Friday, September 25, 2015

Poor Barangay in CamSur benefits Humanitarian Mission

From the Manila Bulletin (Sep 26): Poor Barangay in CamSur benefits Humanitarian Mission

More than 500 residents in a poor Barangay in Bula town here benefited  from the humanitarian mission conducted by 9th  Infantry Division of the Philippine Army Thursday.

This is in cooperation with the 42nd Infantry Battalion headed by its Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Joselito P. Pastrana, Medical and Dental Teams of 9ID and barangay officials of the said barangay. Tree planting activity was also held in the area.

(Photo courtesy of google map)
The residents here were given the opportunity for the free medical/dental, massage /therapy, hair dresser, repair of appliances and other services provided by the Philippine Army.

The Philippine Army with  the representative from  LGU officially turned- over to the barangay the initiated projects that include barangay outpost, comfort room and motor pump with pressure tank that of great help  for the local populace.

Lt. Col. Pastrana said he got the idea of helping the barangay through this projects the time when his battalion undergoing battalion retraining conducted marksmanship training here. The wide area of said barangay is safe place to conduct such marksmanship training for soldiers.

Barangay Chief Eddie M. Agnas extended his gratitude to the Philippine Army for launching the project in his barangay that benefited his constituents.

Xi denies China turning artificial islands in South China Sea into military bases

From InterAksyon (Sep 26): Xi denies China turning artificial islands in South China Sea into military bases

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a joint news conference with US President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington September 25, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

US President Barack Obama expressed concerns about Chinese militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea to China's President Xi Jinping on Friday, but Xi denied any plan to establish military strongholds there.

Obama said that in their summit talks they had a "candid" discussion on Asia-Pacific disputes, focusing on growing tensions in the South China Sea where China has competing territorial claims with several Southeast Asian countries.

"I conveyed to President Xi our significant concerns over land reclamation, construction and the militarization of disputed areas, which makes it harder for countries in the region to resolve disagreements peacefully," Obama said.

He spoke with Xi at his side during a joint news conference in the White House Rose Garden. The Chinese leader is on his first state visit to the United States.

China has said repeatedly that the artificial islands it has built up on disputed reefs would be used for military defense and analysts say satellite pictures show it has completed one military length runway and appears to be working on two more.

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of US forces in the Pacific, told the Aspen Security Forum in July that China was building hangers on one of the reefs - Fiery Cross - that appeared to be for tactical fighter aircraft.

Xi, however, denied that militarization was taking place.

"Relevant construction activity that China is undertaking in the Nansha Islands does not target or impact any country and there is no intention to militarize," Xi said, using the Chinese name for the disputed Spratly archipelago.

"Islands in the South China Sea since ancient times are Chinese territory," Xi said.

"We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful legitimate maritime rights and interests."

Xi also reiterated that China is committed to freedom of navigation in the sea and to resolving disputes through dialogue. He said Beijing and Washington had a shared interest in this regard.

Washington analysts and US officials say the militarization of the islands has already begun and the only question is how much military hardware China will install.

US experts say satellite photos from early this month also show China was carrying out dredging work around the artificial islands, a month after saying it had stopped.

Harris said last week that China's runway building and further militarization of the artificial islands was of "great concern" and posed a threat to all countries in the region.

AW109 Power Light Twin-Engine Helicopter, Italy

From Air Force Technology (Sep 25): AW109 Power Light Twin-Engine Helicopter, Italy

The Philippine Navy ordered a total of five AW109 Power helicopters for maritime missions.

The Philippine Air Force received the first two of eight attack variants of the AW109 Power light twin-engine helicopter in August 2015. Image: courtesy of Tim Felce (Airwolfhound).

The Philippine Navy ordered a total of five AW109 Power helicopters for maritime missions. Image: courtesy of Fabrizio Capenti.

The AW109 Power light helicopter has a maximum cruise speed of 285km/h. Image is in the public domain.

The Philippine Air Force commissioned the first two of eight armed AW109 Power light, twin-engine helicopters in August 2015.

The helicopters are manufactured by Italian company AgustaWestland.

The helicopters will be operated by the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing in missions such as close-air support, armed air reconnaissance, forward air control, and armed escort.

AW109 Power can be configured for a range of missions, including search and rescue, law enforcement, air ambulance, coast guard, border patrol, surveillance, passenger transport, advanced training, and emergency medical services.

AW109 Power orders and deliveries

"AW109 Power can be configured for a range of missions, including search and rescue, law enforcement, air ambulance, coast guard, border patrol and surveillance."
AgustaWestland won a contract worth P3.4bn ($77m) through a public bidding for the supply of eight AW109 helicopters to the Philippine Air Force in November 2013. The first two helicopters were delivered in December 2014.

The Philippine Navy signed a contract with AgustaWestland for three AW109 Power maritime helicopters with an option for an additional two in March 2013. The helicopters are configured for maritime security, search and rescue, surface surveillance and economic zone protection. A contract for an additional two helicopters was signed in February 2014.

The Mauritanian Air Force placed an order for an undisclosed number of AW109 Power helicopters for reconnaissance and border patrol missions in June 2013.

Design and features of AW109 light helicopter

AW109 Power features an airframe made of lightweight aluminium alloys. It is fitted with four blade main rotor and long tail boom with two blade tail rotor. Tricycle landing gear with energy absorbing struts allows safe landing on rough terrains.

The helicopter has a length of 13.4m, a width of 7.8m and a maximum height of 3.5m. The main and tail rotor diameters are 11m and 1.94m respectively.

The helicopter is operated by one or two pilots and accommodates up to seven passengers. The cockpit is fitted with pilot / co-pilot doors and windows with sliders. The cabin has two large sliding doors and double-layer acrylic windows.

With a volume of 3.5m³, the wide cabin can be easily configured to meet various mission equipment. The spacious baggage compartment can be extended up to 2.3m to house mission-specific loads.

The interior is installed with soundproofing, bleed air heater and air conditioning to facilitate
comfortable seating for occupants.

AW109 Power can be optionally fitted with a rescue hoist, cargo hook, engine air particle separator, external loudspeakers, pulsed chip detectors, rappelling hooks, retractable light, and Bambi bucket.

Cockpit and avionics

The platform offers high controllability and manoeuvrability when undertaking missions in the most demanding weather and environmental conditions.

The digital, glass and NVG-compatible cockpit is equipped with six liquid crystal instrument displays to provide the aircrew with navigational and flight information, as well as enhanced situational awareness both during the day and at night.

Avionics include three-axis duplex automatic flight control system (AFCS), radar altimeter, weather radar, global positioning system (GPS), moving map, instrument flight rules (IFR), navigation and communication systems, gyrocompass and transponder.

It also includes tactical radios, forward looking infrared radar (FLIR) / low-light television (LLTV) camera, automatic direction finder (ADF), stormscope, emergency locator transmitter (ELT), and cockpit voice and flight data recorder.


