Saturday, August 29, 2015

AFP confirms seeking US help

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 29): AFP confirms seeking US help

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday confirmed that the Philippine government has sought the help of the United States in securing the resupply missions to the disputed South China Sea.

AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin made the request to Admiral Harry Harris Jr., chief of the US Pacific Com, who recently ended his three-day visit to the country.

“It was requested. It was the secretary of national defense who requested it,” said the AFP chief in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

However, the military official did not disclose the details on how the United States can help the Philippine government in the resupply missions to its troops stationed in the West Philippine Sea.

Harris reportedly said “he will have to look into it first” when Gazmin made the appeal for help.

“We cannot speak for them, how they will do it, when they will do it, but definitely we have already agreed on some matters on how we can further strengthen and prepare for some cooperative actions on the request of the defense secretary,” said Iriberri.

Harris met separately with Gazmin and President Aquino on Wednesday. The following day, he was welcomed by Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez in Palawan, during which the West Philippine Sea dispute was discussed.

In the past, Chinese forces had attempted to block the Philippines’ resupply missions to its outpost on the disputed Ayungin Shoal, which is also being claimed by China.

The Philippine Navy ran aground a rusting ship at the shoal years ago to serve as the military’s outpost in the contested territory.

China is claiming the entire South China Sea, parts of which is also being claimed by the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

The Chinese government has made massive expansion and reclamation activities in the disputed territory despite the protests of the Philippine government and other countries.

Lopez said Harris has stressed that the United States is for regional stability and security amid the ongoing tension with China over the West Philippine Sea.

Mayor hails Zamboangueño soldier in Metrobank’s TOPS

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Aug 29): Mayor hails Zamboangueño soldier in Metrobank’s TOPS

Mayor Beng Climaco has conveyed her congratulatory and commendation to a Zamboangueño soldier, TSgt. Romel B. Bancairin of the Philippine Navy for having been chosen as one of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) for 2015, a joint project of the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. and Rotary Cluib of Makati Metro.

TSgt. Bancairin now joins the roster of elite and outstanding soldiers of the country. He will receive a trophy and a cash prize of P400,000, courtesy of Metrobank Foundation, during the awarding ceremony on September 3, 2015 at the Auditorium of Metrobank Plaza in Makati City.

The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS) is an annual search, which recognizes and pays tribute to the outstanding examples of gallantry, dedication, professionalism and integrity among members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The final Board of Judges for this year’s search was chaired by Senator Loren Legarda and co-chaired by Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman.

The other TOPS 2015 winners are Col. Danilo Gines Pamonag, PA, of Palayan City; MSgt. Arnel Guerrero Cariaga, PA, of Quezon City; MSgt. Ferdinand Cabungal Lascano, PA, Quezon City; Col. Ariel Reyes Caculitan, PN, Manila; Disbursing Clerk, 3rd Class Dennis Larracochea Gurrea, PN, Taguig City; Col. Maxima Oximoso Ignacio, PAF, Pasay City; Sr. MSgt. Romeo Castro Austria, PAF, Quezon City; SSgt. Adriano Luzong Reginales Jr., PAF, Cavite; and Maj. Jonna Dalida Dalaguit, MC, of Cagayan de Oro City.

Muslim group hits delay in BBL passage

From the Manila Times (Aug 29): Muslim group hits delay in BBL passage

COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The 1-Bangsamoro Movement, a Muslim cause-oriented group, has bewailed the government slogan of “daang matuwid” (straight path) as “daang mapanlinlang” or confusing route.

Maulana Alan Balangi, the group’s founding president and lead convenor, said his group is lobbying for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in its original version that was formulated in accordance to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro or CAB.

Balangi said that if the government is sincere in dealing with the Bangsamoro in accordance with its slogan “daang matuwid,” the Muslim Filipinos in particular will not encounter any problem in transacting with the government.

Muslims pray five times a day, always read the Fatihah or the Opening Chapter of the Holy Qur’an that includes a verse on “siratal mustakim” meaning straight path or “daang matuwid.”

With this, it is incumbent for the pious Muslim to deal sincerely with their fellow human beings, including the conduct of transaction with the government.

Balangi also noted several issues against President Benigno Aquino 3rd, including the latter’s failure to discuss the welfare of the Bangsamoro people in his State of the Nation Address and that there is not enough participation of Muslims in the Aquino administration, among others.

With this, Balangi said many of the Bangsamoro people are now doubtful if the BBL can be passed into law in the soonest possible time.

“Baka abutin ito ng siyam-siyam bago magiging isang ganap na batas [This might take some time before it can be passed into a law],” said Balangi.

However, he said be that as it may, his group is hoping that the passage of the BBL will pave the way towards the attainment of national solidarity and the lasting peace and progress of the Bangsamoro people that includes not only the Muslims but also the Christians and the indigenous people of Mindanao.

MILF: MWDECC, BCJP Conduct Community Forum on the Peace Process

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 29): MWDECC, BCJP Conduct Community Forum on the Peace Process

MWDECC, BCJP Conduct Community Forum on the Peace Process

Community Orientation on the Peace Process was conducted yesterday (August 27, 2015) at Brgy. Mapayag, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Maguindanao to educate the residents of the barangay on the narrative and status of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

The more than one hundred residents of the said barangay that attended the activity coming from different sectors such as women, youth, farmers, elders and others. 

