Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Joma Sison says he has not endorsed Duterte’s bid for presidency

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 1): Joma Sison says he has not endorsed Duterte’s bid for presidency

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison has clarified that he has not yet endorsed Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s bid for the presidency.

“I wish to clarify news reports that I have endorsed the presidential candidacy of Mayor Rudy Duterte,” Sison said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

In a rally last August 28, organizers showed a video of Sison praising Duterte for his nationalist stand.

The mayor then joked at the retired military and police officials, including former AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperson and former PNP chief Roberto Lastimoso, who were present at the rally, that he might get shot because of this.

But Duterte vowed to use his influence in government and in the leftist movement to achieve peace without further escalation of violence.

He said the government and the communist rebels could instead focus on drug lords and on the defense of the Philippine territory, most particularly the disputed West Philippine Sea.

Sison explained that a Davao journalist took the video months ago when she visited him in Utrecht and asked him about his opinion of Duterte as a presidential candidate.

“I answered in the following manner: He is highly qualified. He has integrity and a strong character and is determined to do good for the country,” Sison said.

Sison explained that he could not have endorsed Duterte because the mayor has not yet officially declared his intent to run for president.

“It was not possible for me to endorse his presidential candidacy because he had not yet made up his mind to run for the presidency. Even until now, up to the writing of this note, he is reported not to have yet made up his mind to run for the presidency,” Sison said.

Duterte, who is known to have an open line with the communist movement, said that his principles have been always Left but he would not support violence as a means to effect change in society.

“From the start I told you I am Left, but it is the armed struggle which I will not support,” Duterte said.

Duterte has facilitated the safe release of soldiers and policemen captured by the New People’s Army in Mindanao, which gave hope to peace advocates that the mayor might help jumpstart that stalled talks with the National Democratic Front.

Pressured by the demands of different groups, Duterte asked for time to consult his family, most especially his children, about possible candidacy for the presidency in 2016.


Baler judge shot dead, wife hurt

From the Philippine Star (Sep 1): Baler judge shot dead, wife hurt

Crime scene investigators examine the vehicle of slain trial court Judge Jude Erwin Alaba at the court compound in Barangay Suklayin, Baler, Aurora yesterday. FB Photo/Arnel Turzar

BALER, Aurora, Philippines – A gunman on a motorcycle shot and killed yesterday afternoon the judge who last year acquitted a New People’s Army (NPA) commander accused of killing two soldiers 15 years ago.

His wife sustained a bullet wound in the left arm and is under observation in a hospital.
Police said 45-year-old Judge Jude Erwin Alaba of Baler Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 91 was shot in the chest.

He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Alaba and his wife Margarita had just arrived at the RTC compound in their Mitsubishi Montero at around 2 p.m. when the gunman appeared and repeatedly fired at them with a caliber .45 pistol, according to Aurora police director Sr. Supt. Danny Tolentino.

The security guard was motioning to Alaba, who was at the wheel, to back off to park when the shooting started.

The gunman sped away on a motorcycle after emptying his pistol at Alaba, Tolentino said.

Police are still looking into the possible motive behind the attack, he added.

Based on the investigation of Baler police under Chief Insp. Jun dela Cruz, it was gathered that Alaba has made several convictions that might have angered some people.


SB staff listened to phone conversations of intrusion targets many times

From the Borneo Post Online (Sep 2): SB staff listened to phone conversations of intrusion targets many times
KOTA KINABALU: A communication interception processing staff of the Special Branch in Bukit Aman had to listen to phone conversations involving specific targets many times, the High Court, here, heard yesterday.

The witness, who was testifying as a protected witness in a hearing on the armed intrusion case in Lahad Datu, said this was to enable the witness to recognise the target’s voice in future intercepted telephone conversations.

“I would hear the conversation many times until I could recognise the target’s voice.

“I would also know that the person in the phone conversation was the target from the intonation of the target’s voice,” said the witness via a court interpreter.

The witness, who listened to and translated telephone conversations in the Suluk language, also said there were different and unique styles in the way a person spoke Suluk.

The protected witness was testifying in the trial of 30 individuals linked to the intrusion by Sulu gunmen at Kampung Tanduo in February 2013.

The witness said a target was able to be identified in the phone conversations as he or she would make an introduction to the person on the other line.

To a question by deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, the witness said the communication interception unit’s coordinating officer, ASP Muhammad Fauzairi Jaidin, would identify the security aspects of the transcribed and translated phone conversations.

Earlier, the prosecution told the court that they requested to call eight protected witnesses.

Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed, who leads the prosecution team, said the prosecution would adopt Section 14 of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) in which only the presiding judge, the prosecution and the court interpreter would hear the protected witness’ voice.

“The witness will only be visible to Your Lordship. The testimony of the protected witness will then be deduced in writing for the benefit of cross- examination by the defence,” he said.

Counsel Majnah Abdillah said the defence would not object to the prosecution’s request if any of the protected witnesses feared his or her voice would be recognised.

