marine Corps Special Service Office (MCSSO), Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City during office hours Mondays to Fridays. More details at

Activists blast govt focus on 2016 amid spike in killings, rights abuses

From InterAksyon (Aug 27): Activists blast govt focus on 2016 amid spike in killings, rights abuses

Human rights advocates and activists picket the DOJ to protest continued abuses, including massacres and extrajudicial killings. (photo courtesy of Bayan Metro Manila)

Human rights advocates and activists blasted the Aquino administration for drumming up the presidential bid of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II while ignoring a spike in abuses that have so far claimed nine lives in separate massacres in Masbate and Bukidnon this month alone.

In sum, said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, 46 persons, seven of them minors, have died in 13 massacres blamed on security forces since President Benigno Aquino III came to power in 2010.

Karapatan and organizations allied with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan staged a rally at the Department of Justice on Thursday to protest what they called the worsening human rights situation in the country. They also picketed the Manila regional trial court demanding the release of political prisoners.

"Just this month, there have been two documented cases of massacre, in Masbate and Bukidnon, with nine civilians dead, two of whom were children. All were tagged as New People’s Army members and supporters," Palabay said.

"But, instead of going after the army killers, Aquino is busy campaigning with Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party," she added.

Karapatan said the Inter-agency Task Force led by the DOJ, which is tasked to investigate extrajudicial killings, has nothing to show in terms of the effective and immediate prosecution of soldiers and military officials responsible for human rights violations.

“We call on Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to extricate herself from these early election campaign activities of the Liberal Party and heed the cries for justice of the victims and their families,” Palabay said.

De Lima, who is reportedly being eyed for inclusion in the administration’s senatorial slate, was with Aquino and Roxas at a sortie in Cebu City early this week.

On August 3 in Masbate, three habal-habal (motorcycles for hire) drivers and a nephew of a barangay captain of Del Carmen town were asked to help soldiers wounded in an NPA ambush.

"Instead of showing gratitude, members of the 9th Infantry Division and 96th Division Reconnaissance Company took the lives of” Adam Fajardo, Joebert Badillo, Gary Vistar and Rogelio Abelid, Palabay said.

The military claimed the dead were rebels slain in the encounter.

On August 19, residents of Sitio Mandum, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon, including barangay councilor Isabero Sulda, found five bodies at the Samia residence surrounded by 22 soldiers of the 1st Special Forces Battalion.

The residents’ faces were photographed and their names listed down as they were ordered not to look at the soldiers' faces. They were then told to carry the bodies.

The victims were Herminio Samia, 70, who was blind; his son Jobert and grandson Norman, 13; and his nephews Emer, 17, and Welmer Somina.

A 15-year-old eyewitness who escaped the massacre said that after the soldiers arrived, they shouted: “Kayong mga NPA na nandyan sa itaas ng bahay, lumabas kayo diyan at bumaba ditto You NPAs inside the house, get out and get down)!”

The victims were then shot as they emerged from the house.

The witness managed to run and hide behind big boulders. He then told his father what happened but a few days later, he could no longer speak.

"The soldiers are still at the barangay hall and daycare center up to now,” Palabay said. "The soldiers even had the audacity to stay in the community where they killed its residents like they were proud of what they did!"

Aside from the massacres, extrajudicial murders have also continued unabated with Karapatan tallying 33 killings in the first half of the year, 11 of these this month alone.

Among the most recent victims were Teodoro “Ka Tudoy” Escanilla, Karapatan Sorsogon spokesperson, who was killed on August 20 allegedly by elements of the Army’s 31st Infantry Battalion, and Joel Gulmatico, acting chairman of the Arakan Progressive Peasant Organization, or APPO, who was shot dead two days earlier near the detachment of the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Naje, Arakan, North Cotabato.

According to Karapatan, in February, a Sergeant Rene Enteria of the 31st IB supposedly arrested, tortured and then offered a resident of the same barangay where Escanilla lived P50, 000 and a caliber .45 pistol to kill the activist.

The person, whose name was withheld to protect him from retaliation, immediately reported this and other human rights violations committed by the Army unit to Karapatan-Sorsogon.

Abra CAFGU shoots comrade dead

From InterAksyon (Aug 27): Abra CAFGU shoots comrade dead

A member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the supervision of the Third Platoon of the 15th ABCAA Company in Abra, was shot dead by a fellow CAFGU member, the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera (ProCor) stated in a report.

