Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Gov’t building ‘Yellow cyber army’ with annual ‘black budget’ — solon

From the Daily Tribune (Sep 8): Gov’t building ‘Yellow cyber army’ with annual ‘black budget’ — solon

Has the Philippine government joined a growing number of nations that employ bankrolled “cyber armies” to influence opinion on the Internet?

Most probably, Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon said yesterday.

“Many social media experts have repeatedly pointed out how the Aquino administration has systematically deployed cyber armies — aka Internet trolls — to sway public opinion online, especially in times of political crisis,” Ridon said.

The legislator noted that the Aquino administration is seemingly riding the trend started by nations like Russia, Britain and China —nations that allegedly employ thousands to create troll accounts to post comments, make memes, and participate in online forums to sway public opinion.

“The worse part? Taxpayers may be bankrolling these trolls — via the P1.4 billion average annual ‘black budget’ or the part of the national budget allotted for classified and secret operations.

“In the US Congress, the ‘black budget’ — an appropriation that is confidential in nature and is used for intelligence gathering, covert operations, and secret military research — is always hotly debated come budget season. In the Philippines, we also have a black budget, which amounts to an average of P1.4 billion annually,” Ridon said.

“It’s called a black budget because even legislators are left in the dark about the real purpose of the said funds,” Ridon explained.

The Philippine black budget has two components: confidential and intelligence funds.

According to Ridon, Confidential funds are funds for surveillance activities in civilian departments and agencies.

Not all agencies are provided with confidential funds, as during budget preparation, the Executive Department exercises its discretion on which departments will be given funds for confidential expenses. To tighten the secrecy in the use of said funds, all disbursements or releases from this fund should have the immediate approval of the department secretary concerned. The government has an average P724 million in confidential funds annually.

The Intelligence funds — on the other hand, Ridon said, are funds for “intelligence information gathering activities of uniformed personnel and intelligence practitioners that have direct impact to national security.” Like confidential funds, intelligence funds are given to agencies during the budget preparation process subject to the discretion of the Chief Executive.

Apart from that, intelligence funds can only be released upon approval of no less than the president himself. Details of the expenditures are kept secret, and all reports of the utilization of intelligence funds are submitted directly to the president. The government has an average P690 million in intelligence funds annually.

Data from the Department of Budget and Management show that the Aquino administration used P8.8 billion total black budget since 2010.

While the said amounts are dispersed in several agencies including the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Justice, the Office of the President gets the lion’s share of the black budget, with 30 percent or P2.7 billion out of the P8.8 billion black budget in the past six years going directly to the president’s office alone (excluding attached agencies).

The national government is again asking for a P1.5 billion black budget next year, divided into P701 million in confidential funds and P833 million in intelligence funds.

“The secretive nature of these funds explicitly bars the public from scrutinizing how these funds are used. Even the Commission on Audit (CoA) only has a minute ministerial role in scrutinizing the use of such funds,” Ridon said.


DND: P83-B contracts up for bidding

From Business World (Sep 8): DND: P83-B contracts up for bidding

AROUND P83 BILLION worth of defense contracts under the Philippine military’s modernization program has been unfrozen and given the green light by President Benigno S. C. Aquino III.

“Those contracts have a total amount of about P83 billion. These contracts span from 2014 to 2017,” Defense Undersecretary Fernando I. Manalo told BusinessWorld at the sidelines of the Department of National Defense’s (DND) budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

During the hearing, Mr. Manalo explained the bidding for these contracts were approved last July after they were set aside in May since the military’s modernization law still lacked the President’s signature at that time.

These contracts, which will be made available to local as well as foreign defense contractors, include thirty projects by the DND for new military hardware for the Army, Navy and Air Force such as new missile-equipped frigates, long-range patrol aircraft, close-air support aircraft and surveillance radars.

Last year, the DND published bid invitations for two navy frigates worth P18 billion, six close-air support aircraft worth P4.9 billion, two long-range patrol aircraft for P5.9 billion and three air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion.
The modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ripe with opportunities for prospective bidders as the Philippine military has a long list of acquisition plans for other military hardware including ground vehicles, air assets and naval vessels.

The first AFP modernization law, Republic Act No. 7898, was approved in 1995 and was targeted to be implemented in a 15-year period. For the first five years, it had a ceiling budget of P50 billion under Philippine law.


Prelate warns of rise of Moro extremism if Congress fails to pass meaningful BBL

From the Business Mirror (Sep 8): Prelate warns of rise of Moro extremism if Congress fails to pass meaningful BBL

The archbishop of Cagayan de Oro has warned of a rise of Moro extremism in Mindanao, if Congress fails to pass a meaningful Bangsamoro basic law (BBL).

Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma made the warning during the recent Religious Leaders-Legislators Meeting, which he convened with the Tulay Kalinaw Mindanaw (Tulay KaMI, or Peace Bridge in Mindanao) to discuss the BBL and strategize on how to go forward pushing for the passage of the BBL that is faithful to the government’s agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This, as a member of the Citizens Peace Council and a former MILF peace panel member called on the two senators from Mindanao to explain their endorsement of the Senate version of the BBL that is deemed “less than” what has already been granted to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and is allegedly inconsistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

Ledesma said that failure to pass a meaningful BBL is very dangerous, as this may trigger the rise of Moro extremism in Mindanao, especially since there is now a growing number of young Moros who are entertaining political thoughts that have shades of extremism.

“A failed BBL will favor the growth of extremism-fundamentalism-terrorism in Mindanao. It will not help solve the conflict,” said Ledesma, a Jesuit like Pope Francis.

He urged legislators in both houses of Congress to restore the original provisions of the BBL which are consistent with the CAB, but have been amended or deleted in the current versions now being deliberated in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“A meaningful BBL is one that addresses the longing for genuine self-governance of the Bangsamoro and embodies the political agreements of the MILF and the government which are compiled in the CAB,” Ledesma explained.