Justice Stephen Chung said he had only approved for the first protected witness to testify in the trial and that he would decide on the other seven after holding an inquiry with each of them.

He said he would personally interview each of the witnesses to determine that the witnesses needed their identities to be protected.

He also said that the first witness had not told him that the witness feared his or her voice would be recognised by anyone.

“The witness told me that if the witness was recognised or identified by any of the accused persons or if the witness’ identity was exposed, then the witness feared that his or her life would be at risk,” he said.

Although the second part of Section 14 (3) of SOSMA was not fulfilled following the inquiry, in which the witness did not express fear that his or her voice would be recognisable, Chung decided that the testimony of the first accused would only be relayed through the court interpreter.

In the dock are 27 Filipinos and three local residents who are facing one to multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

They are also alleged to have recruited members for a terrorist group or wilfully harboured individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group.

The offences were allegedly committed between Feb 12 and April 10, 2013.

The hearing at the Sabah Prisons Department continues today. — Bernama


Mum appeals to Abu Sayyaf to free her daughter

From the Star Online (Sep 2): Mum appeals to Abu Sayyaf to free her daughter

SANDAKAN: The aging mother of kidnapped restaurant manager Thien Nyuk Fun is appealing to Abu Sayyaf gunmen to free her daughter.

“Please release my daughter and send her back to me.

“I miss her very much,” the 78-year-old Chin Foh Tai said in an emotional appeal to the gunmen holding her daughter along with Sa­­rawakian tourist Bernard Then Ted Fun, 39.

Both were snatched by Filipino gunmen from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on May 14.
Chin, who spoke together her grandson Chung Chin Loong, said she was unable to sleep and was worried for the safety of her daughter.

“I don’t know why we have to go through this.

“Why did they take my daughter, we are nobody, we are just ordinary people”, said the former vegetable hawker.

Chin said there was no way their family could raise the ransom mo­­ney.

Both Thien and Then’s families have been appealing to the Malaysian Government to intervene as negotiations are getting more complicated with other new intermediaries moving in.

The Abu Sayyaf had called Then’s wife Chan Wai See two-weeks ago and had said that her husband was next in line for beheading.

Thien, who suffers from high blood pressure, is also reportedly in poor health.

Chung, 32, who is Thien’s eldest son, appealed to the Government to help secure the release of his mother and Then.

Thien's husband had passed away five years ago and she works as a manager at the Ocean King restaurant while Then was with his wife on holiday when the gunmen grabbed them from the restaurant.


'Gestapo-like' raid in Bukidnon denounced

Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Sep 1): 'Gestapo-like' raid in Bukidnon denounced

A MILITANT lawmaker has denounced the August 26 Army raid at a hinterland village and the arrest of 11 suspected communist rebels in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon, and is demanding a congressional inquiry.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the search conducted on the houses in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao, by the Army 8th Infantry Battalion and the police Regional Public Safety Battalion was "highly irregular".

"It was a Gestapo-like raid. We are no longer under a martial law regime," Zarate said.

He said he will also call Bukidnon Prosecutor Nel Alonto to the inquiry to explain why he went to Barangay White Kulaman last Wednesday with the team that conducted the raid.

He said it was unusual for a prosecutor to go to a village described by the military as an "NPA-infested area."

"Why does he have to go to White Kulaman? Is there an undue interest for him," Zarate said.

Zarate is also questioning the search warrant issued by a court in Misamis Oriental.

"The search order was for a general search which is no longer applicable these days," he said.

He said search warrants are "very specific" for single individuals and not for communities like Barangay White Kulaman.

Alonto told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro he went to the barangay "to ensure that the law and legal procedure of conducting the search was properly implemented and that the rights of the people were respected by the army and the PNP."

Army 8IB Commander Colonel Lennon Babilonia said the raid was conducted on the strength of a warrant issued by acting executive Judge Maritess Bernales of Regional Trial Court Branch 39 in Misamis Oriental.

A copy of the warrant reveals that it covers 57 houses in five sitios in White Kulaman.

Army Captain Jonald Fallar, who applied for the warrant, executed an affidavit that the houses were being used by New People's Army (NPA) rebels to hide firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

Babilonia said his troops found an M79 grenade launcher and five sacks of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) during the raid.

(Erratum: The headline Friday, August 28, should have read 11 suspected rebels arrested in Bukidnon, NOT 15 suspected rebels arrested in Bukidnon. Our apologies.)


Fact-finding mission into Pangantucan incident

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Sep 1): Fact-finding mission into Pangantucan incident

A MULTI-SECTORAL group will launch an inquiry on September 1 into reports that the five individuals killed in a supposed battle with Army troopers in a town in Bukidnon last month were civilians, and not communist rebels.

Kalumbay Northern Mindanao Chairperson Datu Jomorito Goaynon said the fact-finding mission will leave Cagayan de Oro City for Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan town, where the supposed clash between the Army special forces troops and New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas took place on August 18.