Ms. Jehan A. Usop, Project Officer of MWDECC, said that the activity was organized and facilitated by Bangsamoro Center for Justpeace in the Philippines, Inc. (BCJP) and Moro Women Development and Cultural Center, Inc. (MWDECC) in partnership with the Local Government Unit of Datu Anggal Midtimbang.

“This is one of the series of activities under the “Popularizing the Peace Process” component of the B-BANGON Project we are currently implementing in the different municipalities of Maguindanao,” she said.

Topics on the History of the Peace Process, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) were discussed by the different resource persons invited by the facilitators. After the discussion, there was an Open Forum to let the participants ask questions and clarify things that are not clear to them.

Mr. Tungko B. Tadtagan, Executive Director of BCJP, said that the leadership of the municipality expressed their appreciation to the organizers of the activity for their efforts in educating their constituents regarding the status of the peace process especially the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“This is an opportunity for them to understand the real situation regarding the peace process between the GPH and MILF and the ongoing deliberations on the BBL. Most of the participants expressed their hope that the Philippine legislators such as House of Representatives and Senate will pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will be acceptable to the Bangsamoro,” he said.

“The B-BANGON or Building Autonomous and Stable Institutions and Communities for Bangsamoro Advancement through National-level and Grassroots Organizations and Networks is a project that aimed to ensure that the peace process is more credible and widely supported, and the local mechanisms for averting the escalation of violence is strengthened,” he added.

MILF: Marcos’ substitute bill provides no “real autonomy’: Chief Negotiator Iqbal

Posted to the MILF Website (Aug 29): Marcos’ substitute bill provides no “real autonomy’: Chief Negotiator Iqbal

Marcos’ substitute bill provides no “real autonomy’: Chief Negotiator Iqbal

In an interview yesterday by ANC’s Headstart,  MILF Chief Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said that the substitute Bangsamoro Basic Law crafted and sponsored at the Senator Floor by Senator Bongbong Marcos does not provide real autonomy to the Bangsamoro.

Iqbal said about 80 percent of the original BBL was revised for the substitute bill, with about 77 issues "diluted, deleted or scrapped" in the new proposal.

“Under the substitute BBL, the Bangsamoro will be treated just like an ordinary local government unit and not an autonomous entity in Mindanao, Iqbal said during the interview by ANC.

“Sen. Marcos' version removed the 90-word preamble, which was the soul of the law, the Bangsamoro's exclusive powers for banking as well as the block grant”, Iqbal further said.

"Maraming powers na inalis sa exclusive powers ng Bangsamoro at nilagay sa concurrent, yun iba nilagay sa reserve powers. Like banking naging reserve powers na yun. Kung yun banking ay nasa exclusive powers ng Bangsamoro, they have powers over banking. Hindi na nila kailangan ng powers from the central government paano ba patakbuhin ang isang bangko. The power is more or less in line with the autonomous power to run a bank," he said.

He also pointed out the block grant is for salaries and maintenance of offices. "Pag inalis mo yan, I don't know where we can get money. At least, help us alleviate the suffering of the people," he said.

He also noted six municipalities in Lanao del Norte and 39 barangays in North Cotabato were excluded from the plebiscite if the BBL is passed into law.

He also said it is not clear in the substitute BBL if Bangsamoro will have access to natural resources.

"We're expecting a good BBL to pass congress. If a good BBL will not pass, it's better to have no BBL, rather than a bad BBL," he lamented.

In previous statements, Iqbal expressed belief on the collective wisdom of members of congress in passing a good and an acceptable Bangsamoro Law.

JIs fled C. Mindanao, hid in Sulu – military

From the Philippine Star (Aug 30): JIs fled C. Mindanao, hid in Sulu – military

The four Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militants seen in the company of Abu Sayyaf bandits during a military offensive in Sulu could be part of a group of foreign jihadists who escaped from Central Mindanao, a senior military official said yesterday.

The militants, which included Amin Bacu alias Abu Jihad and Khalid, were sighted during last Friday’s encounter between Marine soldiers and at east 300 Abu Sayyaf bandits near Mt. Awak in Barangay Latih, Patikul town.

Bacu, an Indonesian-Filipino, was said to be a follower of terrorist Zulkipli bin Hir, alias Marwan, who was killed by Special Action Force (SAF) commandos on Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The three other JI militants spotted in Patikul were Muhamad Mahmud, Muhamad Alih, and an unidentified member.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, said it was possible that the four militants came from other areas of Mindanao, either Central Mindanao or Basilan.

Arrojado said based on reports they received from their counterparts in Basilan, the four JI terrorists arrived in Patikul and proceeded to Kanjimaw, where a military offensive has been launched against the Abu Sayyaf.

He said a separate tracking operation has been conducted to get the JI militants.

The fighting that broke out last Friday in the mountains of Patikul left three Abu Sayyaf killed and 15 others wounded, including 10 Marines.

