Sunday, October 25, 2015

Eastern Visayas army chief urges soldiers to be non-partisan

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 26): Eastern Visayas army chief urges soldiers to be non-partisan

The commander of the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division in Eastern Visayas reminded all its men to be non-partisan in the 2016 national and local elections.

The military, according to Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino “must reassure the people in the region that the military will remain professional, non partisan at all times and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”

“Keeping our politics private is a good step,” he said. “We should always obey civilian authority, support and defend the constitution and to do our duty at all times.”

Velarmino stressed that he is not suggesting that military must abandon all personal opinions about social and political issues.

However, in the execution of their mission, it is expected that military must put aside their political preferences.

“Political opinions have no place in our conference room or even in military camps,” he said.

Velarmino noted that “part of the deal we made when we joined the military was to willingly subordinate our individual interests to the greater good of protecting vital national interests.”

Meanwhile, the Commission on Election here is set to have a meeting next month with the police and military in the region for an in depth assessment of the political situation in Samar province.

Previous election crisis in Samar seemed to have ignited an intense violence and prolonged political crisis, especially, in the first district, according to Velarmino.

PAF to acquire electrical spares for AW-109E

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 26): PAF to acquire electrical spares for AW-109E

In line with efforts to ensure the mission worthiness of all its available aircraft, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) announced that it is setting aside Php33,706,911.52 for acquisition of spare parts needed for the maintenance of the electrical systems of its AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" attack helicopters.

Bid opening is on Nov. 13, 9 a.m., PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

The PAF formally commissioned its first two attack AW-109Es last Aug. 17. Another six are expected to be delivered before the end of the 2015.

The Philippines signed an eight-unit attack AW-109E order with AgustaWestland in 2013 for Php3. 44 billion.

The AW-109E is a three-ton class eight seat helicopter powered by two Pratt and Whitney PW206C engines.

The spacious cabin is designed to be fitted with a number of modular equipment packages for quick and easy conversion between roles.

The aircraft’s safety features include a fully separated fuel system, dual hydraulic boost system, dual electrical systems and redundant lubrication and cooling systems for the main transmission and engines.

The AW-109 has established itself as the world’s best selling light-twin helicopter for maritime missions.

Its superior speed, capacity and productivity combined with reliability and ease of maintenance make it the most cost effective maritime helicopter in its class.

For shipboard operations the aircraft has a reinforced-wheeled landing gear and deck mooring points as well as extensive corrosion protection measures.

The ability to operate from small ships in high sea state enables the AW-109 to perform its mission when many others helicopters would be confined to the ship’s hangar.

Over 550 AW-109 "Power" and AW-109 light utility helicopters have been ordered for commercial, parapublic and military applications by customers in almost 50 countries.

Review of discrepancies in computation of pension of AFP Master Sergeant retirees pushed

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 26): Review of discrepancies in computation of pension of AFP Master Sergeant retirees pushed

A lawmaker has called on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare to review the discrepancies in the computation of pension of retired Chief Master Sergeants (CMS) and Senior Master Sergeants (SMS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Rep. Gary C. Alejano (Party-list, Magdalo), a vice chairman of the Committee on National Defense and Security, sought the review after a group of retired CMS and SMS approached his office and questioned the basis of computation used by the AFP for the implementation of laws on their retirement pensions.

“The retired CMS and SMS cited discrepancies in the pension they are receiving after observing that there are retirees who have the same rank and length of service as them, but are receiving higher pensions. These inconsistencies impair the essence of the law in providing adequate and just remuneration and benefits to the retired CMS and SMS,” said Alejano.

Alejano called for the review through House Resolution 2416, saying the House needs to revisit RA 8820 to provide for a correct interpretation of the law particularly on Retirement and Separation to avoid discrepancies in the amount of pension being received by retirees with the same rank and length of service.

“It is imperative for the Committee on Veterans Welfare and Affairs chaired by Rep. Herminia B. Roman (1st District, Bataan) to review the provisions of Republic Act 8220 to identify and resolve the sources of the alleged discrepancies and to ensure that CMS and SMS retirees are given adequate care and benefits,” said Alejano.