"Atong pamatud-an na dili gyud miyembro sa New People's Army (NPA) ang gipamatay kung dili mga sibilyan lang," Goaynon said.

Killed in the incident were Jobert Samia, Herminiano Samia, Elmer Somina, and minors Emer Somina, 17, and Norman Samia, 13.

"Magkuha ta ug dugang documents, dugang interview sa mga paryente sa biktima, ug sa mga tribal datu," Goaynon said.

He said the findings of the mission will be submitted to the Commission on Human Rights for possible filing of criminal cases.

"Ato pud ipangkumbinsi ang mga higala sa mga nangamatay na sila mismo magpasaka na unta ug kaso," Goaynon said.

The military on Sunday said tests conducted on the dead bodies by the police's Scene of the Crime Operative's (SOCO) proved that they were rebels.

"SOCO found gunpowder residues on the five dead bodies, this proves that the dead bodies were not farmers as alleged, but rebels," said Army Colonel Jesse Alvarez, 403rd Infantry Brigade commanding officer.


Maranaos threaten to issue fatwah vs Marcos, other lawmakers

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Sep 1): Maranaos threaten to issue fatwah vs Marcos, other lawmakers

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Protesters smear with red paint the images of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong "Marcos Jr., and his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, during a rally held in Marawi City on Monday. (Froilan Gallardo)

HUNDREDS of Maranaos have threatened to issue a fatwah against Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other lawmakers who are against the original form of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

A fatwah is a legal opinion issued by a religious leader of Islamic or a council of imams.

Chanting "BBL! BBL!" the Maranaos attended a rally in downtown Marawi City Monday to urge Congress to pass the original BBL measure that was signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Leaders took turns in denouncing Marcos for writing a substitute bill that they said did not contain the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and did away with 17 years of negotiations.

"BBL is not dead. It is alive in the hearts and minds of the Bangsamoro," Drieza Liningding, head of the Bangsamoro for Peace and Development, said. "It is not the substitute bill written by Senator Bongbong Marcos or the bill passed by the House ad hoc committee."

As a show of their disgust, Maranaos took turns smearing red paid on a tarpaulin bearing the images of Marcos and his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

"You and your father have a huge blood debt against our people," cried a young student.

Marawi community leader Aga khan Sharief said the martial law regime of President Marcos had victimized thousands of Maranaos and Bangsamoros who were killed and tortured because they were suspected to be separatist rebels.

"Now Bongbong is repeating the deed of his father. His refusal to pass the original form of the BBL is tantamount of killing the aspirations of our people," Sharief said.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have less than 11 days to pass their versions of the proposed bill. Only then can the two versions reconciled in a bicameral session.

Marcos said Senate Bill 3894, which is his substitute proposal to the BBL, contains strong safeguards against reckless appropriations and misuse of funds.

"The appropriations and use of funds that would be made by the Bangsamoro parliament shall be audited by the Commission on Audit," Marcos said in a statement.

But the Marawi leaders have rejected Marcos' explanation and passed resolutions to push for the passage of the BBL original form.

"Through this manifesto, the only acceptable bill for the Bangsamoro people is the drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Council and duly signed by President Aquino as a priority bill in Congress," said Datu Musa Sultan, president of the Ranao Confederation for Peace.


Basilan road project nears completion

From the Philippine Star (Sep 1): Basilan road project nears completion

A fully concreted stretch in Sumisip town of the Basilan circumferential road, a joint flagship project of the Malacañang Palace and the government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is now 98 percent done. DepEd-Basilan/Hadja Nuring Jamaldin Facebook photo

Roderick Furigay, who is a Christian, and his longtime Yakan friend, Juni Ilimin, both cannot forget how their childhood was made difficult by the absence of all weather roads in Basilan.

Furigay and Ilimin, both in their early 50s, are now the incumbent vice mayor of Lamitan City and the local government undersecretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), respectively.

“Life was so difficult in those days. It was the height then of the uprising by the Moro National Liberation Front and besides the security problems spawned by the conflict, we also did not have good roads in the six Basilan municipalities at that time,” said Furigay.

Furigay is a scion of a big Christian clan in Lamitan City, the new capital of Basilan.

Basilan, a component province of ARMM, has just been encircled with a concrete circumferential road straddling through most of its now 11 municipalities.

The thoroughfare shortened by 17 hours an overland orbit of the island’s southern, northern, western and eastern corners.

The road project, now 98 percent done, was started about three years ago as a foreign assisted initiative, which the national government sustained and completed using state funds.

Ilimin, a Muslim, said what is more consoling for them is the ongoing concreting of roads by the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways, designed to link fishing and farming enclaves to the vaunted Basilan “ring road.”

“People from the coastal areas can easily bring their daily harvest of Marine products, such as deep-sea fishes and seashells to barangays along the circumferential road through these roads being built by the ARMM government,” Ilimin said.

Ilimin and Furigay both said they are grateful to ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and his public works secretary, Engineer Don Mustapha Loong, for their hands-on involvement in the implementation of the regional government’s current road projects in Basilan.

