Thursday, October 22, 2015

AFP hunts down mayor’s killers

From Tempo (Oct 22): AFP hunts down mayor’s killers

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has beefed up combat troops hunting down the killers of a town mayor and his son in Agusan del Sur.

401st Infantry Brigade commanding officer Col. Alexander L. Macario is leading pursuit operation against the New People’s Army (NPA) believed to be behind the murder of Loreto town mayor Dario E. Otaza and his son Daryl.

Military officials have also made available two gunship helicopters of the tactical operations group (TOG) of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) that are on standby alert at Camp Bancasi in case air cover would be necessary.

“The 4th ID will intensify the operations to go after the perpetrators of this cowardly attack and at the same time ensure that Lumad tribesmen loyal to Mayor Otaza will not conduct revenge killings as the attack could trigger a new wave of violence among Lumad factions,” said Maj. Gen. Oscar T. Lactao, commanding general of the northeastern and northern Mindanao 4th ID.

“This is unfortunate because the AFP, PNP and our LGUs have been working hard to de-escalate the situation,” he added.

Otaza is a known peace advocate in their area who has been working on gaining peace for the Lumads.

The bodies of Mayor Otaza and his son, Daryl were found at Purok 2, Barangay Bitan-agan, this city last Tuesday.

The two were reportedly kidnapped by the NPA, who disguised themselves as NBI agents at his residence at Purok 5, Barangay Baan last Monday.

Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Vert T. Chavez, regional director of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) also deployed the regional and provincial mobile forces as well as the special force battalion to help the 401st Brigade in the manhunt operations against the rebels in Agusan del Sur.

Suspect in Loreto mayor's slay identified

From ABS-CBN (Oct 22): Suspect in Loreto mayor's slay identified

Authorities have identified one of the suspects in the abduction and murder of Loreto, Agusan del Sur Mayor Dario Otaza and his son.

Members of the special investigation task group identified one of the suspects as Rene Tindugan, suspected to be a member of the communist New People's Army (NPA).

He was identified as the thin man suffering from an ailment in the left eye, as was shown in the facial composite released on Wednesday.

Police said Tindugan is the son of alias Kumander Boy Tindugan of the Guerrilla Front Committee 34, which operates in Agusan del Sur.

Authorities have also identified nine others who are tagged in the abduction and murder of the victims. They, however, refused to identify the suspects until appropriate charges have been filed against them.

Otaza and his son were abducted Monday by 18 unidentified armed men from their home in Barangay Riverside in Butuan City.

The Otazas were found shot dead in a coconut plantation in Purok Dos, Barangay Bitan-agan Tuesday morning.

Govt chief peace negotiator condemns NPA for twin slay of Agusan Sur mayor, son

From InterAksyon (Oct 21): Govt chief peace negotiator condemns NPA for twin slay of Agusan Sur mayor, son

Family of Mayor Otaza upon seeing his body, 20 Oct 2015. FB GRAB FROM LOUIE BUSTILLO ORANDA

Alexander Padilla, government chief peace negotiator with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), on Wednesday condemned the killings of an Agusan del Sur town mayor and his son believed to be perpetrated by NPA rebels.

“We strongly condemn the killing of Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl. Mayor Otaza has been a reliable peace and development partner of the government for the welfare of his constituents, of whom 80-90% are lumads,” said Padilla in a statement.

The victims were abducted Monday night by armed men posed as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) inside the mayor’s house in Barangay Baan.

The bloodied bodies of the victims riddled by bullets were found Tuesday morning by pursuing soldiers in a coconut plantation in Butuan City.

NDF spokesman Jorge Madlos alias Oris has yet to issue a statement whether or not the NPA was behind the murders.

The military said the late 52-year-old mayor was a former rebel who surrendered many years ago and ran for elective position. He had been instrumental in the surrender of his former comrades including a good number of firearms.

Padilla said the government wants justice for the victims.

“At this point, it is important to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” he said.

If the NPA was behind the killings, Padilla stressed this would another game-changer in the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“We have always called for a meaningful process with the CPP/NPA/NDF that will bring the people closer to peace. Government continues to work on this table, but any violence on the ground makes the process more difficult than it is now. We urge everyone to join our call for an end to the violence against the people,” he said.

‘Congress support’ needed to remove AFP’s worst army tag

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 22): ‘Congress support’ needed to remove AFP’s worst army tag

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines has played down a report that it is ranked as the world’s sixth worst army.

“Overall, we are on track to fulfill our vision of building up a truly capable armed force that can project a credible defense posture by 2028,” AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said on Thursday.

A group of former US soldiers called “We are the Mighty” released a list of the worst armies in the world. Leading the top five were Costa Rica, Iraq, North Korea, Eritrea and Nigeria.
The group noted that the Philippines’ naval and air forces are nearly 60 years old and its ships are US Coast Guard cutters.

“We view the article with an open mind and see this as an opportunity to once again call on the legislative to support an expedited and sustained capability upgrade of your armed forces,” AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said.

He admitted that they have lagged in terms of modernization but said that President Benigno Aquino III has “done more for the AFP than the three administrations combined.”

“He has caused the extension of the earlier failed modernization program and approved the funding of appropriate equipment to safeguard our skies, our seas and our land,” Padilla said.

He said that soon there will be FA-50 fighters for the Air Force, and they have acquired helicopters and fixed wing transport and additional C-130s to boost their humanitarian assistance and disaster response activities.

The President also approved the funding for sea vessels and new frigates, as well as new rifles, tanks, trucks, ambulances, force protection and communication gear.

“We may still be a long way ahead but rest assured that the foundations for capability building are already there, especially if Congress can help fast track all these initiatives with the appropriate funding requirements,” Padilla said.

He also stressed that more than the equipment, the most important asset of any armed forces is its people.

“The man behind the trigger, so to speak, is what makes an armed force. In this respect, our soldiers are at par even with the soldiers of the most modern armed forces. We are proud of our soldiers and for what they can do for our country and people,” Padilla said.

Tribal war feared after Loreto mayor's death

From CNN Philippines (Oct 22): Tribal war feared after Loreto mayor's death

Many people in Mindanao fear that a tribal war, or pangayao, would break out after the killing of Dario Otaza, mayor of Loreto town in Agusan del Norte and son Daryl.

Many feared that lumad, or indigenous, people loyal to Otaza and his extended clan might launch retaliatory attacks on other lumad members who are known sympathizers and members of the New People's Army (NPA).

The rebel group is being blamed for the abduction and killing of the Otazas.

But Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesman of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, however, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines would not allow any pangayao to happen.

He said the military would now closely coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that the killers would be caught.

Batchar said the division was also helping the Army's 4th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over the Caraga Region where the abduction and murder of the Otazas happened.

He added it was highly possible that the perpetrators had left the Caraga Region and gone into hiding in Davao Region to escape the pursuing police and military personnel.

Among the groups suspected to have had a hand in the killing is the group of the Pulang Bagani Command 4 headed by Ka Jinggoy, whose area of operation includes Loreto town.

Police Regional Office 11 spokesman Supt. Antonio Rivera said they were also coordinating and helping the Caraga Region police by sharing intelligence information that could help in the identification of the perpetrators.

Manilakbayan heads to Visayas

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): Manilakbayan heads to Visayas

Hundreds of members of the Compostela Farmers Association stage a motorcade to escort the caravan of Manilakbayan participants as they cross the province to Agusan del Sur on their way to Metro Manila to press the government to address the continuing plight of lumad and peasant communities in Mindanao. (contributed photo)

More than 700 lumad, peasant and human rights activists from different Mindanao regions have crossed to the Visayas for the next leg of the third Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, which will see them heading to Metro Manila to press the government to address their continuing plight.

The long trek, in its third year, comes amid the continuing displacement of thousands of lumad this year following atrocities, including murders and massacres, and the militarization of their communities and tribal schools.

After boarding a boat from Surigao City Wednesday night, the Manilakbayan participants are expected to reach Tacloban on Thursday and make their way from there across Eastern Visayas before crossing over to Luzon.

The Manilakbayan participants, among them relatives of recently murdered lumad, are expected to reach Metro Manila on the weekend, where they will stay for a month undertaking various activities to highlight their issues.

In Surigao del Sur alone, more than 4,000 lumad have fled their homes, the bulk of them following the September 1 murders of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development, and Manobo leaders Dionel Santos and Datu Bello Sinzo by the Magahat militia in Lianga town.

Although the Army has denied anything to do with the militias, which Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel insists were organized and armed by the military, it has admitted that soldiers were present and witnessed the Lianga killings but did nothing, for which a junior officer is reportedly to face court martial.

The refugee agency and human rights experts of the United Nations have joined the widespread condemnation of the atrocities committed against the lumad and calls for the prosecution of the perpetrators and for independent probes.

However, the government has said it will not invite UN special rapporteurs to visit the country and investigate the plight of the lumad.

“As the Aquino regime nears its end, we ought to show to the entire country and the world that the people of Mindanao have not benefited from the claims of peace and development flouted by the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration,” Jhong Monzon, spokesperson of PASAKA, the Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao, said.

Among the Manilakbayan participants’ demands is the pullout of troops and militias from their communities and schools. UN experts, notably special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani, who visited the country in late July, have agreed that the presence of soldiers and militias have driven lumad to flee their communities.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of the Southern Mindanao branch of the human rights group Karapatan, said Southern Mindanao has remained the main focus of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counterinsurgency campaign since the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, mainly because of the continued resistance to the entry of large-scale mining, logging and agriculture operations into lumad ancestral lands and farming communities.

Suazo said there are currently 60 combat battalions to Mindanao, “not including the auxiliary units and other paramilitary groups.”

QC court orders release from jail of wrongfully charged 'rebel leader'

From InterAksyon (Oct 22): QC court orders release from jail of wrongfully charged 'rebel leader'

Former political prisoner Andrea Rosal and Eduardo Serrano, who was detained for 11 years on charges filed against him as alleged NPA commander 'Rogelio Villanueva.' (Photo from Karapatan)

Political prisoner Eduardo Serrano is not the same as "Rogelio Villanueva", a suspected leader of the communist New People's Army (NPA) whom the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) arrested and jailed for almost 11 years on apparently trumped-up charges.

On Thursday, Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 98 Presiding Judge Marilou Runes-Tamang ordered the "immediate release" from detention of Mr. Serrano, Secretary-General Cristina Palabay of the human rights advocate group Karapatan reported.

"Serrano is to walk to freedom once the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City, gives the green light," Palabay added.

Serrano said he felt elated by the court decision, which supporters described as "a big blow" to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Mockery of rights

The order of Judge Tamang described as "pathetic" the "outright mockery of the basic human rights on due process of law which is enshrined in our Constitution." as committed by the authorities who arrested him in 2004 insisting that he was the alleged New People's Army commander Rogelio Villanueva.

The decision came a little more than a week after two Army soldiers who appeared before the court failed to identify their person of interest "Villanueva", with the judge ordering one of them off the witness stand for making false claims about statements he had made in his affidavit. (

Last week's hearing was intended to settle once and for all the identity of Serrano, who was charged as Mindoro rebel leader "Villanueva" with multiple murder, frustrated murder, robbery, multiple frustrated murder, and kidnapping over a rebel ambush in March 2003.

CA: Establish identity first

Despite his insistence all throughout that he was not the person whom the military claimed him to be, it was only this year that the Court of Appeals ruled that Serrano's real identity should be established first before the criminal case could be heard.

"As it stands now, we find Serrano not 'judicially charged' under any resolution, information or amended information ... He was not also validly arrested as there was no arrant of Arrest or Alias Warrant against Eduardo Serrano. Clearly, Serrano was not restrained of his liberty under process issued by a court," Karapatan quoted Runes-Tamang, who read her decision herself, as saying.

"The unjustified insertion of the name Eduardo Serrano in the commitment order issued by the (Mindoro) court as an alias of Rogelio Villanueva aka 'Ka Makling' only after the latter was arrested, sans a warrant and without the benefit of any preliminary investigation is too pathetic. It is an outright mockery of the basic human rights on due process of law which is enshrined in our Constitution," the judge said.

Other charges, still

However, Karapatan acknowledged that it may take some more time before Serrano is finally freed because he, or rather "Villanueva," still faces multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges before QC RTC Branch 100, a multiple frustrated murder case before Branch 215 and a kidnapping case before Branch 97.

"We will manifest this order of Judge Runes-Tamang to the other courts where Serrano faces other charges, for their presiding judges [to] take into consideration in their decision," Serrano's lawyer, Amylyn Sato of the Public Interest Law Center, said.

Karapatan's Palabay hoped that Runes-Tamang's decision "serves as a precedent (for the) other cases of Serrano, even (for) other political prisoners who were charged (with) crimes based on different names."