Army, nakiisa sa “No Bio, No Boto” advocacy fun walk ng COMELEC sa Catanduanes

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Army, nakiisa sa “No Bio, No Boto” advocacy fun walk ng COMELEC sa Catanduanes (Army,joined the "No Bio, No Vote" COMELEC advocacy fun walk in Catanduanes)

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES Pili, Camarines Sur -- Nakiisa ang 83rd Infantry Battalion ng Philippine Army sa Catanduanes na pinamumunuan ni Lt. Col. Zacarias B Batalla sa inilunsad na Fun Walk ng COMELEC na pinamagatang “No Bio, No Boto” sa bayan ng Virac ng Lalawigan ng Catanduanes, Agosto 23.

Nag-umpisa ang nasabing aktibidad sa harap ng Catanduanes State University patungo sa Provincial Capitol ng Catanduanes at papunta sa Plaza Rizal ng Bayan ng Virac kung saan ngtapos ang aktibidad sa isang maikling programa at pagsayaw ng Zumba.

Samantala, dumalo din sa nasabing “Fun Walk” si Hon. Araceli B. Wong, Gobernador ng Lalawigan kasama si Mr. Uldarico Razal, OIC-DILG at ilan pang mga personalidad para magpakita ng suporta sa ginanap na aktibidad.

Kasunod nito, nagpaabot naman ng pasasalamat si Atty. Ma. Aurea C. Bo-Bunao, Provincial Election Supervisor ng COMELEC Catanduanes sa ipinakitang suporta ng Philippine Army sa programa ng kanilang ahensya.

Layunin ng nasabing aktibidad na mapataas ang antas ng kaalaman ng mga mamamayan ng Catanduanes para sa paparating na Pambansang Halalan ngayung 2016.

PAF choppers used in aerial surveys, relief operations in Ilocos Norte

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): PAF choppers used in aerial surveys, relief operations in Ilocos Norte

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte -- Two helicopters from the Philippine Air Force (PAF) were used by public officials in a two-day aerial survey and relief operations at the areas devastated by Typhoon Ineng in the province.

On Thursday, Governor Imee Marcos and representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) boarded  the two choppers and flew over the towns of Dingras, Solsona and Vintar for the greater assessment of the damage brought by the typhoon.

The following day, the officials flew to the towns of Adams, which was seveerly hit and isolated by Ineng for a few days, and Nueva Era for relief operation and aerial survey.

Engineer Glen Reyes of DPWH said aerial rounds on Madungan River showed that the dike system of Madungan dam in the town of Dingras had been washed out.

“During the survey, we saw a great extent of damage in the dike system,” he added.

The destroyed dike system of Madungan dam covers the barangays of San Marcelino and Baresbes, Dingras. Its destruction triggered severe flooding in nearby areas.

Short and long term plans are now being mapped out in rehabilitating the washed out portion of the dike system.

In order to minimize damage during typhoons, Governor Marcos said that the original plan of the dam should be restored, however, a complete redesigning and re - evaluation of the positioning of the dikes must be done the soonest.

“More or less the extent of the washed out portion of the dike system is one-kilometer,” Reyes noted.

Meanwhile, the value of damages on agriculture and infrastructures in the province due to Tyhoon Ineng ballooned to Php2.5 billion.

As of 1:00 pm of Friday, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Resiliency Council (PDRRMRC) had consolidated the damage to infrastructures with an estimated of amount of Php2, 493,698,083.74 and Php89, 919,579.06 to agriculture and fisheries.

It was also reported that the provincial government had already given Php1.88 million in cost of relief assistance to the typhoon - affected residents with a total of  32,269 families from the 374 barangays of 19 towns and two cities of the province.

The PDRRMRC said the relief operations to the typhoon – affected families are underway following the arrival of the thousand food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Army Col. Camba thanks critical Bohol tour

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 28): Army Col. Camba thanks critical Bohol tour

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol — With a heavy heart, the Philippine Army’s 2nd Special Forces Battalion commander Col. Potenciano Camba bows out and passes the command flag to his successor, but not after openly sharing memories of innovation and friendship in Bohol.

In what is possibly his last appearance at the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting August 27 at the Reynas Garden, Col. Camba declared: “The best thing that ever happened to me is being assigned in Bohol.”

As is customary at the PPOC, commanders render the peace and order and internal security operations reports, and for Col. Camba whol will be off Bohol for another assignment, this could be his last meeting with his Boholano colleagues and partners in keeping peace and order.

For Camba who came in from full active soldier duty, Bohol was initially a tough assignment as he was then to lead soldiers, not armed with rifles and side guns but saw, hammer, shovel and paintbrush.

But keeping up with the soft arm of the armed forces in fortifying internal defenses by recruiting communities to confidently say no to insurgency, the new lieutenant colonel soon found his pace and adopted to the innovative Countryside Development Program Purok Power Movement.

The nationally-adopted anti-insurgency template known as “The Bohol Experience” now focuses on the CDP-PPM as that which continuously helps putting up more government presence, thus making basic services for the people available, livelihood funding and other anti-poverty measures.

Here, the army’s civic military operations are now widely participated in by the civil society, has proven to be most effective strategy to drive insurgents to flee Bohol and abandon their cause.

“It has been a learning experience tour of duty,” Col. Camba told members of the PPOC.

