Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hero ex-Scout Ranger sergeant pines for retirement benefits

From InterAksyon (Sep 24): Hero ex-Scout Ranger sergeant pines for retirement benefits

Sgt. Jose Tubil (in wheelchair) flanked by Scout Rangers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion led by its Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Elmer B. Suderio (standing 4th from right) during a visit to bring him cash and donations in kind. Photo from AFP-PAO

Ex-Scout Ranger Sergeant Jose Tubil, an awardee of the Distinguished Conduct Star for leading his men in combat, has appealed to concerned officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to allow him to retire so that he can claim his benefits after 31 years in service.

In 1998, Sergeant Tubil led 17 members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) to reinforce a cornered team of police officers at a firefight that resulted in the demise of the demise of an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) founder in Barangay Tumakid, Lamitan City, Basilan.

During that firefight, Tubil and his men killed Abdujarak Abubakar Janjalani and his assistant. Janjalani was the elder brother of his successor, Khadaffy Janjalani, who also perished in an encounter with government forces in September 2006 in Patikul, Sulu.

Tubil, who is turning 58 years old this coming December, uses a wheelchair because of wounds sustained in an ambush by lawless elements in 2008, also in Lamitan City.

"He fought off his attackers and killed three of them using only a pistol," relates Lt Col. Harold Cabunoc, former Public Affairs Office chief of the AFP.

Cabunoc said he and Tubil had spent time together in many southern Mindanao armed clashes.

Tubil laments that the processing of his retirement papers has been stalled after he applied for compulsory retirement on December 1, 2014 at the office of the chief of staff of the Army's 1st Infantry Division because of three "missing" Garand rifles.

According to Tubil, he forgot to make an accounting of the three rifles issued to his three CAFGU elements but had officially turned over these to his successor.

Division commander Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos said he would check into Tubil's case with his chief of staff.

"I acknowledge it was my lapse and my responsibility. And my successor at the time did not bother to vouch that the guns were still with the three CAFGU man. But, please, I'm asking concerned officers not to deny me my retirement benefits because of this. If I have to pay for the 'lost' guns, then I'll pay for them after receiving my lump-sum retirement pay. I want my retirement to be in order. I deserve it," he said, in Tagalog.

Tubil's Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest military award for heroism from the battlefield, was given to him personally by then President Joseph Estrada.

Tubil recalled he quickly gathered his 17 CAFGU elements after they heard automatic gunfire about a kilometer away from their detachment.

"We quickly reached the position of the pinned down policemen and saw their leader, a chief inspector and another one, already dead. Some of them were seriously wounded and running out of ammunition. I commanded the still able cops to secure their casualties and we will take care of the enemy. I broke my unit into four teams, quickly drew the assault maneuvers and the battle raged again," Tubil said.

Equally armed with M14 and Garand riffles as the enemy, Tubil's men outmaneuvered the enemy and killed their leader and his assistant. He said the bandits were forced to withdraw with their wounded companions and left behind their two dead leaders.

"The autopsy reports proved that the bullets taken out of the bodies were from our M14 and Garand rifles. The policemen that we reinforced were armed with M16 and pistols. After the bandits fled, my battalion commander ordered us to just let the police bring them to the municipal hall," Tubil further recalled.

"That's the real story," he added.

"He is a veteran of various campaigns against lawless elements both in Basilan and Sulu," Cabunoc says of Tubil. "He is now practically in hiding due to grave threats to his life. He could not walk and has endured life's struggles because of his unprocessed retirement papers."

AFP chief mum on whether Sulu-based group is behind Samal Island kidnapping

From CNN-Philippines (Sep 25): AFP chief mum on whether Sulu-based group is behind Samal Island kidnapping

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri attended a more than four-hour briefing at the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City, which was attended by top military officials in the region. (File photo)

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri refused to comment when asked by reporters on Friday (September 25) if a new kidnap for ransom group based in Sulu was behind the kidnapping of the three foreigners and a Filipina at a resort on Samal Island last Monday evening (September 21).

The question was raised after reports of an intelligence information claiming that the kidnappers and their victims arrived onboard a white speedboat in Barangay Kaunayan in Patikul, Sulu at around 12:30 p.m. last Tuesday (September 22)— about 13 hours after the abduction at Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort on Samal Island.

Chini-check pa natin kung ano ba talagang grupo. Kasama yan sa lahat ng kino-collate at tinitignan natin. Alam niyo naman first time nangyari yan dito,” Irriberi said.