Richie Maison Lizardo Bagni, 23 years old and single, used his M14 rifle in shooting Lito Astrande Wednesday at about 9 p.m. inside their camp located at Barangay Bugbog, Bucay, Abra.

The report stated that Astrande twice slapped the left side of the face of Bagni when the latter's lighted cigarette accidentally fell on his leg.

Bagni then got his M14 rifle and shot his victim once on his right chest. Medical attendants at Abra Provincial Hospital declared him already dead when he was brought in for treatment.

Army TSgt. Reynaldo Tabajunda surrendered Bagni afterwards to the Bucay Municipal Police Station, where he was booked for the crime.

This was the second recent case where a CAFGU was involved in a crime inside the camp.

On August 12, a CAFGU member under the 77the Infantry Battalion stabbed his superior, Sergeant Hermogenes Yanba Melandres Jr.

In a separate development, operatives of the Abra Provincial Police raided on Wednesday the house of Olario Tugadi Jaquias in Barangay Cosili East, Bangued, Abra and seized a Gauge 12 Springfield Shotgun with three live rounds of ammunition, a caliber .45 pistol with one empty magazine, and a black holster for the caliber .45 handgun.

Philippines seeks 'real-time' U.S. help in disputed South China Sea

From InterAksyon (Aug 27): Philippines seeks 'real-time' U.S. help in disputed South China Sea

The Philippines has sought help from the United States to monitor "real-time" developments in the South China Sea, providing surveillance and reconnaissance, a military spokesman said on Thursday, amid China's rapid expansion in the area.

Colonel Restituto Padilla said the defense ministry had asked U.S. Pacific Command chief, Admiral Harry Harris, to provide air cover to a Philippine civilian ship that regularly delivers supplies to Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed waters.

"We want the U.S. military to watch over our ships, which China attempts to block every time we rotate troops and bring supplies to a ship that ran aground on Ayungin shoal," Padilla said.

Harris was in Palawan on Thursday to see first-hand the situation in the area near where China has built artificial islands.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, commander of military forces in Palawan, told journalists the U.S. commander promised to help its oldest ally in the Asia-Pacific, but would also prevent conflict from erupting.

Iqbal cites JICA's unrelenting support to peace process

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 26): Iqbal cites JICA's unrelenting support to peace process

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) chair Mohagher Iqbal lauds the Japanese Government’s continuous support to the peace process in Mindanao.

During the August 24 turnover of the Php 2 million two-classroom school building in Kibleg, Upi, Maguindanao through the support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Iqbal noted the unrelenting support of the Japanese Government to peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

The school building, fully painted complete with comfort room, lavatory, ceiling fans, table, chairs and blackboard is one of JICA’s ongoing 20 Quick Impact Projects in various sites in Mindanao that include multi-purpose halls, schools and warehouse with solar dryers.

“This is the best constructed two-classroom school building so far,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal said, Japan is not only a member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) that oversees the adherence and compliance to the existing ceasefire agreement but also an active member of the International Contact Group (ICG) that has been steadfast in its peace and development efforts in Mindanao “investing in the peace process without expecting something in return”.

Iqbal acknowledged Japan’s active involvement in the socio-economic development not only for the future of the Bangsamoro entity but for the entire Mindanao.

Japan has been investing so much even without the peace process succeeding. Japan is already with us investing so much money for our people,” Iqbal said.

In so far as the progress of the deliberation of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress, Iqbal  said, the MILF remains optimistic that the proposed law will be passed.

“To be frank with you, we do not know what will happen to the Bangsamoro Basic Law. In the case of the MILF, looking at the present situation, evaluating all aspects of the investment, it is the conclusion of the MILF that there is hope that the BBL will be delivered but there is no assurance”, Iqbal said.

Amid the challenges facing the BBL in Congress, he urged the people in the community to maintain existing harmonious relationship and cooperation for united and peaceful environment.

“Whether there is BBL or no BBL, or the BBL is delayed, I appeal to everybody, to all and sundry to maintain good neighborliness and good cooperation between and among the good people of this village because peace will start from every one of us and will start from this village for that matter,” Iqbal said.