Clearly not wanting to let go of the colonel’s good leadership, Governor Edgar Chatto, PPOC Chairman, highlighted the civil government’s partnership with the police and army adding that Col. Camba "has given inspiration to co-workers in the sector of peace and order and in the uniformed service.”

In its last meeting, PPOC passed a resolution and appreciation commending Col. Camba’s role in keeping Bohol insurgency-free.

The commendation can never be more fitting and better illustrated when the Army internal security operators reported no enemy sightings and no movements of interest groups under their surveillance for August 2015.

A similar resolution, this time from Bohol Sangguniang Panlalawigan, also extolled Camba’s defining role in keeping Bohol insurgent-free.

NegOr observes National Peace Consciousness Month

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 29): NegOr observes National Peace Consciousness Month

DUMAGUETE CITY-- Negros Oriental set to join the country in observing National Peace Consciousness Month this September.

The celebration will kick-off with flag raising rites on September 1 at 7:30 am at the Freedom Park, Capitol Area.

Hundreds of local and national government employees and representatives from schools, non-government organizations, police, and military personnel including members of ICT-Dumaguete will participate during the flag raising ceremony and recital of the Pledge of Peace.

Governor Roel Degamo will deliver a "message of peace" after a peace and order situation statement by P/SSupt. Dionardo Carlos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Col. Allan Martin, brigade commander of 302nd Brigade, during the flag-raising ceremony.

To highlight the activity, doves will be released as symbols for peace, after which the multi-sectoral groups are encouraged to sign their names in a “Signature for Peace-Wall of Commitment”.

On its 12th year observance of National Peace Consciousness Month, the PTWG has coordinated with the private sector, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to conduct a series of activities for the celebration.

These include Run for Peace province-wide with three teams identified to run town-to-town relay of runners; Peace Forum; Art Exhibit for Peace, and a motorcade.

The military forces also intend to undertake a tree planting and growing activity with ROTC students and reservists with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) providing the seedlings.

The peace activities aim to raise awareness in its efforts to engage the Negrenses in the peace process and in the search for a just and lasting peace at the countryside.

Governor Degamo said this undertaking is significant to promote value of peace and unity in the province.

3ID acquires disaster rescue equipment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 29): 3ID acquires disaster rescue equipment

Equipment for Disaster Rescue Operations (DRO) was acquired by the 3rdInfantry Division (3ID) of the Philippine Army in order to boost its capability on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations.

The newly acquired tools worth P733,900.00 are two rescue boats, Kemmantle rope, four single pulley, 20 rescue vests, circular saw and other gears for Urban as well as Water Search and Rescue.

3ID commander Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero led the inspection and subsequent blessing of the newly-acquired DRO equipment at the Multi-Purpose Building of Camp Gen. Macario Perlata in Jamindan town.

He said that the 3ID troops will be more prepared and responsive in saving lives of the people in times of calamity with the acquisition of DRO equipment which is in line with agenda of the Command of extending greater service to the people of the region in time of natural disasters.

Guerrero, who was among the recipients of individual award during the recent Pasalamat 2015, has reaffirmed the 3ID’s commitment to help the Capiz provincial government in its collective effort in promoting awareness, preparedness and public involvement in the reduction of risks and management of disasters.

The Division also regularly conducts rescue trainings such as Water Search and Rescue (WASAR), Disaster Relief and Rescue Operations (DRRO) and First Responders in line with its goal to further enhance the skill of the men of 3ID.

Peace Caravan makes a dent in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 27): Peace Caravan makes a dent in SurSur

TANDAG CITY, Surigao del Sur – The two-day peace caravan that was held in Marihatag and Lianga towns, this province, has indeed lived up to the expectation of the 12 barangays of three municipalities it targeted to serve on August 24 and 25.

In a press conference, Governor Johnny Pimentel, who led the event, has expressed thanks and gratitude to all the people behind the local and national government agencies including civil society organizations (CSO) that stood up to its commitment to participate and support the affair all the way.

In like manner, Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has also made similar gesture, leaving words of thanks and appreciation.

OPAPP said in an earlier statement, before the two-day peace caravan kicked off, it was expecting “to serve more than 1,000 households consisting of approximately 15,000 individuals including children.”

In addition, OPAPP also pointed out that services to be offered will focus on “health, livelihood, education, grooming, legal and veterinary consultations, land concerns, hauling services, voter registration, distribution of food packs, birth registration, feeding, advocacy and dialogue.”

The six barangays that benefited during the  first day belong to Marihatag town—San Pedro, San Isidro, Mahaba, Mararag, Bayan, and Amontay, while during the second day, the three barangays of Lianga town—San Isidro, St. Christine, and Diatagon—as well as three barangays also of San Agustin town—Janipaan, Pong-on, and Buhisan.