She cited the 41 different cases filed against Tirso "Ka Bart" Alcantara, many of which, she said, did not include his name in witnesses' statements or even indicate his direct participation in the acts he is accused of; and Miradel Torres, who was four months pregnant when arrested in July last year and who has since given birth, whose name is also not in the case filed against her.

Serrano's case is also reminiscent of that of Rolly Panesa, a security guard from Negros Occidental arrested in Quezon City, severely tortured and then presented by the military as the alleged Southern Luzon rebel leader "Benjamin Mendoza," in a case that was extensively followed by


"We hope that this positive decision serves as precedent to other cases of Serrano, even to other political prisoners who were charged of crimes not based on their true names," Palabay said.

"To be deprived 11 years of your life for a crime allegedly committed by another person is unforgivable. Eduardo Serrano should immediately be released. We also urge other courts to recognize that Serrano is not Villanueva and order for his release. His incarceration is too long, yanking him away from his family, friends, colleagues and the rest of the society," Palabay said....

MILF: “BBL is solution to ending internal armed conflict in Mindanao”: Iqbal

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 22): “BBL is solution to ending internal armed conflict in Mindanao”: Iqbal

“BBL is solution to ending internal armed conflict in Mindanao”: Iqbal

Speaking at a Media Forum on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on October 19 at the Bayfront Hotel in Cebu City, Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair Mohagher Iqbal said that, “The proposed law still pending in congress is the solution to ending the internal armed conflict in Mindanao and promoting peace and national unity among Filipinos”.

“The best way to move forward is to pursue the path of peace. We don’t want war to happen again and we don’t want it to continue anymore. The BBL is a priority bill, nay an administration bill, that seeks to establish peace in Mindanao,” Iqbal also said.

“Every one of us can help because the passage of the BBL is of national interest,” he said.

“After more than 42 years of armed conflict, and of 17 years of long, hard, and harsh negotiations, then the government has to exhaust all possible extra efforts and measures to get the law passed.”, Iqbal further said.

Iqbal reaffirmed the rebel group’s commitment in the peace process despite delays in the passage of the BBL as well as its continued trust on the commitment made by Congress’ leadership to pass a law that would embody the Bangsamoro aspiration for autonomy without diminishing the current powers enjoyed by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We ‘never say die’ that congress can do it,” Iqbal said. “The role of the BTC which I happen to head has been consistently and tirelessly monitoring the progress... of the deliberations of the BBL in the halls of Congress.”

Iqbal added that the “only…lasting legacy President Aquino can give to our people especially those in Mindanao is lasting peace through the passage of BBL.”

On the other hand, GPH peace panel chair Prof. Miriam Coronel–Ferrer stressed that the support and participation of every Filipino on the success of the Bangsamoro peace process is important.

“The BBL is not just for the MILF but for all of us. People want the peace process to be 100%
risk-free, but part of it is a leap of faith out of good intentions,” Ferrer said. “Our appeal is to have the faith with us so that we will have the best results.”

Ferrer added that the passage of the BBL will lessen the problems of the next president as the proposed law will correct the structural problems within ARMM. "Our challenge to the next President, do you want to inherit a problem or the solution? Let's give peace a chance," she said.(Source: OPAPP website)

MILF: Women leaders of CenMin to join training on political participation

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 21): Women leaders of CenMin to join training on political participation

Phito courtesy of frenz garcia

Phito courtesy of frenz Garcia

Around twenty women community leaders from central Mindanao will be joining "Women's Political Participation Training" aimed at creating a pool of women leaders who have the capacity to join political arena and champion women's rights.

The activity is part of implementing the ‘Institutionalizing Women's Participation Project" of the organization Conciliation Resources and its partners namely Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (NISA), Women Engaged in Action on UNSCR 1325 (WEACT 1325) United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UNYPHIL-WOMEN), and Teduray-Lambangian Women's Organization (TLWO).

"The training will be participated by twenty (20) women community leaders from Central Mindanao that has the willingness and eagerness to politically participate; and are supportive of women's issues in their respective areas," the organizers said.

The organizers added that there will be discussions on legal and institutional frameworks in promoting women participation and gender mainstreaming in governance; identification of potentials and opportunities, challenges and needs for women's political participation in the Bangsamoro, and; identification of key areas and strategies for women to actively exercise participation in the Bangsamoro.

The capacity-building activity is expected to augment the learnings of women leaders in addressing women's concerns and in ensuring women's rights are protected and enjoyed.

"As women, they are not just mothers and housekeepers, but they have a greater role in their communities and in peace- and nation-building," the organizers pointed out.

They also said, "With added knowledge and confidence, they can better influence fellow women and youth into politically participating and advocating for their own development."

Distinguished resource persons expert on the topics were invited to the said training which is funded by the British Embassy.

Among the topics to be discussed includes Envisioning Women's Aspirations for Political Participation in the Bangsamoro, Party-Building in the Bangsamoro, The Bangsamoro Peace Process and Provisions for and of women in the BBL and Opportunities for Women in the Bangsamoro.

MILF: Maguindanaon woman peace advocate eyes senate seat

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 21): Maguindanaon woman peace advocate eyes senate seat

Photo courtesy of Ina Ambalodto

Photo courtesy of Ina Ambalodto

A Maguindanaon woman peace advocate has filed her certificate of candidacy for senator last Friday with a vow to continue working for peace in Mindanao should be given the opportunity for a senate seat.

Nariman "Ina" Ambolodto, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary for Muslim Affairs and Special Concerns of the of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), eyes to be the second Muslim woman senator.

She is one of the ruling Liberal Party's senatorial candidates for the next year's national elections.

Ambalodto, wife of human right lawyer Suharto Ambalodto, has served as member of the provincial board and acting provincial governor of Maguindanao.

The senatorial aspirant was appointed acting governor when the late Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. was arrested after the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

In her incumbency as acting governor, Ambalodto focused on developing human resources and financial management tapping development partners for technical assistance.

The LP leadership cited the reforms she instituted in the province and the efforts to convince foreign donor agencies to continue supporting the province after the massacre in Ampatuan town which drew worldwide condemnation.

The first Filipina Muslim senator was Santanina Rasul, a Tausog educator, who served in the senate from 1987 to 1995. After her, some Muslim leaders joined senatorial race but none has won.

MILF: CSOs, NGOs pay “Peace Visit to Bangsamoro” at Camp Darapanan

Posted to the MILF Website (Oct 18): CSOs, NGOs pay “Peace Visit to Bangsamoro” at Camp Darapanan

CSOs, NGOs pay “Peace Visit to Bangsamoro” at Camp Darapanan

Officers and representatives of different organizations paid visit dubbed as “Peace visit to Bangsamoro” to the leadership of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at its administrative base in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on October 15.

