Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Military, police claim Bukidnon town raid legal

From the Sun Star-Cagayan de Oro (Sep 2): Military, police claim Bukidnon town raid legal
THE military and police said on Wednesday they are confident that the raid on a small village in Bukidnon last week can stand legal scrutiny if questioned in court by human rights organizations.

Bukidnon police director Edgar Daniel Jr., said the raid in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao town last August 26 was covered by a search warrant issued by acting executive Judge Maritess Bernales of the Regional Trial Court Branch 39 in Misamis Oriental.

“The judge found our request to search in order. The search warrant covered 57 houses in Barangay White Kulaman. We are confident it will stand the scrutiny,” Superintendent Daniel said during a press conference on Wednesday.

Earlier, Bayan Muna lawmaker Representative Isagani Zarate told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro he found it “highly irregular” that Judge Bernales issued a “general“search warrant that covers 57 houses in Barangay White Kulaman.

Zarate said the army and police operation was nothing but a “Gestapo-like raid” considering the search warrant is “defective.”

He said search warrants are specifically applied to individuals with “specific addresses.”

Rebellion, illegal possession of firearms

Meanwhile, charges of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed at the Regional Trial Court in Malaybalay City against 11 residents of Barangay White Kulaman on Wednesday.

The army presented chairman Felipe Cabugnasan of Barangay White Kulaman who said he and some members of their council were the ones who provided the “details and specifics” where the firearms and explosives of the New People’s Army were hidden.

“We became fed up by the abuses of the NPA. They asked everything from us even our Internal Revenue Allotment; Disaster management funds. It was too much,” Cabugnasan told reporters Wednesday.

He said the NPA rebels who came to their village in 2003 have gotten so embolden that they even exacted daily revolutionary tax of P200 a day on small vendors and chainsaw operators.

Army Captain Jonald Fallar obtained the search warrant from Judge Bernales after presenting the sketches and information from Cabugnasan.
Gunpowder residues.

Meanwhile, Superintendent April Madrono, assistant regional director of the PNP Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) said they found gunpowder residues on the hands of all five NPA rebels killed by the soldiers in Pangantucan town last August 19.

“Four of the rebels have gunpowder burns in both of their hands while one of the dead rebel had only gunpowder burns in one hand, “Madrono said.

“Meaning these persons fired their weapons when they were killed,” she added.

Karapatan and other militant organizations claimed the five rebels were not NPA members but farmers summarily executed by the soldiers.

Pangantucan 5 not rebels

In a statement released by Karapatan in Northern Mindanao on Wednesday, Emer Somina, Ramil Somina, Norman Samia, Jobert Samia, and Herminio Samia were only farmers living in Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon, according to relatives and neighbors of the five.

The statement said that village chief Victor Klerigo even identified to Karapatan the five were not members of the New People's Army (NPA) but were “visible” and “regular” residents in the community. Karapatan also found 'legal documents' proving the identities of the five alleged members of the rebel group.

Among the documents were certificate of membership with the government project 4Ps, voter's and PhilHealth IDs.

Karapatan also said the victims' deep wounds located on their necks were indication that they were not killed in the encounter with the government troops.

"Aduna sila’y mga laglum na samad na mura ug gipanggulgol gamit ang hait na instrumento, subay sa mga nikuha sa patayng lawas sa mga biktima," Fr. Christopher Ablon, spokesperson of Karapatan-NorMin said.

He also said those who carried the victim's bodies did not see any guns or bombs nearby the bodies to indicate they were armed civilians. Ablon furthered the lumads' culture was violated following the Army's order to autopsy the bodies of the victims.

"Wala man gud sa ilang kultura gani na mag-embalsamar so murag na-violate gyud ilang pamaagi sa ilang community."

Ablon also calls to stop the unjust tightening of security in the area.

"Ang mga army gilimitahan nila ang oras sa pagsaka sa atong mga lumad, sa uma, didto man unta sila matulog para dako ug agi, pero karon, hangtud udto naman hinuon sila taman lang," Ablon said.

Malaysia Will Strengthen Intelligence With France To Curb IS Threat

From Bernama (Sep 2): Malaysia Will Strengthen Intelligence With France To Curb IS Threat

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian at Wisma Pertahanan,

Malaysia and France have agreed to cooperate in strengthening intelligence sharing to counter the growing threat of IS (Islamic State) militant group, especially in Sulu Waters.

Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein pointed out that the expertise and experience that France had in dealing with maritime issue, could come as a benefit in this case.

"Thus, it is important to have a friend like France to navigate Sulu water together," he told a press conference after a four-eyed meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian at Wisma Pertahanan, here today.
Le Drian and French defence industry representatives had earlier met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the prime minister's office in Perdana Putra, Putrajaya.

In the same development, Hishammuddin pointed out that there was a growing interest in the Sulu Waters, now that the terrorist group of Abu Sayyaf which is believed to be based in the Philippines had declared allegiance to the IS.