Among others, aside from OPAPP Secretary Deles, the cabinet secretaries and/or agency representatives who made their way to the province for the peace caravan include: DAR Sec. Virgilio De los Reyes; OPAPP Usec. Gettie Sandoval and Usec. Apple Robles; OPA Usec. Joel Jaime Payumo and Usec. Bobbet Garcia; DPWH Usec. Romeo Momo; DENR Usec. Jonas Leones; Mindanao Coordinating Office Usec. Nabil Tan; DOST Asec. Urduja Tejada; DepEd Asec. Rey Laguda; DILG NBOO Director Leo Trovela; EastMinCom Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad; 4ID Commander MGen. Oscar Lactao; PNP Caraga Dir. P/CSupt. Vert Chavez; 402nd Brigade Commander Col. Isidro Purisima; and, PNP Surigao del Sur Provincial Director P/SSupt. Narciso Verdadero.

Likewise, part of the program during the culmination day was the presentation of 42 former rebels (FRs) who decided to surrender their firearms and return to the folds of the law.

The peace caravan aims “to reinforce the gains of peace-building initiatives in conflict-affected areas in our province, Governor Pimentel said.

Php228M development projects handed out in SOCCSKSARGEN Region

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 27): Php228M development  projects  handed out  in SOCCSKSARGEN Region

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato --The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region-12 has released some Php227.65 million for the construction of various community projects funded through the agency’s Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-A Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Program.

Gemma  Rivera, DSWD-12 assistant regional director,  revealed that the said amount released represents a total of 161 projects and barangays as beneficiaries located in three provinces of the region.

“The said amount was released directly to the community, through accounts opened purposely for the implementation of their chosen projects,” Rivera said.

Rivera added that constructions, which are managed and supervised by the community themselves, of the projects are now ongoing and are expected to be completed starting this month.

Among the municipalities that are implementing the program, according to Rivera, include towns of Isulan, Bagumbayan, Lambayong, Kalamansig, Senator Ninoy Aquino, Palimbang, Lutayan, and Lebak in Sultan Kudarat; Kiamba, Maitum, Maasim and Glan in Sarangani; Aleosan, Alamada, Banisilan, and Pikit in North Cotabato.

Carmen in North Cotabato, is the 17th town in the region to implement Kalahi-CIDSS and still now in the process of social preparation to identify projects of communities that will be funded under the Program.

Rivera added that among the prioritized projects this year include school buildings, water systems, health centers, drainage systems, road concreting and rehabilitation, solar drier, ware house and other agricultural-related projects, bridges and many others, which are expected to address the most pressing needs, especially of the poorest among the poor in the remote communities.

A community-driven development (CDD) program, Kalahi-CIDSS employs strategies that development priorities are addressed in participatory, collective and inclusive decision-making, in which, control over resources is in the hands of the communities.

Impact studies from World Bank and Asian Development Bank, two of the major funding agencies of the program, revealed that CDD strategy is effective way in reducing poverty, empowering communities and improving local governance, one of the reasons of its expansion and scaling-up as a national strategy for poverty-reduction of the Philippines.

NorthCot PNP to double security forces on the province’s foundation day

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 27): NorthCot PNP to double security forces on the province’s foundation day

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato --- The police office in the province is set to double its forces in line with the province’s 101st foundation anniversary on September 1.

Police Chief Inspector Ramil Hojilla, operations officer of the Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO) said that from 150 police forces who are now monitoring the security status of the province particularly the Provincial Capitol, these will be doubled on the last day of the celebration.

“This is to strengthen security measure as many VIPs will be coming to the province on September 1,” Hojilla noted adding that mobile forces and force multipliers will augment the PNP personnel.

Further, the police official stated that checkpoints are still operating in the long stretch of Cotabato City to Kidapawan City.

“Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams and K9 units will also be deployed to ensure the safety of the public,” Hojilla emphasized.

Moreover, teams from the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center will also take part in the security initiatives.

As of today, Hojilla stated that zero- crime incident is recorded in line with the celebration of the Kalivungan Festival.

Meanwhile, he called upon the public to be more observant and vigilant with their surroundings. The police official said that the residents can report to police assistance centers established in different areas if they have seen any suspicious individual or thing.

JTF Gensan hosts wreath-laying ceremony at Plaza Heneral Santos

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 29): JTF Gensan hosts wreath-laying ceremony at Plaza Heneral Santos

The Joint Task Force (JTF) Gensan will host the Wreath-Laying Ceremony in commemoration of Gen. Paulino Santos’ 70th death anniversary on Saturday, August 29 at Plaza Heneral Santos here.

JTF Gensan chief Col. Paterno Reynato Padua said the activity kicks off at 7:00 o’clock in the morning with a sky diving exhibition from Philippine Army Sky Diving Team carrying the Philippine Flag from an altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera is also expected to attend the event as guest of honor. He is to lead the wreath offering, according to JTF GenSan.

General Santos was an Army general who also served as administrator of the National Land Settlement Administration (NLSA) during the time of President Manuel L. Quezon.

As an NLSA chief, he brought with him the first batch of settlers from Luzon and Visayas to South Cotabato, where they cultivated vast track of barren agricultural lands into highly productive farming areas.

According to local historians, he also founded the municipalities of Banga, Tampakan, Koronadal, Tupi, Polomolok, and Buayan (also known as Dadiangas) as the then settelements of migrants in South Cotabato.

For his legacy, the officialdom of Buayan renamed their municipality to General Santos "in June 1954" by virtue of "Republic Act No. 1107."

