Tuesday, September 15, 2015

MILF: Moro groups stone Sen. Marcos, Rep. Lobregat photos in a rally at Cotabato City

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 16): Moro groups stone Sen. Marcos, Rep. Lobregat photos in a rally at Cotabato City

Moro groups stone Sen. Marcos, Rep. Lobregat photos in a rally at Cotabato City

Cotabato City- Irritated and disgusted members of Moro groups who are opposed to the substitute bills for Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in both Chambers of Congress staged a rally and stoned photos of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and Representative Celso Lobregat on a large tarpaulin hanged in front of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College at Sinsuat Avenue, Cotabato City, Tuesday morning September 15.  

The rallyists called them “demons” causing troubles to the Moros as they are opposed to genuine peace and economic stability of the Bangsamoro people when they deboned the Malacañan-MILF agreed version of the BBL.

“The symbolic stoning of Senator Marcos and Lobregat is showing our disappointment over these two legislators who is sowing chaos to us Moros,” Dats Magon of the Sulong Bangsamoro Movement (SBM).

Magon said, “They are demons, we stoned them because they are peace spoilers”.

“They don’t want that Bangsamoro to live peacefully,” he continued.

Hadji Mushid Mascud of the Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) recalled the bitterness and sufferings of both Filipinos and the Moro people caused by Martial Law imposed by Bongbong’s father, Ferdinand Marcos several decades ago.

“During that time human rights violations were rampant, we were displaced and became unproductive, so many massacres were committed by the government to the Bangsamoro,” Mascud lamented.

“This Bong-Bong Law (referring to the substitute Senate Bill number 2894) of Senator Marcos is not acceptable to us. It is against the letter and spirit of FAB and CAB thus it will not address the root cause of Bangsamoro problem and their quest for right to self-determination but rather it will worsen the situation,” he pointed out.

Mascud also said that Bangsamoro people are opposed to House Bill 5811.

Some described the photos of Senator Bongbong Marcos, ; his father, Ferdinand, Sr. and Lobregat on the tarpaulin as “Mana sa Ama, Ayaw sa Bangsamoro”; “Mana sa Ama, Kalaban ng Bangsamoro”; “Senator Marcos, Anak ng Utak ng Martial Law”; “Salot sa Bangsamoro, Berdugo ng Moro”; “No to Bong-Bong Law”; “Martial Law, Massacres Never Again”.

The SBM compares this activity as similar to a ritual in Mecca (Makkah), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where pilgrims are throwing stones to get rid of devils during the annual Hajj or pilgrimage.

The SBM and MAP said that there will be a mass mobilization in September 21 in Cotabato City and other areas to support and push for the immediate passage of agreed version of BBL and to denounce Senator Marcos and his flocks’ ‘acts of evil’ that threaten peace and security in Mindanao.


MILF: House leaders to exert efforts to pass the BBL

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 16): House leaders to exert efforts to pass the BBL

House leaders to exert efforts to pass the BBL

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in their statement yesterday during the opening of the exhibit of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process at the House of Representatives said that, “They would exert all efforts to pass the BBL before the end of the month.  The bill seeks to create a new region called Bangsamoro that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“A lot of people see this proposed law as solving the persistent and recurring conflict in Mindanao. This is the best solution we have at this time. Despite the fact that time is short, we are giving this our best shot,” Belmonte told reporters.

He appealed to his colleagues to be present during plenary sessions so that the deliberations on the BBL can continue and be voted upon before the end of the month.
“Let’s all vote on it BBL. Even if you’re against it, just vote… but let’s all be there,” he said.

Addressing lawmakers and other concerned sectors, Belmonte said the country is now in “very interesting times and every other critical piece of legislation must be backed by the support of the general public.”

 “Unfortunately, camps who oppose the passage of the BBL sow misinformation to gain unfair public support. Myths are crafted to erode the momentum of the proposed bill, raising questions on constitutionality and distribution of power and resources,” he said.

Rodriguez said the House will ensure that it will not pass a BBL that is not legally sound or unconstitutional, but a version that will be inclusive enough to integrate the needs and concerns of all.

Mohaquer Iqbal, Chief Negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said he believes the issue of lack of quorum in the House is just a “fleeting problem.”

“I still trust in the collective wisdom of Congress to pass the BBL,” Iqbal said at the event.

MILF: World Bank renews commitment to peace and development

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 15): World Bank renews commitment to peace and development

Axel Van Trotsenburg world Bank Vice Pres. Asian Pacific(left), Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan(between), Chairman Murad Ebrahim(right), 2nd Vice Chairman Pangalian Solaiman(1st right) and Rafael C. Lopa - PBSP Executive Director(last right)

Axel Van Trotsenburg world Bank Vice Pres. Asian Pacific(left), Dr. Safrullah Dipatuan(between), Chairman Murad Ebrahim(right), 2nd Vice Chairman Pangalian Solaiman(1st right) and Rafael C. Lopa - PBSP Executive Director(last right)

The influential World Bank (WB) reiterated on Monday, September 14, 2015  its continuing support to the peace and development in the Bangsamoro inspite of the challenges being faced in the political aspect of the peace process, particularly in the delay of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Axel van Trotsenburg, WB Vice-President for East Asia and Pacific, relayed this message to MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and several members of the Central Committee who were gathered for a meeting at Camp Darapanan, the administrative base of the revolutionary movement located in the interior of Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao.

Trotsenburg emphasized that the World Bank would step up financial support so that “communities can feel some things are moving” while people are waiting for the realization of the BBL.

World Bank is interested in what the MILF wants to do in the interim and how it can assist the latter, Trotsenburg stressed.

He also said that World Bank wants to be proactive and that it would match its words with actions.

Chairman Ebrahim commended the World Bank for its assistance now and in the past.

Even as the MILF chief described the current political setbacks, Chairman Ebrahim asked Trotsenburg to consider the various aspects of the normalization process as possible areas for cooperation and assistance.

“The World Bank and MILF can cooperate in aspects of normalization that are not directly linked to the achievement of political milestones,” suggested Chairman Ebrahim.