"The Sulu Waters must be secured in the event that there should be irresponsible groups (in this case Abu Sayyaf) that look over the waters as Islamic caliphate," he said.

In this regard, Hishammuddin said Malaysia considers France as a close European partner in defense and hoped that it will lead to mutual benefits for both nations.

Concurring with the views, Le Drian said maritime issues like piracy and terrorism, must to be taken as a responsibility for both countries.

"IS threats are among the biggest threats and have been alarming nationwide," he said.

In another development, commenting on the acquisition of military assets, Hishammuddin said the ministry would review the proposal involving the Multi Role Combat Aircraft supplied by the French Dassault Aviation Rafale.

"We will see our financial capability by submitting the proposal to the Ministry of Finance whether we will buy it or not," he said.

In March 2013, Malaysia shortlisted five fighter jets, namely, Eurofighter Typhoon built by the European consortium comprising BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica; Dassault Aviation Rafale; Boeing's F/A 18E/F Super Hornet; Russian made Sukhoi Su-30 and Swedish made SAAB JAS-39 Gripen.

Asked on the purchase of Mistral helicopter carrier, Hishammuddin said it however was not discussed at the meeting.
The discussion on the Mistral was voiced out earlier in the meeting with Najib.

The French Tribune newspaper recently suggested that Malaysia was also a possible contender for the purchase of one of the Mistral aircraft carriers which had been ordered by Russia from STX France before being cancelled after the Ukrainian standoff in 2014.

According to the French newspaper La Tribune, Malaysia had been interested in buying an aircraft carrier similar to a Mistral for at least 10 years.

M’sia, France to focus on Sulu Waters to thwart IS threat

From the Free Malaysia Today (Sep 2): M’sia, France to focus on Sulu Waters to thwart IS threat

Defence Minister says France’s expertise and experience in maritime issues is a big help as Abu Sayyaf militants, in league with the IS, operate here.


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and France have pledged to share intelligence with the common aim of thwarting the growing threat of militant group Islamic State (IS).

An area of particular focus would be the Sulu Waters where the Abu Sayyaf, another militant group, operate.

Praising France for its expertise and experience in maritime issues, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein added, “Thus, it is important to have a friend like France to navigate the Sulu Waters together.”

Hishammuddin said the Sulu Waters was of particular interest since the Abu Sayyaf had recently declared its allegiance with the IS. Aby Sayyaf is believed to be based in the Philippines.

“The Sulu Waters must be secured in the event that there should be irresponsible groups (in this case Abu Sayyaf) that look over the waters as Islamic caliphate,” he was quoted as saying by Astro Awani after a four-eyed meeting with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian at Wisma Pertahanan, on Tuesday.

The pact to work together is believed to be beneficial to both parties. Le Drian, in reiterating the need to share intelligence, explained that the IS threat was a real and big concern that gave rise to maritime issues such as piracy and terrorism which both countries should take responsibility for.

Beng cites MBLT-9’s role in protecting Zambo

From the Zamboanga Today Online (Sep 1): Beng cites MBLT-9’s role in protecting Zambo

Citing the very important role played by the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT-9 in protecting Zamboanga City, Mayor Beng Climaco Sunday expressed confidence that the soldiers will help the city in its effort to build back better.
Speaking before the members of the 29th Marine Company during the celebration of its 33rd activation day at the Mindeva compound in Rio Hondo, Mayor Climaco thanked the marine forces for their peace-keeping efforts in coordination with their police counterparts.

On behalf of the City Government, I would like to thank you very much, MBLT-9, you play a very important role in protecting Zamboanga City. Please know that we thank all of you and we are confident and hopeful that you will help Zamboanga rise  again,” the mayor said in her brief message.

Present during the celebration were MBLT-9 Commanding Officer LTC. Einstein Calaoa, Jr., PN, barangay officials and other officials.
Climaco expressed regrets over a recent incident caused by a misunderstanding between marine and Regional Public Safety Battalion forces that resulted to the death of 3 personnel including a marine soldier.

She stressed that the City Government has assisted the family of the slain marine personnel but urged the MBLT-9 forces: “let us ensure that we abide by the proper protocol at all times and continue to serve God and country.”

The Mindeva compound in Rio Hondo will be the site of a military headquarters as part of the security plan under the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction (Z3R) program. The purchase of the property is almost complete and the documents for the eventual construction of the infrastructures and other facilities are under process.

Rio Hondo, one of the hardest hit barangays during the September 2013 Zamboanga siege, was one of the staging points of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces who attacked the city.

New USAID mission director to PH

From InterAksyon (Sep 3): New USAID mission director to PH

Incoming USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan K. Brems (left) and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE EMBASSY IN U.S.

Dr. Susan K. Brems, incoming Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Philippines, Pacific Islands, and Mongolia, reaffirmed the strong development partnership between the Philippine government and USAID.

In a meeting at the Philippine embassy in Washington DC on September 1, Dr. Brems expressed her commitment to continuing the strong program and cooperation activities of USAID in the Philippines.