The intelligence report claimed that a group from the village of Tanum in Patikul, Sulu — known as a lair of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) — was behind the kidnapping of Canadian nationals John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marithes Flor.

Allegedly, the same intelligence report mentioned that there was an impending kidnapping days before it was perpetrated.

This spurred questions on whether the incident was a failure on the part of the authorities to take prompt action, but Iriberri refused to confirm or deny the information.

Earlier, Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad was quoted saying that a lawless group from Sulu could have possibly planned and masterminded the abduction. But Baladad was quick to clarify that the group is separate from the ASG.

Irriberi was careful in divulging any information that they have so far.

The AFP chief also refused to give any details of their operation saying that it is essential to the success of the rescue mission led by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Pakiusap nga namin we should not even talk about anything operational, intelligence, because it could have an impact adversely... So I hope you understand that we cannot give you anything about operational matters,” said Irriberi.

Irriberri, however, assured the public that the military and the police are doing their best to rescue the kidnapped victims.

“We have very good commanders here, he have competent commanders,” he said.

So lahat ina-assess, bina-validate, ini-evaluate, lahat ng information na pumapasok. We are taking everything based on the information that we receive.”

Iriberri attended a more than four-hour briefing at the EastMinCom headquarters in Davao City, which was attended by top military officials in the region.

China Completes Runway in Spratly Islands: IHS Jane's Defense Weekly

From NBC News (Sep 25): China Completes Runway in Spratly Islands: IHS Jane's Defense Weekly

China has completed the construction of a two-mile runway on one of the artificial islands it built in the hotly-contested South China Sea, according to satellite images released Friday by a monitoring group.

The release came on the same day President Barack Obama was to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first official visit to the U.S. The issue of the islands has been a source of tension between the U.S. and China.

The images, published by IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, appeared to show China is near to making operational the 3,125-meter landing strip on Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands.

According to IHS Jane's, the landing strip would allow China to "accelerate construction on the new island and to start patrols over the disputed islands."

The satellite images showed the runway was only completed in recent weeks, the military publication said.
Chinese construction workers continued to build other structures on the artificially reclaimed island, as well as seawalls, road networks and dumping topsoil — possibly an attempt to grow food there, according to Jane's.

China has reclaimed land on at least half a dozen reefs in the archipelago in an apparent attempt to assert its territorial claims in the South China Sea. This has rattled other nations — such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan — with overlapping claims in the waters.

China said last week that it was "extremely concerned" at the suggestion by a top U.S. commander that American ships and aircraft should challenge China's claim by patrolling close to the islands.

China's runway construction at Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS / ©2015 IHS: 1640203

Opinion: Read the ‘lumad’ lips

Interesting Opinion piece posted to the "Get Real" column of Solita Collas-Monsod in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 26): Read the ‘lumad’ lips

It turns out that on Nov. 12, 2014, at the Tribal Hall in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, 42 tribal leaders of the Langilan Manobo tribe, including 23 datus, signed a resolution “declaring the New People’s Army (NPA) and its allied Civil Society Organizations (CSO) such that of (sic) Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), National Democratic Front (NDF) and Karadyawan-Kapalong, Karapatan-Davao, Pasaka Regional Lumad Conference, Radyo ni Juan-Tagum and Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation (MISFI) pas persona non grata.”

There followed a long list of 10 “whereas-es,” delineating the reasons for their stance, and a two-page attachment which further described 24 willful violations by the NPA and the allied CSOs of the six pillars of the Langilan Manobo tribe’s principles (Indigenous Beliefs Practices, Indigenous Knowledge and Education Practices, Customary Governance and Leadership, Traditional Economic and Health, Customary Defense and Security and Ancestral Territory).

Here are some of their grievances against the leftist groups: The NPA “forcibly told” the tribal elders that there are 10 sitios the NPA had already occupied, and the tribal leaders could do nothing about it; when Datu Bangu Bolyong put a boundary between his people and the NPA, the NPA told him that no one can prevent them, because all the mountains are theirs; the NPA threatened the residents of Sitios Kapatagan, Tawngatok and Patil with attacks—one in the morning, one at lunch, and one at dinner, respectively—if these residents didn’t “okey us.”

In a description eerily reminiscent of what happened in Haran, Davao City, the tribal leaders cited an incident which happened in March 2014 in Davao City, in which they accused the NPA and CSOs of “exploiting them to stage a demonstration or rallies at Davao City without the consent of the true and authentic indigenous leadership in the indigenous people’s communities where they came from.”