He also said that normalization and Bangsamoro Development Plan will have to go together for complementation. Projects that are of immediate benefit to the people can be worked out.

During the meeting, a ceremonial signing for the $1.2 million extension to the Mindanao Trust Fund took place.

The Mindanao Trust Fund, officially the Multi-Donor Facility – PH Mindanao Reconstruction & Development Project, was approved in July 2005 and builds on the comprehensive 2005 Joint Needs Assessment for Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao which was conducted also by the World Bank. The main purpose of the project was to build the capacity of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the development arm of the MILF.

CPP/NDF: Oppose US Military Domination in the Philippines

From Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Sep 15): Oppose US Military Domination in the Philippines

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Ang Bayan
Sept 7, 2015 issue

Aquino and his military and security officials odiously saluted visiting Adm. Harry Harris, recently installed commander of the US military forces in the Pacific. In the course of three days, Aquino and his officials threw away all remaining national dignity and presented themselves as lackeys of high American officials. click here to read more


CVPP/NDF: CPP Denounces Arrest of 21st JASIG holder

Propaganda press statement posted to the CPP Website (Sep 15): CPP Denounces Arrest of 21st JASIG holder

NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Press Release
September 8, 2015

CPP denounces arrest of 21st JASIG holder

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the arrest of another consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and demanded his immediate release.

“The arrest of Rene Nuyda Jr., an NDFP consultant for the Bicol region, is another blow of the US-Aquino regime against peace negotiations,” said the CPP.

Nuyda was arrested yesterday in Marikina by combined military and police forces.
“Under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), Nuyda should not have been subjected to surveillance, arrest and prosecution by the GPH,” said the CPP. Nuyda is a holder of a JASIG Document of Identification.

Nyuda is now the 21st JASIG holder currently under detention, pointed out the CPP.

“Apparently, Nuyda’s arrest was carried out yesterday by the Aquino regime in an attempt to offset its political embarrassment over the release of Andrea Rosal on the same day and the global outcry against the Lianga massacre last September 1,” said the CPP. (See the CPP statement on Andrea Rosal’s release.)

“Over the past months, the Aquino regime has stepped up attacks against NDFP personnel involved in peace negotiations further making the resumption of formal talks impossible,” said the CPP. “It has shown total disinterest in peace negotiations with the NDFP.”

“Indeed, there is very little time left to further engage the Aquino regime in any more fruitful negotiations,” added the CPP. “It is the recommendation of the NDFP negotiators to just wait for the next regime.”

“The Aquino regime has caused the total collapse of peace negotiations not only with the arrest of NDFP peace personnel, but with the intensified armed attacks against civilians and widespread violations of human rights and international
humanitarian law.”

“The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces are compelled to step up their mass struggles and armed resistance amid heightened state terrorism,” said the CPP.


Miners accused of funding militias in Surigao Sur

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 15): Miners accused of funding militias in Surigao Sur

Chamber of Mines issues denial

To demand justice and accountability from big mining companies for the recent Lumad killings in Surigao del Sur, about 100 protesters picketed on Tuesday morning outside the Solaire Casino and Resort along Aseana Avenue in Parañaque City, where the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines held its Mining Philippines 2015 Conference.

Members of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Katribu and the Defend Patrimony Alliance gathered along Diokno Avenue at the corner of Aseana Avenue, just outside the entertainment complex, and carried with them banners, which slammed the event sponsors whom they tagged as “promoters of pollution, plunder, and militarization.”

Kalikasan PNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said that the main sponsors of the mining conference, which included Philex Mining, Nickel Asia and Red 5 Limited, have been “the leading sponsors” of paramilitary groups in mine-affected communities in Mindanao.

“These sponsors also have extensive track records of pollution and plunder over the past recent years,” added Bautista.

However, the Chamber of Mines strongly denied having any links to paramilitary groups to weaken the indigenous communities’ resistance to mining in their areas. It pledged to help the police investigate the killings of the lumad in Surigao del Sur.

It issued a statement Tuesday night, which read, as follows:  “The Chamber is not aware of the involvement of any of its member-firms in this case. We condemn the killing and offer our sincerest sympathies to the victims’ loved ones. Among the foundations of responsible mining is respect for human life, for human rights, and for indigenous peoples rights.

We will cooperate with police authorities and be willing to participate in any investigation on the alleged killings.”

The Kalikasan People’s Network, meanwhile, claimed that all these groups have benefited from the  militarization of indigenous Lumad communities in the Caraga region while another mining company, the Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) funded paramilitary groups in Lumad communities, which fought mining projects in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“The recent killings in a Lumad school in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, is part and parcel of the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan inextricably linked to mining and other big business interests in the region. The Andap Valley Complex, in which Lianga, is situated is known to be one of the biggest coal reserves in the country, and the killing rampage that forced more than 3,000 Lumads to evacuate to the city center seems motivated to protect these investments,” explained Bautista.

Lumad school director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo were recently killed in Surigao del Sur allegedly by paramilitary forces.
“These big miners are responsible, not only for the pollution they have caused, but also for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and their paramilitary attack dogs who have transformed mine-affected villages into killing fields. But the serious accountability of large-scale miners is a pipe dream when they have collaborationist public officials, and some of them will be exhibited in the conference itself,” added Bautista.

The green group said they would continue to “demand accountability and justice for the pollution and plunder brought by these large-scale miners.”

“We demand immediate justice for our Lumad brothers and sisters and the pull-out of the butcher mining companies that militarized their communities. We also promise to the collaborationist politicians that aid and abet these onerous mining projects that they will be met with our vigorous opposition,” Bautista said.


3 Manobo leaders clear military of Lumad killings

From GMA News (Sep 15): 3 Manobo leaders clear military of Lumad killings

Three Lumad leaders on Tuesday cleared the military of being behind the recent killings of indigenous peoples in Mindanao, pinning the blame instead on the communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels.