Japanese Government remains committed to peace and development efforts in Mindanao - JICA official

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 26): Japanese Government remains committed to peace and development efforts in Mindanao - JICA official

The  Japanese  government   remains  true to its  commitment  to  support the  peace and order  efforts in Mindananao, an official of the   Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

JICA President Akihiko Tanaka made this pronouncement   during his  visit here on Monday to  turnover a  two-classroom building to Kibleg Elementary School  IN North Upi, Maguindanao.

The construction of said school building was funded through the JICA and implemented by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).

Tanaka was accompanied by JICA Chief Representative in the Philippines Noriaki Niwa, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal, Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) Exec. Dir. Mohammad Yacob, and International Monitoring Team (IMT-10) Head of Mission MGen. Datu Sheikh Mokhsin Bin Sheikh Hassan.

Said  school building is among the 20 ongoing Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) jointly identified by the JICA and BDA in support of the peace process in Mindanao to help boost inclusive development in the region.

“This is financed through a QIP which is a small scale low cost project being implemented in a short period of time which addresses immediate community needs,” Tanaka said.

According to Tanaka, aside from working with local communities throughout the region, JICA’s QIP also includes multi-purpose halls, warehouses with solar dryer and renovation/expansion of school building/classrooms in 20 sites in the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Basilan, Sulu, Sarangani, Tawi-Tawi, Sultan Kudarat, Compostella Valley, Davao Oriental and Zamboanga Sibugay.

These communities are identified as among the most affected by armed conflicts.

He added that after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro last March 2014, he met with MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim where they both agreed to start the implementation of QIP as part of trust and confidence building between and  among the stakeholders of the peace process.

Tanaka said, both JICA and the MILF counterparts believed that QIPs would be a great way for the Bangsamoro communities to feel immediate peace dividends for people to remain hopeful on the benefits of the peace process.

In 2013, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and JICA started the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B) undertook cooperation activities include assistance in public consultations for drafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), support in drafting the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP), human resource development, capacity building and seminars in Tokyo to know more about Japan system of governance, and the implementation of QIP, Tanaka said.

He said, for the past 17 years, the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the MILF had experienced several challenges including the breakdown of MOA-AD in 2008, Mamasapano incident of January 2015 and the prolonged deliberations of the BBL.

However, he said, the Japanese government and JICA have remained steadfast in their commitment in supporting the peace process and promote development in the Bangsamoro area.

As this developed,  Tanaka encouraged the students and school children to study hard and always listen to their parents and teachers citing education is one of the greatest things parents can give their children to ensure better future and personal growth.(

Off-duty soldiers killed in separate attacks in Central Mindanao (Graphic photo)

From the Philippine Star (Aug 27): Off-duty soldiers killed in separate attacks in Central Mindanao (Graphic photo)


Private 1st Class Hernando Daval of the 7th Infantry Battalion was killed in an ambush on August 26 in Pagalungan, Maguindanao. Unson

Authorities are still sifting through two crime scenes to identify the culprits in the seemingly related gun attacks in Central Mindanao in just five days that left two enlisted Army members dead.

The latest of the two incidents happened only last Wednesday in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao, which resulted to the instant death of a motorcycle-riding off-duty soldier, Private 1st Class Hernando Daval of the Alpha Company of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion.

The off-duty Daval was on his way to Kabacan, North Cotabato from their company command post in a nearby town when gunmen flagged him down at a secluded stretch of a highway in Pagalungan, Maguindanao and killed him with .45 caliber handguns.

Responding investigators from the Pagalungan municipal police told reporters the gunmen only intended to kill Daval since they escaped without taking with them his motorcycle and personal belongings.

Maguindanao’s provincial police director, Senior Superintendent Nickson Muksan, said investigators will file corresponding criminal cases against the suspects behind the fatal ambush of Daval once identified.

The incident was preceded by last week’s similar attack in Midsayap town in the first district of North Cotabato that resulted to the immediate death of another off-duty soldier, Cpl. Angelo Magtubo of the 7th Field Artillery Battalion.

Magtubo was riding his motorcycle on his way to the town proper of Midsayap from their artillery detachment in the west of the municipality when gunmen emerged from one side of the road and opened fire.

Magtubo died on the spot from gunshot wounds sustained in the ambush.

Local officials are convinced members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) perpetrated both attacks, having claimed responsibility for the earlier killings of about a dozen off-duty soldiers in one attack after another in the second district of Maguindanao in months past.