The AW109 Power attack version is armed with .50 calibre machine guns and unguided rockets for close air support and surveillance operations.

Survivability features

The light helicopter's safety features include emergency flotation, dual hydraulic boost and wire strike protection systems, snow skis kit / slump protection pads kit, fire extinguishers, a fully separated fuel system, reinforced windshield, rotor brake, and dual electrical systems.

Redundant lubrication and cooling systems are provided for main transmission and engines. Vibration dampers are also fitted to minimise vibration levels.

Engine and performance of AW109 Power helicopter

The AW109 Power helicopter is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206C engines, controlled by full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system, or two Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 engines.

PW206C has a take-off power of 477kW, whereas the Arrius 2K1 has a take-off power of 500kW.
The helicopter has a maximum take-off weight of 3,000kg and is equipped with 605l three-cell, 699l four-cell and 835l five-cell fuel systems. It has a maximum cruise speed of 285km/h, a never exceed speed of 311km/h and a rate of climb of 9.8m/s. It can reach a service ceiling of 5,974m with one engine inoperative. The IGE and OGE hover ceilings are 5,059m and 3,596m respectively.

The Global Military Aircraft Market 2011-2021

This project forms part of our recent analysis and forecasts of the global military aircraft market available from our business information platform Strategic Defence Intelligence.

For more information click here or contact us: EMEA: +44 20 7936 6783; Americas: +1 415 439 4914; Asia Pacific: +61 2 9947 9709 or via email.

ASG aimed for Dumaguete: Army

From the Sun Star-Cebu (Sep 25): ASG aimed for Dumaguete: Army

A 50-MEMBER Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) threatened to abduct rich persons in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, according to an official of the 302nd Infantry Brigade of Philippine Army (PA).

After authorities received the information more than a week ago, four Philippine Navy vessels were deployed to patrol the waters of southern Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor and the southern portion of Panglao, Bohol.

Col. Allan Martin, commander of 302nd Infantry Brigade of PA, said this group threatened to kidnap rich foreigners who own business in Dumaguete.

“We just prepared. We deployed army troops to probable entry points (of the armed groups) in coordination with the PNP and the Coast Guard,” Martin said in an interview.

He assured that Cebu is safe from ASG.

Martin said it will be too dangerous for the ASG to enter Cebu especially if they use sea vessels.

Based on his assessment, the armed groups planned to enter Dumaguete because there are more rich retirees and foreigners in the area.

ASG is targeting rich people because the group’s lifestyle is also growing and so they need more money, said Martin.

Capt. Nell Brian Cebrian, operations officer of the 302nd Infantry Brigade, presented the peace and order situation in the Central Visayas during the Regional Peace and Order Council 7 meeting last Wednesday.

The 302nd Infrantry Brigade’s area of responsibility covers three independent cities, 12 component cities, 67 municipalities and 1,787 barangays.

It covers a total land area of 11,092.63 square kilometers and a population of 4,048,914.

Cebrian said PA received information that an ASG headed by Muammar Askali with approximately 50 followers were spotted in a municipality in Sulu.


“According to the source, the group is planning to conduct kidnapping activities in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and the group will travel for an estimated distance of 400 kilometers towards Dumaguete,” he said.

PA got information about the threat on Sept. 10 and 14.

The 302nd Infantry Brigade has coordinated with the police and the local government units about this.

Martin said Negros Oriental also created a task force composed of different LGUs and authorities.

So far, he said, the ASG has not yet entered Dumaguete.

Martin said there are assessments that the recent kidnapping in Samal Island happened because ASG was not able to enter Dumaguete.

Authorities believed Askali was behind the abduction in Samal.

“Well, we hope that we’re able to prevent them from entering Dumaguete. But that will not also stop us. We will continue the vigilance to protect the area, especially the tourist destination of Region 7 from kidnappings,” Martin said.

Burning Questions: Talking With José María Sison About Climate Change, Capitalism and Revolution

From Counter Punch (Sep 9): Burning Questions: Talking With José María Sison About Climate Change, Capitalism and Revolution (by Quincy Saul)


José María Sison is a living legend. Born in 1939 in Cabugao, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, to a wealthy and connected family, his education and compassion led him to become a revolutionary activist by the age of 20. Today he remains, at the age of 76, a leader of what has been called by the New York Times “the world’s longest running communist insurgency.”

1969 he founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with 12 delegates, representing only a few scores of party members, and he has stayed the course through thick and thin – today it has 10s of 1000s of members. And at no easy price: his revolutionary works earned him nine years in prison, including a year and a half in solitary confinement. Released in 1986, he has lived in exile ever since, and remains on the US terrorist watch list. While no longer involved in operational decisions, he remains a chief consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Sruggle. Not just a politician, Sison was also a professor of English literature, is an esteemed poet, and a winner of the Southeast Asia WRITE book ward.

Some have recently alleged that the CPP has stagnated intellectually. However, the party’s ideological leadership seems to be effective, as even the detractors admit. As previously reported on Counterpunch, the New Peoples Army operates throughout 20% of the countryside of the Philippines, on 100 fronts, across 70 provinces, 800 municipalities, 9000 barrios and 8000 villages. Is this 21st century Maoism a blast from the past, or is it the only promise of a future for a country with the highest income disparity in Asia, where a quarter of the population lives on less than $1 a day? Benedict Anderson has written of the “historical vertigo” of the Philippines: as visionary forerunner of anti-colonial movements in the region, today it is home to arguably the strongest Left in Southeast Asia. Here we learn from Sison about how he translates vertigo to victory, as he responds the burning questions of 21st century politics and revolution.

How have ecological crises, and particularly the catastrophe of Haiyan, effected the ideology and practices of revolutionaries working above and underground in the Philippines?

JMS: The revolutionaries in the Philippines who work in both the urban and rural areas have always been conscious of the necessary relationship of nature and society or that of the environment and the people who produce new things of use and exchange value from the objects, means and conditions provided by the environment. The ecological crises and particularly the catastrophe of Haiyan serve to raise and sharpen the consciousness of the revolutionaries about the environmental issue and the urgent need to act on it.

The monopoly capitalist firms have been responsible for the wanton use of fossil fuel and carbon dioxide emissions in the Philippines, for the rapid deforestation – which has removed the shield to typhoons, caused soil erosion, prolonged droughts and floods together with landslides – and for the rapid expansion of mining and plantations, which use chemicals that poison the streams and kill marine life. Due to global warming, the surface of the Pacific Ocean has warmed and become the speedway for more frequent and stronger typhoons hitting the Philippines.

As a revolutionary strategist, what advice do you offer to those who are dedicating themselves to the global struggle for climate justice?

JMS: I wish to advise all those who dedicate themselves to the global struggle for climate justice to stand for it militantly as a distinct cause, and at the same time, to seek solidarity and cooperation with those who dedicate themselves to the struggle for social justice. They face a common enemy in monopoly capitalism and the imperialist powers which are the cause of climate and social injustice.