Enacted on Oct. 9, 1996, RA 8220, otherwise known as “An Act Creating The Ranks Of Chief Master Sergeant/Master Chief Petty Officer and Senior Master Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer in the Enlisted Ranks Of the AFP,” created the grades of Chief Master Sergeant/Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9) and Senior Master Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8) and makes them a component part of the noncommissioned officers' grades of the AFP.

The ranks were created to provide career development and promotion to the rank of Master Sergeant, who with the absence of the newly created ranks, may be forced to remain in the service for a long period of time under the same rank.

The law further provides the enlisted personnel who attain the rank of Master Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer, Senior Master Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer and of Chief Master Sergeant/Master Chief Petty Officer shall, upon retirement, be entitled to the retirement pay and benefits of a Second Lieutenant/Ensign: Provided, That a Chief Master Sergeant/Master Chief Petty Officer retired from the AFP, shall receive a gratuity equivalent to that of a Second Lieutenant/Ensign, plus one-half of the difference between the gratuity of a Second Lieutenant/Ensign and a Master Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer, and a Senior Master Sergeant/Senior Chief Petty Officer shall receive a gratuity equivalent to that of a Second Lieutenant/ Ensign, plus one-half of the difference between the gratuity of a Chief Master Sergeant/Master Chief Petty Officer and a Master Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer, payable in one lump sum.

Full medical assistance to uniformed men wounded while on duty sought

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 26): Full medical assistance to uniformed men wounded while on duty sought

A lawmaker has filed a bill seeking to provide mandatory full medical assistance to soldiers and policemen wounded while in the performance of their duty.

Rep. Scott Davies S. Lanete (3rd District, Masbate) said House Bill 5933 aims to lessen, if not totally alleviate, the physical, mental, and financial sufferings of the uniformed men while they are on duty.

Lanete said the incident involving the death of the Fallen 44 and the wounding of the rest of the SAF troopers during the Jan. 25 Mamasapano clash raised awareness on the risks members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) face daily to fight terrorist organizations and extremist groups in the country.

“While our soldiers and policemen fight so the rest of us can be free and sovereign, they risk their lives without any complaint and hesitation,” he said.

The Masbate solon said hearings in the Senate regarding the Mamasapano incident revealed that members of the PNP stationed in danger zones and tactical units receive a hazard pay amounting to a meager P240 per month and a combat pay of P340 a month.

“It was also revealed that AFP soldiers stationed in conflict areas receive combat pay of only P240 per month,” Lanete said.

He said with the risk inherent in such missions, the concerned PNP and AFP troops only receive measly salaries, allowances and benefits in exchange for the dangers they face in fulfilling their duties.

Lanete, a vice chairman of the Committees on Appropriations, on Poverty Alleviation, and on Public Order and Safety, said that there are laws already in place to provide financial assistance to wounded uniformed men while on duty.

“But these laws are not adequate enough to help and alleviate their physical, mental, psychological and financial sufferings,” he lamented.

Under the bill, a mandatory full medical combat pay is granted to uniformed men while on duty.

The full medical combat pay shall cover all expenses necessary and related to the immediate care and recovery of the wounded uniformed men including their post-care and recovery.

The measure further states that all wounded uniformed men shall be entitled to the medical combat pay the moment they are admitted in a hospital or medical clinic for care and shall continue to be entitled thereto until such time that a qualified physician declares them fully recovered, both physically and psychologically.

The bill was referred to the Committees on National Defense and Security and on Public Order and Safety headed by Reps. Rodolfo G. Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City) and Jeffrey P. Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental), respectively.

Manilakbayan reaches NCR

From the pro-CPP Online propaganda publication Bulatlat (Oct 25): Manilakbayan reaches NCR

Delegates of Manilakbayan in Alabangm Muntinlupa City. (Photo by A. Umil/

Delegates of Manilakbayan in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. (Photo by A. Umil/
Their only dream is to uplift their lives, have education that their ancestors have been deprived of, live peacefully in their ancestral land and develop it for their families and the next generation.
After five days of journey from Mindanao, through the Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions, the 700-strong Manilakbayan finally reached the National Capital Region on Sunday, Oct. 25.
manilakbayan2015-alabang-01 [3]

With raised clenched fists, the Lumad and other Mindanaoans, along with activists from Southern Tagalog and Bicol region marched from Bayanan in Muntinlupa. At the Alabang viaduct, they were welcomed by leaders from various groups, such as Gabriela Women’s Party, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), who then marched with them all the way to People’s Park in Sucat, Muntinlupa.