For his part, Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. expressed appreciation for the technical and financial support that the United States, through the USAID, provides to the Philippines. He also briefed Dr. Brems on the recent economic developments, including the good governance efforts under the Aquino administration, particularly with respect to transparency and public accountability.

“It was a great opportunity to discuss with Dr. Brems our government’s commitment to improving the lives of average Filipinos, as well as the social development objectives under the President’s leadership. We also exchanged views on the conditional cash transfer program of the government,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

Ambassador Cuisia also encouraged USAID’s continued support in the following areas: judicial reforms, rule of law, innovation and technology, economic development, educational cooperation, and public health.

Dr. Brems is a career member of the Senior US Foreign Service with the rank of minister-counselor, who brings to Manila 23 years of experience as a development diplomat for USAID. She previously served as mission director in Zambia (2011-2015), deputy assistant administrator in the Bureau for Global Health (2009-2011), and mission director for Angola (2007-2009).

NPA training camp in Bukidnon seized

From Malaya Business Insight (Sep 2): NPA training camp in Bukidnon seized

GOVERNMENT forces seized a training facility of the communist New People’s Army while conducting security operations in Kitaotao town in Bukidnon Sunday, a military official reported yesterday.
The operation also resulted in the recovery of war materiel, including two firearms and two improvised bombs, said Capt. Norman Tagros, civil military operations officer of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion.
Tagros said 8th IB soldiers were deployed to barangay White Kulaman after receiving information from a local resident that the NPA rebels were keeping an arms cache in the area.

While on patrol, the soldiers found a firing range which the NPA has abandoned.

The troops found in the facility an M14 rifle, a grenade launcher, two improvised bombs, 12 sets of military battle dress uniform, a sack of steel bars used as fragments for improvised bombs, blasting caps, steel bar cutter, and a five-meter detonating cord.

Also found at the facility was a book, titled “New People’s Army Demolition Course Manual,” which Tagros said may have been used by the rebels in training recruits in the manufacture of improvised bombs.
Military and police operatives stepped up counter-insurgency operations in the barangay last August 26. Security forces have seized from the rebel group a huge number of firearms, improvised bombs and materials used in the manufacture of bombs.
Tagros said the barangay has been suffering from NPA atrocities in the past years.

Military disowns group behind killing of 3 civilians

From Malaya Business Insight (Sep 3): Military disowns group behind killing of 3 civilians

THE military yesterday disowned an armed group, called Mahagat/Bagani Force, tagged by the human rights group Karapatan as a paramilitary group that burned a cooperative and other structures in a barangay in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur last Tuesday.
The incident left three civilians dead, including a cooperatives official.

Karapatan alleged that the Mahagat/Bagani Force and the 36th Infantry Battalion have been saying that the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development Cooperative in barangay Diatagon is a school of the New People’s Army.

Karapatan is demanding the pullout of the 36th IB from the barangay.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, public affairs officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the military does “not maintain such group.”
“The only troops that we have are the Cafgus and the typical (military) units,” he said.

Martinez challenged Karapatan to file charges against members of the group for the killing of Emerito Samarka, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development Cooperative, and the two other civilians.
“If they have such allegations, then we urge them to file charges against these people…But to allege that we are their handler, we’ll have a problem because we do not know them,” said Martinez.

Martinez said authorities have yet to establish the identities of the people involved in the “gruesome killing” and their group affiliation. He said the military and the police are conducting a joint investigation on the matter.

The military currently treats the suspects as “lawless elements” in the area, he said.

At least 20 men, wearing bonnets and carrying high-powered firearms, swooped down on barangay Diatagon around 5:30 a.m. last Tuesday and burned the cooperative and other structures in the barangay.

The Caraga regional police office said Samarka was later found with stab and slit wounds in his neck. It identified the two other fatalities as Dionel Campos and Orellio Senso (identified by Karapatan as Bello Sinzo, Campos’ cousin), who were reported to have been shot.

Karapatan said Campos is the chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod.

BBL practically dead, at least this year

From Malaya Business Insight (Sep 3): BBL practically dead, at least this year

THE proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is practically dead as time starts to run out for the controversial measure aimed at ending the decades-long armed conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Even the measure’s most passionate defender at the House of Representatives, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the ad hoc committee tasked to scrutinize the BBL, is losing hope that the measure will be approved under the present Congress.
Rodriguez said there might not be enough time for both houses of Congress to approve the measure which Malacañang had wanted passed last year.

“The period that we are looking at (to pass the measure) is on or before September 28. After that, I believe we’ll have a difficult time in passing this bill,” he told a television interview.

Rodriguez made the statement a day after Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chair of a Senate committee tasked to scrutinize the BBL, said there is no assurance the BBL will be approved before the filing of certificates of candidacy next month. He said the Senate might be able to pass it by October but only if interpellations at the Senate will go smoothly.

After both houses approve the measure, it will still undergo discussions at a bicameral committee.

The House aims to pass the peace measure on final reading before the end of the month or right before the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 reaches the plenary for deliberations.