What these Langilan Manobo tribal leaders said obviously fell on deaf ears—unfortunately, both the government’s and the leftists’—because the Haran incident happened, and the exploitation of the lumad continues unabated. Read the lumad lips, Reader. They don’t want the NPA and their civil society allies to speak for them; they don’t want the “help” of the NPA and their civil society allies.

So why are the media full of stories spun by these CSO allies of the NPA, about how the lumad are suffering from military heavy-handedness? If not military, then paramilitary supposedly organized by the military, so they are one and the same. Why is it that the leftist version is so quickly adopted, and the lumad version ignored?

And if we are to ask the lumad, who would they prefer to go to bed with, the NPAs or the military/government forces? If they are to be made to choose, it seems they would choose the latter.

Here is the “United Stand of Talaingod Tribal Leaders” signed in the Tribal Hall, JBL Complex, Barangay Sto. NiƱo, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, on May 4, 2015, by 52 datus, among others. They are another group of lumad, but they have similar stories—that of exploitation by the NPA and its civil society allies.

The Talaingod statement talks about an education system that has been subverted by the NPA, and gives the specific example of one Asinad Bago, who has testified that the students in the Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STICLC) are being taught to hate the government, and are being indoctrinated by the NPA, taught revolutionary songs, and taken out of class to join rallies in Davao and Arakan. (I think it was this boy who was interviewed by Tina Monzon Palma, and he sang our national anthem to different, rebel words.) The NPA, he said, had free access to the school. The boy has tried to transfer to a Department of Education school, but his report card was not released by the STICLC.

It is these STICLC supervisors who accused the 68th Infantry Battalion of harassment in Sitio Nasilaban in Barangay Palma Gil. But their charges were found to be baseless by the barangay council. And the tribal leaders staunchly back the military presence and its help to the community.

Also, the tribal leaders want the STICLC to be run by the DepEd, and it should be. Clearly, the tribal leaders have made their choice between the government and the NPA administrators.

My analysis: The ancestral land of the lumad is prime land—for logging and mining activities. The NPA wants control of it, and so, of course, do corporations interested in these activities. They may or may not be in collusion. But the NPA sees the lumad as ripe for exploitation—and among the first things it is tackling is the education of the lumad. He who controls the minds of the young will eventually control the community.

So the NPA is trying to take over the education, and even the cultural practices, of the lumad. The military is the only one standing in its way. So it must be dealt with. Thus come the charges of “militarization” and “enemies of the people.” Hogwash.

The NPA, according to the lumad, has killed 357 lumad between 1998 and 2008. No one is doubting the accuracy of that statement. The military, according to the NPA, has killed 50 lumad during P-Noy’s watch. The only question is: Are these lumad, or are these NPA wolves in lumad clothing?

Clearly, the lumad know what the game is. One can only hope that the rest of the Filipino people are just as intelligent.

NOT JUST THE LUMAD | Rights groups say Cagayan Valley IPs also suffering from military abuses

From InterAksyon (Sep 26): NOT JUST THE LUMAD | Rights groups say Cagayan Valley IPs also suffering from military abuses


The killings, forced evacuations and other atrocities suffered by Mindanao’s lumad have been hogging the headlines for weeks but human rights groups say indigenous people in the Cagayan Valley have also been suffering from alleged abuses by the military since 2006.

A report prepared by the Cagayan chapter of the human rights group Karapatan on a recent fact-finding mission in the Zinundungan Valley showed the abuses endured by the Malaweg, Aggay and Kalinga communities in the area have worsened and intensified since January this year.

The report documented the harassment, torture and summary executions of IP leaders as well as officers of the Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon nga Aggay, or TDMA, allegedly by troops of the Army’s 17th Infantry Battalion, which is under the 5th Infantry Division.  

The scale of the abuses, the report said, “approaches the bloody level of human rights abuses committed against the indigenous lumad of Mindanao.”

Residents said the military increased its presence in the Zinundungan Valley after the New People’s Army captured and punished military intelligence agents and a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit.

“The civilians have become the targets for revenge by the 17th IB after the NPA-Danilo Ben Command imposed the death penalty on the two military intelligence operatives of the 17th IB and their CAFGU asset,” the report said.