“My constituents are just as grateful to these two ARMM officials. It was only during the time of President Benigno Aquino III and Gov. Hataman that so much infrastructure investments have been poured into Basilan,” Furigay said.

Among the ARMM’s ongoing flagship arterial infrastructure projects in Basilan are the 21.9-kilometer Lamitan City-Akbar-Mohammad Ajul road (P388.6 million), the 22-kilometer Tipo-Tipo-Albarka road (P356 million) and the 32-kilometer Lantawan-Isabela City road (P525 million).

Loong said the projects are being implemented in utmost transparency, keeping with Hataman’s policy of accountability in handling the ARMM’s yearly infrastructure subsidy.

The three road projects will interconnect dozens of isolated barangays in the recipient towns and cities, according to Loong.

The recent interconnection of isolated barangays in Basilan as a result of the ARMM’s road projects have ushered in the reconciliation of many feuding clans that kept arsenals of high-powered firearms both as status symbol and as protection from adversaries.

Ilimin had facilitated, with the help of local officials and local commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the reconciliation of five feuding groups in the province in recent months.

Hataman, Col. Rolando Joselito Bautista of the Army’s 104th Brigade, Superintendent Oscar Nantes of the Basilan provincial police, and senior MILF commanders had also brokered the settlement of six bloody clan wars in the island province in the past two months.

“There is no other recourse but forge peace now among them to enjoy the socio-economic dividends spurred by these road projects,” said Hadja Nuring Jamaldin, assistant division superintendent for Basilan public schools.

Like Furigay and Ilimin, Jamaldin, who is also a Yakan from Sumisip town, had experienced uneasy long travels to Basilan’s old capital, Isabela, now a chartered city, via bumpy roads that were almost impassable during rainy days.

“Now the travel time from Lamitan City, the capital of Basilan, to my hometown is only about 40 minutes, from what used to be three hours of travel in previous decades,” Jamaldin said.

Jamaldin said the ARMM road projects also gave children in far-flung areas easy access to public schools.

“All of these security problems in Basilan will be gone as a consequence of having good roads, good markets and more school buildings in the province. It is poverty and underdevelopment that creates security problems in far-flung areas here,” Jamaldin said.


‘Enough is enough’: US developing sanctions against China

From Ang Malaya (Sep 1): ‘Enough is enough’: US developing sanctions against China

The Obama administration is developing economic sanctions against Chinese companies and single entities who the US government believes benefited from Chinese government’s cybertheft of valuable US trade secrets. “It sends a signal to Beijing that the administration is going to start fighting back on economic espionage, and it sends a signal to the private sector that we’re on your team. It tells China, enough is enough,” an administration official said as quoted by Washington Post.

Sources from the administration said the decision whether to impose sanctions or not will come in two weeks time, says in the report.

In a press conference, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said the US government remains deeply concerned about Chinese Government-sponsored cyber-enabled theft of confidential business information and proprietary technology from U.S. companies.

“And in addition to cyber theft, we’re also concerned about actions that China’s taking that violate personal privacy, undermine core freedom,” Toner said.

Asked what is preventing the US governement from taking a more forceful action like imposing sanctions, the American spokesman said cyber security is a ‘very fluid environment’. “We’re constantly assessing the danger, assessing the risks, how to better prevent incursions on our cyber security. I don’t want to speak to your specific question other than to say that when we act, we want to make sure that we have compelling evidence to act on.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled for an official state visit to US this month.


Lumad school director, 2 others killed in Lianga, Surigao Sur

From MindaNews (Sep 1): Lumad school director, 2 others killed in Lianga, Surigao Sur

The executive director of an alternative learning center for Indigenous Peoples (Lumads) and two other members were killed allegedly by paramilitary elements at 4 a.m. Tuesday in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Karapatan-Caraga said in a press statement.

Killed were Emerito Samarca, 54, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (Alcadev); Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), a Lumad organization protesting mining operations, land conversions and plantations; and Campos’ cousin, Bello Sinzo.

In a press statement, Karapatan-Caraga narrated that at around 4 a.m. on September 1, “known elements” of the Magahat-Bagani “opened fire at Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo as community members in Km. 16, Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur were roused from bed and forced to gather in the middle of the community early this morning.”

At around the same time, Samarca’s body “was found in one of the schoolrooms, tied around the neck and extremities, with a stab wound.”

Karapatan-Caraga noted that on August 30, after the two-day celebration of Alcadev’s foundation day, some elements of the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion and Special Forces with members of the Magahat-Bagani Force “occupied the school’s function hall and areas within the school grounds.”

The Magahat “threatened to massacre the community should they not evacuate within two days,” the press statement said.

Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas, civil military operations officer of 36tB, told mindanews they were surprised their unit was implicated because the area is “not part of our jurisdiction.”

Karapatan-Caraga also reported that on August 31, MAPASU’s cooperative store was burned by the Magahat whose members allegedly “indiscriminately fired around the vicinity,” prompting residents of Han-ayan and the school staff, as well as their guests, to seek refuge in Km. 16.