Datu Jimboy Mandagit after having solidarity lunch with Save Laguna Lake Movement. (Photo by A. Umil/

Datu Jimboy Mandagit after having solidarity lunch with Save Laguna Lake Movement. (Photo by A. Umil/

At the People’s Park, they were welcomed by the Save Laguna Lake Movement.
Ronald Molera, Save Laguna Lake Movement spokesperson said they support the struggle of Manilakbayan. He said, like the Lumád, they too will be displaced from the Laguna de Bay once the government’s Public-Private Partnership project pushes through.

The group gave fish as food support for the Manilakbayan contingents.

Just four days ago, he said elements of 68th Infantry Battalion looked for him in their house in sitio Butay, Namnam village in Bukidnon. Only his grandmother was there, and soldiers told her that he is a “headache.”

“The soldiers told my grandmother that I always cause them trouble, because I always talk to public,” Mandagit told The soldiers, he added, destroyed his store.

He and his family had evacuated to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran House in Davao City since June of this year due to heavy militarization. He said he wanted to go back to their community so they can continue to live normally.

(L to R: Rina Guimboloy, Irene Lumayag and Cristina Lantao from Compostella Valley/ Photo by A. Umil/ [5]
(L to R: Rina Guimboloy, Irene Lumayag and Cristina Lantao from Compostella Valley/ Photo by A. Umil/

Cristina Lantao, secretary general of the Federation of Lumad Women in Mindanao, meanwhile, said that they wanted to come to Manila to call on the government to act on atrocities in Mindanao.

It is her second time to join Manilakbayan. She said their situation has been worse this year. “Many Lumad have been killed. Worse, they are attacking our school, depriving our children of education,” she said.

Mandagit and Lantao said their only dream is to uplift their lives, have education that their ancestors have been deprived of, live peacefully in their ancestral land and develop it for their families and the next generation.

Solidarity lunch with Save Laguna Lake Movement. (Photo by A. Umil/ [6]
Solidarity lunch with Save Laguna Lake Movement. (Photo by A. Umil/

Tomorrow, the Lakbayanis will be welcomed by different sectoral organizations in the city of Manila. In the next few days, the Lumad will hold different activities to call for peace and justice in Mindanao.

Manilakbayan in Mindanao will be in Metro Manila from Oct. 25 to Nov. 22.

Lawmaker dismayed over case dismissal

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Oct 25): Lawmaker dismayed over case dismissal

FIRST district Representative Celso Lobregat has been dismayed over the dismissal of a criminal case filed against a suspect in the botched abduction of a government physician in Zamboanga City.

The Office of the City Prosecutor dismissed the case on Friday against Kausar Atari, 28, after the would-be victim, Dr. Armando Iturralde, did not submit his sworn affidavit.

Iturralde is one of the physicians of the City Health Office and is the elder brother of Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde.

Atari barged into Iturralde's clinic in the village of Talon-Talon and tried to drag the would-be victim to a waiting vehicle but failed since the physician resisted and managed to get loose.

His companions who were waiting on a vehicle sped toward a mangrove area upon seeing patrolling policemen, leaving behind Atari.

The policemen cornered Atari at an internet café, which is also owned by Iturralde. The suspects' getaway vehicle was also recovered.

"I really felt not only disappointed, I felt dismayed," Lobregat said, citing Atari was arrested yet Iturralde did not pursue the case.

Lobregat said such incident will not only demoralize the police but also the military.

"Sayang ang efforts ng police," Lobregat added.

Meanwhile, Councilor Percival Ramos said the residents of Barangay Talon-Talon, especially the neighbors of the Iturralde, were surprised by the event.

Ramos, like the Iturraldes, is also a resident of Talon-Talon village.