"There are no armed government forces in the community," said Datu Malapandaw Nestor Apas, a Manobo from Davao del Norte, at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

"The NPA rebels are the ones occupying our area to control indigenous peoples and seize ancestral lands," added Apas, who was joined by two other Lumad leaders in the press conference.

Apas was belying the alleged harassment of Lumad communities by the military and military-backed militias in Mindanao, as well as the militarization of Lumad schools as accused by human rights group Karapatan.

"We are not oppressed by the military because they have laws to follow," he said.

Apas, however, admitted they have no evidence to prove their claim that NPA rebels were behind the killing of Lumad leaders.

"For sure there is evidence, but we do not have it right now," he said.

Maj. Emmanuel Garcia of the military's Civil Relations Service said Apas and the two others —  Datu Marcial Belandre and Datu Rico Macat, both of Surigao del Sur — were brought to Manila by Victims of Injustice, Criminality and Terrorism in Mindanao (VICTIM) convenor Art Tariman.

He said VICTIM asked the military to link up the three to the media.

"We just want to ferret out the truth," said Garcia in explaining the military’s role in the media activity.

Apas said they were not asked by the military to appear in the press conference, saying they are "not lapdogs" of the Armed Forces.

"We were not ordered to do this," he said.

Karapatan has tagged the military in the recent killings and other atrocities against the indigenous people in Mindanao, including the Sept. 1 killing of three Lumads in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

The group said the Lianga killings were perpetrated by Magahat/Bagani Force, a paramilitary group allegedly trained and equipped by the Armed Forces.

The AFP said the group is not under its command and control. 


83,000 veterans owed P17B in disability – PVAO

From GMA News (Sep 16): 83,000 veterans owed P17B in disability – PVAO

The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) admitted that the government owed more than P17 billion in disability benefits to more than 83,000 veterans and their spouses.

The PVAO explained that 1994's Republic Act 7696 entitled veterans that reached 70 years of age to a monthly Total Administrative Disability (TAD) benefit of P1,700, besides the P5,000 old age pension.

However, the government only started paying veterans disability in 2010. Thus the government now owes 83,346 veterans P17.53 billion in TAD pension.

Among those owed disability are 21,171 spouses of WWII veterans who have already died. Of these spouses, the PVAO is concentrating on paying 16,237 surviving spouses, those who are aged 80 and above, the P2.72 billion owed them.

PVAO administrator Ernesto Carolina said they are just stating the figures. “We do not want to blame anybody for this (accrued obligation),” Carolina said.

“We just want the truth to come out, just the facts. Ang totoo, there are people, 16,000 souls, 80 years old and above, asawa ng mga nakipaglaban noong giyera, may utang tayo, hindi natin binabayaran,” said Carolina. 


Police arrest 6 militants during clash near US Embassy in Manila

From GMA News (Sep 16): Police arrest 6 militants during clash near US Embassy in Manila

Early-morning tension erupted near the US Embassy in Manila when police personnel clashed with a number of militants holding a ligthning rally to mark the 24th anniversary of the historic Philippine Senate vote rejecting the countinued stay of the US military bases in the country.

A report on "News TV Live" said the protesters, poising as joggers along Roxas Boulevard, converged in front of the US Ebassy armed with paint bombs and small placards and called for an end to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines.

Militants engaged anti-riot police in a shoving match as they lobbed paint bombs at the embassy gate and waved anti-EDCA placards as they charged towards police lines near the embassy gate.

The windshield of a patrol car was hit by a hard object and broke during the clash that ended with the arrest of six protesters.

Traffic buildup on the section the Roxas Boulevard near the embassy occurred for a few minutes before the protesters were dispersed.

But the militants vowed to continue their protest plan, including a march rally going to the Supreme Court later in the day.

In a press release, militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said members of their alliances would converge at the Supreme Court and the US Embassy.

It denounced the alleged "continuing US intervention and the plan to bring back US bases under the EDCA."

Bayan is calling on the SC to resolve several petitions questioning the EDCA which were filed last year. Petitioners included former senators, party-list lawmakers, activists, academics and church leaders. 


US Embassy denies American soldier killed in Mamasapano

From GMA News (Sep 15): US Embassy denies American soldier killed in Mamasapano

The United States Embassy denied on Tuesday that an American soldier was among those killed in the counter-terrorism operation that led to the death of a wanted Southeast Asian terrorist and 44 elite commandos in Mamasapano town early this year.

"There were no US service member casualties," US Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer said in a statement.

Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan,  was killed in the operation, but as the police pulled out, an encounter with Muslim rebels erupted, killing 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force.

"The operation was planned and executed by Philippine authorities," Hoyer said. "We refer you to them for details of the operation."

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said the government should check the authenticity of a video showing supposed proof that the January 25 Mamasapano encounter also resulted in at least one American casualty.

The video, according to a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, supposedly shows a slain "Caucasian-looking" man stripped down to his underwear.

The man is said to be a member of the US military who got involved in an encounter between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine National Police's Special Action Force in Mamasapano on January 25.

"Let's take a look at that video. Caucasian ba talaga? And if that video is authentic, Caucasian ba talaga ang nandoon?" De Lima told reporters.

Cooperation between the Philippines and the US has successfully led to the killing of key local terrorists in Mindanao.

"The U.S. government consults regularly with Philippine security forces on issues of mutual interest,"  Hoyer said.

Assistance provided by US personnel serving under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, he explained, were made upon the request of the Philippine government. 


De Lima apprehensive about unconfirmed Caucasian fatality in Mamasapano

From InterAksyon (Sep 15): De Lima apprehensive about unconfirmed Caucasian fatality in Mamasapano

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday questioned the authenticity of the video that surfaced recently, purportedly showing the body of a Caucasian soldier allegedly among the remains of the Special Action Force (SAF) commandos who died in the January 25 Mamasapano massacre.

De Lima said the authenticity of the video should first be established before anything else, adding that, once this is done, the next move should be to ascertain whether the fatality was indeed Caucasian or not.