Meanwhile, Moner Bajunaid urged Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, who hails from Valencia, Bukidnon, and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, who hails from this city, to explain why they signed Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s committee report that formed the present version of the BBL the Senate is now deliberating.

Marcos’s version of the BBL, or Senate Bill 2894, has amended 80 percent of the original BBL that was drafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that was reviewed by the President’s legal team.

“If Senator TG Guingona and Senator Koko Pimentel truly feel the pulse of the peoples of Mindanao, they should have not signed the Marcos committee report. Guingona and Pimentel should explain to the peoples of Mindanao why they signed Marcos’s committee report,” said Bajunaid, a college professor.

Marcos submitted on August 10 his committee’s report that formed the Senate’s version of the BBL. Guingona and Pimentel both endorsed Marcos’s version of the BBL.

The MILF earlier said that Marcos’s BBL was “50-percent bad.”

“The BBL is a legal and political document that addresses a political issue of national concern,” Bajunaid said.

He said that Guingona’s and Pimentel’s signatures on Marcos’s version of the BBL is very disheartening and disappointing. “One can never understand the BBL if one does not understand the peace process or the history of Mindanao,” he said.

“Guingona [and Pimentel] should push the Mindanao agenda for peace. Their endorsement of Marcos’s committee report shows that [they do] not understand the so-called Mindanao conflict,” said lawyer Mary Ann Arnado, chairman emeritus of the Mindanao Peoples Caucus.

Led by Ledesma, the participants to the meeting held at the Archbishop Patrick Cronin Hall adjacent to the Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral called on legislators in both Houses of Congress to restore the original provisions of the BBL which are consistent with the CAB.

“The present BBL [in both the House of Representatives and the Senate] has so many cavities that need to be filled up to make it a true social-justice legislation. The peoples of Mindanao want a meaningful BBL,” he said.


DND says military modernization on track as DBM allocates P25 billion for 2016

From the Business Mirror (Sep 8): DND says military modernization on track as DBM allocates P25 billion for 2016
THE Department of National Defense (DND) can now pursue its delayed capability upgrade for the military as it acquired additional bigger assets and equipment after President Aquino signed the Armed Forces modernization program.

Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Modernization, Installation and Munitions Fernando Manalo said Mr. Aquino’s approval of the modernization program allowed the defense department to pursue its acquisition of military hardware earlier lined up for procurement.

Some of these projects included the purchase of two frigates fo rthe Navy, air-surveillance radars, close air support aircraft, long-range patrol aircraft, night-fighting system, two C-130 “Hercules” transport aircraft and naval helicopters.

These assets and equipment have earlier been recommended by the defense department to be acquired in order to further beef up the capability of the military, but they hit a snag after Mr. Aquino did not immediately sign the modernization program and ordered a review of the identified procurement.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin said that 33 big-ticket projects have been lined up for implementation until 2017, with the procurement totaling for about P90.86 billion.

This included the procurement of a squadron of FA-50 lead in fighter jets from South Korea, two of which were scheduled to arrive in December this year, and eight units of combat-utility helicopters. Both projects have a contract price of P23 billion.

Gazmin said that P9.74 billion have been initially paid for the two projects.

The remaining amount, as programmed by defense officials, should be taken from the funds of the modernization program that Aquino signed.

Gazmin said that from July 2010 up to October last year, at least 46 capability upgrade projects have been “accomplished.”

Included in the 46 projects are eight brand-new combat utility helicopters, three multipurpose attack craft, armaments, equipment, vehicles, force protection articles, coast watch requirements, utility trucks and various equipment.

It also included the acquisition of the frigates BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz and three units of naval helicopters.

The two frigates are 40-year-old US Coast Guard cutters that were sold to the Philippines.

There are still 52 ongoing projects with an approved budget of P26.92 billion.

DBM allocation

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has allocated P25 billion for the modernization of Armed Forces for 2016.

During the budget hearing of the Department of National Defense (DND) at the House of Representatives, Manalo said that under the proposed 2016 budget the Armed Forces Modernization Program will get P25 billion programmed and P10 billion unprogrammed funds.

At least 30 projects are being lined up for the modernization of the Armed Forces, which will be implemented from 2014 to 2017 with a total budget of P83.9 billion.

“The 30 projects that were approved by the President in July 2015 will be paid by multiyear obligational authority,” Manalo said.

In the same hearing, Gazmin said that the DND is allocated a total of P158.8 billion for 2016.

He said that the DND 2016 budget is P16.5 billion higher than its 2015 billion allocation.

Gazmin said that of the agency’s total budget, P63.3 billion is for personnel services, P26.7 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses and P25.7 billion for capital outlay.

Gazmin said that the allocation for veterans and military pensioners, which is lodged under the pension and gratuity fund is P43 billion of the total budget proposal.

Not much to show

PARTY-LIST Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan, meanwhile, asked Gazmin to detail how the military spent the P82.48 billion plunked into the modernization program since 1995.

Ridon said the Armed Forces Modernization Act approved that year contemplated on a strong Armed forces that can defend the national territory and sovereignty.

The law was envisioned to establish a modern military and not an Armed Forces that is engaged relentlessly in counterinsurgency.

“While the Department of National Defense is keen on emphasizing the need to strengthen our nation’s maritime defense, we have to put this budget request in context. Since the enactment of the Armed Forces Modernization Act in 1995, Congress has been appropriating billions for military modernization annually. It’s already 2015, and we still have weak maritime defense and creaking World War II-era ships. So, we need to ask the DND and the Armed Forces to report on where the billions sunk into the modernization program went,” Ridon said.

He revealed that President Aquino was the biggest spender at P50.73 billion, followed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at P26.22 billion spread over nine years, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada at P5.53 billion, and zero for former President Fidel V. Ramos, who pushed for the enactment of the bill.

Ramos is a former Armed Forces chief of staff and defense secretary.

Ridon noted that while the Aquino administration invested heavily on modernizing the military arsenal, anomalies have hounded the procurement of equipment.