Citing a statement from the NPA unit’s spokesman, it said the intelligence agents were found to have “linked farmers and their legitimate organizations with the NPA. The NPA secured the hit list prepared by the military agents. All of those listed ended up in the ‘Order of Battle’ of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with some of them killed or disappeared.”

Aside from Karapatan and TDMA, the mission was joined by other people’s organizations, religious and officials of Barangays Masi, San Juan and Bural in Rizal town.

Residents of the valley told the mission, held September 16 to 19, that they have been struggling for land, resources and their lives and demanding that government provide them basic services since the 1970s.

“Whenever we triumph in making our lives better, the military comes to suppress us and violate our human rights,” they said.

In 2006, they said, San Juan Sangguniang Kabataan chairman Nelson Azucena was murdered by the military. In July 2011, Vicente Agbayani, a member of the Aggay tribe, was tortured and then slapped with trumped-up charges. And in 2013, troops of the 21st Infantry Battalion killed farmer-leader Ronald Beran.

“Every year, the list of those murdered, arrested, kidnapped and tortured lengthens, along with other forms of human rights violations. Until now, justice has not been rendered to the victims,” the residents said.

The mission documented human rights violations allegedly committed by the 17th IB against know farmer-leaders and residents in Barangays Masi, Bural and San Juan in Rizal, and in Barangay Lipatan, Sto. Nino.

Among the other human rights violations blamed on the 17th IB that the mission documented were:

Kidnapping, illegal arrest and torture of Aggay leader Mendo Bisiotan and fellow Aggay Marlon Baganay and the elderly Orlando Duruin in Sitio Daligan, Barangay San Juan in the early morning of July 20, 2015. The three were tied with a rope and paraded before barangay residents before disappearing for three days and presented to the media after they were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and rebellion.

Harassment, intimidation and threats to the lives of farmer-leaders, among them Steward Garon of Barangay Masi, Eling Azucena of Barangay Bural, Rafael Guimay of Barangay Masi and MFA, Felipe Bisiotan of Barangay San Juan,  Ambona Batolan of Barangay Masi and TDMA, as well as Aris Infante, Raul Ladino, Lina Ladino and Edward Callueng of Barangay Lipatan and LFO.

Filing of trumped-charges like three counts of kidnapping with homicide against civilians Boy Garon, Jun-Jun Bayaua, Rexon Batulan, Rafael Guimay, Mario Gregorio, Elyong Balisi, Isot Simangan, Rowena Battad, Celso Manglallan, Titing Baloran, Eling Asucena and Rogel Asucena.

Violations of Aggay human rights like the illegal search and ransacking of five houses while the farmers were sleeping, threatening civilians with high-powered firearms as they were being interrogated, accusing everyone with membership in the NPA, theft of air guns used by residents for hunting game, pots, lighters and household items, and destroying crops, throwing away palay, monggo and corn after they forced the people to scamper away by firing their guns.

Abuse of the rights of women and children, with the wife of Mendo Bisiotan being kicked by soldiers after she came to help her husband who was being tortured and forced to admit that he was an NPA member and the son of Marlon Baganay being held by the collar and thrown out of a military vehicle as he tried to join his father, whom the troopers brought to a camp.

Establishment of camps by the 17th IB in barangay halls, health centers and private houses in Barangay Masi, San Juan and Bural.

Deployment of members of the Peace and Development Teams in the centers of Barangays Masi, Bural and San Juan to act as psywar (psychological warfare) units in the villages, with troops watching all the residents whom they also barred from congregating, with menfolk being subjected to intense surveillance.

Protection of Boog Bisiotan, known to the residents as a “criminal on the loose” who also poses as a “rebel-returnee” accused of raping and killing his own aunt, Toyang Bisiotan Cepedan, and acting as a spy and guide for the military in Zinundungan Valley.

Intensified military operations have spread terror, threats and peril to the people of the valley.

'JUST LIKE NANCY' | Lumad slam CHR for veering away from rights violations during inquiry

From InterAksyon (Sep 25): 'JUST LIKE NANCY' | Lumad slam CHR for veering away from rights violations during inquiry

Religious testify at the inquiry in Davao City conducted by the Commission on Human Rights into atrocities against lumad. (photo by Kilab Multimedia)

Leaders of hundreds of Manobo sheltering in a church compound in Davao City after fleeing the militarization of their communities blasted the Commission on Human Rights for allegedly veering away from the abuses that drove them to evacuate.