"Let's take a look at that -- if that video is authentic, the next question should be, is he indeed a Caucasian?," De Lima told journalists, said as she appealed to the public not to immediately jump into conclusion.

"We should not jump into speculations and conclusions," she added.

De Lima also said that she will task the task force composed of prosecutors and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) who are still investigating the second part of the encounter, involving that the death of the nine members of the 84th Seaborne Company, the main unit that supposedly took down Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (nom de guerre Marwan) in his hut, to also look into the alleged implication raised by the video.

The task force has already completed its probe on the death of the 35 members of the SAF blocking force in Tukanalipao, Maguindanao.

De Lima clarified that protocol prohibits US troops from actively participating in combat operations in the country.

She said they could only go as far as sharing intelligence and participating in medical evacuation, if requested by their Filipino counterparts.

In a related development, the Department of Justice (DOJ) observed that the report of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the incident "was incomplete."
Although Secretary De Lima said her office was given a copy of the 35-page MILF report, it was notably lacking in supporting evidence, such as affidavits of eyewitnesses.

"While there were findings and conclusions (in the MILF report), there are no other evidence to support it. I have noticed that, while there were factual observations, there was no supporting evidence, like the affidavits of first-hand witnesses," De Lima underscored.

De Lima explained that, while DOJ, through the fact-finding task force composed of state prosecutors and personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), initially considered the MILF report, the lack of these supporting documents meant that it is not going to be of significant formal use.

The MILF report was submitted to the government two months after the January 25 encounter.

The DOJ, for its part, already completed the first part of its report on the incident covering the killing of the 35 members of the SAF 55th Company in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano.

The 55th Company served as the blocking force for the 84th Seaborne, the main unit in "Oplan Exodus" whose objective was to arrest Marwan.

Part Two of the DOJ investigation covered the death of nine members of the 84th Seaborne as well as the death of the MILF members and three civilians.


Mamasapano incident should be put to rest, says Iqbal on reviving probe

From InterAksyon (Sep 15): Mamasapano incident should be put to rest, says Iqbal on reviving probe

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal (L) is seen with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (4th L), government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer (2nd L) and several congressmen viewing the BBL exhibit at the House of Representatives Sept. 15, 2015. (Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, InterAksyon.com)

The chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said the Mamasapano incident should be put to rest following calls to revive investigation following the emergence of fresh details surrounding the death of 67 people, including 44 police Special Action Forces (SAF) men.

"Sa amin, inilibing na namin ang issue ng Mamasapano, matagal na nating pinag-usapan 'yan. Maliban sa hustisya na dapat makuha, hindi na dapat halungkatin iyan kasi masakit iyan, especially sa mga pamilya ng SAF, sa mga namatay (We have buried the Mamasapano issue; we had already discussed it. Aside from justice that must be served, it should not be revived because of the pain, especially for the families of the SAF men who died)," Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal said in an interview at the House of Representatives.

"Anyway, may report na ang Department of Justice as well as police (Board of Inquiry), may report na sila at meron na rin sa amin, so 'yun na lang ang dapat tingnan natin 'yung reports na nailabas (the DOJ and the police had their report, we had ours, so we should just look at the reports that came out)," he added.

Iqbal said it was "not a wise move" to reopen the investigation, adding that "it would just go nowhere."

The Senate and the House of Representatives have also conducted their separate inquiries, but the latter has yet to release its report four months after it terminated its investigation.

The DOJ is completing its own investigation on the incident, which could include the involvement of several MILF fighters as among those who would be charged in the killing if the SAF men.

Asked to react on the possible involvement of the MILF, Iqbal said, "That's an internal process of government, but so far, I have not seen any official document that MILF members will be part of those on the list who will be charged."

"As far as we are concerned, it's a closed case, I don't think it has any effect on the passage of the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law),"  he added.

On the alleged participation of caucasians in the operation, Iqbal said that the MILF report did not find the same information during its investigation.

Iqbal was at the House of Representatives for the opening of the BBL exhibit.

He was joined by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and several congressmen in the exhibit.

The BBL, a product of the comprehensive agreement between the government and the MILF, is still pending at the House and the Senate.

Iqbal said he was positive that the lawmakers will hear their pleas to pass the measure.

Ferrer said having the BBL will give reality to the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people to have peace and progress in the Mindanao region.

Belmonte said he was confident his colleagues will act on the bill.

"However, I trust that my colleagues in this honorable House will never pass a law that is not legally sound or unconstitutional," he said, adding that what should come out of Congress is a law that will be "inclusive enough to integrate the needs and concerns of all stakeholders."

At the House, the BBL is being debated in plenary, but the lack of quorum had delayed its deliberation.


PH banks on backing of int’l community on territorial row with China

From MindaNews (Sep 16): PH banks on backing of int’l community on territorial row with China

The Philippine government will rely on the support of the international community if the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague, the Netherlands decides in favor of the Philippines over a territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea, a foreign affairs official said Tuesday.

China had insisted it has “indisputable sovereignty” over contested isles in the West Philippine Sea as its “traditional fishing grounds”, and had shunned the arbitration process.

During the Multi-Sectoral Forum on the West Philippine Sea held at the NCCC Mall of Davao, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jose said China, the world’s second largest economy, has to respect such ruling if it wants to be seen as a leader in the region.

“At the beginning, when we filed an arbitration case, China said that they do not accept the arbitration process and they will not respect and comply with whatever decision that tribunal will come up with,” he said.

He added other countries would support the position of the Philippines in the sea row with China, as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides for an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles from a country’s coastline.

Jose said China’s nine-dash line takes up 80 percent of the West Philippine Sea and 85 percent of South China Sea.

The official was confident the tribunal will favor the Philippines’ position over China’s nine-dash line, which is based on the latter’s historical claims. Otherwise, he said, it would lead to chaos on the exclusivity of maritime territories of other countries.

Disputes on maritime boundaries are supposedly settled through UNCLOS, dubbed the “constitution of the oceans,” he said.

He assured the Philippines could get the backing of the international community, as they expressed their support during the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, East Asian Summit, and Asean Regional Forum.