But as the residents were preparing to leave for Km. 16, “Samarca was detained at the Alcadev grounds by some members of the Magahat,” Karapatan-Caraga said.

“This was the last time that he was seen alive,” it said.

Karapatan-Caraga also said “all cellphones and cameras of the residents, faculty and staff were seized by the Magahat before pulling out from Km. 16 after the killing.”

“This is a clear indication of collusion between the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the armed Magahat-Bagani Forces,” said Eliza Pangilinan, Karapatan-Caraga secretary general.

“Despite the obvious presence of the military who are purportedly there for internal security, these killings continue to happen with impunity,” she said,

“We call on the law enforcement agencies and the local prosecutors to seriously investigate the increasing spate of killings that are perpetrated by these groups. Instead of filing charges against activists, left and right, they should look at the apparent connection between the military and these armed paramilitary groups, file charges and arrest them and bring a stop to impunity. This is the only way that communities can truly feel secure,” Panganiban said.

Members of the Magahat-Bagani Forces led by Marcos Bocales were also implicated in the killing of Henry Alameda and Aldren Dumaguit on October 24, 2014.

In Quezon City, Karapatan national office said in a media advisory that activists led by Karapatan, Hustisya and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan scheduled a candlelight protest along E. Rodriguez Avenue, in front of the Quezon City Sports Club, to demand justice for the victims.

The commander of the 36IB could not be reached for comment.

Kalumaran-Caraga said Samarca was married with four children. He was a member of the Alcadev staff since its founding and became Executive Director in 2012. He worked with SILDAP-SIDLAKAN, a Lumad support institution in Caraga, from 1990 to 1998 and with the Union sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte-Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (UMAN-KMP) in the 1980s.

Campos became chair of MAPASU in 2004.

“There are 26 faculty and staff of Alcadev that are with the evacuees from Km 16 now while about 40 families from Km 16 and Han-ayan have evacuated and are in Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga on their way to Tandag City,” Karapatan-Caraga said.


Government militias raid school, kill 3 people in Southern Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 1): Government militias raid school, kill 3 people in Southern Philippines

Photos released by the human rights group to the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper show Emerito Samarca and Dionel Campus. And troops inside the school compound.

dionel campos copy

Photos released by the human rights group to the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper show Emerito Samarca and Dionel Campus. And troops inside the school compound.

Government militias have allegedly attacked a school and murdered three people on Tuesday morning in the southern Philippine province of Surigao del Sur, human rights groups and church leaders said.

Human rights organizations Karapatan, Hustisya and Bayan have condemned the attack on the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development and killing of the school director – Emerito Samarca; and Dionel Campus, chairman of the indigenous organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod, and his cousin Bello Sinzo.

Members of the anti-communist militia group Magahat-Bagani raided the school in the village of Diatagon i n Lianga town.

Details and the motive of the attack were still unclear, but human rights groups said the raid occurred following reported warnings in the village by government soldiers and militias that civilians colluding with New People’s Army rebels would be punished.

The murderous rampages by militias have forced more than 2,000 villagers to flee their homes.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, said government troops have also occupied the school. She said prior to the attack, militias torched a cooperative store run by Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod.

“On August 31, the militias burned down the community cooperative store while indiscriminately firing around the community. Samarca, according to initial report, was held and detained by some armed members of Magahat before he was killed.  He was last seen tied around the neck, his hands and feet were also tied. He was brought to one of the classrooms,” Palabay said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

She said militias also seized cell phones and digital cameras of villagers, who fled for fear of being killed.

Palabay said the militias and soldiers deployed in the village have previously accused the school as being front of the rebel group.

“With so much blood in the hands of (President) Benigno Aquino, the regime cannot simply wash away its stench. The mounting call for justice for those killed will not be silenced,” she said.

Bishop Antonio Ablon, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, also condemned the massacre.

“Stop the killings and disband (militia groups) and prosecute the killers. Stop the collusion between armed paramilitary (groups) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Justice for Emy, Onel and Aurelio,” Ablon said in a message passed to the Mindanao Examiner.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City, did not issue any statement about the allegations and also ignored phone calls made by journalists. The army division has security control over the province.

But the military has strongly denied troops were involved in the attack and said the killings stemmed from a clan war. “As per initial reports we gathered, the violence was the result of a rido or clan war. Authorities are investigating this case,” Army Captain Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner by phone from his headquarters in Davao City.

The NPA has not issued a statement about the murders and the accusation the school is being used as its front in the town. Rebels have been fighting for so many decades now for the establishment of communist state in the country.


Philippine troops continue ops vs. Abu Sayyafs

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 1): Philippine troops continue ops vs. Abu Sayyafs

Security forces continue to pursue the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines following a series of clashes recently that killed one rebel and left 15 others injured, officials said Tuesday.

Officials said law enforcement operation is going in the town of Patikul where the recent fighting occurred.