The police urged the public to refrain from speculating and give probers enough time to wind up with their investigation on the two incidents.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), said their division commander, Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, had issued a directive restraining off-duty soldiers from going out of their camps riding motorcycles.

Combatants of the 6th ID and its component units in Maguindanao and North Cotabato figured in extensive combat engagements with the BIFF in the two provinces during the government’s March 28 to May 5 calibrated police action against the bandit group.

AFP, PNP forces foil NPA’s roadside bomb plot in Bukidnon

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 27): AFP, PNP forces foil NPA’s roadside bomb plot in Bukidnon

The army’s 8th Infantry Battalion and elements of Philippine National Police’s Regional Public Safety Battalion (PNP-RPSB) recovered a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by suspected members of the New Peoples Army (NPA).

Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia, commanding officer of the army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division (8IB,4ID), said the landmine was fixed just beneath the ground along Bukidnon-Davao road in Palacapao village, Quezon, Bukidnon.

He said the AFP-PNP joint forces retrieved the bomb at about 10:00 p.m., August 14, after responding to an urgent call of a resident in said village.

The bomb is believed to have been planted by members of NPA under Guerilla Front 53 of Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC) who have been recently causing atrocities in the area, while making tricks — as diversionary tactics — to mislead the government forces who are conducting their crucial operation to protect human lives, he said.

Recently, the 8th IB thwarted NPA attacks and overran several rebel camps in jungle villages through a timely report from an upland resident.

“We commend our vigilant citizens in Bukidnon who are seriously taking part in a shared concept of security. While the 8th Infantry Battalion is capable of doing its mandate of protecting the people, the continued support of the community made our job a lot more effective and efficient. We also thanked the PNP for working hand in hand with us in ensuring the safety and security of the people,” Lt. Col. Babilonia said.

Citing a provision in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which bans the use of landmines, Babilonia said it is ironic because the National Democratic Front including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA are signatories to this agreement.

“We will continue to uphold the CARHRIHL and we will always help the people of this beautiful and productive province win the peace,” he said.

Army demos corrected M4 rifles

From ABS-CBN (Aug 27): Army demos corrected M4 rifles

President Benigno S. Aquino III, assisted by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, leads the ceremonial distribution of assault rifles to the Philippine Army and Philippine Navy Marine troops at the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters canopy at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City on August 14, 2014. Photo by Robert Viñas

In a bid to show the public that their newly purchased weapons are now fit for combat use, the Philippine Army did a test firing on three of the Remington M4 rifles that were recently given back to the manufacturer because of defects.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) acquired 50,629 M4 rifles from Remington Outdoor Co., 44,186 of of which will go to the Army and 6,443 to the Marines.

Last August, President Aquino started a series of ceremonial turnovers of these rifles, personally handing over some of the guns to the soldiers as testament to proper use of government funds.

But as it turned out, the rifles that Aquino and some former AFP officials handed over had not yet passed the final inspection of the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC).

Around the same time as the ceremonial handovers, the Army found that the rear sight on all the rifles were unstable. All 44,186 rifles had to be returned to Remington.

Col. Benjamin Hao, spokesman for the Army, was asked to respond to observations that the AFP put President Aquino in a bad light, because they made him symbolically give the soldiers weapons that turned out to be defective.

Hao said Aquino was just happily showing the people that he could provide them better weapons. But whether or not the AFP put Aquino in an embarrassing situation, Hao said he could not speak on that.

He, however, said that despite the earlier defects, the Army is happy that they have brand new weapons. The M4s are lighter and shorter than the M-16 rifles that the Army has been using for the past few decades. Hao said this will give more agility to their soldiers in combat.

The warehouse where some 50,000 M4 rifles were stored was opened to show none of the defective rifles had been issued to the field. All of the defective rear sights have been corrected, but all rifles still need to undergo ballistics test before being issued.

The Marines have already been issued 1,500 M4s.

Kalahi-CIDSS expands in 11 towns in Davao Region

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Kalahi-CIDSS expands in 11 towns in Davao Region

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here will start implementing the Kalahi–CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) in 11 municipalities in Davao Region with 80 field workers ready for deployment.