During the East Asian Summit in August, also in Kuala Lumpur, he said 13 out of 18 member countries expressed concern over the South China Sea. The EAS includes member countries of the Asean.

“All of them spoke of South China Sea and all of them expressed their concern on what’s happening in the South China Sea. Without necessarily pointing at China, they are saying that the reclamation activity that is being done there is the cause of the tensions in the region,” he said.

Jose said the international community has even called on China to stop its reclamation, construction, and militarization activities in the disputed waters.

“You would find all the countries would agree with the position of the Philippines,” he said.

But Jose said that even if China would cave in to the pressures, it will take years before China gets its hands off the disputed waters.

“Naniniwala kami na China will eventually come around. Pero hindi ito magiging overnight na gratification. It does not mean na kung magdecide ang tribunal na may basis ang claim natin at walang basis yung claim ng China, bukas pwede na paalisin ang China dun sa mga areas na inoccupy nila. This will take years. Many years ang magiging struggle nito,” he said.

He said China will have to comply with the decision of the tribunal, otherwise it risks losing its credibility as a responsible member of the international community.


Sayyafs free abducted workers in Basilan province

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 15): Sayyafs free abducted workers in Basilan province

BASILAN – Abu Sayyaf rebels have freed 9 construction workers they seized in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, authorities said on Tuesday.

It said the rebels released all hostages in Sumisip town after finding out they are all Muslims working for a private contractor who is also a Muslim. It was unknown whether their employer paid ransom or not.

Rebels seized the victims on September 14 while on their way to work in Sumisip’s Benembengan town. Two others workers managed to escape and told authorities about the abductions.

Authorities said all victims have returned to their families.


Army in Abra welcomes new commanders

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 14): Army in Abra welcomes new commanders

LAGANGILANG, Abra -- The new commander of  the 503rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army  based in the province,  vowed to  sustain and maintain the strictness of discipline in order to continue enjoying the trust and help of the civilians in the attainment of peace and order.

Col. Roy T. Devesa   took over  the command  from General Paul T. Atal.

Devesa, who was once assigned in the Cordilleras during his younger years as a soldier, asserted  to continue to work on the mission of the unit particularly in keeping the peace and order of the provinces  of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga and Mountain Province where the Brigade operates.

Prior to his current assignment  here, Devesa served as Deputy Brigade Commander of the 602nd Infantry Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based at Camp Robert Eduard M. Lucero in Carmen, North Cotabato.

Meanwhile, the 50th “The Defender” Infantry Battalion (IB) welcomed LtC. Gulliver L. Señires as its new  Commanding Officer last September 7 at the Army headquarters in Sitio Barbarit, Brgy. Tagodtod, Lagangilang.

Señires replaces LtC. Edmund D. Tubiera  who will be assigned in Upi,  Gamu, Isabela.

Major General Lysander A. Suerte, Division Commander of the 5th Infantry Division who presided over the change of command ceremony, appreciated the attendance of many civilians, local government units and the Philippine National Police headed by PSSupt. Antonio P. Bartolome.

Suerte was happy to know that  people in Abra  no longer fear or hate the Philippine Army today but love and trust them as real peacemakers and heroes.


1,642 pass 2015 PMA entrance exam

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 15): 1,642  pass  2015 PMA  entrance exam

The Philippine Military Academy (PMA)  announced  that 1,642  examinees out of 12,767 applicants successfully passed the PMA Entrance Examination (PMAEE)  conducted last August   in different testing centers nationwide.

Major Jean Alia Robles, public information officer,  said the successful 1,642 applicants composed of 1,141 males and 501 females will now be qualified to the next phase of the selection process, the  Complete Physical Examination (CPE) that will be conducted at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in  Quezon City.

 Those who pass the exam  will go through medical, psychological and physical examination to determine their fitness to undergo the four-year military training in the Academy, she explained.

After the CPE, the PMA Cadet Procurement Board will deliberate and select the most qualified candidates to compose the PMA Class of 2020. These  are expected to report to PMA on April 1, 2016 for the oath-taking ceremony and reception rites, she said.

Upon admission to the Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines, the qualified candidate is developed to become a future military officer that possesses the values of Honor, Integrity , Courage, and Loyalty.

As a PMA cadet, he or she  is a full scholar of the government- free college education with a well-rounded curriculum, receiving a monthly pay and allowances.

Upon  graduation from the Academy, he or she  is guaranteed a   military career as an officer in the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy or Philippine Air Force.


Army 4ID chief holds consultative meeting with LGU-SurSur, religious groups, lumad leaders

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 15): Army 4ID chief holds consultative meeting with LGU-SurSur, religious groups, lumad leaders

MGen. Oscar Lactao, commander of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) has initiated a consultative meeting with the provincial government of Surigao del Sur, religious groups, and lumad leaders on Saturday, September 11.

Presided over by provincial administrator Efren Rivas, Jr., for and in behalf of Governor Johnny Pimentel who was out-of-town due to an earlier commitment, the high-ranking army official wanted to hear things from different perspectives, it was learned.

The administrator, who relayed the stand of the governor, said both Governor Pimentel and Bishop Nerio Odchimar had remained steadfast in their common stand—to disarm and disband the Magahat-Bagani force.

Allegedly, members of said group, particularly siblings Bobby and Loloy Tejero as well as Garito Layno were behind the brutal murder of Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Bello Sinzo, respectively, the executive director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (Alcadev), chairman of Malahutayong Pakigbisug alang sa mga Sumusunod, and a civilian.

The said incident had triggered the mass evacuation of lumads from Kilometer 16, Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, 90 km. south, this city, and other nearby villages on September 1.

Rivas reported at the flag ceremony program on Monday that evacuees at the Surigao del Sur Sports Center had already been posted at more than 3,000.

Cases of multiple murder, arson, robbery, grave threats, and grave coercions had already been filed against the suspects and 20 John Does at the Prosecutor’s Office in Lianga town, according to P/SSupt. Narciso Verdadero, PNP provincial director.  However, warrants of arrest have yet to be issued in this regard.