Delegates comes from the Initiative for International Dialogue (IID), Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW), All Out Peace (AOP), Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC), SALIGAN, Lanao Peace Partners (LPP), Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN), Balay Rehab,  Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), Mindanao People’s Peace Movement (MPPM), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Agong Peace Network, ICON-SP, Mindanao Peace Building Institute  (MPI), Peacebuilders Community, and the Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (WEAct).

Mr. Gus Miclat headed the delegation and acted as facilitator during the meeting between the CSO/NGO delegation and the MILF leadership. The purpose of visit is to manifest their support to the peace process and their concerns about the passage of BBL.

During the meeting, both parties have weaved ideas on how best to support and pursue moves that may contribute in resolving Mindanao conflict. The delegation despite belonging to different organizations has one common dream that someday they may feel and see a peaceful, and developing community to live in.

The CSOs and NGOs also committed to continue their advocacy for the advancement of peace and the peace process as the MILF leadership considers them as important partners in the search for lasting peace and prosperity in the Bangsamoro.

2ND MAJOR ENCOUNTER // 3 NPAs Neutralized in Sorsogon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 21): 2ND MAJOR ENCOUNTER // 3 NPAs Neutralized in Sorsogon

CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, Lucena City (DWDD) - Three (3) NPAs (body counts) were killed while two soldiers were wounded in an encounter at 5:40 a.m. today (Oct 21) in the coastal part of Brgy Tinago, Juban, Sorsogon by troops of the 31st Infantry Battalion against 15 NPAs.

The 25-minute firefight also resulted to the recovery of two (2) AK50 rifles, one cal.45 pistol, two (2) laptops and various IT equipment.

The two wounded soldiers were hit by IED shrapnels. They were brought to Sorsogon Doctors Hospital for treatment and are now on stable condition. Their names are presently withheld for security reasons.

903rd Infantry Brigade Commander Colonel Cesar M. Idio deployed other troops for pursuit operations. K9 trackers are also utilized to locate the rebels.

This is the second major encounter in Southern Luzon Command AOR this October.

Last Oct 14, 2015, the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force encountered the NPAs in Nasugbu, Batangas which resulted to five (5) NPAs killed and recovery of four (4) high powered firearms. “This is the result of our intensified combat operations targetting the remnants or those who opt to remain with the armed group,” said Southern Luzon Command Chief Lieutenant General Ricardo R. Visaya.

He said that SOLCOM encourages them to go down from the mountains and live happily with ther families rather than being always on the run in the mountains and, worst, getting killed during encounters with authorities because SOLCOM will not stop its intensified operations until all NPAs in the region are neutralized. PAO SOLCOM / MCAG

TRUTH REVEALED // Talaandig Lumads Reveal NPA Cruelty

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 21): TRUTH REVEALED // Talaandig Lumads Reveal NPA Cruelty

AGUSAN DEL SUR (DWDD) – Members of the indigenous peoples (Lumads) belonging to the Talaandig tribe in La Paz, Agusan del Sur who recently fled to Cabanglasan town in the province of Bukidnon due to alleged barbaric murder of one of their elders perpetrated by the NPA, revealed their miserable life in the hands of the rebels. Lilongan Bucalas or Datu Manlomakad recalled how his brother, Rene Bucalas or Datu Manhadukan Sandigan, was brutally murdered by an estimated 200 NPA members under Junie Tilucan alias WATIWIT of Pulang Bagani Yunit or SPP1, SECOM-89, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC), in broad daylight on that horrific day of October 3, 2015.

Talaandig Lumads

The victim was about to collect firewood from a nearby forested area when he was mercilessly shot repeatedly by the rebels using their high-powered firearms. The NPA assailants threatened the other tribe members to suffer the same fate if they will not support the group, just before they left the area.

NPA Cadres 3

Meanwhile, Datu Manlomakad and the other villagers retrieved the cadaver of his brother, whom they claim to be almost broken into pieces with the head blown away by the immense number of bullets fired at him. It was a gory sight especially for the children recalls Datu Manlomakad, who after burying the body of his brother on that same day, have decided to leave their village together with the other members of their tribe and seek refuge in their relatives in Bukidnon.

Meantime, Ronie Bucalas, 13 years old, and son of Datu Manlomakad, has also suffered a painful ordeal when their house was fired upon by NPA rebels in August 2002, when he was just a five-month old baby. He was hit by a bullet on his right forehead causing a broken skull. He survived the incident and has suffered from it up to this moment, reveals Datu Manlomakad.

Ronie is among the Talaandig Lumads who fled their village and braved the unforgiving forest out of fear for the NPA rebels.

“Since that moment when the NPA rebels started murdering our tribe members in 1992, we have been dislocated and lived our lives in fear, transfering from one area to another. They already killed 10 of my fellow tribesmen including my brother. The only reason that I believe is driving these rebels to continually abuse us is that we do not want to join them in their armed struggle. Until that horrid day of October 3, 2015, we decided we have had enough and the only choice that’s left for us is to leave our ancestral land and seek refuge here in Cabanglasan.” says Lilongan Bucalas or Datu Manlomakad.

Among the 86 Lumads who fled from their village in the boundary of Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur are 53 males, 33 females while 29 are minors. The local government unit of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon and the 8th Infantry Battalion, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army are now coordinating the conduct of a relief operations for the dislocated Lumads. 4DPAO / MCAG

WARRIORS THAT CARE // AFP Action Taken for #LandoPH

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 21): WARRIORS THAT CARE // AFP Action Taken for #LandoPH

COL JESUS VILLAMOR AIRBASE, Pasay City (DWDD) – The Philippine Air Force, Army, National Police, the Bureau of Fire Protection, and local governments cooperate to unload relief supplies from the Department of Social Welfare and Development from C130 aircraft which flew from Villamor Airbase to send aid to ‪Lando-struck Aurora. (Photos by: A1C Yupangco, PIO-PAF)








The Philippine Air Force has begun transporting food packs, relief goods, and other essential items to Baler and Casiguran via PAF C130s to to provide aid for the Lando-affected families in those areas.

The first C-130 arrived in Baler Airport at 8:00 a.m. with 840 family food packs. After unloading some of the relief goods, the same C-130 proceeded to Casiguran Airport and arrived at 9:25 a.m. to continue the delivery of relief goods.

The relief operations were supervised by the LGU officials with Sec. Mel Senen Sarmiento, Department of the Interior and Local Government; Sec Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Undersecretary Alexander P. Pama, Office of Civil Defense.