However, lawmakers are already way beyond schedule to pass the BBL with at least 15 congressmen still lined up to interpellate bill sponsors.

Congress goes on break on October 9 to make way for the filing of certificates of candidacy for those running in the 2016 elections.

Rodriguez acknowledged that the issue on quorum was a big factor in the delay of the passage of the BBL.

The House leadership has been finding a hard time mustering a quorum and sustaining it since the Third Regular Session of 16th Congress opened last July 27.
Yesterday, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon resumed his interpellation after a quorum was declared.

Rodriguez urged the public to pressure their  representatives to attend plenary sessions.

“Just ask them to be present,” Rodriguez said. “If they’re against it, they can vote at the time of voting, but be there to listen to the debates, the interpellations, and provide the quorums so that we can proceed and decide on this.”

AFP says Joma’s reported support for Duterte a ‘non-issue’

From GMA News (Sep 2): AFP says Joma’s reported support for Duterte a ‘non-issue’

As far as the military is concerned, the reported endorsement of communist leader Jose Maria Sison of the possible presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is a "non-issue."

“It’s a non-issue because we have come to know the mayor as having the ability to work with all sectors of the society, whether they be in the center, the left or the right,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, referring to Duterte.

He said support from Sison, who is on self-exile in The Netherlands, does not mean Duterte is pro-communist, citing instances in the past where the mayor played a role in securing the freedom of soldiers captured by New People's Army rebels in the Davao region.

“Pinakita naman niya ito matagal na, at hindi naman dahil nakakausap siya ng kalaban ay talagang panig na siya sa kanilang side. Hindi naman ganun,” Padilla said of Duterte.

A report by the Philippine News Agency said Sison expressed his support for Duterte through a voice message that the mayor played during a gathering of his supporters in Davao City last week.

In his message, Sison lauded Duterte for his being open to development through "Filipino-owned industrialization and land reform."

"Sa tingin ko bukas naman siya sa development ng Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng Filipino-owned industrialization and land reform at kumbinsido ako na makabayan siya at ipagtatanggol niya ang pambansang soberenhiya at integridad ng teritoryo nga Pilipinas," Sison said.

Padilla, meanwhile, refused to speculate on what would happen to the military’s counter-insurgency operations if ever Duterte gets elected to Malacañang.

"Let’s wait until we cross the bridge and find out who the next president is. It depends on the Filipino people who they will vote for,” he said.

Army denies hand in Lumads' killing in Surigao

From GMA News (Sep 2): Army denies hand in Lumads' killing in Surigao

A military official on Wednesday denied that a paramilitary group was behind the killing of three indigenous people in Surigao del Sur.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, public affairs officer of the 4th Infantry Battalion, said in an interview that they are not aware of the Mahagat-Bagani Forces, which human rights group Karapatan said was the culprit in the crime.
The rights group alleged that the Philippine Army's 36th Infantry Battalion is in cahoots with the Mahagat-Bagani Forces to occupy the Han-ayan community, including the school.
"We don't allow such group. The only troops na meron kami ay 'yung CAFGU (Citizen Armed Geographical Unit), saka 'yung typical infantry units, 'yung mga infantry battalions. Other than that, bawal na, it's against the law that they are arming themselves," Martinez said.
He said the military is also conducting its own investigation on the killing.
The victims were identified as Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development; Dionel Campos, chairperson of the Manobo group Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Susunod; and his cousin Bello Sinzo.
"Ang tingin namin dito is lawless [elements] doon sa area. Unidentified armed men wearing, ang sinabi ng mga tao, naka-bonnet daw, hooded, armed with high-powered firearms," Martinez said.
He said they are also waiting for the result of the investigation being conducted by their police counterparts.
The military spokesperson said the families of the victims should stand "witness, give an affidavit, and to file cases."
"May mga na-identify naman sila, so we urge them to file it in the proper forum. We will fully support that," he said.

Suspected NPA rebels behind bomb factory charged

From ABS-CBN (Sep 2): Suspected NPA rebels behind bomb factory charged

BUKIDNON - Fifteen suspected New People's Army fighters are facing charges for maintaining an alleged bomb factory in Kitaotao, Bukidnon.

Nenita Maasin and Ellen Manlibaas were among those who were arrested last week in Barangay White Kulaman in Kitaotao. The two are believed to be NPA rebels who are harassing residents.

Also recovered from them were subversive documents, explosives and firearms.

Authorities also discovered a bomb factory in the area, as well as a training facility with medical kits, radios, uniforms and other paraphernalia.

The suspects were charged with rebellion, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and illegal possession of explosives.

They are temporarily detained at Bukidnon Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Malaybalay City while their trial is ongoing.

Australia alarmed by strategic rivalry in disputed sea

Posted to ABS-CBN (Sep 2): Australia alarmed by strategic rivalry in disputed sea

Australia expressed alarm on Wednesday at escalating strategic rivalry in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), saying it puts Asia at the risk of a military blunder with potentially serious consequences.