According to Rivas, Gen. Lactao vowed to help pursue the arrest of the perpetrators.

Among others, the Saturday meeting held at the conference room of the Provincial Governor’s Office was attended by Bishop Odchimar, other church and lumad leaders, top army officials in the province and P/SSupt. Verdadero.


Army releases inquiry reports on Surigao del Sur, Davao del Norte allegations

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 15): Army releases inquiry reports on Surigao del Sur, Davao del Norte allegations

After reviewing the submitted reports of its field units, the Army released yesterday the results of its board of inquiries in the Lianga-Magahat Bagani allegations in Surigao del Sur, and the alleged sexual molestation of soldiers on a Lumad minor in Davao del Norte.

The allegations include the killings of three civilians and burning of a cooperative store in Sitio Han-ayan, Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, and in Surigao del Sur on Sept. 1, 2015.

In a report submitted by the Commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) based in Cagayan de Oro City, the Army Board of Inquiry tasked to review the said allegations led to the conclusion that the incident in Sitio Han-ayan was a tribal conflict within the context of insurgency, that is, one tribal group affiliated with the New People’s Army (NPA) while the other is an anti-NPA tribal group.

Major General Oscar T. Lactao, the 4ID commander, said that the Board of Inquiry did not find any direct or indirect link that would connect the involvement of the military to the killings which were all attributed to the Magahat Bagani force.

“Magahat force has been known as anti-communist and as such, it is perceived to be closely associated with the government or military,” said Lactao.

“I would like to emphasize that it is the policy of this Command not to condone any illegal armed groups,” he added.

The 4ID commander also directed Col. Isidro L. Purisima, the 402nd Infantry Brigade Commander, to conduct law enforcement operation to capture the perpetrators, especially the identified suspects namely, Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero, and Gareto Layno. They are to face justice and shed light in connection with the incident.

The Army is also looking into the possible lapses of some of its operating troops who could have made actions that could lead to the immediate capture of the perpetrators.

On the issue of the alleged sexual molestation committed against a Lumad minor in Davao, the Army conducted an internal investigation even in the absence of a formal complaint from the alleged victim.

“Even in the absence of a complainant, the Army has the obligation to ensure that our soldiers act accordingly and decisively as required by existing AFP laws, regulations, directives or policies,” said Maj. Gen. Rafael C. Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division.

The result of the submitted report by the 10th Infantry Division based in Mawab, Davao del Norte recommended charging individually the three soldiers involved in the case, in a general court martial for violation of the Article of War (AW) 97, or conduct of a nature that brings discredit upon the military service.

The soldiers, whose names are still withheld, denied the reports against them but the other details of the case gave the Army’s investigating body a ‘prima facie’ (at first encounter) case against the three soldiers for violation of AW 97.

Since no formal complaint was submitted, the result of the investigation was based on information given by the municipal social welfare and development officer of Talaingod, Davao del Norte and the affidavits submitted by concerned personnel.

The company commander of the three soldiers was also recommended for administrative sanction in violation on the policy of ‘commander’s responsibility,’ of promptly initiating the conduct of investigation to determine the administrative liability of personnel involved and failure to inform his immediate superior.

“The immediate release of the findings of our Board of Inquiry is a manifestation that we are serious in addressing the human rights issues and other cases against our personnel,” said Lt. Gen. Eduardo M Año, the Army Commanding General.

“Our Army troops must and will always abide with the highest standards of human rights, IHL and the rule of law,” Año added. (Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs)


1st Cavalry Squadron exceeds NGP target for 2016

From the Philippine Information Agency (Sep 18): 1st Cavalry Squadron exceeds NGP target for 2016

In a bid to finally make the National Greening Program (NGP) of the goverment sustainable, the 1st Cavalry Squadron, Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army recently planted some 2,000 mahogany seedlings in barangay Navalan here.

The officers and men of the 1st Cavalry Squadron led by LtCol. Charlemagne  Batayola, Jr,. in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), office of 1st district representative Victor J. Yu and barangay officials of Navalan conducted the tree planting in the hilly part of the four-hectare farm of Barangay Captain Leoncio Osores.

Batayola said the tree planting activity was in support to the NGP, President Aquino’s flagship reforestation program which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares by 2016.

He said the activity will not only alleviate poverty and achieve food security, but it will also help address the problem on climate change.

Under the NGP, Batayola said the unit was given a quota of 8,800 trees to be planted and the unit was able to overshoot its goal.

From 2013 to 2015, he said the 1st Cavalry Squadron conducted five tree planting activities in the adopted sister barangays and within the period, they were able to plant more than 8,800 seedlings in the area.

“We have exceeded the NGP target since we planted 2,000 additional mahogany seedlings,” Batayola proudly announced.

“This is how we showcase the group’s shared passion in sustaining the efforts of the government in greening the Philippines,” he added.

Batayola said the activity was also part of the  9th founding anniversary of the Mechanized Infantry Division in Capas, Tarlac on September 11,  where the different companies have conducted simultaneous tree planting activities in Basilan,  Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City, respectively.

Meanwhile, Punong Barangay Leoncio Osores said he mobilized the ‘Bantay Kalikasan’, which composed of barangay tanods to prepare the planting holes, help in planting trees and take care of the newly planted seedlings.

“Among gitabangan ang 1st Cavalry Squadron dili lamang sa pagpananom ug mga kahoy, kun dili lakip na ang pag-amuma niini aron nga ang tanan motubo (We helped the 1st Cavalry Squadron not only in planting trees but also in taking care of it so that it will all grow),”Osores explained.
Teresita Puno,  63 years old said she did not fail to join the tree planting activity spearheaded by the unit saying that it is her commitment to help in restoring the environment.

“Lima na ka higayon nga nga wala ko misipyat pag-apil sa pagpananom ug kahoy nga gipasiugdahan sa 1st Cavalry Sqaudron. Mokabat na sa 50 ka mahogany seedlings ang akong natanom dinhi sa bukid,” Puno proudly said. (For five times, I have not failed to join the tree planting activity conducted by the 1st Cavaly Squadron. There were about 50 mahogany seedlings that I have planted in this mountain).