Years later, the late Sarangani Representative James L. Chiongbian authored a bill upgrading the municipality into a city, paving the way to Republic Act No. 5412 otherwise known as “An Act Creating the City of General Santos” or the “Charter of the City of General Santos” which was approved on June 15,1968.

Currently, General Santos’ monument stands at Plaza Heneral Santos in front of the City Hall. It was unveiled on “September 5, 1981.”

Other invited wreath-layers for Saturday’s commemoration of Santos’ death anniversary include South Cotabato 1st District Representative Pedro Acharon Jr., Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles, General Santos City Police Office (GSCPO) chief PSupt. Maximo Layugan, and the pioneers/descendants and surviving relatives of General Santos.

Maj. Datu Hasbi Jamalul, JTF Gensan’s civil military operations officer also invites the people here to witness the wreath-laying, saying it “is open to public as it is part of the attraction of this year’s 47th Charter Anniversary and the 17th Tuna Festival” which will have a grand opening on September 1.

RPOC, Gingoog foster peace, security in NorMin

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 27): RPOC, Gingoog foster peace, security in NorMin

Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in region 10 and the Gingoog City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) conducted a joint meeting on August 26 in furtherance of their commitment to peace-building and development in the region.

The meeting also intends to discuss common peace and security concerns of the two councils, possibly come up with synchronized interventions that would produce better results and positively impacts the overall peace and development condition of northern Mindanao.

For the first time ever in the city’s history, Mayor Marie de Lara Guingona had called for the joint meeting between RPOC and CPOC.

The lady executive had welcomed RPOC’s chair, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno of Cagayan de Oro City who paid a courtesy visit in her office prior to the meeting and delegated RPOC’s vice-chair, Ariel Hernandez, to preside on his behalf due to his commitment in Cagayan de Oro which has been celebrating its month-long activities for the city’s fiesta celebration in honor of Saint Augustine.

Guingona said she is honored for the cooperation for the joint meeting which deliberates, presents, moves and adopts resolutions and plans for the salient aspiration of sustainable peace and order for our continued struggle for citywide development

During the meeting, Lt. Col Jose Eriel Niembra and Capt. Marzan had presented the Peace and Order Situationer which involved the Army’s fight against insurgency, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) accomplishments and their continuous programs in protecting our government, its citizenry, the environment and the whole nation in general.

Major Gen. Oscar T. Lactao, 4th Infantry Division commander had emphasized that our government should continually address the economic, socio-political, judicial and cultural needs of our people as our concerted efforts in decreasing the rate of insurgents.

“Injustice is the prominent recruiter of rebellion.  Pwedeng tiisin ng tao ang gutom at hirap, pero marihap niyang tiisin ang inhustisya na kanyang naranasan,” said Lactao.

In behalf of Major Gen. Gerardo S. Barrientos, Jr. who was invited to present for the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, Col Felicisimo C Budiongan of the Mechanized Division based in Iligan City shared their challenging roles against MILF, BIFF, MNLF and other peace-hassling cum life-threatening groups milling around Lanao and Zamboanga provinces.

Meanwhile, Police Regional Office (PRO)-10 presented crime rate in the region as well as solutions, strategies and recommendations. In its fight against illegal drugs, PRO-10 has its personnel who dwell in drug menace and now on their hasty way for administrative cases being filed against them.

As icon of drug-busting, Regional Director Wilkins M. Villanueva of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) presented the tremendous market of illegal drugs around the world.

Villanueva appreciated the cooperation of the Gingoog city chief executive in fishing out drug-identified pusher-users in various villages in the city.

“Huwag n’yong i-asa lahat sa amin. Magtulungan tayo. Let us change the system; let us start from the bottom to the top.  Mas marami ang nasa bottom – sila ang mga user.  Pagwalang consumer, walanang drug manufacturer,” said by the PMA graduate-director.

For Gingoognons’ issues, the lady chair had tackled the resolution for Brgy. Alagatan’s land disputes and insurgency matter.

Moreso, the council enabled to discuss and update the land issue pertaining to Sitio Sio-an’s (Brgy. Malinao) with the aid of the supervising investigator from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in region 10, Victorio O. Aleria, Jr. who serves as the chair of Task Force Sio-an.

Hernandez and Mayor Marie had both expressed their gratitude and acknowledgment to the councils’ members, guests, visitors, faith-based group, soldiers, police, media sector and other individuals who had participated and witnessed the joint endeavors that seek for genuine peace and lasting order in Northern Mindanao.

14 ex-rebels in Catanduanes receive cash aid under CLIP

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): 14 ex-rebels in Catanduanes receive cash aid under CLIP

Fourteen former rebels received PHP50,000 each, or a total of Php700,000, as financial and livelihood assistance under the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) of the government in a simple ceremony on Thursday at the Governor’s Conference Room, Provincial Capitol, Virac, Catanduanes.

The awarding ceremony was attended by Gov. Araceli B. Wong; Uldarico Razal Jr., officer in-charge (OIC), Department of Interior and Local Government provincial office; Delia T. Bernal, OIC, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office; Carmelita Javier, executive assistant, Provincial Governor's Office; Superintendent Efren Orlina, operations officer, Catanduanes Provincial Police Office; and Lt. Col. Zacarias B. Batalla Jr., commanding officer, 83rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

Bernal said this is the last part of the first phase for the CLIP process and the beginning of integration of the former rebels in the community.