Brigadier General Allan Arrojado, commander of military forces in-charge of the operation, said members of the 2nd Marine Brigade were deployed in Patikul where troops fought about 300 rebels.

He said 10 soldiers and 5 rebels were wounded in the clashes which started late in August.

The rebels were led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Muammar Askali, Almuktar Suddung, Namiel Ahajari, and Basaron Arok.

“Clearing and pursuit operations are ongoing. The military, in coordination with the local government and police, continues to intensify the conduct of law enforcement operations to contain lawless groups,” Arrojado said.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding several foreigners and Filipinos and has threatened to kill one of two Malaysian hostages Bernard Then Ted Fen if his family or government fails to pay ransom.

The 39-year old Bernard was kidnapped along with Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, by four gunmen who stormed Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on May 14. Thien is the restaurant’s manager.

The hostages were believed being held in Sulu Archipelago and Sabah is just near the Filipino province of Tawi-Tawi. Both Malaysians were reportedly very weak.


4ID commander presides at 36IB HQ command turn-over in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 1): 4ID commander presides at 36IB HQ command turn-over in SurSur

MGen. Oscar Lactao, commander of 4th Infantry Division (4ID) of the Philippine Army (PA), has presided the turn-over of command ceremony at the headquarters of 36th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Dayo-an, Tago town on Monday.

Lt. Col. Randolph Rojas, new battalion commander, replaced Lt. Col. Anastacio Suayabaguio, Jr.

The next assignment of the bemedalled former battalion commander, who spent two years and 15 days of successful tour of duty, was not immediately known.

MGen. Lactao, who was the keynote speaker apart from being the presiding officer, told Suaybaguio, in the meantime, to go for “rest and recreation” with his wife and family as the “division” is yet to decide what “next higher level of responsibility” will be given to him.

On the other hand, citing a lot of responsibilities for a battalion commander to take, Lactao admitted to have “second thoughts” on appointing Rojas to the post, considering his being a true-blooded Surigaonon, but decided to give it to the latter, anyway, for the same reason.

The new installed “batcom” bared during his speech upon assumption of command that he hails from Bislig City.

Also, the 4ID commander, in his keynote speech, requested the support of all stakeholders for Lt. Col. Rojas, especially the political leaders, media, business sector, and civil society organizations.

Prior to his new post, Rojas has been the executive officer (EX-O) of the 402nd Infantry Brigade under Col. Isidro Purisima.

The top personalities here, both in the civilian and military sectors, who graced the occasion, were Governor Johnny Pimentel, several mayors, Col. Alexander Macario and Col. Isidro Purisima, respectively, of the 401st and 402nd Infantry Brigades.

The turn-over of command ceremony that kicked off at 10:00 a.m. culminated with a simple lunch.


2 PAF UH-1H combat utility helicopters up for overhaul

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): 2 PAF UH-1H combat utility helicopters up for overhaul

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has allocated the sum of PhP31,771,890 for the overhaul and repair of two of its UH-IH "Huey" combat utility helicopters.

The money will be used for the procurement of services and spares for the overhaul and repair of engine assemblies of PAF UH-IH helicopters with tail numbers 501 and 507.

Major Gen. Isagani P. Silva, PAF bidding and awards committee chair, in a notice posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PHILGEPS), said pre-bid conference is scheduled at Sept. 3 at 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

Submission and bid opening is on Sept. 17, at the same time and venue.

"All particulars relative to Eligibility Statement and Screening, Bid Security, Performance Security, Pre-Bidding Conference/s, Evaluation of Bids, Post-Qualification and Award of Contract shall be governed by the pertinent provisions of R.A. 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)," the PAF bidding statement said.

The PAF operates 20 UH-IH and seven UH-IDs for troop, cargo, humanitarian and disaster relief, and combat missions.


PHL calls on APEC members to intensify anti-terror cooperation

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): PHL calls on APEC members to intensify anti-terror cooperation

The Philippines on Tuesday called on other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies to intensify cooperation in the fight against terrorism to foster security and resilience of businesses and communities.

Oscar F. Valenzuela, Acting Executive Director of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council-Program Management Center, said the threats of terrorism persist in the Asia Pacific region as well as in other countries.

“We live in a very complex world, one which is increasingly becoming more dangerous. Terrorism disrupts the normal and peaceful way of living of our people. It disrupts how we conduct our business, the way we travel,” he said during the opening of the 6th APEC Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) Meeting held here.

He recognized that a threat like terrorism is difficult to combat given its unconventional nature in the way they act.

“Yet, we must not falter. We must be as determined as they are to protect our citizens and our peaceful way of life. We have the knowledge, we have the necessary tools, to engage them head on,” said Valenzuela, the current Chair of the CTWG.

“We must continue to adjust our security procedures, innovate and stay one step ahead. We must learn to think out of the box against an enemy which constantly changes as far as tactics are concerned,” he added.

Valenzuela underscored the need for the 21-member economies of APEC to unite and help each other in the fight against terrorism which is a key component in building sustainable and resilient communities, one of the key priorities of the regional economic forum.