 The 2nd C-130 arrived Baler Airport at 9:50 a.m. with 660 family food packs, 1,680 pcs. blankets, 1,968 pcs. sack mosquito nets, 270 pcs. malong and other necessities as facilitated by the DSWD with ASec. Gerardo Bayugan, Department of Health. AFP / MCAG

Tribes retaliate

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 22): Tribes retaliate

Manabo leaders to declare pangayao vs. NPA after mayor’s death

MANOBO tribal leaders have agreed to a meeting in the aftermath of the execution of Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Tuesday morning. The venue is not yet set.

Datu Nestor Apas of the Langilan-Manobo tribe in Brgy. Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, said they are planning to convene with tribal leaders to declare a pangayao (roughly translated as tribal war) against the New People’s Army.

“We are really considering retaliation because of the series of killings against our leaders by the NPA,” he said in a phone interview.

“The rebel group has been causing trouble in our community,” he said.

“We will arrest their NGO and their (mass base} inside our ancestral domain,” he said. “We will speak to them in our tribal court.”

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division Public Affairs head, said that they are extra careful about the violence spilling over to the communities.

“We do not tolerate that,” he said of the planned tribal war. “We will make sure that there won’t be any more killings.”

In a separate interview, Mr. Dulphing Ogan,Secretary General of KALUMARAN, said that the move of Datu Apas will not have a good result on the Indigenous People.

“They should know that this is not a good thing to do because it will only serve to escalate conflict among the Lumads, Ogan said.

“We are calling on the Lumads not to pursue such action but to settle for a peaceful negotiation to the conflict,” he added.

Artist sketch released

Supt. Martin Gamba,spokesperson of the Police Regional Office XI, in an interview yesterday said they have released two facial composites out of sixteen suspects in the killing of Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl based on the description of the witnesses.

‘We are asked Otaza’s wife and body guard to help them with the sketch because they saw the suspects barge into their house and destroy their CCTV,” Gamba said.

Gamba said that the suspects are allegedly members the New People’s Army.

As of now, the 10th ID is closely coordinating with the police in Loreto, Agusan del Sur in the ongoing investigation into the killing of Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Tuesday morning.

“Whatever they need, we wil support it because their area of interest where the NPA Sub-Regional Command 4 is operating covers also our boundary in Monkayo and ComVal province,” he said.

But Apas also said that the military cannot prevent them on their pangayao.

“We will show to them that we can stand on our own and defend ourselves,” he added.

The New People’s Army have not yet released a statement owning up to the killing.

The group has not sent communication nor posted a statement on its website

Previously, Apas issued an appeal to the authorities for swift justice.

“We are saddened by their deaths as they were brutally killed by the New People’s Army,” he said.

He said that the mayor symbolized hope for the Lumads’ quest for self-determination, just like Mayor Mario Okinlay who was also killed by NPAs during a medical mission in Impasug-ong Bukidnon last year.

“What he has done in the municipality of Loreto in raising the economic plight of the IPs was an example that we can develop as a people,”Apas said.

They believed that the killing was meant to silence them as they try to fight for their way of living.

“Stop killing the Lumads,” he said. “Stop herding us on trucks to join rallies.”

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of 4th Infantry Division, said the mayor and son Daryl were hogtied and abducted from their house in Baan Riverside, Butuan.

The incident occurred around 6:50 p.m. on Monday. as they were herded inside a Starex van, believed to be commandeered by the NPA disguised as NBI agents, the army said.

The two succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of the body.

Sea exercises ongoing to update skills following Samal abduction

From the Mindanao Times (Oct 22): Sea exercises ongoing to update skills following Samal abduction
THE COST Guard, Task Force Davao and Philippine Navy are conducting seaborne operations around the Davao Gulf following the kidnapping of four people in Island Garden City of Samal on Sept. 21.

“We are trying our best to secure the resort sites to give a sense of security especially to the tourists,” Commodore Joselito Dela Cruz, commander of Coast Guard Davao Station Eastern Mindanao, told reporters yesterday during the AFP-PNP press conference.

He said they only possess 13 aluminum boats from Tibanban, Davao Oriental to Malalag, Davao del Sur but they have limited range because of fuel capacity.”

“We cannot go as fast as we want,” he said.

Meanwhile, Supt. Antonio Rivera, police regional spokesperson, said they are also still investigating the report that the motor bancas used by the abductors were allegedly rented or purchased in Samal.

“In fact, the task group is gathering evidence to strengthen our offensive against those involved and file the case,” he said. “I cannot just give you the details of the investigation right now because for me it is still premature.”

Security forces and resort owners are proposing a comprehensive security and safety plan for Samal Island similar to Central 911 of Davao during a meeting in Emerald Hotel, Bajada on Thursday.

Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno, commander of 1003rd Infantry Brigade, in an interview said these could harden the security measures in the area. They are targeting additional Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit personnel in every resort.

Failure to observe protocol and the lack of command center were cited as the reasons for the breakdown in security, as well as the insufficient response following the kidnapping.

“We assured that security personnel will be divided and designated in their assigned area,” Nepomuceno said.

For now, authorities are still asking for more time to review the authenticity of video clip uploaded on YouTube showing kidnap victims held by armed men.

NorthCot PNP heightens security measures against terrorism

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 22): NorthCot PNP heightens security measures against terrorism

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato -- The Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO) here is intensifying its security measures after recovering three improvised explosive devices in Carmen town and  after the bombing of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) tower in Pikit town.

Police Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum,  provincial director of the CPPO, noted that they are closely monitoring the two towns in coordination with the intelligence committee and the local officials of the areas.

Aside from monitoring, the official stated that different initiatives to counter terrorism and criminalities are being implemented.

“We are strengthening our random mobile checkpoint in different areas of the province as well as the conduct of the Oplan Lambat Bitag,” Tagum said adding that 150 personnel of the CPPO are doing security operation in every municipality.

When it comes to partnership with the armed forces of the Philippines (AFP), the CPPO is assisting the military in their implementation of the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) in the hinterlands of North Cotabato.

Meanwhile, Tagum noted that in the coming May 2016 elections, the CPPO will be deploying 95 percent of its personnel to different places of the province particularly to areas with security concerns.

“Together with officials from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which will provide us with information regarding areas of concern, PNP troops will be manning their assigned places 24/7,” Tagum stated.

 At present, the police official emphasized that the province is very peaceful. On the other hand, he called for support from the residents of North Cotabato as according to him, with the wide scope of the province, the CPPO could not handle all the criminal and terror activities that may happen.