“The Armed Forces is still reeling from the P1.2-billion defective chopper deal. And when it comes to financial accountability, the military is not exactly a shining example,” he said.

He referred to the recent scandal involving the purchase of 21 refurbished Huey choppers reported to be more than 40-year-old.

Ridon feared that the same thing might also happen to the P25 billion that the Armed Forces is requesting for the modernization program next year.

The budget will be reportedly used to purchase two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft, three aerial surveillance radars and pay for the amortization of 12 South Korean FA-50 lead-in fighters.


PNoy: Killing lumads not my policy

From ABS-CBN (Sep 8): PNoy: Killing lumads not my policy

President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday said it is not the policy of his government to kill innocent lumads, following allegations that military and paramilitary group were involved in the killing of 3 indigenous people (IP).

“There is no campaign to kill anybody in this country. There is a campaign to go after everybody who commits crimes, regardless of who they are,” Aquino told Inquirer editor and journalists during round table discussion.

“Serving the people does not entail killing any of our citizens.”

The military and a paramilitary group have been accused of being involved in the killings of lumads.

Public outrage over the plight of lumads reached its peak after three IPs, including a school head, were gunned down in Lianga, Surigao del Sur last week.

The fatalities were identified as Emerito Samarca, executive director of lumad school Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development; Manobo leader Dionel Campos; and his cousin Bello Sinzo.

Human rights group Karapatan accused the paramilitary group Mahagat-Bagani forces of being behind the killing. It likewise accused the military of causing the displacement of lumads in Mindanao.

The military has denied the existence of the paramilitary group.

It has also accused several lumads of empathizing with the New People’s Army, saying some facilities harboring lumads, such as the Davao City Haran mission sanctuary of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP), is under the control of leftist groups.


DND on hot seat over alleged AFP rights violations

From ABS-CBN (Sep 8): DND on hot seat over alleged AFP rights violations

The Department of National Defense (DND) is in the thick of defending its 2016 budget, but in the last three hours of Tuesday's hearing at the House of Representatives, most of the questions thrown at the DND were not about the budget but the alleged human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Speaking for his department, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin proposed a budget of P158.86 billion for 2016. This is P16.56 billion more than its 2015 budget.

Majority of the proposed budget, or P93 million, goes to force level command and control, support and training, inclusive of pension for veterans and retirees. The second largest chunk of the budget, or P63.5 million, goes to territorial defense.

In the last three hours of the hearing, most of the questions thrown at the defense department were not about the budget itself, but about the alleged human rights violations done by the AFP, particularly in the indigenous peoples communities in Davao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.

Seven-hundred Lumads are currently in an evacuation center in Davao City while some 2,000 Lumads are in an evacuation center in Tandag City. Their organizers claim that they fled their homes because of military presence in their community.

Last September 1, two Lumads and a teacher were killed by what villagers call a paramilitary group sanctioned by the Philippine Army.

The AFP denied any participation in these murders.

Brig. Gen. Angelito de Leon showed a presentation that sought to prove that the military was in the areas like Talaingod and Han-ayan because there was a strong presence of the New People's Army (NPA) there.

He also showed a video of a Lumad boy who was a student of an indigenous school singing a different version of the national anthem. It carried the same tune as the Lupang Hinirang, but spoke about the hardships of the people and how government was failing them.

He also presented interviews of Lumad evacuees in Haran saying they want to go home but their organizers will not allow them.

(READ: Stabbed, tortured, shot: Kin describe killing of Lumad leaders)

Relatives and neighbors of the two murdered Manobo and their teacher have taken the cause to the gates of the House of Representatives, blaming the military for the killings.

Embedded image permalink

Relatives of 3 murdered Lumads have taken the cause to the gates of Congress. | @chiarazambrano

How lola and grandson were rescued in Zamboanga

From ABS-CBN (Sep 8): How lola and grandson were rescued in Zamboanga

Ipil mayor says abductors run out of fuel supply

The mayor of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, Eldwin Alibutdan, said the recent rescue of an abducted retired district school supervisor and her grandson off Zamboanga City was a team effort by different law-enforcement agencies in Zamboanga Peninsula.

Alibutdan said, prior to the abduction of Isabel Muyargas and her 5-year-old grandson Kyle Hamad, military units had established a maritime blockade in some strategic areas outside Zamboanga Sibugay and nearby cities.

Muyargas and her grandson were rescued in the coastal village of Tumitus in Zamboanga City Monday afternoon, more than 24 hours after they were abducted from their residence in Barangay Bangkerohan in Ipil.

Alibutdan said the abductors had no plans of stopping over in Tumitus Island, but their motorized pump boat ran out of gasoline, prompting them to leave their captives with only one armed companion.

Muyargas and her grandson found an opportunity to escape from their lone captor, and ended up in the residence of a barangay councilor of Tumitus.

The councilor’s wife called her husband, who then coordinated with the local police.

Police Senior Inspector Salvador Galvez said they immediately went to Tumitus Island to verify the information they got from the councilor.

They then immediately secured Muyargas and her grandson and brought them to the Zamboanga City Medical Center for a medical check-up.

The 68-year-old retired district school supervisor has been suffering from pancreatic cancer. Prior to the abduction, she had undergone several chemotherapy sessions.

Fortunately, she did not sustain any injuries during the ordeal.

Alibutdan said the local police in Ipil arrested a person who might have been involved in the abduction of Muyargas and her grandson.

However, the police has yet to file formal charges against the suspect for lack of direct link to the abduction.

Police are also working on the composite computer sketch of the abductors of Muyargas and her grandson based on the facial descriptions they got.

This would form part of their case build-up, together with the testimonies of Muyargas and her grandson.

Meanwhile, the municipal government of Ipil is planning to beef up security in some coastal villages identified as possible entry and exit points of kidnap-for-ransom groups.

A number of detachments and community police action centers will be established to maintain tight security in coastal areas.