The global struggle for climate justice is interconnected with the global struggle of the people for social justice. The environmental crisis and the threat to the very existence of humankind are coming to the fore, concurrently with the recurrent and ever worsening economic, financial and social crises of the world capitalist system. The constant attempts of monopoly capitalism to seek superprofits and accumulate capital by increasing the organic composition of their capital – adopting higher technology, disemploying so many workers everywhere and using cheap labor and buying dirt cheap raw materials from the underdeveloped countries – have wrought havoc on the people and the environment.

The grave abuses and injustices inflicted by monopoly capitalism and by its local agents are driving the broad masses of the people to revolt against their exploiters and oppressors and to fight for a fundamentally new and better world. Thus, the forces of anti-imperialism, democracy and socialism are resurgent. Within this context, the exponents of climate justice must unite with those of social justice. In this regard, I invite them to participate in the 5th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, because this league pursues the struggle for both climate and social justice.

What are your perspectives on ecosocialism as an emerging ideological orientation at the intersection of social and environmental crisis and struggle? (For instance, The Ecosocialist Manifesto / Belem Declaration of 2009, The Enemy of Nature, by Joel Kovel, or The Plan Patria 2013-2019 of the Venezuelan government.)

JMS:   Monopoly capitalism is the plunderer of both the labor power of the working class and the natural resources used in the process of production. It is driven by the profit motive to exploit, pollute and destroy the environment without minding the lethal consequences to the very existence of humankind. As the social and environmental crisis worsens, it is necessary for the working class and the rest of the people to struggle against monopoly capitalism, to establish the power of the working class, to protect the environment and fight for socialism.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle, which I chair, studies the various perspectives, like those in publications that you have mentioned, to adopt points for strengthening our own perspective. We advocate the most effective line and measures for stopping and rolling back global warming, and we strive to arouse, organize and mobilize the working class and the people for the anti-imperialist and socialist cause against monopoly capitalism, which is clearly the biggest culprit responsible for the social and environmental catastrophe that we face.

What should the ideological orientation of the revolutionary movement be to mining in the Philippines? Many indigenous peoples and environmentalists oppose mining altogether, in favor of an ancestral mode of production in harmony with the ecosystem, a perspective which found internationalist expression this year around the International People’s Conference on Mining 2015. Others in the revolutionary movement see mining not only as an indispensable source of revenue, but as prerequisite for passing through the necessary “stages” toward socialism (primitive accumulation, industrialization, formation of proletariat, etc). This is also a burning issue from India to Ecuador, where indigenous cosmovision confronts proletarian developmentalism over what course the revolutionary movement should take. As Arundhati Roy asks about the future of revolution in India, “can we leave the bauxite in the mountain?”

JMS: The given situation in the Philippines under the hegemony of the US and other imperialist powers and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords, is that mining firms can be owned totally by foreign monopoly firms. Limitless truckloads of raw mineral ores from so many parts of the country are being shipped out at a rapid rate to China, Japan and other countries for processing. Some mining firms specializing in precious metals like gold, silver, platinum and palladium fly them out by helicopter to ships waiting at sea.

Under the present circumstances, it is just for the indigenous peoples and for environmentalists to oppose totally the unrestricted mining by the imperialist and local reactionaries for their own narrow benefit at great damage to the entire people, economy and environment. But it is wrong to glorify underdevelopment and condone the social environment of widespread poverty, malarial swamps, malnutrition and disease in the name of a romantic, idylicized communalism. The new democratic or socialist system, shall guarantee the wise utilization of natural resources, protection of the environment and the free and prior informed consent of the indigenous communities as well as the prior provision of benefits and sharing of prospective benefits.

There would be wiser utilization of natural resources and a higher level of environmental protection and conservation of the national patrimony if the Filipino people themselves, under a people’s democratic or socialist government, process the raw materials from the primary stage to the secondary and tertiary stages. It is sheer nonsense to reduce the Filipino people to a choice of underdevelopment under Filipinos who merely keep their rich natural resources in the ground or foreign monopoly capitalists who take away the nonreplaceable raw mineral ores. Socialism entails a further development of the forces and relations of production.

Under present conditions of big comprador-landlord rule in the Philippines, the foreign monopoly capitalists freely get large areas of mining concessions from the national government. And in collusion with corrupt government officials, they often use traditional chieftains of indigenous communities to circumvent the requirement of free and prior informed consent of the entire community, and get a series of small mining permits to escape formal environmental regulations by the national government and cover large areas to mine. But when the revolutionary forces are around to arouse, organize and mobilize the people against the mining companies, then the indigenous peoples, their revolutionary kinsmen and even the traditional leaders unite against the mining companies.

What are your perspectives on the left-wing governments of South America? Is it just state capitalism and bourgeois democracy, or do you see genuine revolutionary potential and promise in the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, etc?

JMS: I see a certain measure of what is revolutionary in the left-wing governments in South America. They are assertive of national independence against imperialist impositions and they carry out feasible measures of social justice and social welfare. But the Left in power co-exist with the exploiting classes in society and these also have representatives in government who are in active opposition. No revolution has yet brought down the exploiting classes definitively. Such exploiters make trouble against the Bolivarian government in Venezuela, especially because the oil income has decreased. They also do so against the other progressive governments.

But while these left-wing governments stand and fight for the interests of their people, they have our solidarity and support. We cannot give them up, especially because the imperialist powers are now being buffeted by a new crisis that is worse than the one that started in 2008. The revolutionary potential of workers and the rest of the people is growing and can become a real force on an unprecedented scale. The neoliberal policy has been so extremely exploitative and so destructive that social upheavals and revolutions can burst out soon enough on an unprecedented scale.

What are your perspectives on the recent ideological transformation of Kurdish revolutionaries (in particular the YPG) in Rojava and other parts of Turkey, towards a feminist, ecological and anti-nationalist ideological orientation?

JMS: Even if the Kurdish revolutionaries speak of stateless democracy and repudiation of the nation-state and nationalism under their concept of democratic confederalism, I would still say that they have what amounts to organs of political power at various levels. Otherwise there would be anarchy and no sufficient level of political unity, government and command over armed personnel in order to fight powerful enemies. In fact, I am hoping that the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and North Kurdistan will compose a confederation of states someday. The very prospect of that should be terrifying to Erdogan and the Turkish reactionaries. As regards feminism, gender equality and concern for ecology, these can be adopted as guiding principles and as active factors in any coherent and effective system of governance or administration.

Many credit the Zapatista uprising of 1994, and subsequent international gatherings hosted by them, as game-changers in the world of radical politics, from repudiating traditional vanguardist parties to affirming the revolutionary subjectivity of indigenous peoples. How was the Zapatista uprising received and understood by the movement in the Philippines?