China's recent assertiveness in the South China Sea has increased military and diplomatic tensions between it and rival claimants, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews refrained from taking sides, but his comments made clear that Australia's greatest concerns arose from Chinese military construction on scraps of land that are internationally contested.

"We don't believe that turning a reef into a military airport is enhancing the peace and security of that region," Andrews said after a speech to a think-tank during a visit to India.

"The greatest danger in the region is a miscalculation."

China has reclaimed 17 times more land in the potentially energy-rich region in 20 months than the other claimants combined over the past 40 years, the Pentagon said last month.

Australia, a close U.S. ally, wants to strengthen its relationship with India. The two countries will stage their first ever naval manoeuvres in the Bay of Bengal this month.

At the same time China, the world's second largest economy, is Australia's most important trading partner. It was in the interests of both to maintain that situation, Andrews said.

"We have not taken a stance on the various claims to rocks and reefs and outcrops and artificial islands in the South China Sea," Andrews said at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

"But what we've said is that these matters should be solved in a peaceful way," Andrews added, calling for a rules-based system of resolving disputes to be agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Andrews said Australia's submarine deterrent - a major tender for a new order of long-range vessels is now in its final stages - was vital to national security.

By 2030, Australia expects the Indo-Pacific area to account for 21 of the world's 25 top sea and air trade routes, two-thirds of oil shipments and a third of bulk cargo movements.

"We will maintain our right in the future to exercise the international right of passage - both on the sea and in the sky in the South China Sea," he said.

"We want to be a friend and continue to be a major trading partner with China, as with other nations in the region, but we also believe that all nations should make clear their strategic intent."

MILF: Editorial -- Appeal to the light of reason

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Sep 1): Editorial -- Appeal to the light of reason

Peace and tranquility, as well as the horrors of war, are shared and tasted by all and sundry. They don’t discriminate; they deal in a straight-forward manner.

Frankly, there is no future for Mindanao except to embrace the ways of peace. We have tasted and seen the horrors of war. We are all losers and we are still reeling from them.

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is a template for peace and tranquility. This is the way forward. Its passage into law can gradually establish peace, development and progress in troubled Mindanao.

However, there are four lawmakers from Mindanao who are obstructing the passage of this law. Frankly, we do not know why they are mad at the BBL. Astonishingly, those in Luzon and the Visayas are generally not hostile to the BBL
Out of respect, however, we do not want to state their names. But those who are following or attending sessions of the House regularly know them very well.  Three are coming from the Zamboanga Peninsula and the fourth from Iligan City, who, in fairness, is not opposing the BBL in its entirety, because he is interested only for the exclusion of eight villages from his turf to the Bangsamoro territory.

Of course, we are not giving up on these lawmakers. Only those who persevere have something to expect, while a quitter is always a loser. These lawmakers are as humans as we are. They have feelings and in most likelihood they would respond to reason with reason. We are optimistic that they will finally see the light of reason that it is better to have peace with the Moros rather try to relive the past centuries of bloodshed with Spain.

Right now, we have identified varied ways to reach out to them. One emissary has reported back that there is no sense giving up on them. He still views with hope that a productive engagement with them is still very much possible. In fact, he added, one of the four has already shown good response.

But while we are doing our share of the burden without letup and hesitation, we are also aware of our limitations. It is better and more effective that the leadership of the House would deal with them; or better still, the government would deal with them directly.

USS Ronald Reagan undergoes replenishment at sea enroute to its new area of responsibility

From Ang Malaya (Sep 2): USS Ronald Reagan undergoes replenishment at sea enroute to its new area of responsibility

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) conducted a replenishment at sea with replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) September 1 off the coast of Southern California while on its way to its new area of responsibility in Asia-Pacific Region under US Navy 7th Fleet. CVN 76 departed its home for nine years Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego August 31.

“Ronald Reagan, and its embarked carrier air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region,” the US Navy said.

USS Ronald Reagan replaced the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier and will assume duties in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility upon arrival.

“USS Ronald Reagan is 11 years newer than USS George Washington (CVN 73), which means the carrier has benefited from 11 years of evolving technology,” said Captain Christopher Bolt, USS Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer. “America’s Flagship will serve our nation as a cornerstone of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces based in Yokosuka, Japan.”

IN NEGROS, PANAY: 1,920 soldiers promoted

From the Visayan Daily Star (Sep 2): IN NEGROS, PANAY: 1,920 soldiers promoted

A total of 1,920 soldiers of the Army's 3 rd Infantry Division assigned in Negros and Panay were promoted, and Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, yesterday said these include 940 corporals, 580 sergeants, 293 staff sergeants, 57 technical sergeants, and 50 master sergeants.

Tiongson said they have satisfactorily satisfied the requirements set by the Philippine Army's Promotion System after their Individual Evaluation record, which gauged a soldier's competency and reputation in the service, were placed under scrutiny.

Other requirements that were satisfied include a required minimum number of years in one's current rank, passing grade on a competitive promotional examination, completion of a career military occupational specialty course, physical and neurological-psychological examination and physical fitness test.