MNLF wants review of 1996 truce

From the Philippine Star (Sep 9): MNLF wants review of 1996 truce

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) wants an extensive evaluation of the 42 consensus points reached in the tripartite review of the implementation of its 1996 truce with the government.

The 42 consensus points are products of three-way conferences conducted since 1997 among MNLF leaders, representatives from the national government and the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), as part of efforts to iron out kinks in the peace accord.

Former Cotabato City mayor Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest of three factions in the MNLF, said all three parties must evaluate the consensus points and determine if these can be implemented.

Sema revealed their stance on the issue during the start of a technical meeting on the tripartite review process at the New World Hotel in Makati on Monday.

It involved the government, the MNLF and the OIC’s Southern Philippines peace committee.
It is in preparation for the proposed November formal government-MNLF-OIC tripartite meeting in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, according to presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos-Deles.

Misunderstandings on the implementation of many sensitive provisions of the 1996 final peace agreement have sidelined the tripartite review.


PMA, PNPA graduates get key posts in PNP revamp

From the Philippine Star (Sep 9): PMA, PNPA graduates get key posts in PNP revamp

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ricardo Marquez is making good on his promise to level the playing field in the promotion and appointment of police officials.

Marquez yesterday said graduates of both the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the PNP Academy (PNPA) were given key positions in the recent PNP reshuffle.

The PMA graduates are Chief Superintendents Jose Gentiles, deputy director of the Directorate for Intelligence; Isagani Nerez, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations officer-in-charge in Eastern Mindanao; Noel Lazaruz Vargas, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao OIC; and Senior Superintendents Antonio Gardiola Jr., anti-illegal drugs special operations task force OIC; and Wilson Caubat, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Northern Luzon executive officer OIC.

The PNPA graduates are Chief Superintendents Robert Po, communications electronic service OIC; Efren Perez, maritime group OIC; Jerome Baxinela, engineering service OIC; and Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, deputy regional director for operations of the Calabarzon police.

The PNPA Alumni Association Inc. (PNPAAAI) lauded Marquez for his commitment to institute meritocracy and share leadership responsibilities in the police force.

Tomas Rentoy III, PNPA board chairman, said Marquez during a recent meeting with PNPAAAI officials at Club Filipino, reiterated his resolve to address concerns on the bias against non-PMA graduates.

Rentoy said Marquez also promised that PNPAAAI members would be given posts.

“We in the PNPAAAI are happy with the PNP chief's gesture and welcome his promise of reform with guarded optimism. We are aware of the many challenges the PNP chief faces from various vested interests and lobbyists, not least of whom are some of his co-cavaliers who will naturally feel deprived of their traditional advantage,” he said.

In his speech during the meeting, Marquez, a member of PMA Class 1982, said the PNP should remain united to prevent demoralization among its ranks.

“We should have stronger unity, regardless of one’s source of commission or service. We must be strong, solid and united,” he said.

Marquez vowed to institutionalize a system of promotions and appointments before he retires on Aug. 28, 2016.


DOJ mulls probe of IP killings in Mindanao

From the Philippine Star (Sep 8): DOJ mulls probe of IP killings in Mindanao

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she is considering a parallel investigation to be conducted by the NBI on reports that the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion and the Special Forces connived with the Magahat or Bagani paramilitary forces in carrying out operations against the lumads. File photo

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is ready to investigate the killings and violence perpetrated allegedly by the military against lumads and other indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she is considering a parallel investigation to be conducted by the NBI on reports that the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion and the Special Forces connived with the Magahat or Bagani paramilitary forces in carrying out operations against the lumads.

Amid all these allegations, President Aquino gave assurance that there is no government campaign to kill lumads or indigenous people.

“We are serving the people. Serving does not mean killing the citizens,” Aquino said in a media forum aired over state-run People’s Television yesterday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines  public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato denied the allegations, saying the military has no connection with the Magahat or Bagani.

“It cannot be just purely  an NBI probe because these are no ordinary criminal offenses. These have complexities,” De Lima said.

Should the need for the NBI to step in arise, De Lima said an inter-agency body should be formed for the fact-finding. She said the panel must include prosecutors, state counsels and other agencies outside the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Among the possible issues the proposed probe may look into is the presence of the military in lumad communities.

The DOJ chief supported the move of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to look into the cases, saying an independent investigation is necessary.

CHR information officer Banuar Falcon said they are not ruling out the possibility that the military could be behind the killing of Emerito Samarca, chief of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, and community leaders Dionel Campos and Aurelio Sinzo in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1.

Falcon clarified they have yet to receive the confirmation report from their regional office on the matter.

He said the investigation was referred to their regional office in the Caraga region.

Raps filed vs suspects

Criminal charges were filed on Monday against three members of the Magahat or Bagani armed group and 20 others tagged in the killing of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo.

The charges – multiple murder, arson, grave coercion, grave threats and robbery – were filed with the provincial prosecutors’ office in Lianga town against Bobby Tejero, Loloy Tejero and Garito Layno.

Provincial police director Senior Superintendent Narciso Verdadero told The STAR that the suspects belonged to an armed group called Magahat Forces, reportedly led by a certain Datu Calpet Egua.


MILF: Editorial --Worst case scenario re BBL

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Sep 8): Editorial --Worst case scenario re BBL

As far as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is concerned, the passage of a watered down or diluted Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is still the worst case scenario that even the mind is boggled by it. For sure, the MILF will reject it outright, and worse the various aspects of the normalization process including decommissioning of its weapons (and combatants) will come to a halt. Likewise, we do not know if the various mechanisms including the international bodies will continue to stay.

Right now there seems to be more signs of life in the Senate rather than in the Lower House. Several Senators are reported to be trying to push for the passage of the original BBL. Senator Bongbong Marcos, on his part, is showing strong sense of accommodation for the views of his colleagues. Besides, there is consistent quorum in the Senate; in the House, quorum has only been achieved lately; thanks to the leadership of Speaker Sonny Belmonte Jr!

What is a diluted BBL? People are keeping asking this question.