JMS: The revolutionary movement in the Philippines welcomed the Zapatista uprising of 1994 and was impressed for a number of years by the ability of the Zapatistas to receive so many foreign visitors and even host international gatherings. But subsequently we also became concerned that the leadership of the Zapatistas was assuring the Mexican central government that they had ceased to extend or encourage armed struggle beyond Chiapas and were already receiving big amounts of NGO funding from abroad.

It can suffice to have a broad united front to bring about a successful popular uprising against the local authority in Chiapas, or even against an authoritarian government like that of Somoza, Duvalier, Marcos, Mobutu or Suharto. But there is yet no proof of a fullsome socialist revolution without the leadership of a revolutionary party of the proletariat. The party form of political organization is still the favored way of concentrating the revolutionary will of the proletariat for socialism. And of course, there is yet no class other than the proletariat that is most determined to wage a socialist revolution against the bourgeoisie.

In the fields of art, culture, and literature, what do you believe are the most important and inspiring works which help us to comprehend and confront the challenges of 21st century?

JMS: I am sure that there are already important and inspiring works in the fields of art, culture and literature which help us to comprehend and confront the challenges of the 21st century. These works are being created as a reflection of and in conjunction with the suffering, sacrifices, struggles, successes and aspirations of peoples, such as those in the Philippines and India, who are waging new democratic revolutions, with a socialist perspective. Such creative works are waiting to be recognized and appreciated on a global scale.

I am most acquainted with revolutionary literary and artistic works in the Philippines. These are imbued with the spirit of serving the people. They expose the forces of oppression and exploitation and inspire the workers, peasants and the rest of the people to wage revolutionary struggle against imperialism and reaction, and for a fundamentally new and better world of greater freedom, democracy, social justice, development, cultural progress and international solidarity. There are many excellent writers, artists and cultural workers. They are well organized and join the protest mass actions as well as the people’s war in the countryside.

They are guided by Marxist aesthetics and by Mao’s Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art and his other works on cultural work and propaganda. They have studied the works created under the guidance of socialist realism when the Soviet Union was still socialist, the creative works of Left American writers in the 1930s and the revolutionary works in socialist China up to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. At the same time, they break new paths in adopting and developing subjects and styles in the various literary and art forms.

It is not surprising that the most important and inspiring works are being done in countries where the revolutionary struggles are most intense. In this regard, I am optimistic that as the social and ecological crises worsen, more people will rise up in both underdeveloped and developed countries. Their revolutionary struggles will generate the impetus for literary and artistic creations by the people and for the people through various forms and means – real and digital. The writers, artists and cultural workers are a growing major component of the revolutionary movement on a global scale.

From Manila to Mindanao with Marx and Mao: Talking with José María Sison

From Counter Punch (Sep 25): From Manila to Mindanao with Marx and Mao: Talking With : Talking with José María Sison (by Quincy Saul)


José María Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (described by the New York Times as “the world’s longest running communist insurgency”) goes into detail with Counterpunch about the theories of liberation which guide him and millions of others toward the horizon of a more just and sustainable world. From Marxism to Maoism, from today’s environmental crisis to the ancestral traditions of indigenous peoples, from peace to protracted war, “one of the last real revolutionaries standing,” as Jeffrey St. Clair calls him, weighs in, – with clarity, history, vision and humor – bringing us burning answers to the burning questions of our times.

This is the second part of an interview which appeared earlier this month in Counterpunch. Read part one here: Burning Questions: Talking With José María Sison About Climate Change, Capitalism and Revolution.

Mao once referenced the legend of “The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains” (1947): about a man who refused to believe that it was impossible to remove two mountains, and set about with his sons to dig them up by hand over generations. Today, this story reads like a parable of ecological catastrophe in China. The ecological costs of industrial development in China have been well documented by many. What are the lessons to be learned from this? If socialism must be based on further development of the productive forces, then must socialism also be so toxic? Or must we think about the development of the productive forces in a new and different way? What went wrong? What is to be done?

JMS: The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains is a parable, which is an allegory and should be understood as such. It has a precise meaning and purpose. It refers to the removal of the mountains of imperialist and feudal domination. Imperialism and feudalism are man-made social phenomena which are exploitative and oppressive to the people. They are not natural objects to be preserved as a matter of ecological wisdom. They are plunderers of both human and natural resources.

The efforts of the foolish old man and his sons to level or combat the anti-people mountains of imperialism and feudalism are presumed to be wise, even if puny and insufficient, because the mountains can no longer be as high as before, and best of all, the angels (i.e. the people) take pity and come to help themselves and really level the said mountains. Now, do not proceed to accuse Mao of becoming a theologian and transgressing materialist philosophy.

In another famous piece of Mao, he uses the mountains in a simile which you might consider literally and literarily environment-friendly. He considers that the martyrdom of heroes is as heavy as a mountain, while the death of traitors is as light as a feather. There should be no overstretch beyond the clear literary intent and no argument that Mao is against poultry projects.

The socialist revolution and construction under the leadership of Mao should not be conflated or confused with the unbridled plundering and ravaging of the environment in the rapid restoration of capitalism by the Dengist anti-socialists. In this regard, the anti-Mao bureaucratic and private capitalists have satirized Mao as a “feudal socialist”, building socialism self-reliantly and in a sustainable way but on the stagnant feudal conditions of natural self-sufficiency.

Of course, the other more raucous attack on Mao is the caricature of the Great Leap Forward as nothing but the mobilization of the people to kill the birds and let the worms destroy the crops or waste the labor power in making flimsy uneconomic backyard iron furnaces. The Great Leap Forward was in fact a comprehensive social and economic plan to develop China self-reliantly in industry and agriculture, build the communes through social organization ahead of mechanization and defeat the imperialist blockade, the Soviet revisionist abandonment of mutually agreed projects and the natural calamities.

China’s economic growth during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution averaged 10 per cent annually despite the obviously falsified data for certain years by the anti-Mao anti-socialists. The economic plan was to develop agriculture as the basis of the economy, heavy industry as the lead factor and light industry as the bridge of the two aforesaid sectors. Up to the end of socialism in China, the metabolic relationship between nature and society was well-managed and well-conditioned by the absence of the pernicious collaboration of bureaucrat monopoly capitalism, a rising private industrial bourgeoisie and the imperialist monopoly firms.

To be brief, I recall that the Chinese comrades whom I met were proud of the forest belts created to protect Beijing from sandstorms blowing in from deserts. Now, Beijing has become the emblem of China’s ecological catastrophe in the concrete forms of runaway industrial pollution of the air and water and the destruction of the forest belts by private and public construction and industrial activity without taking into account social and ecological costs.

We can sing paeans to primitive communal life and pristine nature and impute an admirable balance between nature and the nomadic clans and more settled tribes. We can actually learn much from the communal and cooperative relations developed in primitive communal society and in extant pre-capitalist indigenous communities. But we are now faced with larger populations on a national scale, the availability of science and higher technology and socialism as the shining alternative to capitalism. Socialism must be based on the further development of both the social relations and the forces of production. We must take a proletarian revolutionary stand, mobilize the masses and use science and higher technology for this purpose.