“With the cooperation of all the people in the province, I assure you that peace and order in North Cotabato is at hand,” Tagum said.

3-year-old boy injured in ASG attack in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): 3-year-old boy injured in ASG attack in Sulu

A three-year-old boy was wounded in an attack staged by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands in the hinterlands of Sulu, a military official disclosed Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the victim as Gasfer Suhudan, who suffered graze wound in the forehead.

Arrojado, who is also the commander of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade, said the attack took place around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Barangay Sandah, Patikul, Sulu.

Arrojado said the ASG brigands led by Ninok Sapari positioned themselves in Patikul Hill and opened fire targeting the members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) in Sandah, Patikul.

Arrojado said the BPAT led by Sandah Barangay Chairman Jairulla Jawari fought back triggering a 15-minute firefight.

He said Sapari’s group fled towards west direction upon sensing the arrival of government troops.

He said Suhudan was taken to the headquarters of the Charlie Company, 35th Infantry Battalion, for medical treatment.

He said the residents of Barangay Sandah earned the ire of Sapari since they favor the concreting of the circumferential road linking the barangays of Sandah and Tugas, Patikul.

He said Sapari opposes the concreting of the circumferential road as it will provide easy access to the government troops.

Troops, ASG clash in Sulu, soldier wounded

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Troops, ASG clash in Sulu, soldier wounded

A soldier was wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands as the focus military operations (FMO) continue in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official disclosed Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the firefight broke out around 2:10 p.m. Thursday in Sitio Kaupitan, Barangay Tugas, Patikul, Sulu.

Arrojado did not release the identity of the wounded soldier except in saying he was hit in the lower extremities.

Arrojado said the troops from the 1st Scout Ranger Company and 16th Special Forces Company were on combat operation when they clashed with around 150 ASG brigands led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Kaupitan, Barangay Tugas.

Arrojado said all the other operating units of the Joint Task Group Sulu were ordered to reinforce the troops in Barangay Tugas.

Meanwhile, he disclosed that the 10th and 12th Scout Ranger Companies of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion clashed with around 60 ASG brigands led by Radullan Sahiron in Sitio Tubalon, Barangay Kabuntakas, Patikul.

He said the scout rangers were closing-in on the troops of the 1st Scout Ranger Company and 16th Special Forces Company when they clashed against Sahiron’s group around 3:45 p.m. Thursday in Barangay Kabuntakas.

He said firefight is still ongoing. Troops from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion and 2nd Marine Brigade were deployed to block all possible escape routes of the ASG brigands.

He said that all military and police outposts were ordered to conduct checkpoints to intercept the fleeing ASG brigands with their casualties.

100-man Team Albay humanitarian mission rolls off Thursday for Casiguran, Aurora

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): 100-man Team Albay humanitarian mission rolls off Thursday for Casiguran, Aurora

Well-wishing Albayanos will send off the 100-man Team Albay humanitarian mission at the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) Operation Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The humanitarian mission, Team Albay's 14th, is bound for Casiguran, Aurora which suffered much from the wrath of Typhoon "Lando".

The send-off activity will be led by Dr. Cedric Daep and Regional Director Raffy Alejandro of the Office of Civil Defense-Bicol because Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda is in Pampanga for the meeting of the various Regional Developments Councils all over the country.

Before the send-off program, Daep will give a final briefing for the team.

He said the mission's convoy is composed of more that 10 vehicles and is expected to reach its target destination in 16 hours.

The group will temporarily rest in the Aurora State University before proceeding to the Casiguran town proper.The Team Albay humanitarian mission will last for 10 days and will return to Albay on Oct. 31, before the All Saints' Day.

The group is bringing along with them water filtration machine, water lory, medical supplies and equipment, trucks and other vehicles.

It is divided into three sub-groups: the water and sanitation, medical and logistics.

The water and sanitation unit is composed of 58 members and headed by engineer Dante Baclao of the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO).

Of the 58, 14 are from the PEO, 14 from the Provincial Health Office (PHO), 6 from the General Services Office, 2 from the Bureau of Fire Protection and 22 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines -- 8 from the Philippine Army, 8 from the Philippine Air Force and 6 from the Philippine Navy.

The medical team is composed of 14 volunteers from the PHO and 10 from the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital.

The logistics sub-group will be headed by the APSEMO, supported by 4 from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, 2 from the OCD, 4 from Barangay Oro Site and 4 from media.

Daep said the Team Albay has chosen Casiguran, Aurora because it needs more the services of a humanitarian mission as a result of the devastation caused by Lando.

It was also requested by the Province of Aurora, he said.

The APSEMO chief underscored the importance of the Team Albay mission.

First, he said, it is in accordance with the provision of RA 10121 or the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Law.

"We are compliant with the provision under the new law that the local government unit may assist another LGUs hit by calamities for as long as they place their area under a state of calamity," Daep said.

Second, he added, the Team Albay is implementing the inter- complimentary effort strategies.

He mentioned the third as the desire of the team to help other LGUs that have a different experience from Albay, saying that this will strengthen the capability of the province, particularly in the aspect of DRRM strategies.

Lastly, Daep said, the collaboration and coordination of Team Albay with other government agencies aims to further strengthen the teamwork in the province at any time, whether during emergency, calamity or ordinary times.

Trooper killed defending civilian companions in Basilan against ASG ambush

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Trooper killed defending civilian companions in Basilan against ASG ambush

A soldier assigned to the Joint Task Group Basilan was killed while defending his civilian companions from an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) ambush in Sumisip town, Basilan Wednesday afternoon.

The incident took place at 2:30 p.m. in Limbo Candis, Sumisip, in the said province.

Joint Task Group Basilan spokesperson 1st Lt. Sally Magno said that the soldier, who is still unidentified pending notification of his next-of-kin, was with two civilian companions aboard two motorcycles when flagged and fired upon by the ASG bandits.

Magno said the group was supposed to visit relatives in the area prior to the attack.

She added that the slain trooper was a member of a peace and development team operating in the locality.

Despite being wounded, the soldier returned fire and engaged the brigands, giving time for his companions to escape.

Before dying, the lone soldier was able to inflict casualties on the ASG bandits before they retreated.

Pursuit operations are still ongoing as of this posting.

Navy reservists first to respond in 'Lando' relief efforts

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Navy reservists first to respond in 'Lando' relief efforts

Navy reservists were literally the first group of responders helping displaced families and communities devastated by Typhoon "Lando" in Northern Luzon.

Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said Naval Reserve Center Northern Luzon, which consists of marines, sailors, and reservists were immediately mobilized for "Lando" relief efforts.

The unit was placed under Regional Disaster Response Task Group 1 and in coordination with Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Pangasinan and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of Dagupan City, the disaster response teams conducted humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR) to the affected families in the City of Dagupan, Municipality of San Fabian and Barangays of Bugallon, Pangasinan namely Cabayaoasan, Socony and Poblacion.

For two days of relief operations, Navy personnel and reservists continuously scoured the affected municipalities to evacuate and provide necessary assistance to the victims.

The effort and gallantry of the regular force and the reserve force resulted to the rescue and evacuation of 119 families/624 individuals.

Lincuna said reservists had been very valuable to the PN as force multipliers especially in responding to calamities and disasters.

PVAO Kagitingan Roadmap 2022 gets Silver Trailblazer Award

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): PVAO Kagitingan Roadmap 2022 gets Silver Trailblazer Award

The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) received another Silver Trailblazer Award for its Kagitingan Roadmap 2022 outlining various initiatives and projects to uplift the welfare of the country’s veterans.

It made the presentation at the Public Governance Forum of the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) during a Public Revalida that tested whether the agency’s progress to Compliance stage of the Performance Governance System (PGS).

The PGS is a four-stage pathway to good governance that promotes transparency and accountability by making governance a shared responsibility.

It enables public offices, professional associations, and academic institutions to strategize long-term development goals, organizational transformation, and transparency viewed through the lens of a balanced score card.

Its stages include initiation, compliance, proficiency, and institutionalization.

PVAO deputy administrator retired Major Gen. Raul Coballes made the presentation before a panel of strategy, business and industry experts at the bi-annual Public Governance Forum where various national government agencies, government owned and controlled corporation and local government units gather to share how their organizations have transformed and raised their standards of service to the people.

With the Kagitingan Roadmap, PVAO endeavors and empowers the veterans and motivate the country’s future defenders.

It aims to reduce the number of indigent veterans from 16,100 to 0 by 2022 and propagate love of country by increasing the number of Kagitingan builders through shrine development, LGU-led commemorations and production of books, films and materials about the valor and selfless sacrifices of the veterans.

The Kagitingan Roadmap reflects PVAO goals to transform the veterans from being merely dependent clients to empowered partners; to transform veterans’ organizations from being self-centered, factionalized and marginalized to being united and empowered; to transform underutilized veterans assets and properties to being optimized and the benefits derived from them equitably shared; to transform shrines and memorials to instruments that instill national pride and patriotism; to make commemorative events pervasive and community-based; to rationalize pensions and benefits structure, and to ensure veterans’ overall welfare and wellbeing.

PVAO envisions a strong and unified Filipino veterans community serving as a reliable partner in nation building.

It will guide PVAO to better fulfill its mandate, leading to the path where the ideals of “kagitingan” are exemplified in order to bring back kagitingan, or love for country, in its deserved place in our nation’s value system.

Having witnessed the commitment of the PVAO top management to pursuing the roadmap, the panel looked at how PVAO cascaded strategy to key lower-level units to produce second-level scorecards to translate strategy to operations.

The panelists also validated how the Kagitingan Roadmap has been communicated to key external stakeholders through a multi-sector governance council that can represent the public’s interests and at the same time ensure the continuity of the strategy.

They also ensured that PVAO has developed a strategic communication plan to generate support from internal and external stakeholders

The panel members were Dr. Aniceto Fontanilla, Chief Executive Officer of the Asia-Pacific Center for Research, Inc. and ISA Trustee, the panel chair; former Internal Revenue and Customs Commissioner Guillermo N. Parayno, Jr., Philippine Veterans Bank; Lt.Gen. Raul S. Urgello, AFP (Ret), President of the Filipino War Veterans Foundation, Inc.; Dr. Vernon Totanes of the Ateneo de Manila University; and Mr. Isidro Sobrecarey, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines.

6 killed, 9 wounded as trooper runs amuck in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): 6 killed, 9 wounded as trooper runs amuck in Basilan

An Army corporal shot and killed five soldiers, including two junior officers, when he went amuck in Sumisip, Basilan Thursday morning.

The suspect, who was also shot and killed by responding troops, managed to wound nine others before being neutralized, according to Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao.

He said the incident took place around 8:45 a.m. inside the headquarters of Bravo Company, 64th Infantry Battalion at Upper Cabengbeng, Sumisip, Basilan.

Among those killed were a first and second lieutenant and four enlisted personnel, including the one who went amuck.

Of the nine wounded, eight were military personnel, the highest ranking a 1st lieutenant, and one civilian.

He declined to give the names of the suspect and victims pending notification of their next-of-kin.

Hao said the victims were conducting a bible study when the suspect, described as a mortar gunner, fired his M-16 automatic rifle in a long sweeping burst.

The Army spokesperson said there were no indications that the suspect will go berserk as the latter had just returned from vacation.

However, fellow soldiers said the suspect had become withdrawn lately.

Hao said the fatalities and wounded personnel were immediately airlifted to 104th Infantry Brigade headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela for transfer to Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Lower Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Hao said a medical and psychological team will be deployed immediately to the military facility to determine the cause of the incident.

The Army spokesperson said they also sought the help of the police in investigating the incident.

Army integree behind Basilan rampage - Army spokesperson

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): Army integree behind Basilan rampage - Army spokesperson

An army integree, with 12 years in service, was identified by the Philippine Army (PA) as the trooper who went amuck and killed five others before being neutralized in Sumisip town, Basilan Thursday morning.

PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao identified the amuck as Cpl. Tahiruddinn A. Taha, 37, a mortar gunner of Bravo Company, 64th Infantry Battalion, and of Indanan, Sulu.

"We have no derogatory records on Taha," he added.

Taha was one of the many hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front fighters integrated in the military during the late 90s.

The bloody incident took place 8:45 a.m. at the multi-purpose hall located at headquarters of Bravo Company at Upper Cabengbeng, Sumisip town.

At the multi-purpose hall, around 20 to 30 persons were having a bible study when Taha made his way at the back and treacherously fired on the group with his M-16 automatic rifle.

Initially, the suspect approached the duty guard and volunteered to take his place.

However, the guard told Taha to comeback at around 12 noon as it was scheduled duty time.

The suspect then responded "Sige, maglalaba na lang ako (Okay, I'll just wash my clothes."