Tiongson said the pinning of ranks ceremony was held Friday at Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, while field units under the 3ID are also scheduled to conduct a similar activity.

Maj. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, 3ID commander, in a statement, exhorted the newly-promoted soldiers to remain professional and faithful to their sworn duty.

Promotion to the next higher rank also comes with an increased pay and allowances.

AFP, PNP probe spate of Lumad killings

From InterAksyon (Sep 2): AFP, PNP probe spate of Lumad killings

Lumad leaders at UCCP Haran. PHOTO FROM DAVAOTODAY

Amid allegations by human rights groups that the spate of killings were perpetrated by the military using para-military groups, the military and police are investigating the latest murders of Lumads suspected to be sympathizers or supporters of communist rebels in Eastern Mindanao.

Colonel Isidro Purisima, commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade, said his command and the police are looking into the killings to identify the perpetrators and arrest them.

“We have immediately sent troops to closely coordinate and assist the [police] on the conduct of investigation regarding the burning and killing incident. We shall not let these criminals roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur. We will let them face the crimes they’ve committed,” Purisima said.

For its part, the human rights group Karapatan said the killings are reminiscent of the Arroyo administration’s military offensive against rebels "when it was reeling from its isolation from the people and at the same time in a scurry to beat the deadline of its counterinsurgency program.”

“Killings continue to go up," said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay when she received an initial report on the killing of three persons in Surigao del Sur September 1.

"And, just like the Arroyo administration, [President] Aquino is expected to cover up these crimes and avoid this issue like it has not happened at all," Palabay said.

The bloody attacks against the Lumad tribe have earned condemnations from different human rights and church groups who are now calling for a congressional investigation.

“We call on all peace-loving Filipinos and the international community to press for the immediate dismantling of paramilitary groups involved in this dirty war against the Filipino people," Palabay said.

She was referring to the cases of Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); Dionel Campos, chairperson of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU); and his cousin, Bello Sinzo, all residents in Lianga, Surigao del Sur who were murdered reportedly by members of the para-military Magahat/Bagani Force.

Palabay alleged that the para-military groups were organized and are being used by the 36th Infantry Battalion to terrorize Lumad communities in Lianga.

She said Samarca was found dead on September 1 with a stab wound inside one of the classrooms in the school compound in Barangay Han-ayan. Campos and Sinzo were murdered in Km. 16, some three kilometers from Han-ayan.

“The [cousins] were shot by members of the Magahat/Bagani force in the presence of their community members in Km. 16. Two days prior to the killing, the Magahat/Bagani Force and elements of the 36th IB encamped at the Alcadev school compound and occupied the function hall and parts of the school grounds. During the encampment, the Magahat group threatened the school's faculty members, staff and community members that they will massacre the community if the people will not leave in two days,” Palabay said.

The Karapatan head identified the alleged murderers of Campos and Sinzo as brothers Loloy and Bobby Tejero of the Magahat/Bagani Force.

But according to Purisima, citing the only information his office has so far, the perpetrators were among a group of about 20 unidentified bonnet-wearing armed men who burned two cooperative stores and killed three civilians.

To which, Palabay said: “The Bagani paramilitary and the 36th IB have long been accusing self-help Lumad school ALCADEV as an NPA school, killing the teachers and organizers in the community, and consequently depriving the Lumad of their education.”

She said that the Magahat group was also involved in the killing of brothers Crisanto and Ely Tagobol on August 28 in Barangay Siagao, San Miguel, Agusan del Sur.

Photo: New 10ID Chief

From MindaNews (Sep 2): Photo: New 10ID Chief


Major General Rafael C. Valencia (left) receives the 10th Infantry Division flag from Lieutenant General Eduardo Año, commanding general of the Philippine Army during the turnover of command ceremony at Camp Manuel T. Yan in Mawab, Compostela Valley on September 1, 2015. Valencia took over from acting division commander Major General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Photo: Seeking Justice

From MindaNews (Sep 2): Photo: Seeking Justice


Isidro Indao, spokesperson of Kahugpungan sa Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao condemns the killing of Lumad leaders in Lianga, Surigao del Sur during an indignation rally at Freedom Park in Davao City on September 1, 2015. Emerito Samarca, executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development; Dionel Campos, chair of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod;  and his cousin Bello Sinzo were killed Sept. 1 by alleged members of a paramilitary group. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Unidentified suspects kill 3, burn coop in Surigao del Sur hinterlands, authorities hunt suspects

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Unidentified suspects kill 3, burn coop in Surigao del Sur hinterlands, authorities hunt suspects

Armed suspects raided a cooperative, burned it, stabbed a victim and shot two others dead before fleeing the area Tuesday morning at an interior barangay of a coastal town in Surigao del Sur, police reports said.

Reports from Surigao del Sur Police reaching the regional headquarters here on Tuesday said that at 5:30 a.m., an undetermined number of heavily armed group raided and set on fire the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADev) Cooperative located at Km. 16, Diatagon, Lianga in Surigao del Sur.