2 rebels arrested in Panabo City

From the Sun Star-Davao (Oct 25): 2 rebels arrested in Panabo City

AUTHORITIES arrested on Saturday afternoon two suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) in an entrapment operation in Panabo City.

Troops belonging to the Army's 69th Infantry Battalion (IB) and members of the Panabo City police arrested the two NPA rebels around 1 p.m. at Tibulao Terminal in Barangay New Pandan, Panabo City.

In a statement issued by the 10th Infantry Division (ID), the suspects were identified as Gary Francisco Bayoang, 25, and a resident of Lower Pandaitan in Paquibato District, Davao City, and Daniel Francisco Bayoang, 19, of Purok 3, Barangay New Visayas, Panabo City.

Army said the two were allegedly extorting some P20,000, three sacks of rice, medicines, and three units of .45 caliber pistol from their victim whose identity was withheld for security reason.

The two were brought to the Panabo City Police station for investigation as appropriate charges are also being readied against them.

Major General Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th Infantry Division (ID), commended the efforts of both the Army and the PNP to pre-empt extortion attempts of the NPA rebels.

"We cannot allow these extortionists to demand money or goods from people. The Army and PNP will continue to work closely in addressing the different security threats that continue to affect the public. As of now, Panabo PNP are now trying to determine what charges the two NPA rebels should face," Valencia said in his statement.

Insurgency-free Eastern Visayas by end of 2016

From the Visayan News Bits section of the Manila Bulletin (Oct 25): Insurgency-free Eastern Visayas by end of 2016

The Philippines Army (PA)’s 8th Infantry Division (8th ID) Commander Maj. Gen. Jet B. Velarmino said it is on track in its campaign to wipe out insurgency in Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) by 2016.

Velarmino said all six provinces in the region have been declared peaceful and development ready, a big step towards attaining insurgency-free status.

A province is declared “peaceful and ready for development” if armed threats and rebellion are too weak to influence its citizens and way of life.

“Based on our assessment, the rebels’ strength is declining. A major reason is the conduct of community activities where soldiers are immersed in affected villages,” Velarmino said.

The tri-boundaries of Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar provinces have been tagged areas plagued by the Communist Party of the Philippines’ armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA).

This election season, the PA is monitoring the NPA’s possible collection of permit-to-campaign fees from political candidates. The fees assure candidates’ safety while campaigning in remote areas.

Congressional probe sought on ‘military surveillance’ in UP

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 25): Congressional probe sought on ‘military surveillance’ in UP

A congressional investigation is being sought on the alleged intrusion of military agents on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, last week, which critics have linked to an upcoming UP event for “lumad” or indigenous communities.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon denounced what he considered a surveillance operation conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the state university, as he asked the House committee on higher and technical education and on national defense to launch an inquiry.

On Wednesday, the UP Diliman police apprehended six men who were spotted near the Sunken Garden, one of whom introduced himself as a military officer but refused to disclose why they were in UP.

A statement issued the following day by UP chancellor Michael Tan expressed “deep concern” over the incident, saying there was a violation of a 1989 agreement between UP and the Department of National Defense. The agreement, he said, requires “prior notification of the university of any military operations on any of our campuses.”

The six men, who were seen using two motorcycles, a Toyota Innova and another vehicle, were apprehended by the UP Diliman Police and the university’s Special Services Brigade for “suspicious activities.”

They were turned over to the Quezon City Police District’s Anonas station, where one of them was identified as Army Lt. Fidorf Cimatu of the Intelligence Security Group.

The incident happened a week before the scheduled “Manilakbayan 2015” campout on UP grounds which is expected to gather some 700 lumad folk from Mindanao from Oct. 26 to 31.

Ridon, a former UP student regent, said student leaders of UP Diliman had also reported receiving text messages meant to harass them. “There is great suspicion that this military surveillance incident is connected with the preparations for the Manilakbayan campout next week.”

China’s Maritime Trap

From The Diplomat (Oct 24): China’s Maritime Trap (by WEI Zongyou)

China needs to rethink its approach to its maritime disputes

Just days after the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, news spread that the U.S. Navy would soon challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, sending a ship within 12 nautical miles of some of China’s man-made islands built on top of reefs in the Spratly Islands. True or not, the news soon drew worldwide attention and effectively overshadowed any outcomes from the summit during what is a testing time for China-U.S. relations.