Hao identified the five soldiers killed by the amuck as 2nd Lt. Alvin C. Ebina, Cpl. Robert F. Jondayran, Pfc. Jessrell V. Calud, 1st Lt. Camlon Martin M. Puao and Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Galicto.

Wounded were 1st Lt. Pada K. Guingar, Technical Sgt. Jerry C. Cardoza, Sgt. Anthony A. Bentoy, Pfc. Elber C. Noble, Pfc. Ruel M. Macalapay, Pfc. Nelson C. Calambro, Pfc. Junnel C. Cajote, Pfc. Remie L. Espanola, Jr. and Pastor Rolly Matson.

The Army spokesperson added that there were no indications that the suspect will go amuck as the latter had just returned from a two-week vacation to settle some "family problems."

However, fellow soldiers said Taha had become withdrawn lately.

He also said that all dead and wounded personnel were immediately airlifted to 104th Infantry Brigade headquarters in Tabiawan, Isabela for transfer to the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Lower Calarian, Zamboanga City.

Hao said that a medical and psychological team will be deployed immediately to the affected military facility to determine the exact cause of this incident.

The Army spokesperson said that they also sought the help of the police in investigating the incident.

PHL to turn over 2 Chinese diplomats who shot dead Chinese consulate staff in Cebu

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): PHL to turn over 2 Chinese diplomats who shot dead Chinese consulate staff in Cebu

The Philippine government will turn over to China the custody of two Chinese diplomats who shot dead two staff members of the Chinese consulate in Cebu and seriously wounded the post’s Consul General, citing their right to diplomatic immunity.

Armed with a .45-caliber pistol, Li Qing Ling, 60, and his wife, Consul Gou Jing, barged into Lighthouse Restaurant in Cebu City Wednesday and shot Consul General Song Rong Hua and his deputy consul Sun Shan and finance officers Hui Li. Sun and Hui were killed, while Song survived the shooting.

“They enjoy diplomatic immunity. Custody will be given to the Chinese side and they will undergo the legal process in China,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Thursday at a media briefing.

A security team from Beijing will arrive in Manila anytime to secure custody of the two diplomats, Jose said.

The motive for the shooting remains unknown, Jose said, adding that the two can not be compelled by Philippine authorities to speak as they are not covered by the country’s criminal jurisdiction. Jose explained that the two enjoy immunity from receiving state's criminal laws under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and under the 2009 Consular Agreement between Manila and Beijing.

“They are diplomats accredited to the Philippines so they enjoy diplomatic immunity,” he added.

In the meantime, the Chinese embassy in Manila and consulate in Cebu have been extending their full cooperation with Philippine authorities regarding the investigation, Jose said.

Upon the request of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, the couple will remain under the supervision of Cebu police.

“As soon as their security team from Beijing arrives here we will turn over the custody to the Chinese side,” Jose said.

Pemberton deportation to take effect after trial --Caguioa

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Pemberton deportation to take effect after trial --Caguioa

Newly-appointed Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa said on Thursday the Bureau of Immigration's deportation order against United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton cannot be implemented while his case is pending trial in a Philippine court.

In a statement, Caguioa said it is within the BI's jurisdiction to determine a foreigner's "undesirability" arising from the person's existing criminal or civil cases.

He added that the BI's declaration that an alien is undesirable will result to his deportation.

However, the DOJ Secretary stressed that a foreigner cannot be deported until the cases against him pending in Philippine courts have been decided, and in the event that the foreigner is found guilty of the charges, he has to serve his sentence first before he can be deported.

"In the case of United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the murder case filed against him for the alleged murder of transgender Filipina Jeffrey 'Jennifer' Laude is still pending trial before an Olongapo City Regional Trial Court. Hence, Pemberton is under the jurisdiction of the trial court and the deportation order issued by the BI cannot be implemented during the pendency of the trial on the case," Caguioa pointed out.

Military upgrade important, says Palace official

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 22): Military upgrade important, says Palace official

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Thursday the government recognizes the importance of upgrading the Philippine military so it would be on a par with its counterparts in the world.

During a press briefing in Malacañang, the Palace official noted that 56 projects under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program have been completed, compared to only 45 under the previous administrations.

"Sa simula’t sapul ay kinilala ng Aquino administration ang kahalagahan ng pagpapahusay sa mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Binanggit ni Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang huling State-of-the-Nation Address na sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang pamamahala, mayroong total of 56 projects sa AFP Modernization Program ang naipatupad at nakumpleto, kumpara sa 45 doon sa mga proyektong naisagawa noong mga nakaraang administrasyon," Secretary Coloma said when asked to comment on a recent report that the country's military ranks sixth in the list of the world’s worst armies.

The ranking was based on an online article posted by "We Are The Mighty," a group of former American soldiers who turned to the Internet to provide information to US servicemen.

In the same article, the group said "the Philippines' Naval and Air Forces are still nearly 60 years old and its ships are old US Coast Guards cutters."

The group's list ranked the Philippines behind Costa Rica, Iraq, North Korea, Eritrea, and Nigeria. At No. 7 is Tajikistan, followed by Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.

Coloma said President Aquino has already approved the purchase of items included in the second phase of the military upgrade.

"Nito lang nakaraang buwan, naiulat na sa mga pahayagan na inaprubahan ni Pangulong Aquino ‘yung mga items na mapapasama sa panibagong yugto ng AFP Modernization Act na naging batas noong December 2012. Mayroong, kumbaga, Phase II ng programang ito at nabanggit sa mga pahayagan na ang ilan sa mga big-ticket items ay ang mga sumusunod: dalawang navy frigates worth P18 billion, tatlong air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion, anim na close air support aircraft worth P4.97 billion, two units of long-range patrol aircraft worth P5.98 billion, multipurpose attack craft project worth P864.32 million, night fighting system worth P1.116 billion, dalawang C-130 aircraft worth P1.6 billion, dalawang naval helicopters worth P5.4 billion, at lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion," the Palace official said.

Coloma also mentioned the purchase of fighter jets from South Korea.

"Batid po natin na sa kasalukuyan ay hinihintay ang delivery ng isang squadron — parang isang dosena yata ito — na mga fighter jets na galing sa Korea," he said.

He said the purchase of military equipment shows how the government is doing its best to improve the country's armed forces.

"Kaya makikita natin ang kongkretong manipestasyon ng ibayong pagsisikap na gawing moderno ang ating Sandatahang Lakas at ito ay pinapatunayan sa pamamagitan ng pagkuha ng mga pinakamodernong kagamitan na gagamitin ng ating army, navy, at air force," Coloma further said.