Batayola attributed the successful implementation of the tree planting activity to the support of various stakeholders such as the DENR, barangay officials and residents  and other private-sector partners.


Tribesmen charge NPA for killing 2 IPs in Bukidnon

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): Tribesmen charge NPA for killing 2 IPs in Bukidnon

Village residents in the hinterlands of Bukidnon accused the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels of killing members of the Indigenous People (IP) who refused to join the rebel movement, the military said Tuesday.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division here, said Reymond Dayo Licanay, 21 and younger brother Roy, 18, both members of the Tala-andig tribe were reportedly killed by NPA rebels last Sunday.

The police investigators in Valencia City said that the victims were residents of the mountain village of Tandakol in Lilingayon, Valencia City, Bukidnon, who were hunting wild games for food when allegedly shot by the NPA rebels.

Datu Uba Lucbay Bayawon, the uncle of the victims, said that he suspected the NPAs as responsible for the killing of his nephews because of their refusal to join the rebel movement.

“The NPA have been recruiting us, especially these victims, for quite a time now. But we refused because we do not want to take up arms and fight the government. We only wanted to live peacefully in our ancestral land. This is the reason why the NPA rebels are furious about us because we do not want to support their armed struggle. The rebels even threatened to kill us,” Bayawon told the police.

Martinez said that the relatives accompanied by the police recovered the victim’s bodies who appeared to have been tortured around 5:00 p.m. Sunday in the forested area of Lilingayen with empty shells of AK-47 and M14 ammunitions beside their bodies.

He said that army Lt. Col. Nasser Lidasan, Commanding Officer of the 1st Special Forces Battalion, has sent troops to support the PNP on the conduct of Law Enforcement operation in the area.


8th FAB, HERO Foundation outreach program benefit 60 school children in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): 8th FAB, HERO Foundation outreach program benefit 60 school children in Basilan
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cabansay, 8th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) commander, has encouraged school children to study hard to fulfill their dreams and goals in life.

Cabansay issued the statement during an outreach program Monday in partnership with the Helping Everyone Randomly Organization (HERO) Foundation at the Look Jambangan Primary School in Barangay Baluno, Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

Cabansay told the school children that he became the battalion commander of the 8th FAB because he studied hard during his days in elementary and high school.

A total of 60 school children benefited from the joint outreach program of the 8th FAB and HERO Foundation wherein they distributed food and snacks purchased from food chain Jollibee as well as school supplies.

A Jollibee mascot entertained the school children during the event.

“If the people can’t go to the city because of poverty and don’t have the opportunity to dine in a restaurant or fast-food outlet like Jollibee, then the HERO and 8th FAB will bring it to them so they can have fun and laughter,” Cabansay said

The HERO Foundation headed by Rijan Peñaflor was organized to help the needy and the less fortunate ones.

The Look Jambangan Primary School was the second school that benefited from the joint HERO and 8th FAB outreach program.

The first was the Simeon Josefa Elementary School in Barangay Binuangan, Isabela City, Basilan wherein 200 students benefited during the outreach mission held last August 10.

Peñaflor and Cabansay said more outreach programs will be held in the coming days for the benefit of the school children.


Blasts rock Maguindanao town, Army suspect BIFF hands

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): Blasts rock Maguindanao town, Army suspect BIFF hands

A set of road side bombs obviously intended for the military were exploded minutes after residents discovered it and reported to nearest police and Army detachment in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao Tuesday.

Capt. Joan Petinglay, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the IED fashioned from 60 mm mortars with mobile phone as triggering device was found by a motorist who noticed a suspicious sack at a road side in Barangay Timbangan at past 10 a.m.

The road was regularly used by the Army Mechanized Infantry Brigade station in Shariff Aguak town.

"It was intended for the military and we suspect a hand of the BIFF," an Army middle level officer told reporters, referring to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Quoting a report from police and Army investigators in Shariff Aguak, the Army officer said a certain Kagilawan noticed the suspicious sack which he described as "heavy" and could be a bomb. He then alerted the police and Army personnel nearby.

While elements of Shariff Aguak PNP and Army's 45th Infantry Battalion was securing the perimeter to prevent civilians from getting closer to the IEDs, it went off in succession.

Nobody was hurt in the blasts.

Investigation was still on going even as the Army are again placed on heightened alert for possible atrocities to be carried out by the BIFF.

BIFF spokesperson, Abu Misry, admitted his group was behind the bombing. "It was our work, there will be more," he said.


PHL, SK 'Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information' valid for 5 years

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): PHL, SK 'Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information' valid for 5 years

The "Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information" which was signed Monday by Philippine and South Korean defense ministers has a validity of five years.

This was stressed by Defense public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong Monday.

The agreement regulates the exchange of classified information between the Philippines and South Korea and their authorized representatives.

"The agreement will be implemented by the Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Intelligence, J-2 on the part of the Philippines and Defense Intelligence Agency on part of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The agreement is valid for five years," he added.

Signing took place last Monday. Representing the Philippine side was Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin while South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo signed for his country.

"This agreement will (also) enable the Philippines to be better apprised of the latest developments in the Korean Peninsula, if any hostilities arise. Safety and repatriation of Filipinos residing in ROK will be PH’s paramount concern when such contingency erupts between the two Koreas," Andolong added.

Both officials manifested their continued support to the further enhancement of its defense relations through the expansion of exchanges at the senior defense and military levels.

And to promote more relevant and practical cooperation towards the goal of establishing a strategic partnership, the Department of National Defense and South Korean Ministry of National Defense will explore the need for the establishment of an annual Defense Policy Consultation at the vice-ministerial level.

Gazmin personally extended his appreciation, in behalf of the direct beneficiaries of Leyte, who benefited from the one-year deployment of the South Korean Army's "Araw" Unit that extended assistance in the rehabilitation of Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa in the aftermath of Typhoon "Yolanda" in 2013.