We must avail of science and technology to solve the contradictions between industrial development and the environment, between physical and mental work, between cities and countryside and between industry and agriculture. We must move away from the model of monster cities. We must prefer small and medium cities, embed them with natural parks and encircled by forests and agricultural fields. We must locate industries properly, promote rural industries reduce or eliminate altogether fossil fuel, recycle waste and filter and properly dispose of toxic waste.

Toward the end of his life, Marx devoted much study to the Iriquois/Haudenosaunee people of North America, and to the Russian peasant communes. Marx wrote that “we must not be afraid of the word archaic,” and said about the Russian peasant commune that “it may thus become the direct starting point of the economic system towards which modern society is tending; it may open a new chapter that does not begin with its own suicide.” He valued the contributions of indigenous peoples and their relations of production, on the grounds that they could be a foundation for socialism. A bit less than a century later, in his essay “Reform our Study” (1941), Mao ridiculed the Marxist-Leninist scholars “who cannot open their mouths without citing Ancient Greece; but as for their own ancestors – sorry they have forgotten… They have become gramophones and forget their duty to understand and create new things…” All this leads me to ask you to elaborate on the many indigenous practices in the Philippines which could be the foundations for building socialism. In particular, I think of bayanihan – “communal solidarity” – (not to be confused with its opposite — Oplan Bayanihan!). We can still see its results today in the ancient rice terraces of Ifugao, where sustainable production has been practiced since before the colonizers came. Also, I think of the self-sufficient farming communities which were base areas for the rebel Dagohoy republic from 1744-1829, which also practiced a form of agro-ecological bayanihan, supporting 10s of 1000s of remontados for over 80 years. Also, I think we should not ignore the spiritual traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, who revere the nonos [spirits] from which they ask permission before removing anything – plant, animal or mineral – from its place in the ecosystem. Finally, the agrarian communities living on the slopes of Mt. Banahaw, which live in some degree of peace and cooperation in a fusion of indigenous, nationalist and European spiritual traditions… and there are surely others… Do you believe that some of these ancestral indigenous forces and relations of production can be a launching off point for socialism/communism in the Philippines, “a new chapter which does not begin with its own suicide”?

JMS: Marx once referred to the “idiocy of rural life”, criticized the French rich peasant as a remnant of barbarism and contrasted the proletariat as the leading revolutionary class, for being the most progressive political and productive force, to the peasantry as representing a backward system of production and as a class that can join the p revolution for a reactionary reason, like owning individual pieces ofland, against the monopoly of land by the landlords.

By way of giving a complete picture of Marx, instead of a fragmentary one, it is good that you refer to Marx devoting much study to the Iriquois/Haudenosaunee people of North America, and to the Russian peasant communes. He appreciated how much we can learn from the communal and cooperative relations in primitive societies. In fact, communists adhere to the principle that socialism is based on the non-exploitative communal and cooperative life, with the aid of science and technology and higher forms of social organization that reject capitalist control for private profiteering.

In the Preface to the Russian Editions of the Communist Manifesto in 1882, Marx and Engels wrote the following:

“But in Russia we find face to face with the rapidly developing capitalist swindle and bourgeois landed property, just beginning to develop, more than half the land owned in common by the peasants. Now the question is : Can the Russian obshchina (village community), though greatly undermined, yet a form of the primeval common ownership of land, pass directly to the higher of Communist common ownership? Or on the contrary, must it first pass through the same process of dissolution as constitutes the historical evolution of the West? The only answer to that possible today is this: If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletariat revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a Communist development.”

Before and during the vigorous implementation of collectivization, the peasant communes supported the advance of socialist revolution and construction. It became necessary at a certain point for the greater mass of poor peasants to do away with the profiteering by the rich peasants (kulaks) during the period of the New Economic Policy that sought to revive the Russian economy from the devastation wrought by war and to overcome the scarcities.

In the new democratic stage of the Chinese revolution, the Chinese communists gave full play to rudimentary forms of cooperation in agricultural production and sideline occupations in conjunction with land reform. Building the communes in socialist China meant rising from a certain level of cooperation to a higher one in three stages. Mao emphasized cooperative social organization ahead of mechanization, which was not yet possible. He opposed the Soviet revisionist line of Khruschov that agricultural cooperation was not possible ahead of mechanization.

You are correct in saying that Dagohoy and his followers in the southern Philippines and the highland tribes and remontados (lowland communities that took refuge in the mountains) in northern Luzon could effectively fight the Spanish colonizers because of their self-reliant communal and cooperative relations in agricultural production and otherwise. The same situation holds true among the Lumads (indigenous non-Muslim tribes) of Mindanao. The massive rice terraces in the mountains of Ifugao as well as other marvels of productive and social life among the indigenous peoples have been possible because of communal and cooperative relations. Like bayanihan in Tagalog, all ethno linguistic communities in the Philippines have a term for communal solidarity.

As in the new democratic revolution in China, the Filipino communists give full play to rudimentary cooperation in agricultural production and in sideline occupations in conjunction with land reform. The rudimentary forms of cooperation are already being undertaken by the communities even before land reform. But they are promoted and enhanced more vigorously in order to set the peasants free from exploitation by the landlords and the merchant-usurers. The armed revolutionaries and the people can carry a protracted people’s war because of a well-diversified agricultural economy made more efficient and productive through forms of cooperation, even if still simple and rudimentary.

Right now, the communal and cooperative relations still exemplified by the indigenous people and extant in the peasant communities of the majority Filipinos or Malays are being put to effective use in the current new democratic stage of the Philippine revolution. Filipino communists respect the belief systems attached by the local communities to their productive and social cooperation. They let the masses act in the furtherance of their rights and interests and learn from social practice.

They do educate and recruit to the Communist Party the most advanced elements among the masses. But the Filipino communists take the mass line. They must learn from the masses what is their situation, their needs and aspirations. On the basis of social investigation, they learn how to arouse, organize and mobilize the people. The people may pray hard to anitos, gods, God and the saints for a better crop or good health. But they never oppose the demonstrated efficacy of an agriculturist or health worker among the revolutionaries who come to work among them.

Mao writes: “Unless the problem of method is solved, talk about the task is useless.” And elsewhere: “To become both wise and courageous one must acquire a method, a method to be employed in learning as well as in applying what has been learned.” Tell us about the method of the New People’s Army. They are armed, but moreover they do a great deal of economic, social, and political work; more like community organizers with guns than most people’s typical idea of a guerrilla. What is their method? How was this method developed?

JMS: You can assume that the cadres and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have a certain amount of knowledge in the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, in understanding a great deal more about the general line of people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective and how to recruit communists from the mass movement.