“Our economies cannot do it alone. It is in organizations and fora like the APEC where we can collaborate and cooperate. We have the opportunity to make a difference in this battle to keep the peace,” he noted.

The CTWG is holding its 6th meeting here on Sept. 1-2 as part of the APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) III meetings.

The Working Group has activities which are done in the four cross-cutting activity areas of the APEC Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy: secure supply chains, secure travel, secure finance and secure infrastructure.

These are specifically aimed at addressing security concerns that can potentially hamper trade and business.

Security of trade covers many aspects, from non-proliferation and export control measures, border control, and security in the transport of goods and people among others.

“Strengthening the security aspect of trade and business will greatly contribute to the stability and productivity in economic relations between APEC member states. If security of trade measures are not taken or given adequate importance, then it will leave the APEC members vulnerable to certain elements who may seek to disrupt commerce or take advantage of the system to advance their cause or even for their own personal gain,” said a statement released by the APEC media group.


NPA rebel base captured in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): NPA rebel base captured in Bukidnon

Troopers from the 8th Infantry Battalion, a field unit of the Cagayan de Oro-based 4th Infantry Division, captured a New People's Army (NPA) training camp at Kitaotao, Bukidnon during operations last Aug. 30.

Reports submitted on Tuesday by Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said the captured rebel base was located at Barangay Kulaman, Kitaotao town.

Operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Public Safety Company helped in the operation which resulted in the seizure of an M-14 carbine, a rocket-propelled grenade, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 12 sets of military battle dress uniforms, one sack of "cut" steel bars used as IED fragments, blasting caps, steel bar cutter, and a five-meter long explosive detonating cord.

The troops were on a security patrol when they received word from civilian informants about a rebel base nearby. No NPA rebels were encountered by capturing Army troops.


Army aims for insurgency-free Negros Island Region by mid-2016

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Army aims for insurgency-free Negros Island Region by mid-2016

The Philippine Army is aiming to make the Negros Island Region (NIR) insurgency-free by 2016.

MGen. Rey Leonard Guerrero, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (ID), said by middle of next year, they hope to free the newly-formed region from any armed struggle.

Guerrero, who was a guest of honor at the 39th founding anniversary rites of the 303rd Infantry Brigade at the Camp Major Nelson Gerona in Murcia, Negros Occidental on Monday, said they aim for the island to be declared “insurgency-free” by the middle of next year, after both Negros provinces were declared “peaceful and ready for further development.”

“Such goal is doable since there are only a few remaining armed elements in the Negros Island both in Occidental and Oriental,” Guerrero said.

He noted that at present, there are almost 4,000 rebels nationwide. Only about 200 of them are in Negros.

Guerrero, however, admitted that the military may have difficulties in accomplishing the goal.

“As they say, the fewer they are, the harder for us to find them since they are splitting into smaller groups,” he said.

Still, the official remains optimistic on the idea of making the island insurgency-free. According to him, this can be achieved on time with the help of the communities and local government officials of both provinces.

Guerrero again called on the New People’s Army rebels to abandon their armed struggle and return to the folds of the law.

"This is an opportunity for them to unite with their families and be a part of the mainstream society. We hope they will realize the futility of the armed struggle. We hope they will look at it as a peaceful solution to the conflict by just embracing the programs and reforms offered by the government,” the Army’s 3rd ID chief said.

Moreover, Guerrero said the effort in pushing for the development of the countryside is now very aggressive due to the support of stakeholders especially the local government units and their respective officials.

He also added such developments are expected to initiate reforms address in order to address major issues such as poverty and social injustice.


Thousands of soldiers promoted

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Thousands of soldiers promoted

Thousands of soldiers based at the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army whose main headquarters is at Camp Macario Peralta Jamindan, Capiz have been promoted recently.

Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes, 12th Infantry Battalion Commander, said that 200 of these soldiers came from their unit and the rest from other units of Western Visayas.

The donning of ranks ceremony for 12th IB soldiers was held Monday at Camp Juzmundo in Banga town of this province. The ceremony was held as part of the celebration of National Heroes Day.

"I asked the promoted soldiers to celebrate with their respective families. Their families had also sacrificed a lot as part of our collective efforts in promoting peace and security," said Reyes.

The soldiers had been promoted to various senior battalion positions since many of the former soldiers retired from the service in previous year. Their promotions were effective December 2014 but they only received the official appointment August this year.

"They will be receiving their respective retro wages in the coming months," said Reyes.

The 3rd ID has deployed soldiers in different provinces, many of them are in Mindanao. The 12th IB, on the other hand, has deployed soldiers in both Negros Island and Panay provinces.


Army unveils Hero’s Park as tribute to fallen soldiers of Negros Occidental

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Army unveils Hero’s Park as tribute to fallen soldiers of Negros Occidental

To mark its 29th anniversary, the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IB) unveiled the Hero’s Park inside its headquarters at Camp Major Nelson Gerona here Monday.

The event coincided with the observance of the National Heroes Day.