In recent years, and especially since Xi Jinping became president, China has paid increasing attention to the sea and to its maritime interests and rights. At the 18th CPC National Congress, China officially put forward the vision of building a maritime power to effectively defend its maritime interests and rights. In a first, China’s Defense White Paper 2013 has four paragraphs devoted to emphasizing the importance of safeguarding China’s maritime interests and rights. The Defense White Paper 2015, under the sub-section of National Security Situation, warns that China’s maritime interests and rights are being eroded by some of its neighbors who are taking provocative actions by strengthening their military presence and construction on the illegally occupied islands and reefs of China, and claims some powers from outside the region are also interfering in the South China Sea issue and that one country even goes so far as to conduct intense surveillance in China’s EEZs. As a result, it said, maintaining its maritime interests and rights will be a long-term challenge for China.

As a traditional continental power but also one with a long coastline and an economy is increasingly dependent on overseas energy, resources, and markets, it is hardly surprising that China is turning its eyes to the sea. After all, China has to make sure its energy, resources, and commodities will can transit safely and smoothly. Besides, when your maritime rights and interests are being eroded and challenged, you’ve got to do something to defend them.

While maintaining maritime commerce safety is an area where all parties can cooperate and contribute, defending an individual country’s maritime rights and interests is not. Instead, it’s an issue in which countries’ interests and perspectives may differ and even conflict. This is especially the case in the South China Sea, where six or (including Taiwan) seven parties claim rights or sovereignty over all or some of the islands and reefs. Among the claimants, China claims all the islands and reefs in the South China Sea but occupies only eight, while Vietnam occupies 29, the Philippines nine, and Malaysia five. Since 2009, Vietnam has accelerated its land reclamation and outposts upgrades, and between 2009 and 2014, it has reclaimed approximately 60 acres, according to David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. Since late 2013, China has also begun to reclaim land in the South China Sea, and according to U.S. Defense Department, China has reclaimed 2000 acres, more than all other claimants combined over the history of their claims.

China’s land reclamation, together with its perceived assertive behavior in the East and South China Seas, have caused widespread concern, and have also constrained its relations with its neighbors and with the U.S. People are worried not only about the maritime disputes per se, but also about China’s long-term strategic intentions.

In the past, especially during the 1990s, China advocated a foreign policy of keeping a low profile and acting modestly in general, and shelving its sovereignty disputes in favor of cooperative resource development as a way out of knotty maritime disputes in particular. This foreign policy wisdom, together with an overall opening-up strategy created a favorable and peaceful environment that enabled China to keep its economy growing uninterrupted for more than thirty years, resulting in its dramatic rise within the existing international order.

This is not to argue that China should forsake its maritime rights or interests for the sake of economic growth or international image, but rather that it should put its maritime strategy in perspective. To avoid a possible maritime trap that will not only be detrimental to China’s true national interests, but also negatively affect many other countries, China, as a major clamant, should think longer term and take steps to deescalate the tension surrounding the disputes.

First, China’s maritime strategy, if there is one, should serve its overall strategy – that is, China’s rise as a great and respected nation among nations – and not vice versa. If a maritime strategy successfully alienates neighboring countries and leading powers and proves to be an obstacle to its overall national strategy, it’s time to sit down and think twice.

Second, China should put forward a better argument for its maritime rights, especially the disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea. To date, China has mainly resorted to historical documents and maps to support its claims in the South China Sea, and what’s lacking is competent and persuasive legal arguments and evidence for its claims. China has also yet to clarify the meaning of its nine dash line claim in the South China Sea.

Third, China should accelerate its Code of Conduct dialogue with ASEAN. Given that sovereignty is such a highly charged issue, there is no hope of a definitive solution to that any time soon. Dialogue and compromise is needed by all parties. On July 29, China and ASEAN held the ninth Senior Officials Meeting in Tianjin. The meeting authorized the joint working group on implementing the DOC to discuss a way to formulate the COC, and exchanged views on establishing maritime risk management and control preventive measures before the COC is finalized. This is a step in the right direction, and if a COC is finally worked out and effectively implemented, it will remove a substantial obstacle in China’s relations with ASEAN and the U.S.