The Manobo datu also accused Commissioners Roberto Eugenio Cadiz and Leah Tanodra-Armamento, who presided over the Thursday hearing that opened the CHR’s inquiry into atrocities against indigenous people in Mindanao, of refusing to allow the Pasakkaday Salugpongan Kalimuddan or PASAKA, a federation of lumad organizations in southern Mindanao, to participate in the inquiry.

Datus Mentroso Malibato, who is also spokesman of Karadyawan, an organization of Manobo from Kapalong, Davao del Norte, and Kaylo Bontolan of Talaingod town in the same province and PASAKA spokesman, told in an interview that, instead of looking into the human rights violations, such as the occupation by the military and paramilitary groups of their communities and tribal schools, that drove them to flee their homes, Cadiz and Armamento “focused their questions on the conditions inside (the Haran Mission House of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines) and if we would be willing to transfer if they and the (Department of Social Welfare and Development) could find us another sanctuary.”

While acknowledging the difficulties at Haran, Malibato and Bontolan said they preferred to stay at the church compound, which has provided them sanctuary from the incessant militarization of their communities since the 1990s, “because we feel safe here.”

Besides, he added, “simply transferring us is not the solution to our problem and will only expose us to harassment, or worse, by the military and the Alamara” militia.

And when the lumad pressed their demand that the military withdraw from their villages and disband the Alamara and other militias, the two datu and PASAKA chairman Kerlan Fanagel said Cadiz and Armamento responded by asking if they would also demand the pullout of the New People’s Army.

“Why pass the burden for counterinsurgency to the lumad and make us responsible for driving away the NPA? Why force us, civilians, to take part in their campaign?” Fanagel asked.

Dismayado kami (We are dismayed),” Malibato said. “Dili nila kayang tubagon ang among panawagan (They could not respond to our call).”

Malibto and Bontolan described the attitude of the CHR officials as “no different” than that of North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco, the chair of the committee on indigenous people at the House of Representatives who, together with the military, has claimed the Haran refugees are not evacuees but victims of “trafficking” who have been “manipulated” by groups they accuse of supporting the communist rebel movement. It is a claim discredited even by United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of indigenous people Chaloka Beyani but which they continue to cling to.

During a controversial visit to Haran in July, Catamco was caught on video berating the refugees and insisting they should return to their communities even as she insisted the military and militias should not pull out of their villages.

Catamco is also widely seen as having instigated a violent attempt later that month to evict the Haran lumad and force them to return home.

Since then, the congresswoman has also suggested the passage of a measure that would, in effect, legitimize the tribal militias the military has organized as part of its counterinsurgency program and who have been blamed for the worst human rights abuses against lumad communities.

This includes the September 1 murders of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo, by the Magahat militia in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur, which triggered a mass exodus of some 3,000 lumad who remain at the sports center in the provincial capital Tandag City.

Following the Lianga killings, the military, which in the past has acknowledged using the militias as “force multipliers” against the New People’s Army, have taken to denying anything to do with the paramilitary bands. But Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel has dismissed their denials even as he has demanded that the Army “disarm, disband or kill” the militias he says have been responsible for atrocities that have seen the lumad in his province trapped in a cycle of evacuations for the past six years.

The datu also questioned what they called Cadiz and Armamento’s refusal to recognize PASAKA and allow it to participate in the proceedings.

“We are not a support group. We represent the lumad as the federation of tribal organizations in southern Mindanao,” Fanagel stressed.

“Not recognizing us shows they are insensitive to the collective nature of lumad community life” and worse, “is consistent with the (military’s) claims that we are among those who supposedly ‘manipulte’ the lumad,” he added.

On Friday, the Haran refugees staged a picket in front of the Apo View Hotel in Davao, where the inquiry is being held, and where the CHR will be hearing testimony from the military and other government agencies.

Leave us now

From the Mindanao Times (Sep 25): Leave us now

Datus want deal for military pullout of IP villages

LUMAD leaders demanded a signed manifesto, to be witnessed by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte himself, for the military to pull out of their communities and to disband the paramilitary group Alamara.

The Lumad leaders also stressed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines should also be a signatory to the manifesto to make sure that it is binding.

The Commission on Human Rights, led by commissioners Leah Tanodra-Armamento and Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, is holding a two-day public inquiry ending today, over the alleged hamletting of indigenous communities in Talaingod, Bukidnon and Surigao.

The inquiry was ordered by CHR chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon on Sept. 14, to understand the causes of the recent incidents and shed light on the real situation of the lumads in their communities.