The Hero’s Park was built and dedicated to the men of the brigade who gallantly fought and made an ultimate sacrifice for the nation.

Twenty-seven fallen soldiers, including three officers with second lieutenant ranks, were honored by the 303rd IB and their names were inscribed on the marker.

Col. Francisco Delfin, commander of the 303rd IB, together with 3rd Infantry Division (ID) commander Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, Board Member Salvador Escalante representing Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and families of the soldiers, led the blessing and inauguration of the Hero’s Park.

After the ribbon-cutting and unveiling of the marker, wreaths were also laid on the Hero’s Monument, which is situated inside the Hero’s Park, followed by a 21-gun salute as show of courtesy and gratitude to their contributions in the pursuit of peace.

Delfin said that it is fitting to recognize the feat of the soldiers of the unit who gave up their lives in line of duty.

He said the names inscribed at the monument that was constructed last month only covers from year 2000, and will still be added as they are still looking for archives of those who also died in line of duty.

Joy Gonzaga and Jenalyn Gerona, the wives of the two fallen soldiers, expressed their gratitude to the 303d IB for recognizing the heroic deeds of their respective husbands.

Meanwhile, seven personnel from 11th IB and 62nd IB were also awarded the military merit medal during the celebration for their courage in several encounters with the New People’s Army in the province recently.

Awarded were First Lieutenant Jomart Jess Poquiz, Sergeant Joseph Accinque, Sergeant Rex Bornales, Private First Class Daryl Sarita, Second Lieutenant Dexter Seragon, Corporal Victor Camayra and Corporal Rico Saligo.

Guerrero, in his message, reminded the different military field units to always remember the sacrifices made by the comrades, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Let us value and cherish their contribution to the accomplishment in the peace effort, and be inspired to carry on our peace agenda and hopefully realize our vision for the Negros Island,” Guerrero said.


Marawi residents call for passage of original BBL version

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Marawi residents call for passage of original BBL version

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur -– Around 10,000 residents of the city expressed objection through a manifesto against Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The manifesto was passed on Monday during the multi-sectoral prayer rally which called for the passage of the original version of the proposed BBL.

The rally started around 8:00 a.m. on Monday held at the Plaza Cabili, Banggolo and ended past noon of the same day.

In chorus, they shouted that the only acceptable proposed BBL is the one that was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and certified as priority bill by President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

The protesters said that any substantial changes, amendments of substitutions thereto shall meet with a resounding “no” in the plebiscite.

“It is also utmostly prayed for the enactment of the original BBL sooner than later,” the manifesto stated.

Datu Musa Sultan, head of the Ranao Consideration for Peace, said they still have faith and trust that the Framework of Agreement on the Bangsamoro and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro bear so much hope and prospects to settle the centuries-old conflict in Mindanao.

The prayer rally was attended by the different personalities from the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte who support the passage of the original version of the BBL.


Rebels gut engineering equipment in Maco town, Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): Rebels gut engineering equipment in Maco town, Compostela Valley

Government security forces are now hot on the trail for the New People's Army (NPA) band that torched several pieces of engineering equipment in Maco town, Compostela Valley last Aug. 30.

Reports forwarded Tuesday by Southern Mindanao Regional Police spokesperson Supt. Antonio Rivera Tuesday indicated that the incident took place 9: 45 p.m.

This took place at Vizcaya Plantation, Sitio Blackhouse, Purok 1, Barangay Dumlan, Maco town.

Rivera said 15 heavily-armed NPA members gutted and destroyed four water pumps, one payloader, one grader, one bulldozer and one backhoe for still unknown reason.

The rebels quickly retreated towards the direction of Barangay Anibongan, of the same town. Pursuit operations are still ongoing.


PA ready to face probe on COA findings of undelivered ammunition, uniforms

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 1): PA ready to face probe on COA findings of undelivered ammunition, uniforms

The Philippine Army (PA) said on Tuesday it welcomes any investigation that will be made regarding the Commission on Audit (COA) findings on undelivered ammunition and combat clothing and individual equipment (CCIE).

"Lt. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, has directed the Army offices concerned to open their books and fully cooperate with the Senate inquiry," PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said.

He added that the Army follows the procedures in the procurement of supplies and equipment based on Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act).

"Based on latest records, the less than 1 percent remaining undelivered CCIEs is set to be delivered soon to the 9th Infantry Division," Hao said.

The PA is required by government procedures to procure small arms ammunition from the Government Arsenal.

"After complying with the procurement process, the Philippine Army is now awaiting the delivery of the ammunition," the PA spokesperson said.

In the interest of transparency, the Army is willing to cooperate with other government agencies in the conduct of an investigation.

"The PA appreciates the care and concern of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago with our troops. The Army is doing its best to provide the best for its troops based on the Army Transformation Roadmap," Hao said.

Santiago cited a recently released COA report which showed that despite the PhP569.6-million the Army released to the Government Arsenal for ammunition, only PhP42.4 million worth of bullets were delivered in 2014.