[WEI Zongyou is professor of International Relations at Center for American Studies, Fudan University, China. His main research interests cover China-US Relations, and American Foreign and Security Policy in the Asia-Pacific. The views expressed here are entirely his own.]

Top US Admiral: ‘Nobody Owns’ the South China Sea

From The Diplomat (Oct 24): Top US Admiral: ‘Nobody Owns’ the South China Sea

The U.S. Navy’s most senior officer is adamant about enforcing “international rules and norms” in the South China Sea.

In September, Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) North Sea Fleet, insisted that the South China Sea belongs to China.

“The South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China. And the sea from the Han dynasty a long time ago where the Chinese people have been working and producing from the sea,” he said through an interpreter, at a conference in London (See: “South China Sea Belongs to China”).

The United States Navy’s new chief of naval operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson, however, is prepared to challenge this assertion, according to an interview with Defense News.

“What is coming into clear focus is that the defendant of the guarantor of prosperity and access is the system of rules and norms that we all abide by,” the admiral noted. “It’s interesting that some of the folks that are making contrary claims now … are the very nations who prosper the most under the current system of international rules and norms.”

The admiral was adamant that the South China Sea should remain open free and open waters:
You talk about coalition approaches, national approaches. I would advocate for a system that is inclusive, that levels the playing field as much as possible. That doesn’t talk in terms of my sea or your sea. That is everybody’s sea. You know 30 percent of the world’s trade goes through the South China Sea. Nobody owns that. It’s open. It’s international waters.
The U.S. Navy has been ready for some time to increase its freedom of navigation (FON) activities in the South China Sea, something that has drawn criticism not only from China but also from The White House. Indeed, as a recent Diplomat contributor has argued, “none of its [China’s] current actions justify deliberate provocations by the United States,” such as naval patrols close to Chinese-held artificial islands (See: “Why South China Sea FON Operations Don’t Make Sense”).

Admiral Richardson, however, insists that the U.S. Navy is just following international norms and rules. He also emphasizes that there is little disagreement on the right South China Sea policies within the U.S.government:
[I]n terms of reinforcing the United States — as a global nation and our Navy as a global Navy able and willing to transit and pass through international waters — that’s a commitment we stand pretty firmly by. From the president on down, we iterate that position pretty clearly. Using the system of international norms and rules, none of this should be interpreted as provocative or responsive, this is just business as usual in the international system.
Writing for The Diplomat, Sam Bateman, points out  that at “the heart of the U.S. protests are peculiarly American concerns about FON that relatively few regional countries share. In particular, these include the freedoms to conduct so-called ‘military surveys’ in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of another country. Another is the right of a warship to “transit a territorial sea without giving prior notification to the coastal state.”

In the interview with Defense News, Richardson refused to reveal the date when the destroyer USS Lassen would make such a transit. Officially, the United States continues not to take any sides in the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

HOT ON THE TRAIL // Troops in Pursuit Encountered the Suspected NPA who Killed Mayor Otaza and Son

From DWDD, the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 24): HOT ON THE TRAIL // Troops in Pursuit Encountered the Suspected NPA who Killed Mayor Otaza and Son

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City (DWDD) – Days after pursuing the perpetrators on Killing Mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl, troops under 23rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army encountered the NPA suspects at the outskirt of Sitio Afga, Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte at around  6:45 am today, October 23, 2015.


Information was received from the civilians in the area that the NPA group responsible for the said brutal killing are hiding inside their community. This prompted the troops to proceed in the area and check the veracity of the information. Upon reaching the area, the NPA indiscriminately fired upon the troops even at the stake of civilians present along the vicinity of the said barangay.

NPA Cadres 1

Troops outmanoeuvred the said NPA groups that pushed them to disengage. People saw these NPA carries and drags four (4) of their wounded comrades out of the engagement area. One soldier was also wounded during the first burst of indiscriminate fire from the NPA bandits. Recovered from the encounter site are NPA backpacks containing personal belongings and subversive documents with high intelligence value.