Yesterday, Lumad leaders reiterated their accusation of the military allowing paramilitary forces like the Alamara to run rampant in the communities in support to the government’s counter-insurgency campaign.

They claimed that the Alamara was behind the series of killings in their area, as the military looked the other way.

Aside from militarization, the inquiry also tackled the “rescue” operation in Haran on July 23 which injured 12 people, including two police officers.

Rev. Sarly Templado of UCCP, who was present during the operation, told CHR execs yesterday that as early as 6 a.m. on July 23 their compound was already surrounded by the police.

He said that he met with representatives of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Department of Social Welfare and Development and agreed on the services for the lumads, giving time for the lumad leaders to conduct a brief consultation among themselves, as well.

However, with no warning, at 10 a.m. the police stormed the fence of the compound.

When Pastor Templado asked Supt. Marvin Pepino, the ground commander of the operation, who gave them the order to open the gate, the police officer could not give the exact answer.

Among those holed up at the Haran compound was the 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by three soldiers in different occasions. The Philippine Army chief revealed that court martial proceedings are ongoing to verify the involvement of the three accused, whose names were not revealed to the media.

Today, the CHR will invite Sr. Supt. Vicente D. Danao, Congresswoman Nancy Catamco, vice mayor Paolo Duterte and military officials to the inquiry.

Previously, Capt. Alberto Caber, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command’s Public Information Office (PIO), said the accusations of military abuses are not true.

He called this was just “black propaganda” initiated by leftists that hype human rights violations as their “way of life.”

“There is no problem with the entry of the Army to the communities. The problem is when these are infiltrated by the New People’s Army (NPA),” he said.

The presence of the rebel forces in the communities, Caber claimed, hamper government services from reaching the indigenous people.

He said that before the army enters lumad communities, they hold consultations and get the approval of the local government units (LGUs), including the mayors.

Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bayan Southern Mindanao Region, said that the military’s denial of the human violations is a move to evade from the issue.

“The militant support groups are in the forefront of exposing human rights violations perpetrated by the military and its paramilitary groups, that is why the AFP is trying to silence and discredit militants in order to confuse and deceive the public. It is a desperate attempt to hide the truth,” she added.

Philippines struggles to find abducted foreigners

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 26): Philippines struggles to find abducted foreigners

Barely a week after gunmen stormed an upscale resort in southern Philippines, security forces are still struggling to search for 3 foreigners and a Filipino woman abducted there.

Police and military said at least 11 armed men stormed the Holiday Oceanview Resort on Samal Island off Davao del Norte province on September 21 and seized Canadians John Ridsdel, 68; and Robert Hall, 60; and the 56-year old Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, the resort’s manager, including Filipina Teresita Flor. They escaped on two motorized outrigger boats.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the daring abductions, but authorities were suspecting the rebel group Abu Sayyaf – notorious for kidnapping of foreigners and raid at tourist resorts in southern Philippines and Sabah – was behind the attack, although communist and other rebel groups also operate in the region.

Canada has already warned its citizens from travelling to some parts of the southern Philippines due to the serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping and these included Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao provinces in the Muslim autonomous region, as well as to the Zamboanga Peninsula and the provinces of Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

But since then, the fate of the hostages remains unknown – not even their whereabouts – although Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and General Aurelio Baladad were quick to say that the victims had been taken to Sulu, a province about 287 nautical miles from Samal Island east of Mindanao region.

Baladad also tagged the Abu Sayyaf as behind it. And Duterte has offered himself to the abductors in exchange for the safe release of all the hostages.

Captain Roy Trinidad, a spokesman for the military’s anti-terror task force, said there is no confirmation the hostages were taken to Sulu, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. “We have no confirmation about these reports, but we continue to search for the abductors and their victims. The operation is going on and we have alerted our forces to be on the lookout,” he told the Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper.

Trinidad said the military is getting a barrage of intelligence and all these information are still being verified. “There are so many intelligence reports saying the hostages are in Sulu, Davao Oriental and all these are raw information unless verified and confirmed, but nothing so far,” he said.

Police authorities also said there were no indications the hostages were taken to Sulu.

Sulu’s Area Coordinating Council also said it has no information whether the victims had been transferred to the province.  The Sulu Area Coordination Council – organized during the time of then Sulu Governor Sakur Tan – is where various agencies converge to address issues, resolve conflicts and find the best solution to current problems besetting the province. The province has a total of 20 Area Coordinating Centers – one for each of Sulu’s 19 towns and the central headquarters in Patikul town.