The government, through PSWD, will continue to monitor the development and status of the livelihood assistance given to them.

The PA's 9th Infantry Division and its partner-agencies are continuing their efforts in encouraging rebels to lay down their arms and return to the fold of law.

Village councilor, 4 others gunned down in Cotobato City

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Village councilor, 4 others gunned down in Cotobato City

Police authorities here, backed by Army Special Forces, are hunting down six heavily armed men who killed a village councilman and three village watchmen Friday here.

Sr. Supt. Rex Anongos, Cotabato City police director, said the suspects on board a four-wheel vehicle with two motorcycle back up opened fire on the Barangay Bagua Mother patrol vehicle parked atop a bridge, just beside the Barangay Tanod outpost.

The incident happened at 5 p.m. atop Tanghal bridge, where the victims were manning a village outpost, on busy Salipada K Pendatun Avenue extension.

Anongos identified the slain village councilman as Misuari Karim of Barangay Bagua Mother, along with "Barangay Tanods" Mamanta Kalim, Theng Wahab and Omar Abo, all residents of Barangay Bagua Mother.

Responding policemen recovered empty shells for AK-47 rifle, M-16 Armalite rifle, cal. 45 pistol and 9mm pistol.

Anongos said the victims were inside a parked government issued red multi-cab when the attackers arrived and opened fire.

Quoting witnesses, Anongos said the victims who were also armed, were caught unaware and failed to return fire on the attackers who quickly sped away.

"This is personal and the victims knew the suspects," Anongos said.

He said about 30 minutes earlier, Karim visited the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office at PC Hill, Cotabato City where he sought assistance after receiving death threats.

Karim heads a peace and order committee of the Barangay Council. He has spearheaded the aggressive campaign against big time illegal drugs dealers in the village.

Since 4 p.m. Thursday until Friday's ambush in Barangay Bagua, a total of six persons have been killed in five shooting incidents in what residents described as "shooting season."

In August alone, at least 15 shooting incidents were recorded by the Cotabato City police office.

Saada Karim, the councilman's wife, said her husband knew the attackers.

She vowed to pursue the case against the suspects so justice will be served on her slain husband.

Anongos admitted that the suspects belonged to an organized crime group operating in the city and involved in illegal drug activities.

Military uncovers NPA rebel arms factory in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Military uncovers NPA rebel arms factory in Bukidnon

The military has uncovered an armed factory of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the hinterlands of Kitao-tao, Bukidnon during a search warrant of one of the village houses there, the military reported Saturday.

Capt. Norman Tagros, the spokesperson of the army’s 8th Infantry Battalion based here, said that the raiding troops seized firearms and various war paraphernalia after the military encountered armed resistance when the raiding team tried to serve the warrant three days ago last Wednesday.

Seized were one M-16 rifle, six Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), 60 pieces blasting caps, 900 meters of danger explosive, detonating cord, eight pieces IED molders, one-half kilo sulfur powder, one lower receiver of cal. 45 pistols, subversive documents and an NPA rebel flag.

He said that some of the IEDs that were recovered were found buried along the trails within the periphery of the barangay, posing great danger to the residents of the community.

Tagros said that the military is now conducting a probe to determine whether the NPA rebels have been using the area as a site of the illegal explosive factory.

According to Tagros, the residents in the area formally filed a complaint with the local court after executing an affidavit about alleged NPA abuses, recruitment and illegal possession of firearms and IEDs perpetrated by some local barangay folks who were influenced by the communist rebels.

He said that some militant groups who introduced themselves as members of a human rights group from Arakan, North Cotabato held a protest in a bid to stop the law enforcers from serving the search warrants in the village.

However, the local residents drove the protesters away and guided the military to a successful raid that led to the discovery of the war factory in the village, Tagros said.

Two ASG sub-leaders wounded in latest Sulu clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Two ASG sub-leaders wounded in latest Sulu clash

Two of the sub-leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were wounded on Friday’s clash with government forces in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official disclosed.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, made this disclosure Saturday based on the intelligence reports they received from the field.

Arrojado said the ASG sub-leaders who were wounded were Roger Samlahun and Hatib Hajan Sawalaan, whose group figured in a clash with government forces around 6:29 a.m. Friday in Mount Awak, Barangay Latih, Patikul, Sulu.

Friday’s clash broke out when the Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 (MBLT-2) troops encountered some 300 Abu Sayyaf brigands while conducting focus military operation.

The Abu Sayyaf brigands scampered to different directions after the troops pounded them with 81-mm mortar shells as well as they sensed the arrival of government reinforcement.

Arrojado disclosed they received information that the Abu Sayyaf brigands have fled to Sitio Bawisan, Barangay Kabuntakas and Bud (Mount) Gasam, Patikul town.

Meanwhile, Arrojado disclosed that five wives of ASG members were monitored to have bought medical supplies and medicines at different pharmacies around 11 a.m. Saturday in Jolo, the capital town of Sulu.