The New People’s Army (NPA) is the main political and armed instrument of the CPP and the Filipino in defeating the enemy and seizing political power. To make sure that the NPA remain a revolutionary force of the people and is not carried away by its armed power, the CPP exercises political leadership over the NPA through the Central Committee, Military Commission and the Party organs and organizations within the NPA. The NPA unit commander has command over administration and military operations but the political officer makes sure that the Party and the political line are in command over the military.

The main task of the NPA is to undertake politico-military training and carry out offensives against the enemy. A combat unit of the NPA may be ordered to carry out battles with short rest periods for a certain period of the year, say six months. But for the rest of the year, it is required to carry out mass work which includes doing social investigation in new and old areas, carrying out propaganda and grievance meetings, helping to build mass organizations and organs of political power and participating in campaigns to carry out out land reform, raise production, engage in educational work, deliver health services, train the militia and self-defense units, stage cultural performances and resolve disputes among the people.

How do you navigate practically and ideologically between “not taking a needle or piece of thread from the masses,” and revolutionary taxation?

JMS: Taxes are not collected from the toiling masses of workers and peasants. But voluntary contributions are collected from them as a small percentage from gains made from land reform or from wage increases as a result of trade union work. While the percentage of the gains is set, the peasant or worker can negotiate a smaller contribution or none at all when the large size of the family or a major illness in the family or a natural disaster is taken into account. In such cases, the people’s government can extend relief to those in need.

Taxation is a function of the people’s government and is enforced by the people’s army on entities enjoying the privilege of operating a business enterprise. It is usually 4 per cent of the gross revenues of the enterprise and is merely a tiny fraction of what the reactionary government collects. Like the people’s contributions, taxes are used to support the cadres , the Red fighters and mass organizers, the administrative work of the organs of political power, social programs of health care and education, cooperative production projects, disaster relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The Chinese revolution was fought and won by the peasantry. But following the victory of the revolution, the peasantry was sacrificed for the cities: Mao wrote in 1949: “From now on, the formula followed in the past twenty years, ‘First the rural areas, then the cities,’ will be reversed and changed to the formula, ‘First the cities, then the rural areas.’” In today’s planet of slums, with urbanization continuing to accelerate, would you advocate a similar strategy? Or have times changed, calling for a different method and mode of economic development?

JMS: The claims against Mao are wrong. In the period of socialist revolution and construction, Mao´s leadership took into account a balanced relationship between the cities and the countryside at every given time. It deliberately prevented vagabondage, greatly improved agriculture, restricted city-bound migration and thus did not generate slums. It is the anti-socialist counterrevolution started by Deng Xiaoping that put imperialist, big comprador and bureaucrat capitalist profit at the head of China’s economic development and generated the big slums of migrant and low-paid workers in China. The migrant workers gravitated towards the sweatshops on the eastern coast of China.

As you acknowledge, Mao carried out the strategic line of protracted people’s war, which involved encircling the cities from the countryside where the most numerous exploited class, the peasantry, resided and where there was a wide area of maneuver for the people’s army against the initially far superior enemy force. The proletariat and its revolutionary party had to go to the peasants who were the main force of the revolution and who served as the basis for the growth of the people’s from small to big and from weak to strong.

In completing the victory of the people’s war , the largely peasant people’s army under the leadership of the proletariat seized the cities nationwide and took over the camps and vantage points of the enemy army in order to enable the revolutionary party and the people to take over the industrial plants and other economic resources concentrated in the cities. This was the reason for the shift in emphasis from the countryside to the cities in terms of running the national government and leading the economy of the entire country. The Chinese Communist Party led by Mao paid back its debt of gratitude to the peasant masses and the countryside in so many ways.

Land reform was completed nationwide for the benefit of the peasant masses through the cooperation of state power and mass mobilization. The imperialist and big comprador firms that used to ravage the peasant masses and natural resources were nationalized under the socialist system. Learning from the pioneering experience of the Soviet Union in socialist industrialization, China maintained agriculture as the basis of the Chinese economy in order to ensure self-reliance in food and some raw materials. The development of light industry was accelerated in order to provide basic consumer and producer goods to the peasant masses and to lighten the burden of providing food and raw materials for the workers in heavy and basic industries.

Mao wrote famously that “The Aim of War is to Eliminate War… We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.” Please tell us your perspective about the peace talks, mediated by the Norwegians, which are still underway. What are your hopes for the resolution of the war and/or for the revolutionary war?

JMS: From the viewpoint of the revolutionary forces and the Filipino people, the civil war raging in the Philippines for more than 46 years can be ended by a clear victory of the new democratic revolution through a protracted people’s war or by a negotiated just peace addressing the roots of the civil war and based on comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has demonstrated that it can make with the Manila government an agreement, like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

But the Manila government is so bound up with the US-dictated neoliberal economic policy that it has refused to make a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, with national industrialization and land reform as the core program. Under US advice, the Manila government has boasted so often that it can destroy or render the armed revolutionary movement irrelevant and that it has no use for negotiations except to obtain the surrender of the people’s army.

The revolutionary forces and the Filipino people represented by the NDFP expect that while their revolutionary strength keeps on growing and the crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system keeps on worsening, the reactionary rulers will find it necessary to engage in sincere and serious peace negotiations. The NDFP continues to cooperate with the Norwegian government third-party facilitator and a broad range of peace advocates in trying to bring the Manila government to the negotiating table.

At the beginning of this year, Pope Francis came to the Philippines. The whole world watched when 12 year old Glyzelle Palomar asked the Pope: “Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution. Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything.” The Pope called it “a question for which there is no answer.” How would you respond to Glyzelle?

JMS: I would respond to Glyzelle in the following manner: The biggest criminals in the Philippines are the big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats who assist the US and other imperialist powers in plundering the human and natural resources of the country, taking out superprofits and making the Filipino suffer underdevelopment, mass unemployment and widepread poverty. Under these conditions, the anti-social crimes of drug trafficking, prostitution and abuse of children are thriving, with the complicity of corrupt government officials and the military and police forces.

The Filipino people and their revolutionary forces can undertake certain measures to punish both the upscale and street criminals. And they are in the best position to eliminate criminal activities upon the complete victory of the new democratic revolution. This revolution realizes full national independence, democracy, social justice, development through national industrialization and land reform, a patiotic and progressive culture, protection of the environment and promotion of international solidarity of peoples for peace and development.

On the theme of culture, in our previous interview, you recommended Mao’s lectures at Yenan. In those lectures, Mao said that one central goal in cultural work is to seek a unity between higher standards and popularization… can you give us some recommendations of cultural work which lives up to this ideal? “A dull witted army cannot defeat the enemy,” as Mao said. So also, please tell us about the cultural work of the NPA/NDFP/CPP.