Just last year, police authorities in the province set up a special anti-kidnapping task rorce to address the threats of kidnappings and abductions there.

Governor Totoh Tan has previously said that many kidnapped victims were taken from other provinces and cities only to bring and hide them in Sulu, dragging the province to a situation that gives a bad impression to the local peace and order situation.

But while local government officials and multi-sectoral sectors work hand in hand to address the rising criminality and the threats posed by the Abu Sayyaf, other groups with political agenda have resorted in spreading false reports of kidnappings and killings and other black propaganda in social media, including Facebook, to further scare the public and destroy the reputation of different leaders in Sulu.

Locals have condemned and others protested the spate of kidnappings in Sulu and some also launched online campaign in social media to denounce the kidnappings in the province.

The Holiday Oceanview resort has not issued any statement and its website – – was hacked and its page redirected to a Japanese sex site.

Police and military have tightened security on Samal Island, a favorite destination of foreigners and Filipino holidaymakers in southern Philippines because of its pristine beaches and diving and snorkelling sites.

Former rebels in Eastern Samar get financial aid from gov’t

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): Former rebels in Eastern Samar get financial aid from gov’t

BORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar – The government has distributed Php 715,000 worth of checks to 11 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who abandoned rebellion.

Each rebel returnee got Php 65,000, broken down to livelihood assistance (Php 50,000) and immediate financial aid (Php 15,000).

Governor Conrado Nicart, chairman of the provincial peace and order council led the turnover on Thursday at the provincial capitol.

Key officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine Army, Philippine National Police and Department of Social Welfare and Development joined Nicart.

“I commend these former rebels for their decision to return to the government’s fold. I hope for your success as you return to normal lives,” Nicart said.

The cash grant was from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP).

The former rebels were from towns of Maslog, Dolores, Oras, San Julian, Giporlos, Hernani, and Borongan City.

The proposed livelihood projects for former rebels include hog fattening, hog raising, piggery, community store, rice retailing, and small scale trading.

The DILG has certified that recipients are former rebels by visiting their homes and talking to their friends, relatives and neighbors.

The government agency also examined their proposed projects, type of assistance required and make sure that the amount received by formers rebels are full.

Roel (not his real name), 47, a former rebel, who used to be a courier of the rebel movement, said the assistance from the government is a big help in their “new life back to the society.”

“We were assessed if we are qualified and were trained by the DSWD on how to deal with our new life and develop entrepreneurial skills,” he added.

A native of this city, Jojo, 30 became a member of communist group when he was 17. His wife, Lea from nearby Can-avid town was also a rebel for eight years when they decided to surrender this year.

Asked why they surrendered, the couple said they want their three children to have a better future. They couldn’t imagine their children living in mountains and hiding.

“My children need to have documents like birth certificate so they could study in a regular school. They don’t have that. If we continue living and becoming member of communist group how can we ensure the future of our children and their safety?” he asked.

Jojo’s cash assistance will be used for his proposed rice retailing business while Lea’s grant will be her start-up capital for small community store.

Governor Nicart reminded all rebel returnees to use the grant wisely.

With BBL or no BBL, MILF assures it remains committed to peace

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): With BBL or no BBL, MILF assures it remains committed to peace

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Saturday assured the people of Mindanao and the entire Filipino people that it will not resort to violence if the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) does not hurdle Congress or within the term of President Aquino.

"We have foreseen this event, we will remain committed to peace, our people have been tired of war," Mohaqher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said in a statement after Congress set another deadline for the passage of the draft law.

Instead of Sept. 15, Congress set Dec. 16 as the day when the BBL is passed after series of deliberation.

Iqbal stressed that the MILF is not entertaining, even imagining, returning to the battle fields anew if the draft law is not acted upon.

Certainly, only the commitment of President Aquino keeps the ember of hope still alive," Iqbal said, adding that "so far the MILF has not been informed by anyone in the government peace panel that the BBL is dead."

The MILF chief negotiator said his panel has considered all these scenarios after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

He added it is better to wait for the next administration than accept a half-baked, diluted version of the BBL.

"We remain optimistic the original version will survive political and democratic processes," he said even as he announced the MILF, with the backing of the Aquino administration and the international community, will continue another struggle, this time it is called "democratic struggle."