DSWD 11 Regional Director Priscilla Razon welcomed the latest batch of Kalahi-CIDSS staffs during the week-long orientation-training early this month at Island Garden City of Samal. This development is in line with the Kalahi-CIDSS goal of empowering communities down to the grassroots level.

The DSWD recently deployed in every town an Area Coordinating Team (ACT) composed of an Area Coordinator (AC), Technical Facilitator (TF), Finance Analyst (FA), and Community Empowerment Facilitator (CEF).

The team will lead the implementation of the program in the municipality in coordination with the Municipal Coordinating Team, the ACT counterpart installed by the LGU in every Kalahi-CIDSS area.

Kalahi-CIDSS will operate in Baganga, Lupon (Davao Oriental); Kiblawan, Jose Abad Santos, Malalag, Sta. Maria, Don Marcelino, Sarangani (Davao del Sur); and Montevista, Braulio E. Dujali and San Isidro (Davao del Norte).

Kalahi-CIDSS, one of the three core programs of DSWD, is a community-driven development project of the Philippine Government that aims to empower communities through their enhanced participation in local governance and poverty alleviation projects.

According to Kalahi-CIDSS Deputy Regional Program Manager Ma. Annabelle Jabla, choosing applicants to lead the program is one of the most scrutinizing processes in the program.

“The people who should take up the task should have the heart to help other people. The work in Kalahi-CIDSS is not a typical job that we have inside the office. It’s a call for something deeper, they should have the passion to be a catalyst for change, carrying on the goal of the program and that is to empower the community in alleviating poverty.”

Approved by President Benigno Aquino on January 18, 2013, Kalahi-CIDSS has expanded into a national scale of operations and opened in 16 municipalities in Region XI in 2014, in its pilot implementation.

Jabla added that the new workers have been capacitated using the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach. ACTs are expected to empower ordinary citizens to directly participate in local governance by identifying their own community needs and collectively responding to it.

The 11 municipalities will receive a cash grant of Php 173, 980,750.00 that would benefit 197 barangays.

Hataman, Iqbal worry over substitute BBL but MILF remain optimistic

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Hataman, Iqbal worry over substitute BBL but MILF remain optimistic

Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has appealed to the country’s lawmakers to restore salient provisions of the original Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) while Moro rebel chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal was uncertain on the fate of the draft law.

However, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders are convinced the BBL is still alive and remained hopeful.

Hataman issued the appeal as the Senate and House of Representatives resume deliberations on the draft law which, he said, was substituted by entirely different versions.

“We are concerned over raised apprehensions that the substitute version no longer stand for the aspirations of the Moro people for a genuine self-rule,” Hataman said in a statement.

Hataman has been hoping the Senate and the House this week to observe separate deliberations of the two chambers.

Senator Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr has filed his substitute bill known as Senate Bill No. 2894 while in the House, members are deliberating on HB No. 5811, authored by Cagayan Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

At the Senate, debates resumed on Monday followed by a period of amendments while at the House of Representatives, plenary discussions happened only once due to quorum issues.

Mohaqher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator and chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that drafted the BBL, admitted he was in a dilemma over the fate of the draft law.

“The government is telling us they are working on the BBL but as of now it remained uncertain,” Iqbal said of the draft bill during a speech at the turn-over of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) donated school building in Kibleg, Upi, Maguindanao.

“Sabi ng government sigurado na, pero parang di pa sure (The government is telling us it is certain the bill will be passed as scheduled but for me it is still uncertain),” Iqbal said.

Hataman believed the Senate and the House versions were diluted and said, “a diluted BBL will only worsen the lives of Moro people in Mindanao.”

“(I appeal to) our lawmakers to pass a BBL that will result in the creation of a political entity that is way better than ARMM,” Hataman said.

“Anything lesser than ARMM will not solve the problem of Mindanao and the Moro people,” he said.

While many claimed the BBL is dead, the MILF, in its website editorial, believed otherwise.

“The BBL is not yet dead on track. There is still chance for it to pass Congress. President Benigno Aquino III will deliver; we still believe in this. We also trust the collective wisdom of Congress to pass the proposed law, a good BBL,” the editorial said.

“On many occasions, the MILF has been in a situation fraught with dangers. But it never gave up; it never said die. No one knows exactly what is in the offing. Only God does,” it added.

The MILF said one leader of another Moro revolutionary group, apparently referring to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), told them the BBL was a hopeless case to pursue.