JMS: Mao states in Talks at Yenan Forum on Literature and Art: “What is meant by popularizing and by raising standards in works of literature and art? What is the relationship between these two tasks? Popular works are simpler and plainer, and therefore more readily accepted by the broad masses of the people today. Works of a higher quality, being more polished, are more difficult to produce and in general do not circulate so easily and quickly among the masses at present.”

In the above quotation, Mao assumes what he states earlier that revolutionary literature and art are for the workers, peasants and soldiers (Red Fighters). Then, he proceeds to distinguish popular works and works of a higher quality. He uses popularization through popular works as the ground level for raising the level of literature and art in various forms.

We can cite as popular works, those which are simpler and plainer and more readily accepted by the broad masses of the people, liker the declamatory poems and songs, drawings on posters, the graffiti on walls, effigies, short stories, skits and one-act plays, flag dances and short films that have been staged during mass protests, workers’ strikes and peasant grievance meetings. We can cite as works of higher quality, those which are more polished and more difficult to produce and circulate, such as novels, epics or whole volumes of poetry, opera, long plays, oil paintings, sculptures and feature films.

The popular works are in great abundance in both the legal mass movement and in the armed revolutionary movement in the countryside. In the latter case, units of the New People’s Army sharpen their fighting will with their own cultural works. Like the mass organizations, they entertain, enlighten and inspire their rural audiences with songs, dances, poetic recitations, skits and film shows. The popular works are effective for propaganda and agitation because they are addressed to the toiling masses, take up the burning issues and call on the masses to rise up. The works of higher quality are also of significant number. They are appreciated by the cadres and masses with a higher level of formal education and by allies who are highly educated in art and social issues,

There are popular works which are of high quality like the poems of Mao. Let me mention the poems of National Artists Amado V. Hernandez, Bienvenido Lumbrera and many other poets. Revolutionary poems, which are considered masterpieces by teachers of literature, have been popularized by recitations or as songs with rousing music. I am fortunate to have some poems of mine become songs with excellent music. There are also revolutionary works of high quality which are popular and difficult to create. These include musicals like Ang Mandirigma Ay Makata (The Guerrila Is a Poet), oil paintings of the social realists and feature films which are shown in movie houses or are already available on DVD.


The History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos, by Luis H. Francia, Overlook Press, 2010

Late Marx and the Russian Road: Marx and the Peripheries of Capitalism, by Teodor Shanin, Monthly Review Press, 1983

Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, abridged by Bruno Shaw, Harper, 1970

MILF: Bangsamoro CSOs commemorate martial law

Posted to the MILF Website (Sep 25): Bangsamoro CSOs commemorate martial law

Bangsamoro CSOs commemorate martial law

About one thousand people gathered at Tantawan Park here in this city on September 21, to commemorate the declaration of martial law by the late President Ferdinand  E. Marcos on September 21, 1972.
Highlights of the rally were the symbolic stoning and burning of effigies of Senator Bongbong Marcos and Representative Celso Lobregat of Zambonga City.

Mahdie Amella, Chairman of Sulong Bangsamoro Movement (SBM) said “We are not just commemorating martial law but also to remind our brothers and sisters on the sufferings experienced by the Moro people during military rule of President Marcos that include arbitrary arrest and mass killings or massacres.”

“We don’t want oppression and discrimination under Marcos regime to happen again to us Bangsamoro”, he said.

“We will not allow Senator Marcos’ version of Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) enacted into law. We believe that the only solution is a BBL that conforms to the spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)”. Amella stressed.

Recalling his family’s experience during martial law, Duma Mascud, Vice Chairman of Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) related what the Philippines Constabulary (PC) at Midsayap, Cotabato did to his father.

“We must not forget the massacres committed to the Moros by Marcos regime” , he stressed.

“We strongly oppose and condemn Bongbong’s version of BBL. I believe it will even worsen the situation of the Bangsamoro if his law is passed. Senator Marcos is obviously following the footsteps of his late father,” he added.

Survivors of the Manili massacre, Ummo Ismail, survivor of Tran massacre Abunawas Caludtiag and Maimona Barra shared their horrible experience under the military rule of the late dictator President Marcos.

US, Australia embassies warn of terror attack in Malaysia

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25): US, Australia embassies warn of terror attack in Malaysia

Malaysia Terror Alert

A tourist walks past Malaysia’s famous eatery street, Jalan Alor, a popular tourist spot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The US Embassy issued an advisory Thursday saying it has credible threat information and urged its citizens to avoid Alor Street, located in a shopping belt in the city center, and its immediate surrounding areas. AP

The US and Australian embassies in Malaysia have warned of a potential terrorist attack at a popular hawker street in Kuala Lumpur.

The US Embassy issued an advisory Thursday saying it has credible threat information and urged its citizens to avoid Alor Street, located in a shopping belt in the city center, and its immediate surrounding areas.

It said that terrorist organizations had in the past planned attacks to coincide with significant dates, but gave no details.

The Australian Embassy issued a similar alert to its citizens based on the US threat warning.

A police spokesman said a statement will be issued later Friday.

Malaysia has arrested more than 100 supporters of the Islamic State group in the past two years, some of whom were allegedly plotting attacks in the country. They included civil servants and members of security forces.

Police said they were held for offenses such as raising funds for the militants, recruiting Malaysians and getting weapons for attacks targeting Kuala Lumpur and other strategic locations. No attacks have occurred in Malaysia.

Officer to be tried for Lianga killings not a sacrificial lamb—Army chief

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25): Officer to be tried for Lianga killings not a sacrificial lamb—Army chief

Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año on Thursday dismissed speculations that the officer who was recommended to be tried under court martial for the incident in Lianga, Surigao del Sur was a sacrificial lamb.

He said the army officer, whom he did not name, faces administrative charge before the military court for “what he did or failed to do.”

Año said that after the September 1 incident in Lianga, during which three persons were killed, Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, the commander of the 4th Infantry Division based here, created a Board of Inquiry to look into allegations that soldiers did nothing to stop the killings, which drove thousands of lumad into places they deemed safe.
“The result (of the inquiry) is out and one of the officers assigned in the area will undergo [court martial],” he said, adding that the same inquiry found probable cause to charge the officer under command responsibility.

Año said the timing of the announcement had nothing to do with the upcoming Senate investigation of the Lianga killings.

The senate inquiry will focus on the alleged killing of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) Executive Director Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, chair of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU); and his cousin Bello Sinzo by alleged Magahat-Bagani warriors.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th ID spokesperson, said the officer was a platoon leader under the 75th Infantry Battalion.

“The board of inquiry made several recommendations, in which the company commander was reprimanded and the officer in charge of the battalion was relieved of his post,” Martinez said.

Año said the military would also cooperate with the Senate investigation, which would start on October 1.

“We welcome [the investigation] because it will help shed light and give us a chance to give our side on the incident in the wake of all that has been said about or against us by left-leaning groups. In fairness to everyone, to our troops, to the victims of the killing and the people in Lianga, it is better for us to be transparent about this situation,” Año said.