Frankly, it is not about how many provisions of the original BBL are deleted, substituted or amended. Just one issue, for instance, the aspect of natural resources, can make the BBL diluted and would force the MILF to reject it. Of what use an entity, dubbed as autonomous, if it has no access or power over or share of the revenues derived from the natural resources? Both the House and Senate versions have deleted or seriously diluted this provision.

A real and genuine autonomous entity or region has the right or condition of self-government, especially in a particular sphere; and this is more seen in terms of powers and shares of the wealth of the nation. Shares in powers and resources can be likened to a human being, who can stand firmly and on his own if he has two feet. Both the House and the Senate versions of the BBL have seriously unnerved or mutilated the right leg and amputated the left leg, so much so that if it is not restored would render the Bangsamoro entity inutile.

Expressed in another way, do we want a son who has a family of his own to beg forever for everything from his parents? Which way this country wants the Moros to go? Come to think of it.

Of course, this is the line of debate among lawmakers. One group batted for strong and real autonomy for the Bangsamoro, while another fear for them, so that so many restrictions are introduced into the proposed law to prevent them allegedly from seceding.

In this regard, what is the best frame of mind this country especially lawmakers should adopt: to trust the Moros now or forever distrust them? What is the necessary consequence of self-sufficient Bangsamoro to secede or stay united with this country?

Surely, we cannot offer a view. But one thing sure is that as long the Moro Problem remains unresolved this country will never develop and progress. More seriously, depriving of the Moros their rightful place in this country --- and to be at par with the rest of the inhabitants --- is not a sure antidote to secession.


House to hold 5-session days a week to work on BBL, other priority bills

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 8): House to hold 5-session days a week to work on BBL, other priority bills

House to hold 5-session days a week to work on BBL, other priority bills

Starting Monday, September 7, the House of Representatives will be holding five session days a week – from Monday to Friday – instead of three session days – to work on the priority bills, including the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), before Congress goes on recess from October 10 to November 2, Mindanews reported on September 6.

But whether or not the House leadership can guarantee a quorum in the additional two session days when it could hardly have a quorum Mondays to Wednesdays, remains a question.

Last Sunday morning, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. told Manila-based DZBB that it could not guarantee this. He also acknowledged that many representatives do not like the additional session days because of the election season.

“Not many congressmen like that because it is political season now,” Belmonte said, according to the transcript of the DZBB interview.

Meanwhile att the Senate, Senate President Franklin Drilon told reporters on September 3 that they are not contemplating holding sessions on Thursdays and Fridays because “the budget does not come to the Senate until the first week of November.”

“We still have time until October 9. The budget is not yet on the floor, it is still in the committee. So we are not contemplating on having a Thursday or Friday session,” Drilon said, according to the transcript of the interview posted on the Senate website.


Villagers play on stage true stories of their Kalahi-CIDSS benefits

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): Villagers play on stage true stories of their Kalahi-CIDSS benefits
Residents of five villages from different parts of the Bicol Region dramatized their real-life stories on how Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program helped their families and communities transcend poverty through various socio-economic projects they received from the government's transformational thrust.

The dramatizations done by five groups (Kalahi-CIDSS) who are recipients of financial and technical assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development represented their respective entries to the DSWD's first-ever flash drama contest, dubbed as Teatro ng Pagbabago, on Friday at the Pacific Mall, Legazpi City.

The group from San Vicente, Camarines Norte topped the theatrical competition and was declared as the grand winner.

The five artists from San Vicente -- composed of Elenita Orbista, Cristina Robles, Caselyn Peralta, Ruel Peralta and Jobert Robles -- impressed the judges with their amazing performance matched with their true story on how the Kalahi-CIDSS program helped a family and the community transcend poverty through a skills development training and a sea wall project, both funded through Kalahi-CIDSS.

The group also received a cash prize of Php15,000.

The towns of Caramoan, Camarines Sur and Magallanes, Sorsogon were the first runner-up and second runner-up and received Php10,000 and Php5,000, respectively.

The other participating groups were from the municipalities of Bula, Camarines Sur and Viga, Catanduanes.

The San Vicente contingent also received special awards, namely, best stage presentation, best story, best actor for Ruel Peralta and best actress for Elenita Orbista.

The Teatro ng Pagbabago Contest is part of DSWD’s advocacy efforts to promote the gains of Kalahi-CIDSS beneficiaries through a ten-minute play with five characters. It aims to laymanize the program in a theater play.

We will mobilize these groups to take part in our advocacy efforts to promote the stories of communities empowered by Kalahi-CIDSS and make others appreciate the program,” Dir. Garcia said.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a DSWD program that seeks to help alleviate poverty through community-driven development (CDD).


Acquisition of much-needed military equipment given green light --DND

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): Acquisition of much-needed military equipment given green light --DND

Acquisition of much-needed military equipment and platforms has been given the green light with the signing by President Benigno S. Aquino III of the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program last July.

This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Finance, Modernization, Installation and Munitions Fernando Manalo during the presentation of the DND's proposed 2016 budget before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Around 30 procurement projects, including the missile-firing frigate, long-range patrol aircraft, surveillance radars and close-air support aircraft program, will now move to their next respective bidding phase, Manalo said.

He noted that these projects "were held in abeyance" last May pending the signing of the new AFP Modernization Law.

The DND is seeking a PhP158.8-billion budget for 2016, broken down into PhP63.5-billion for territorial defense, security and stability; PhP1.5-billion for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; PhP667-million for international engagements and peace support missions; and PhP93.1-billion for force level support and training.

The latter amount is also inclusive of pensions.

78% of PN units always ready for deployment --Admiral Taccad

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): 78% of PN units always ready for deployment --Admiral Taccad
Unknown to many, the Philippine Navy (PN) is capable of steaming or deploying 78 percent of its fleet of patrol and logistic vessels at any given time.