He disclosed that further information showed that 15 ASG brigands were taken to Barangay Taglibi, Patikul for medical treatment.

He said the 15 ASG brigands, who are followers of Hatib Hajan Sawajaan, were wounded during the Aug. 19 clash in Sitio Marang, Barangay Buanza, Indanan town.

However, he said information further revealed that five of the 15 wounded have returned to their group while the remaining 10 are still recuperating in Taglibi, Patikul.

Army K-9 team helps recover remains of landslide victim in Benguet

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Army K-9 team helps recover remains of landslide victim in Benguet

A Philippine Army (PA) K-9 team led rescuers to the remains of one of the landslide victims in the mining area of Mankayan, Benguet late Friday afternoon.

The K-9 team, one of the two deployed by the PA in the area, and headed by by Sgt. Wilfredo M. Fiesta, successfully retrieved one male cadaver, believed to be one of the missing pocket miners, while conducting search-and-retrieval operations at the landslide area at Barangay Taneg, Mankayan, Benguet at 4:20 p.m. Friday.

Col. Benjamin Hao, PA spokesperson, said the body is unidentified as of this time.

He added that their K-9 teams will continue to participate in the ongoing search-and-retrieval efforts.

Around 12 miners in the region were believed buried in the landslide during the onslaught of Typhoon "Ineng" last week.

Bangsamoro peace process takes center stage on National Peace Consciousness Month

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Bangsamoro peace process takes center stage on National Peace Consciousness Month

The Bangsamoro peace process will serve as the lynchpin of the country’s 12th National Peace Consciousness Month, with the two-pronged objective of encouraging Congress to finish the work on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) while at the same time continuing to raise awareness and understanding on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Government chief peace negotiator Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said this year’s observance “comes at a most opportune time as the leadership of both Houses of Congress are eyeing a September passage of the BBL.”

On separate occasions, both Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. made public pronouncements that there was still time to pass their respective BLBARs (Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region), the amended version of the BBL, in September.

“September has always been an important month for us in the peace process. This year will be extra special and memorable if our esteemed lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Senate will finally finish their work on the Bangsamoro law,” commented Ferrer.

The chief negotiator also shared that the OPAPP was planning several activities for the month-long commemoration.

OPAPP has been leading the annual celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month by virtue of Proclamation No. 675 series of 2004. The highlight of last year’s celebration came when the Office of the President transmitted the original BBL which was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Focusing on the Bangsamoro, Ferrer added that the agency would be launching a series of exhibits around Metro Manila and parts of Mindanao with the assistance of several government agencies, major shopping malls, and universities.

“Beyond just calling for the passage of the bill, the purpose of these exhibits is to bring closer to the Filipino people the stories and dreams of our fellow Filipino brothers and sisters in the prospective Bangsamoro.”

Ferrer commented that the “exhibits will hopefully enable and empower the general public to engage in continuing dialogue on the Bangsamoro and the legislative process involving the BBL.” She said there are plans to put up information and education materials in public spaces to increase awareness on the peace process.

Accordingly, the said exhibit will first grace Miriam College and the TriNoMa Mall on Sept 1 and will stay there until the 5th and the 6th respectively.

Starting Sept. 14 , the same exhibit can be viewed at the College of Arts and Science, University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila) and the Philippine Normal University (PNU). U.P. Manila agreed to host the exhibit for four days while the PNU have offered a duration of two weeks.

The House of Representatives will also serve as another venue for the Bangsamoro exhibit starting from Sept. 14 to 17.

‎The exhibits will focus on providing information and clarifying misconceptions on the draft law.

This September, the general public can also expect to spot public utility vehicles in Metro Manila and Mindanao carrying messages on the BBL. Various tricycle drivers and associations have agreed to carry the said advertisements, pointing out the need to bring closer to the public the Bangsamoro message of peace and social justice.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping the Bangsamoro peace process in the consciousness of the public because the best opportunity to end the decades of alienation and hostility is now with us,"explained Ferrer.

Ferrer also invited everyone to keep an eye on the official OPAPP website as various activities and contests were also being planned.

“We are bringing the peace month to the social media. The OPAPP will be launching several online-only events aligned with the objectives of the Bangsamoro peace process,” she said.

Army to recruit 137 new officers

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 29): Army to recruit 137 new officers

In line with its efforts to hire quality people for its roster, the Philippine Army (PA) on Saturday announced that it will recruit 137 new officers into its ranks by November this year.

Col. Benjamin Hao, PA spokesperson, said that two courses will be opened on Nov. 1 at the Officer Candidate School, Training and Doctrine Command, Philippine Army in Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac.

Officer Candidate Course Class 47, a one-year course for college graduates who wish to join the Army as an officer, shall be opened with 70 candidates.

On the other hand, the Officer Preparatory Course Class 65, a six-month course for those who have already completed their Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) advanced course and probationary officer's training, shall have 67 candidates.

Hao said the recruitment of 137 new officers is part of the PA's efforts to complete the 274 officer quota for 2015.

Training of the two officers course started last June 22.

As a member of the PA, one can get competitive pay and allowances, opportunities for post-graduate studies both local and abroad, insurance and healthcare benefits, billeting and house privileges, job security, leadership and other skills training.