“What they did to us, they will do it to you,” the editorial quoted the Moro rebel official as saying.

Patience prevailed upon the MILF as it said “the MILF has listened to all these pushing or bashing. While they are not taken as veritable truth, they are not passed on to the other ear either.”

“The day of reckoning is not far away. We will know who is correct and who is wrong. Let us wait for that,” the editorial said.

The editorial said the MILF asked itself: “If the MILF is to disengage right now, what are the implications and alternatives? Who will be on the bad side of history? Truth is that many a person criticizes an idea or decision, but he or she has nothing to offer. Often their decision is caused by emotions and not a well-thought-out idea.”

PNP, Army hunt down gunmen in murder of off-duty soldier

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): PNP, Army hunt down gunmen in murder of off-duty soldier

The military and the police in Maguindanao have launched manhunt against two men riding tandem on a motorbike who executed an off-duty soldier Wednesday in Datu Montawal town.

Capt. Joann Patinglay, spokesperson of the 6th Infantry Division, also reiterated the directive of Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID chief, for off-duty soldiers to refrain from traveling on motorcycles alone because they became easy prey for lawless elements.

Inspector Rasul Pandulo, Datu Montawal town police chief, said Private First Class Hernan Daval of Alpha, 7th Infantry Battalion based in Pikit town was on his way to the Army headquarters when two men tailed him then shot him using cal. 45 pistol in Datu Montawal highway.

Pandulo said robbery was ruled out since Daval's back pack and motorbike as well as his personal belongings were untouched.

He was the second off-duty soldier killed in the 6th ID area of responsibility since August 20.

Army 2nd Lieutenant Ferdinand Perez of the 7th IB said Daval told him once that he has been receiving death threats through his mobile phones. Perez could not say who was threatening his subordinate and for what reason.

Pandulo said outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was one of the suspects. The BIFF, after its defeat during Army offensive early this year, has resorted to "hit and run" attacks on any military personnel traveling along Maugindanao and North Cotabato highways.

Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, Maguindanao police provincial director, said Datu Montawal police investigators are following up a lead that could identify the suspects and for filing of appropriate charges.

The killing on Wednesday of a member of the Philippine Army in Maguindanao was the second this August.

On August 20, Cpl. Angelo Magtubo of the 7th Field Artillery Battalion, in civilian clothes, was driving his motorcycle on his way to a nearby store to buy cigarettes when shot at 3 p.m. in Barangay Nabalawag, Midsayap, North Cotabato.

At least a dozen soldiers have been liquidated by suspected BIFF hit men in Maguindanao since January this year.

DavOr town receives P2.3M worth of PAMANA projects

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): DavOr town receives P2.3M worth of PAMANA projects

Three barangays from the municipality of Tarragona, Davao Oriental received P2.3 million worth of rubber production enterprises from the Department of Agriculture (DA) 11, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the provincial government through Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) on Thursday.

The beneficiaries were Ompao Muslim-Christian Cooperative (OMCC), Tomoaong United Lumad Association for Development (TULAD) and Ugbo Tubaon Mandaya Planters Association (UTMPA).

The beneficiaries received rubber seedlings, organic fertilizers, organic foliar fertilizers, shovel and lagaraw.

DA regional director Remelyn Recoter in her message delivered by Dr. Rafael Mercado, assistant regional director for research and regulatory, told the beneficiaries to take good care of the project granted to them.

A total of 200 hectare land from the three beneficiaries will be utilized for the rubber production project.

Governor Corazon Malanyaon personally thanked DA and OPPAP for helping her constituents. She also told the beneficiaries to take good care of the project.

“You are very lucky to be chosen as the recipient of this project. I hope you will take good care of it,” Malanyaon said.

PAMANA or Peaceful and Resilient Communities project is a national government’s peace and development framework for empowering conflict-affected areas in the country.

It is supported by concerned government line agencies, local government units (LGUs) and civil society groups. It follows a convergence strategy to close the gaps in development and bring progress to conflict-affected areas, where they are needed the most. It also ensures that communities benefit from improved delivery of basic social services and are served by a responsive, transparent and accountable government.

Visiting official assures timely completion of US-funded road project in Samar

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): Visiting official assures timely completion of US-funded road project in Samar

The US-funded road rehabilitation project in two Samar provinces will be finished by 2016 a top official of the Millennium Challenge Corporation has assured Tuesday.