This was stressed by PN flag officer-in-command Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad during the presentation of the proposed 2016 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) before the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Taccad was responding to questions from the lawmakers on whether the PN can sail to show the flag and protect Philippine territory from poachers and other threats.

The PN chief also said that it is using its aircraft to project Philippine sovereignty over the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal which lies 124 nautical miles off Zambales.

The area is currently under Chinese control.

As of this posting, the PN has on its inventory 124 fleet marine units ready for various contingencies.

Taccad said that 78 percent of these units can steam if needed, adding that these ships are not merely sitting alongside piers.


PNP Chief assigns 9 police officials to new post

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): PNP Chief assigns 9 police officials to new post

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ricardo C Marquez on Tuesday installed nine (9) senior police officials to new posts in different PNP units and offices.

In a statement, Marquez approved the new designations upon the recommendation of the PNP Senior Officers Placement and Promotion Board (SOPPB) for another round of reorganization affecting some key positions in the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, National Support Units and Police Regional Office.

Designated to new posts were:

Chief Supt. Jose L Gentiles – OIC, Deputy Director, Directorate for Intelligence;

Chief Supt. Isagani R Nerez – OIC, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Eastern Mindanao;

Chief Supt. Noel Lazaruz C Vargas – OIC, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Western Mindanao;

Chief Supt. Jerome S Baxinela – OIC, Engineering Service;

Chief Supt. Efren M Perez – OIC, Maritime Group;

Chief Supt. Robert G Po – OIC, Communications Electronic Service;

Chief Supt. Antonio N Gardiola Jr. – OIC, Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force;

Chief Supt. Wilson C Caubat – OIC, Executive Officer, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Northern Luzon; and

Chief Supt. Romulo E Sapitula – OIC, Deputy Regional Director for Operations, Police Regional Office CALABARZON.

The new designations took effect September 7, 2015.

AFP not tolerating soldiers who violate human rights law, says Iriberri

The Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): AFP not tolerating soldiers who violate human rights law, says Iriberri

Military personnel, regardless of ranks, will be punished strictly if found violating various tenets of the human rights and international law.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri stressed this when asked about what the military is doing in the wake of repeated complaints filed by various indigenous groups against its Eastern Mindanao-based troopers.

The complaints included harassment, grave coercion and homicide or murder.

Iriberri said the AFP is not tolerating such misdeeds as its strategy in dealing with insurgency and various other threats is based on "respect for human rights and international humanitarian law."

Relatedly, he said the two troopers of the 68th Infantry Battalion accused of raping a 14-year-old Manobo girl are now undergoing investigation by operatives of the Philippine National Police in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

If sufficient proof is found for their misdeeds, the military will coordinate with civilian authorities in filing the necessary cases in court, he added.


AFP submitting itself to court's wisdom with clearing of Rosal's daughter

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): AFP submitting itself to court's wisdom with clearing of Rosal's daughter

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday it is submitting itself to the wisdom of the courts after a Quezon City regional trial court cleared Andrea Rosal, daughter of the deceased rebel leader Ka Roger Rosal, of murder charges.

"In such matters, we submit to the procedures of the court," AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said.

He also said that Rosal's release is not a big blow to the counter-insurgency efforts as this shows that democracy and legal procedures in the Philippines are working.

But despite Rosal's murder acquittal, the military official still believes that the former is a legitimate member of the rebel movement as indicated by their intelligence information.

Detoyato also believes that Rosal will go again to her comrades in the hinterlands to continue their insurgency campaign.


PAF wants 70% aircraft maintenance readiness rate for 2016

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 8): PAF wants 70% aircraft maintenance readiness rate for 2016

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is planning to have an aircraft maintenance readiness rate of 70 percent by 2016.

This is out of a fleet of 140 airplanes of various types.

It is also eyeing an 85 percent accomplishment of one hour response time to flight-directed missions, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said during the House Appropriations Committee hearing on DND's proposed 2016 budget at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Tuesday.

The DND is seeking a PhP158.8 billion budget for next. This is broken down into PhP63.5 billion for territorial defense, security and stability; PhP1.5 billion for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; PhP667 million for international engagements and peace support missions; and PhP93.1 billion for force level support and training.

The latter amount is also inclusive of pensions.


Gov't activates task force vs private armies in Mindanao

From Rappler (Sep 8): Gov't activates task force vs private armies in Mindanao

MalacaƱang says the National Task Force for the Disbandment of the Private Armed Groups begins work immediately in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory, and in Regions 9 to 12

MalacaƱang has activated a task force that will disband private armed groups in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory and adjacent regions to "stabilize" the security situation in the area.

The Office of the President issued Memorandum Circular 83, dated September 2 but released only on Tuesday, September 8, creating the National Task Force for the Disbandment of the Private Armed Groups (NTF-DPAGs) in the areas of the proposed Bangsamoro and in Regions 9, 10, 11, and 12.

“There is a need for the creation of the National Task Force that would focus on disbanding the PAGs in the proposed Bangsamoro core territory and adjacent regions in order to stabilize the security situation,” MC 83 read.

It said this is needed to "effectively implement the other measures stipulated in the CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro), particularly the gradual and phased decommissioning of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)."

MC 83 said that while law enforcers have been waging a "relentless campaign" against private armies, the "menace remains."

It said this is "because the major causes which primarily contribute to its proliferation such as very low level of human security, gun culture, 'rido' or clan war, political dynasties and the use of military and police auxiliaries, still exist in some affected communities."

"The disbandment of the private armies, together with the gradual and phased decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants, are part of the bigger normalization process under the accord," the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said in a statement.

OPAPP said the normalization process is not in the original draft of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), as it is part of the mandate of the executive branch and does not require additional legislation.

MC 83 said that a private armed group refers to "an organized group of two or more persons, with legally or illegally possessed firearms, utilized for the purposes of sowing fear and intimidation, and violence for the advancement and protection of vested political and economic interest."