The incident was reported by village councilman Mecias Avila to Lianga Municipal Police Station.

Avila said that the suspects stabbed the school director identified as Emerito “Emok” Samarka and shot two civilians identified as Dionel “Onel” Campos and a certain Onellio Senso. The three victims were all dead before the armed suspects fled the area.

According to the initial police investigation, the damage in the incident was about PHP.5 million as the cooperative's building was totally burned including some goods and sacks of rice.

Surigao del Sur Police had already dispatched a special operations team who coordinated with another team from the Philippine Army to proceed to hunt the perpetrators of the incident. The authorities, together with the local government unit and the barangay residents retrieved the bodies of the victims.

Meanwhile, troopers of the Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division, along with the Philippine National Police (PNP), are now conducting pursuit operations against the lawless band who killed three unarmed civilians and burned two cooperative stores in Lianga town, Surigao Del Sur Monday early morning.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said based on initial investigations, an estimated 20 bonnet-clad men, burned the cooperative's two stores and killed the three civilians for still unknown reasons.

402nd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Isidro L. Purisima ordered the 75th Infantry Battalion to pursue the suspects.

“We have immediately sent troops to closely coordinate and assist the PNP on the conduct of investigation regarding the burning and killing incident. We shall not let these criminals roam around and threaten the peace-loving people of Surigao del Sur. We will let them face the crimes they’ve committed,” he added.

Powerplant spares for PAF C-295 aircraft to be acquired

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Powerplant spares for PAF C-295 aircraft to be acquired

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has announced that it is allocating the sum of PhP16,196,229.70 for the acquisition of spare parts for the powerplant of its brand-new EADS CASE C-295 medium-lift cargo aircraft.

This is to ensure that the PAF has sufficient parts for the maintenance and repair of the above-mentioned plane.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for Sept. 3 at 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City. Bid opening is on Sept. 17, at the same time and venue.

PAF bidding and awards committee chair Major Gen. Isagani Silva, in a statement posted at the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PHILGEPS) website, said the pre-bid conference shall be open to all interested parties who have purchased the bidding documents.

"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 Republic Act No. 9184 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations," he added.p>The PAF has one C-295 aircraft in service. Another two are scheduled to be delivered before the end of the year.

The Air Force's first C-295 was commissioned last March 31. It joins the three Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" heavy transports being operated by the PAF.

The Philippine contract for the three C-295 is worth PhP5.29 billion. It was signed last year.

The C-295 is categorized as medium-lift aircraft equivalent to the Fokker F-27 aircraft being maintained by the 220th Airlift Wing. The C-295s have rear ramp door similar to that of the C-130s for easier access and loading/unloading of passengers and cargoes.

It can carry as much as 71 passengers, 50 paratroops, 24 stretchers with five to seven attendants or up to about 20,000 pounds of cargoes.

Upgraded APCs waiting for .50 caliber RCWS

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Upgraded APCs waiting for .50 caliber RCWS

While the six upgraded armored personnel carriers (APCs) from Israel are all ship-shape, they are still to be fitted with .50 caliber-remote controlled weapons system (RCWS).

This was stressed by Mechanized Infantry spokesperson Major Filemon Tan in a text message to the PNA on Tuesday.He said the RCWS are still to clear the Bureau of Customs.

"The weapon systems have not arrived in Camp O'Donnell for fitting," Tan added.

The six APCs were transported to Tarlac last July 8. They arrived in the Philippines last June 18.

The Philippines signed an order for 28 M-113 APCs worth PhP882 million with Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems Ltd. on June 22, 2014.

Fourteen of these vehicles are configured as fire support vehicles, four as infantry fighting vehicles, six as armored personnel carriers, another four as armored recovery units.

Upgrades include installation of 25mm unmanned turrets, 12.7mm (.50 caliber machine guns) RCWS and fire control systems (FCS) for 90mm turrets.

The Philippine Army operates around 343 AFVs (armored fighting vehicles) and APCs.

Around 85 percent of these AFVs are on green status (fully mission capable) while another 10 percent are on yellow status (undergoing repair) and five percent are on red (beyond repair).

About 150 of the AFVs are the United Kingdom-built GKN "Simba" with the remaining AFVs consisting of U.S.-designed V-150 and V-200 APCs, M-113s, Turkish made ACV-300s and British Scorpion CVRTs.

These vehicles give the PA its armor capability and are organized into a 14-vehicle mechanized infantry companion for deployment with regular units.

Soldiers seize rebel documents, medicines in Bukidnon operations

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Soldiers seize rebel documents, medicines in Bukidnon operations

Troopers from the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) seized three sacks of rebel subversive documents and two sacks of medicines during operations in Kitaotao, Bukidnon last Aug. 31.

The capture was made by patrolling elements of the 8th Infantry Battalion, EMC public affairs office chief Capt. Alberto Caber said on Wednesday.

He added the operations took place at 9: 30 a.m. in Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao town.

No NPA fighters were encountered during this mission.