MCC Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America Fatema Sumar said the road project is now 60 percent done.

“Our goal is to finish construction before May 25, 2016,” said Sumar, adding that contractors of the project are mandated to finish it before the deadline.

The official was in the province on Tuesday to inaugurate anti-poverty projects funded by the US government’s MCC.

Dubbed as the Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP), the road has a total road length of 222 kilometers stretching from Paranas, Samar to Guiuan, Eastern Samar, traversing poor communities.

The USD214.4 million project started October 2012 and will be finished by 2016.

The project, is expected to boost economic activities and facilitate social service for the residents of the economically-depressed provinces of Samar Island.

The project is divided into four contract packages. Contract Package (CP) 1 with a PHP802 million funding, covers the rehabilitation of a 16.3km stretch from the Buray village in Paranas town to the Tenani village of the same town.

CP 2 covers road rehabilitation of 63.68km from Hinabangan town in Samar to Sulat in Eastern Samar. The contract is valued at PHP2.5 billion.

CP 3 is concentrated on the 64.58km traverse San Julian, Sulat, Balangkayan and Llorente in Eastern Samar. The total project cost is PHP2.46 billion.

The longest stretch at 77.51 kilometers falls under CP 4, stretching from Llorente town to Guian town. The cost is PHP2.2 billion.

Other than road upgrading project, the USD434 million compact package is also intended for support reforms and investments to modernize the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and to expand and improve a community-driven development project, Kalahi-CIDSS of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

MCC has a five year contract project supporting the Philippines government in the implementation of a sustainable economic growth and projects designed to help create the tools that local community needs to uplift themselves to be part of the inclusive growth.

42 former rebels receive livelihood aid in Surigao del Sur

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 27): 42 former rebels receive livelihood aid in Surigao del Sur
Forty-two rebel returnees received livelihood grants from the government's comprehensive local integration program (CLIP) in the province of Surigao del Sur.

The former rebels formally took their oath of allegiance to the government and surrendered their firearms in a ceremony held on Tuesday at a gymnasium in the town of Lianga which was spearheaded by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Q. Deles, Agrarian Reform Sec. Gil Delos Reyes, Gov. Johnny Pimentel and key police and military officials.

Each of the former rebels were given financial grants amounting to PhP70,000.00

Aside from the said grant, the rebel returnees will aslo receive another cash assistance from the "Gun For Peace Program" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as compensation for the firearms which they have surrendered

A total of 29 high-powered and low-powered firearms were surrendered by the former rebels.

One of the rebel returnees, Vilma Quillano, 24, said she joined the armed movement in 2010 to avenge the death of her mother who died in an encounter between members of the New People's Army (NPA) and the military in the province.

However, after giving birth to her son and raising her own family, she realized the importance of the presence of a mother in a family. This prompted her to leave the armed struggle in order to devote time to her family.

“Sa una, dili nako matugkad ang akong kasuko batok sa gobyerno tungod sa kamatayon sa akong inahan nga sakop sa mga NPA. Pero, tin-aw na gayud karon kay nakita na nako karon ang kahimtang sa akong anak. Mitigbabaw ang akong paghigugma kaniya nga dili nako gusto nga masinatian usab niya ang akong nabatiang kapait nga nasinatian sa akong kinabuhi. Salamat sa Dios ug a tanang mitabangsa amoa. Balik na sa normal ang among kinabuhi,” ( Before, I cannot make out the anger I felt against the government because of the death of my mother who was an NPA member, who died in an encounter between the military. But as of now, as I think of the welfare of my son, my eyes were opened to the reality, I clearly see that my family, especially my two-year old son. I found out that I love him so much. I don’t want him to undergo the same bitter experiences which I’ve had while I was in the underground. I thank the Lord and those who have helped come up with these realizations,” she said.

Meanwhile, the AFP also welcomed the return of the former lawless elements to civilian life and tagged it as a feat for the pursuit of peace and development in the country.

”We would like to thank our brothers and sisters who finally decided to live normal lives. Once again, armed struggle is not the solution to end social, political and economic problem. It is only through peaceful resolution of conflict. Once again, I urge everyone to take part as a peace advocates. Let us work together to achieve or common goal so that we can live in harmony,” said Maj. Gen. Oscar T. Lactao, the commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.