He said the mistake of the officer was that he apparently failed to act on the killings.

“But our soldiers are not in any way–directly or indirectly–connected or involved in the heinous crime of the killing of civilians in Lianga,” Año said.

Año also said the Army will help the police in arresting Marcos Bocales, Bob Tejero and Loloy Tejero, alleged leaders of the Magahat-Bagani, the same paramilitary group blamed for the killings.
“It is a law enforcement operation, we will support the police,” he said.

Año also warned Bagani warriors against arming themselves, saying that “we will not allow anyone to bear arms and roam outside their ancestral domain.”

AFP chief flies to Davao to oversee rescue efforts on Samal abduction

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 25): AFP chief flies to Davao to oversee rescue efforts on Samal abduction

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri visited the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) in Davao City on Friday to personally oversee the developments on the abduction incident of three foreigners and a Filipina in Samal Island early this week.

AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said the AFP chief sees this issue a “national priority.”

Iriberri “personally visited the troops because he wanted to get a personal firsthand information on the ongoing operations. He has also gone out of his way to ensure everything that Eastmincom needs in terms of assets—Navy, Air Force and the Army–are provided the headquarters,” Padilla told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.
He said that the resources that will be required to assist the PNP in going after the kidnappers are their “highest priority.”

The PNP, backed by the military, has launched massive operations to locate the captives and their abductors.

Padilla said, however, that there are no significant developments for the search as of posting time but said that the search efforts are still concentrated in the Davao region.

“Our troops are working on the ground in Davao as of this time where all leads seem to be indicating the presence of the hostage takers,” he said.

A group of armed men stormed the Holiday Oceanview Hotel in Samal Island, a luxury resort, and took three foreigners–Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad–and a Filipina only identified as “Tess” before midnight Monday.

Padilla said they still have not identified the group behind the abduction and their captives.

“But if there are any information, its release will be delayed because of the operational security requirements,” he said.

Philippine Kidnappings Show Trouble

From the US News & World Report (Sep 24): Philippine Kidnappings Show Trouble

Kidnappings of three Westerners, Filipino reminder of conflicts and misery troubling Philippines.

Philippine Marines from the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) storm the beach to simulate an "extraction" of a kidnapped victim as they kick off a five-day amphibious military exercise at the Philippine Marines training center in Ternate, Cavite province, about 50 miles (80kms) south of Manila, Philippines Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. The naval exercise dubbed PAGSISIKAP 2015 is aimed at enhancing capability of their fleet and forces as well as to strengthen interoperability of the Marines.

Philippine Marines from the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) storm the beach to simulate an "extraction" of a kidnapped victim as they kick off a five-day amphibious military exercise at the Philippine Marines training center in Ternate, Cavite province, about 50 miles (80kms) south of Manila.

The recent abductions of three Westerners and a Filipino woman from a southern Philippine resort are the latest reminder of the long-running security problems that have hounded a region with bountiful resources and promises, but hamstrung by stark poverty and an array of insurgents and outlaws.

While authorities have not identified the abductors with certainty, there is one usual suspect: The Abu Sayyaf, a brutal al-Qaida-linked group that has pulled off mass kidnappings for ransom in the last 15 years in the south and in neighboring Malaysia.

"The primary suspect is ASG," regional military commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad told reporters on Thursday, referring to the group by its acronym. He added, however, that there have been no conclusive findings on the kidnappers' identities.

Under cover of darkness, at least 11 men armed with two rifles and pistols barged into the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort on southern Samal Island shortly before midnight on Sunday then headed toward a huddle of yachts docked at a marina, according to the military and police.

In less than 20 minutes, the kidnappers herded at gunpoint Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, the resort's marina manager, and Filipino Teresita Flor, to two motor boats. An American and his Japanese female companion fought back and were injured, but escaped by jumping off their yacht, said Senior Superintendent Samuel Gadingan, the police chief of Davao del Norte province, where Samal is located, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of the capital, Manila.

Aside from the Abu Sayyaf, investigators have considered the possible involvement of a small extortion gang of former Muslim and communist guerrillas, who have an active presence in the vast Davao region. The latter, however, have in the past publicly declared their abductions, mostly of government troops, within days of seizing them, according to Gadingan.

It remains uncertain which group is behind the latest abduction, but the conditions that foster such crimes are much clearer: A volatile mix of poverty, weak law enforcement and access to thousands of unlicensed firearms in the south, said Julkipli Wadi, dean of the Institute for Islamic Studies at the state-run University of the Philippines.

It's very likely too that those deep-seated social ills would not be solved anytime soon and kidnappings would fester, he said.

"These are generational problems that are difficult to be solved by presidents who are restricted to six-year terms and often lack political will," Wadi said.

Kidnappings for ransom have preceded the Abu Sayyaf. But the group has started an alarming trend of large-scale abductions after it emerged in the early 2000 as an offshoot of the decades-long separatist rebellion by minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation's south.

The Abu Sayyaf abducted 21 people, mostly European tourists, from a Malaysian diving resort in 2000, freeing them later reportedly in exchange for huge ransoms. The militants took three Americans and 17 Filipinos the following year from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan province southwest of Manila, then staged a failed kidnapping attempt in a popular resort on Samal Island, near where Sunday's abductions happened.

Without any known foreign financial support and after more than a decade of battle setbacks inflicted by U.S.-backed Philippine military offensives, the Abu Sayyaf has survived mostly through kidnappings and extortion. In recent years, they have grown more daring by crossing the sea border to snatch their victims in Malaysia's Sabah state.

The U.S. military's antiterrorism task force in the southern Philippines was deactivated in February after 13 years, as Washington recently shifted focus to supporting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. U.S. forces continue to provide intelligence and training to Filipino troops in the south.

The rewards for Abu Sayyaf kidnappers have been relatively huge. Aside from the money, kidnap victims have been used as a human shield to pre-empt government offensives. High-profile abductions also have allowed the militants to capture the attention of foreign terrorist networks, a confidential government security assessment report said.

Last year, the militants were estimated to have pocketed more than 277 million pesos ($6 million) in ransom from the kidnappings of 59 people, said the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

"Kidnapping has indeed become a lucrative industry in Mindanao," the report said, referring to the southern region. It added without elaborating that unidentified corrupt politicians and even law enforcers have benefited from the crime.

Buddy Recio, a Filipino travel writer who was abducted by the Abu Sayyaf militants with his wife and son at the Palawan resort in 2001, said it pains him to know that the militants have endured and continue to seize innocent people, who would go through the same harrowing ordeal that they have endured.

Recio's son was freed and he and his wife were wounded in a crossfire, prompting the Abu Sayyaf militants to leave them after a week of captivity. If the new kidnap victims could hear him, Recio said he would advise them to stay fit to endure the extremely rough time ahead and to look forward to a brighter ending.

"They should keep on hoping," Recio said. "They should think that there are governments and friends working to set them free."