Caber said the captured subversive documents are collection of reading materials on communism and approaches in overthrowing the government while the medicines are supplies of the rebels.

APEC senior officials reaffirm commitments on counter-terrorism

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): APEC senior officials reaffirm commitments on counter-terrorism

Senior officials on Wednesday reaffirmed their continued commitments to undertake individual and joint actions to counter terrorism imperative for fostering security and resilience of businesses and communities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Oscar F. Valenzuela, chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CTWG), said APEC economies will continue implementing the work plan and the APEC Counter Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy.

“It must be reiterated that this plan is a living document, and we must ensure that it is able to meet the changing landscape of the fight against terrorism,” he said in his closing remarks during the 6th APEC CTWG Meeting held here.

Valenzuela, Acting Executive Director of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council-Program Management Center, noted they also support deeper cooperation and capacity building across the priority areas of secure supply chains, travel, finance and infrastructure.

These initiatives will ensure that regional commerce is more secure, efficient and resilient, he added.

“It is hoped that the role of security, especially against terrorism, in building sustainable and resilient communities will have a real world impact that can be seen and felt by the people in our economies,” Valenzuela said.

Moreover, the APEC CTWG chair said the formal reporting of individual Counter-Terrorism Action Plan is important as it provides an avenue for the economies to report on the progress of their efforts against terrorism and securing trade.

Valenzuela said other economies can possibly learn and adapt best practices.

Symposium on 70th anniversary of Yamashita surrender set on Thursday

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): Symposium on 70th anniversary of Yamashita surrender set on Thursday

As part of the observance on Wednesday of the 70th anniversary of the formal surrender of Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), together with the Philippine Historical Association (PHA) and the city government of Baguio, will hold a symposium dubbed as the “Hour of Redemption: The End of World War II” on Thursday.

The event will be held at 10 a.m. at the Baguio Convention Center.

Yamashita, also known as the "Tiger of Malaya" for his swift conquest of then British-held Malaya and Singapore, surrendered to Filipino troopers of the 14th and 66th Infantry Regiments of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines (USAFIP)-Northern Luzon, in Kiangan town, Ifugao on Sept. 2, 1945.

Brought to Baguio City, Yamashita, together with Vice Admiral Denshichi Okochi, formally signed the surrender document at the High Commissioner’s Residence in Camp John Hay on Sept. 3.

The symposium is to honor the victory of the USAFIP-NL and the end of the Second World War in the Philippines which began on Dec. 8, 1941 with the Japanese forces bombing of numerous civilian and military installations in the country.

Various officials from the government and non-government organizations will grace the event, namely: Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina, Administrator of PVAO; Baguio City Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan; Brig. Gen. Restituto L. Aguilar, AFP (Ret.), Acting Chief of Veterans Memorial and Historical Division; Prof. Emmanuel Calairo, president of PHA; and Prof. Michael Charleston Chua, Public Relations Officer of PHA.

Films entitled “The Surrender of Gen. Yamashita” and “Secret War in the Pacific” will be shown.
 Books from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) will also be raffled off during the event.

The two main topics will be presented during the symposium.

Aguilar, a military historian, will talk about “The Koga Papers” or documents containing the detailed plans of the Japanese against the American forces seized by Filipino guerrillas from the enemy; while historian and TV personality Xiao Chua will discuss “Healing in the Midst of Rape” which is about the heroism of medical professionals during the battle for the liberation of Manila.

APEC member economies see extremism as a major threat

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 2): APEC member economies see extremism as a major threat

Delegates who attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting on counter-terrorism here have recognized the threat posed by extremism to the region's economic growth.

In his closing remarks delivered after the meeting on Wednesday, Chairman of the APEC Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CTWG), Acting Executive Director Oscar Valenzuela, noted that the topics of extremism and foreign terrorist fighters came up during the meeting.

"We are one with Russia in saying that the foreign terrorist fighter threat cuts across the four activity areas of our Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy," Valenzuela said.

"We are therefore encouraging the economies to propose activities to address this."

The issue, he said, is important and timely as evidenced by the contributions and comments made by APEC participants who joined the discussions.

Valenzuela said the participants will wait for Indonesia’s proposal under Business Resilience and Recovery, as they would like to bring home takeaways from Indonesia’s experience in the Bali and the Jakarta bombings.

He also encouraged APEC delegates to look back at the lessons they have learned during the meeting on terrorism and from the Foreign Terrorist Fighter Workshop held last Monday (August 31).

"We must be able to apply them in our own economies. It is also hoped that this issue would be discussed more thoroughly," he said.

According to Valenzuela, the threat of terrorism is very real, and it results in lives lost, broken families, and destroyed communities.

Terrorism compels people to live in harsh conditions, fearing for their lives, and many are forced into isolation as they flee their homes, he said, adding that historical and cultural treasures are also being systematically destroyed by extremists.

"Our meeting may have now come to an end. But it is hoped that we continue to build on our successes. We continue to build our ties and the relationships between our economies," Valenzuela told the APEC delegates.

The delegates met in Cebu for the sixth meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group.