Recently, Iqbal told a forum of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue, National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Religions for Peace Philippines and Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation at Ramon Magsaysay Center, Manila, that the MILF remained and will continue to commit itself to the peace process.

The BBL, which was crafted on the basis of the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), was submitted to Congress a year ago.

If approve, it will be the basis for the establishment of a new political entity, replacing the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Muslim families flee homes for fear of clan war following death of 2 farmers

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): Muslim families flee homes for fear of clan war following death of 2 farmers

About 400 families have fled their homes in a remote village here following the death of two villagers whose families vowed to retaliate.

Chief Insp. Joseph Placer, Alamada police chief, said residents, mostly from Maguindanaon tribe, fled their homes toward the town center and refused to return home unless peacekeepers are stationed in the village.

Placer said unidentified men ambushed and killed Anwar Sumlay and Taib Tuandato, both farmers and resident of Sitio Marabuay, Barangay Bao, Alamada, North Cotabato.

Placer said tension ran high when relatives of the victims publicly declared they will retaliate since they know who did the crime.

The local police have initiated a dialogue in an effort to prevent the eruption of a clan war.

Relatives of Sumlay and Tuandato vowed to retaliate to attain justice after the 14th day of prayer for the dead is over.

Both were killed in an ambush on Sept. 17 while heading for home on board a motorbike.

Placer said he already requested the 45th Infantry Battalion to deploy Army peacekeepers to help the local police maintain law and order in the barangay where the Moro Islamic Liberation Front maintains a community.

The victims’ families who were identified with the MILF vowed to avenge their death.

Local Muslim religious leaders, however, vowed to use its influence to settle the incident peacefully through payment of “blood money” by the suspects’ families.

”We are negotiating with the parties involved, a peaceful settlement is in progress, I hope we will succeed,” Ustadz Ameril Kudindang, a local Islamic preacher said in a phone interview.

He said the parties involved were actually related by blood and by affinity.

Placer said the local police was closely coordinating with the Muslim elders to prevent a full-blown shooting war involving warring families.

BRP Lake Caliraya air cooler up for repairs

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): BRP Lake Caliraya air cooler up for repairs

The Philippine Navy (PN) has allocated the sum of Php2,500,000 for the repairs of the air cooler of BRP Lake Caliraya (AF-81), one of its oilers.

The Navy is slated to bid out the contract for the repair of air cooler next month. Winning bidders must be able to complete the repairs within 30 calendar days.

Bids received in excess of the contract shall be automatically rejected.

The BRP Lake Caliraya is a single product replenishment platform that has a depot-to-ship, ship-to-depot, and a ship-to-ship refueling capabilities.

She was commissioned into PN service last May 23.

The BRP Lake Caliraya was one of the three largest vessels of Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) Fleet. She was built in Zhejiang Zhongxing Shipyard in Taizhou Peoples Republic of China in November 2007.

The sailing crew commissioned by the PNOC brought the ship from Taizhou, China to Manila in January 2008.

The ship was used by the PNOC in transporting mainly bunker fuel to the different ports of the Philippines.

On May 11, 2014, the ship was brought from its anchorage area in Bataan to Keppel Shipyard, Bauan, Batangas to undergo dry docking and other related repairs.

She was then brought to Naval Shipyard, NSPL, Cavite City to undergo structural, habitability, machinery, and piping repairs.

AF-81 was named after Lake Caliraya, a beautiful lake located in the province of Laguna. As the lake provides a source of livelihood sustenance for the people of Caliraya, AF-81 on the other hand, will help sustain naval operations.

With her modern replenishment and refueling gear, she will be central to facilitating and sustaining the operations of the fleet in the operational areas.

AF-81 is commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mamerto A Goleta and manned by selected officers and men of Sealift Amphibious Force.

Militiaman hurt in Davao City clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 26): Militiaman hurt in Davao City clash

A militiaman was wounded during an encounter with New People's Army (NPA) forces in Barangay Manuel Guinga, Davao City Friday morning.

10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief 1st Lt. Alexandre Cabales said the incident took place 9 a.m.

He added that the 40-minute firefight between troopers of the 84th Infantry Battalion and NPA fighters stemmed from reports of concerned civilians who expressed fear of the armed men lurking in their communities.

In the encounter, a militiaman was wounded in the legs while the NPAs were forced to abandon their positions, leaving behind their personal belongings and two improvised explosive devices and several magazines.

Cabales also believed that several NPAs were wounded in the encounter as evidenced by several blood trails.