Functions, members

Under MC 83, the NTF-DPAGs "shall be in charge of policy, planning and implementation of the program for the disbandment of the PAGs including coordination with the relevant bodies pursuant to the CAB and other entities as may be necessary in accordance with the schedule provided in the Annex on Normalization.”

Chaired by the interior secretary, it will have as members representatives from the Department of National Defense, Department of Justice, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission; the government chief peace negotiator; and the National Bureau of Investigation chief.

From the Philippine National Police, the members include the Director for Intelligence, Director for Operations, regional regional directors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and from Regions 9 to 12, and the PNP Focal Team Head for the Peace Process.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines will be representated by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, the AFP Peace Process Office Chief, and the commander of the Western Mindanao Command.

The OPAPP is tasked with helping develop a monitoring and reporting system to “determine the development and level of achievements of the activities designed for the dismantling" of the private armed groups.

Under MC 83, the task force would begin work immediately and would cease operations once determined that the private armed groups had been dismantled, and the government and the MILF had signed an "exit agreement," as stipulated by the CAB, or whichever comes earlier.

The CAB stipulates that the signing of an exit agreement by the government and the MILF will signal the termination of the peace process, and that it "will only be signed if and only when all agreements have been implemented," OPAPP said.


Rappler Talk: The US Ambassador on Southeast Asian security

From Rappler (Sep 8): Rappler Talk: The US Ambassador on Southeast Asian security

What role does the US expect to play as the APEC summit nears?

In 2013, the ​Obama administration announced the ​"Pivot to Asia", ​a foreign policy strategic "re-balancing" of U.S. interests from Europe and the Middle East toward East Asia. But what does that really mean​ in an increasingly complex world?

A lot has happened: the devaluation of the yuan has impacted economic markets. The conflict in the South China Sea pits the Philippines against China.

And as 9/11 nears, global security and ISIS' moves in Southeast Asia are prime issues as well.

Rappler talks to US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg as Manila prepares for the APEC summit.


Rappler Talk: Amb. Goldberg on friendships in Asia & challenges in Iraq

From Rappler (Jun 19): Rappler Talk: The US Ambassador on Southeast Asian security


Rappler talked to US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg on the crisis in Iraq, as well as the United States' plans moving forward from the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

On June 17, Tuesday, militants led by terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pushed a week long offensive to within 60 kilometers of Iraq’s capital city Baghdad. In response, Iraq's military claimed it had driven back militants who stormed the country's main oil refinery in the town of Baiji, the latest front in the battle which is 225 kilometers north of the capital. In a televised news conference, Iraqi military spokesman Gen. Qasem Atta added the situation “is under control.” (READ: Fighting nears Baghdad as UN warns crisis 'life-threatening')

Earlier, the insurgents captured Mosul, a city of two million people, and Tal Afar, a Shiite-majority town in north Iraq lying along a strategic corridor in Syria. In his statement, Atta also claimed "most of the areas" around the northwestern city of Tal Afar are now liberated.

ISIS is the latest reincarnation of fighters from al-Qaeda-linked groups that are so brutal, al-Qaeda distanced itself from them. Goldberg said although the senior leadership of Al Qaeda weakened, groups such as ISIS Boko Haram in Nigeria have sprung up to continue the jihadist movement.

He added, Iraq is now the focal point for the transnational jihadist movement with extremists crossing borders to join in the fight. He said the crisis could be Afghanistan all over again - " Iraq already is, and already had a conflict and there was hope at the end of the conflict and when we withdrew, that it would be able to be sustained. I think there are a lot of people that have been very disappointed in the Maliki government and the way it has handled the various sectarian issues. And there clearly is a problem in Iraq that goes beyond ISIS." (READ AND WATCH: Southeast Asian recruits join jihadist ISIS)

As ambassador to the Philippines, Goldberg pushed for stronger ties between the two countries, especially in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan last year. In April, the Philippines and the US signed a defense deal that gives the US more access to Philippine bases and allow them to store equipment. Yet, Goldberg says the US has not yet identified the bases it prefers to use, adding the two countries will have to reach a mutual agreement on the locations. (READ: DOCUMENT: Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement)

He emphasizes however that the bases should help the Philippines build up its defense and boost the United States’ presence with allies in the region.

Watch the interview with Goldberg below.
[Video: Amb. Goldberg on friendships in Asia & challenges in Iraq 


Lumad families in Surigao del Sur village flee again after militia returns

From InterAksyon (Sep 8): Lumad families in Surigao del Sur village flee again after militia returns

Lumad children at the grandstand of the sports center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur where close to 3,000 Manobo have fled following human rights abuses in their communities. (photo by Erwin Mascarinas, InterAksyon.com)

The return of a militia accused of murdering two lumad brothers in a hinterland village in Surigao del Sur has prompted at least 30 families, among the hundreds who fled following the killings but had since gone home, to evacuate again out of fear, a human rights group said Tuesday.

Eliza Pangilinan of Karapatan Caraga said the evacuees fled from Barangay Siagao to Barangay Tina on Monday after soldiers and members of the “Hasmin paramilitary group” arrived at their village.

Siagao was where militiamen “went on a rampage and killed brothers Crisanto and Ellie Tabogol in their home” the evening of August 28, sending 332 families fleeing to the provincial capital Tandag City.

Since then, said Pangilinan, the Siagao residents had returned to their village after assurances from the local government in San Miguel that it was safe for them to do so.

However, she said, the families who fled to Tina did so because of the Hasmin militia’s threat, following the deaths of the Tabogol brothers, that they would return and sow more mayhem.

But instead of heading for Tandag again, “they have chosen to stay at the barangay hall and with relatives in Tina so they can easily return to their homes and farms once it is safe again.”

Currently, there are close to 3,000 refugees, mostly Manobo, sheltering at the provincial sports center in Tandag following the September 1 murders in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV, a tribal school, who was found with his throat slit and stabbed in the body, and tribal leaders Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Bello Sinzo, who were gunned down in front of hundreds of residents, teachers and students who had been rounded by gunmen of the Magahat militia.