While Han, on the other hand, committed the support of Korean defense industries in the Modernization Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


South Korean Defense Minister calls on President Aquino

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): South Korean Defense Minister calls on President Aquino

A delegation from the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Korea, led by National Defense Minister Han Min-Koo, called on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday afternoon, shortly after the latter arrived from his engagement in Iloilo province, at the Kalayaan Hall of Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

According to Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta of the Philippines’ Department of National Defense, during the courtesy call, Minister Han presented to President Aquino the two countries’ Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Operations.

Minister Han was accompanied by the South Korean Defense Ministry’s Deputy Minister Yoo Jeh-Seung, Director General Yoon Sun-Gu, and Director Sung Ki-Wook, as well as South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Jae Shin.

Also present during the courtesy call were National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Hernando Irriberi, and other defense officials, among them Undersecretary Azcueta, Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materials Fernando Manalo, and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Jose Quilop.


No truth to Chinese building halt in West Philippine Sea

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): No truth to Chinese building halt in West Philippine Sea

Despite earlier Chinese claims that it has stopped its reclamation works in disputed portions of the West Philippine Sea, Western Command head Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez on Tuesday announced that China is still conducting construction activities in the area.

He also said that Chinese announcement of a reclamation halt last August is not true.

"They told the world that they have completed four reclamation projects (in the West Philippine Sea) but they never did announce that they have stopped their construction works. It's just technicalities. It's true that they have stopped all reclamation activities but now they are conducting vertical construction activities in Mischief, Subi and Fiery Cross Reefs. Construction activity there is going full blast," Lopez said in Filipino.

The Western Command chief expects these facilities to be completed before the end of the year.

He said that the facilities in the above-mentioned reefs can be used for humanitarian and military use, adding that only time can tell.

"We will see, we have to be very vigilant in monitoring," Lopez stressed.

Earlier satellite images show China taking new steps to lay down what appears to be a 1.4-mile military runway on Subi Reef and putting the finishing touches on a two-mile airfield in Mischief Reef in the Spratly islands chain.

Subi was a once-submerged shoal that China built up into an area suitable for a military base.


MILF report on Mamasapano incident is incomplete -- De Lima

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): MILF report on Mamasapano incident is incomplete -- De Lima

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima on Tuesday said that the report of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the Mamasapano incident where 44 members of the elite Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) were killed is incomplete.

Likewise, De Lima noted that the DOJ's investigation on the Mamasapano incident is still not over.

The DOJ panel released part I of their report in April this year where it recommended the filing of complaints for murder against 90 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members for the death of 35 of the 36 members of the 55th Special Action Company.

It also recommended the filing of a complaint for theft.

The complaint filed was based on the testimony of the government's witness given the codename "Marathon".

The National Bureau of Investigation-National Prosecution Service (NBI-NPS) team is continuing with its investigation.

De Lima said that they were given a copy of the MILF report.

However, De Lima said, while there were findings and conclusions, there are no other evidence to support it.

"Hindi kasi pwede na report lang, conclusions lang at walang affidavits like first-hand witnesses," she said.

De Lima said that the MILF has formed a commission that conducted the fact-finding investigation.

"The findings and conclusions are found in their report but I have noticed that while there were factual observations, wala yung supporting, sinu-sino ang mga witnesses," she added.

The Part 2 of the DOJ report is supposed to cover the circumstances surrounding the death of members of the PNP-SAF's 84th Seaborne Company as well as the death of members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and civilians.

However, De Lima was silent on the "alternative truth" about the Mamasapano incident mentioned by President Benigno S. Aquino III.


De Lima: Video showing aftermath of Mamasapano incident should be verified whether authentic

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): De Lima: Video showing aftermath of Mamasapano incident should be verified whether authentic

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima on Tuesday maintained the video showing the alleged aftermath of the Mamasapano incident last January where a Caucasian was among the slain "SAF 44" should be verified whether it's authentic.

De Lima said once the said video of the Mamasapano incident is authenticated, the next thing that should be determined is whether the Caucasian-looking man was a foreigner or just a Filipino who was a "mestizo".

However, De Lima clarified that she still has to determine from the team of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which investigated the case, whether the alleged assistance of the foreign forces in "Oplan Exodus" was included in their investigation.

It earlier came out in the report of the Senate and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the assistance provided by the United States forces was only up to "intelligence, retrieval and medical operations".

"Oplan Exodus" ended the terroristic activities of Malaysian bomb expert Zulkifli Bin hir alias "Marwan" that claimed the lives of 44 SAF troopers, some civilians, as well as the lives of some Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015.


PAF's 2nd C-295 medium transport aircraft now in PHL

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 15): PAF's 2nd C-295 medium transport aircraft now in PHL

The Philippine Air Force's second Airbus C-295 medium transport aircraft arrived at Clark Air Base, Mabalacat City, Pampanga on Tuesday afternoon.

The aircraft arrived at the airfield exactly at 5:30 p.m., PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said.

The second C-295 with tail number 140 departed from Spain last Sept. 8 and was flown in by pilots of Airbus Defense and Space.

The PAF technical inspection and acceptance committee shall undertake the necessary inspection and acceptance procedures before the aircraft will be flown to Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base (CJVAB) Grandstand, Pasay City for the turnover and blessing ceremony which will be scheduled later.

The medium lift fixed-wing aircraft acquisition is one of the projects nearing realization under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program to boost its capabilities for the medium tactical airlift requirement for humanitarian assistance and disaster response and transport of AFP personnel and logistics to any part of the country as needed.

The first and second C-295Ms were delivered in advance.

The first C-295M aircraft arrived at Clark Air Base last March 22 and was formally turned over and blessed on March 30 at CJVAB, Pasay City.

The third aircraft is expected to arrive before the year ends.

Based on a contract approved last March 26, 2014, the supply and delivery of the three aircraft are expected each in October 2015, February 2016 and June 2016.

Four pilots and 19 maintenance crew completed their training in Spain from January to March and another two from March to April, this year.