Alcadev, which has reaped many awards for its groundbreaking work among the lumad, and other tribal schools, many of which are the first learning institutions in the communities they serve, have openly been accused by the military of advocating support for communist rebels.

The Lianga killings happened two days after Army troops arrived in Diatagon and occupied schools in the community, the refugees said.

Some accounts say soldiers may also have been involved in the deaths of Campos and Sinzo.
The Lianga killings and evacuation led Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel to demand that the Army disband the militias, but the military has claimed it had nothing to do with organizing and arming them.

Human rights groups and activist organizations are demanding “zero budget” for funding paramilitary groups whose disbanding they have long called for because of human rights abuses but which government maintains are needed as “force multiplier” for the regular military.

Lumad from Lianga will be joining a protest at the House of Representatives Tuesday morning, when the Department of National Defense’s proposed 2016 budget will be deliberated.


Poe trains radar on lumad killings; seeks probe, sanctions

From InterAksyon (Sep 8): Poe trains radar on lumad killings; seeks probe, sanctions

Senator Grace Poe

Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday disclosed on Tuesday a resolution filed a day earlier seeking an inquiry into the "increasing gravity of alleged harassment, killings, forced evacuations and dispossession of ancestral lands in communities and tribal schools of Lumad areas, perpetuated by military."

In Senate Resolution No. 1572, Poe urged the appropriate committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the veracity of the reports on incidents in communities and tribal schools of indigenous people in parts of Mindanao.

The measure, she said, is aimed at immediately putting an end to the incidents, meting out the appropriate sanctions to those liable, and formulating legislative measures to further protect and improve the welfare and well-being of various indigenous peoples and tribes in the Philippines," Poe said in the resolution.

Poe said that the "exponentially increasing gravity of the above-mentioned allegations are reporting that the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Special Forces are behind and/or with a certain "Magahat/Bagani paramilitary forces" in carrying out activities that led to the cited events.

"The allegations and/or reports deserve serious investigation and rectification, lest we allow the mockery of the provision of our Constitution," Poe said.

Poe asked her colleagues to immediately adopt the resolution so that the inquiry can commence soonest.


AFP acknowledges weak case vs Andrea Rosal

From InterAksyon (Sep 8): AFP acknowledges weak case vs Andrea Rosal

Andrea Rosal mourning the death of her baby. Photograph from SELDA

The military's legal battle in the case of Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late New People's Army (NPA) spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, has resulted in a decision by the Regional trial Court Branch 64 in Mauban, Quezon to free her from detention after it found no probable cause to indict her.

The human rights advocacy group Karapatan had decried the military's move as a case involving "trumped-up charges."

"We submit to the procedures of the court," Col. Noel Detoyato told journalists in reaction to the court order freeing Rosal.

Karapatan's head, Cristina Palabay, acknowledged that Rosal finally walked out from her detention cell at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday.

Rosal, together with some relatives and supporters, held a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday morning.

Detoyato said the military cannot question the court's legal procedures, saying Rosal was given a "chance to defend herself" in court.

The military and police had filed murder and kidnapping charges against Rosal, which the court found had no merit at all.

The case of Rosal was the same in the case of the so-called "Morong 44" who were arrested while attending a medical seminar at a farm in Morong, Rizal.

The military accused them of being members of the NPA and alleged they were in a bomb-making seminar when arrested.

The suspects denied this, and  fought their case in court and won it and obtained their freedom.

But some of the Morong 44 were later found out to be real members of the NPA, having reportedly been killed in subsequent encounters with government troops.


Colmenares slams red-tagging by military

From InterAksyon (Sep 8): Colmenares slams red-tagging by military

Partylist Representative Ner Colmenares

Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares slammed the military for its practice of labeling activists as communist rebels, including those who sing nationalist songs.

On Monday's hearing of the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) showed a video of a teenage boy singing the folk song Lupang Sinira as it talked about the presence of New People's Army (NPA) rebels in southern Philippines.

Colmenares said that the song, popularized by Paul Galang and sang during the Marcos era, was not an NPA song.

"That's the problem with our AFP. It is committing the same mistakes of Martial Law, intolerant kayo sa dissent tapos hihingi kayo ng budget dito para bigyan ang CAFGU niyo (you are intolerant of dissent and you come here seeking a budget for your CAFGU [Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit])," he said.

"That was a song of a nationalist, but for you that's NPA [song]. Such a psychology leads to a number of deaths in this country," he added.

AFP Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri reasoned, "we were not questioning the song, but how it is being taught and interpreted, how it is being used."

"If you download from YouTube the interview of that person, that young boy, it was clearly stated that this song is their national anthem. So it is not about the song, it is how it is being used, taught and in what context it is being conveyed to the children of the indigenous peoples," Iriberri said.

Colmenares and fellow partylist lawmakers Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna, Luz Ilagan of Gabriela and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers took the AFP to task for the spate of alleged human rights violations against Indigenous People communities, including the recent killing of three IP leaders in the town of Lianga in Surigao del Sur.

The legislators also took note of the apparent militarization of lumad schools in Mindanao, and mentioned that the military should order its men not to encamp inside compounds of civilian learning institutions in the guise of going after the rebels.

Colmenares said that, under International Humanitarian Law, the military is not supposed to establish even temporary camps in civilian places, such as schools and hospitals, because such a move tends to endanger non-combatants there.

Iriberri claimed "there is no militarization" in lumad schools.

"The military enters villages due to the heavy presence of the NPA in order to protect the people and to deliver basic services. It is done in coordination with tribal leaders, and in respect of their customs," he said.

Iriberri said that the AFP has intelligence reports showing there were at least 34 NPA camps in Mindanao from 2014 to 2015.

For the year 2016, the DND is seeking a budget of P158.86 billion, which is 11 percent or P16.56 billion higher that its 2015 budget.

The budget will include the salaries of the agency's 12,049 civilian employees and 62,348 CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units) elements.

It will also include the P25 billion for the AFP modernization.