Col Alexander Macario, Commander of 401st Infantry Brigade said, “We thank the people for providing us timely information about the location of these NPA. They are already fed up with the NPA atrocities and exploitation. They are believed to be indignant of the brutal killing of Mayor Otaza.”

Meanwhile, cases of Robbery and Kidnapping with Murder were already filed before the Butuan City Prosecutor’s office against Rene Catarata, also known as Rene/ Dodong/ Hector Tindugan and eighteen (18) John Does.

Based from the affidavits of witnesses, they positively identified the suspects who according to them are members of NPA group in Caraga who are wearing NBI uniform. Identification was further supported by the cartographic sketch of the killers.

Rene Catarata is the Front Secretary of NPA Guerilla Front 34 under North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee and one of the responsible for series of Lumad killings, ambushcades, extortion, and illegal recruitment in Eastern Mindanao.

“There will be no let-up on our efforts to bring these suspects to the folds of law. We shall intensify our efforts to support the conduct of PNP’s Law Enforcement Operation.” Col Macario added. 4DPAO / MCAG

HONOR AND RESPECT // Thousands Lined up to Pay Respect to their Hero Mayor Otaza

From DWDD, the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 24): HONOR AND RESPECT // Thousands Lined up to Pay Respect to their Hero Mayor Otaza

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City (DWDD) – Thousand of supporters and believers of peace lined up along national highway in Butuan City to Loreto, Agusan del Sur to show their respect and sympathy to the death of their Hero – Mayor Dario Otaza, also known as Datu Malampuson by the Manobo tribe in Agusan del Sur, during the caravan for justice.



 Said caravan is a tribute of all people from all walks of life to remember the leadership and peace advocacies of Mayor Otaza for his people. Teary-eyed people cheered and waved their flaglets symbolizing peace as the vehicle entourage carrying the remains of their fallen hero passed by.



 Mayor Otaza, a former NPA rebel, liberated his town from NPA grip, manipulation, and exploitation. He brought development to his community to realize the dreams of his people. He was successful in encouraging 246 NPA to go back to mainstream society and lead a normal life.



"They (the people) sacrificed the heat so that they can pay their respect to a leader who gave his life for freeing his people from the lies and deceit of the NPA and pushed for development to shield them from these lies.” Expressed in their native language by the tribal leaders in Caraga including the family, friends, and love ones who organized the said caravan.

“From all walks of life, they were there. Tricycle drivers, students, teachers, farmers, vendors, Lumads and non Lumads alike. All are unified to give respect and honor the man, and condemn the killing and the perpetrators.” They added.

Meanwhile, Mr Wilfredo Otaza, brother and chief of staff of Loreto Mayor Dario Otaza also expressed his gratitude to all peace-loving people who paid their respect and showed overwhelming support. He said that they seek justice for the brutal killing of his brother and nephew. He then urged supporters of the Mayor not to place justice in their hands but instead let the AFP and PNP do their job of catching the perpetrators.

“Our deepest gratitude to the thousands of Agusan people who showed their support and sympathy during the recent CARAVAN FOR JUSTICE. They joined us with their sincerest hearts in condemning the NPA for killing our beloved DATU MALAMPUSON Mayor DARIO E OTAZA and his SON DARYL. This is a call for the AGUSAN PEOPLE to continue his quest for lasting Peace and democracy.” Said by Datu Makahinlo Gubat Marcos U Gonzales – Provinciall Tribal Chieftain, Agusan del Sur. 4DPAO / MCAG

NPA EXPLOITATION // Community Closes Down a School in Bukidnon

From DWDD, the AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Oct 25): NPA EXPLOITATION // Community Closes Down a School in Bukidnon

KITAOTAO, Bukidnon (DWDD) – The people of Brgy. White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon closed down a school in a nearby Sitio Dao in their community around 10:00 a.m., October 23, 2015. Led by their chieftain Felipe Cabugnason and the barangay council together with the tribal elders, they executed what they claim to be as their right to eradicate and prevent any institution that poses threat to their community. The closure was formally expressed by Cabugnason to the teachers and students present at the school. With the request of the local populace and through a memorandum from the barangay council the closure was done orderly and peacefully with the objective of saving the future of the children of White Kulaman from what they claim as exploitation of the NPA rebels utilizing the said school as a venue in instilling violence and armed struggle.

Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School, a private school ran by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Incorporated (MISFI) in Sitio Dao, Brgy. White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon has been claimed by the local residents as a school established by the NPA rebels. “Ang Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School gisurvey ug gipatindog kini sa mga NPA nga nagpaila lamang kanamo nga sila si Ka Ebyang, Ka Macoy ug Ka Esok, nga mga miyembro sa Guerilla Front 53. Ang mga katawhan ra gihapon sa White Kulaman ang nagpahina ug nagtindog sa maong eskwelahan tungod sa pagmandar kanamo sa NPA. Grabe ang amoang singot ug kahago apan gibuhat namo kini tungod sa kahadlok ug wala kami bayari sa bisag unsa nga kahago ug materyales nga amoang giapod-apod aron matindog ang eskwelahan. Ug karon nga wala na ang mga NPA, gusto namo nga mga katawhan sa White Kulaman nga sirad-an ang maong eskwelahan ug ipapahawa dinhi ang nagdumala niini kay nasayod kami nga iya kini sa komunista nga eskwelahan.” (Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School was established through the NPA. It was through certain NPA members who introduced themselves as Ka Ebyang, Ka Macoy and Ka Esok that the site was surveyed and the school was established. It was the people of White Kulaman who worked together to put up the school as what the NPA demanded from us. We have painstakingly worked and provided the materials without pay out of fear fromthese rebels. And now that the NPA rebels are gone, we want the school closed and ask those who manage the school to leave this place because we are aware that this school is ran by communists.) says Cabugnason.

Cabugnason has further stated that the closure was done orderly. Ang katawhan sa Barangay White kulaman mi-padayag sa ilang katungod pinaagi sa pagpasira sa eskwelahan sa MISFI nga dinhi nahimutang sa Sitio Dao, White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. Kini nagmalampuson uban ang kahusay ug kalinaw. Dili tinuod nga gi demolish or gisunog ang eskwelahan kon dili gisirad-an lamang sa katawhan, gipapauli ang mga magtutudlo uban sa pipila ka mga bata nga mikuyog kanila nga wala gayoy bisan gamay nga tatsa. Ug ang pipila ka mga bata mikuyog sa ilang mga ginikanan, ug mga pariente. Ang mga bata nga naapektaran sa maong pagpasirado sa eskwelahan sa MISFI amoang tabangan nga makabalhin sa White Kulaman Integrated School, sigon sa giya ug tambag sa DepEd-Bukidnon.” (The people of Barangay White Kulaman has expressed their right in the closure of the school ran by the MISFI here in Sitio Dao, White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. The activity was done in a peaceful and orderly manner. It is not true that the school was demolished and burned. Rather, the local populace closed it down. The teachers were respectfully asked to go home together with some of their pupils. None of them were hurt. Some of the pupils went back to their parents and their relatives. We will help all these pupils to transfer to White Kulaman Integrated School upon their desire as well as their parents’ as advised by the DepEd of Bukidnon.) Cabugnason further stated.

It can be recalled that on October 7, 2015, a peace dialogue was facilitated by the 403rd Infantry Brigade and the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, among the barangay council members and residents of White Kulaman, representatives from the NCIP, DepEd and DOJ of the province of Bukidnon, and the Mindanao Interfaith Services FoundationIncorporated. The dialogue intended to have the parties discuss the demand of the local populace of Brgy. White Kulaman to close the Father Fausto Tentorio Memorial School situated in Sitio Dao of the said barangay and settle the matter peacefully with the Philippine Army as the mediator. Unfortunately, representatives from MISFI failed to show up during the dialogue. It was agreed however that the DepEd-Bukidnon will forward its recommendation to the its regional office stating therein that the said school has failed to comply with certain requirements like the accessibility. A river that separates the school from the community poses a threat to the children while its proximity to an established White Kulaman Integrated School violates a provision that private schools should not be within a 2-km radius from established schools. Meantime, the NCIP mentioned that there was no Free Prior and Informed Consent or FPIC that the MISFI has executed but can file the same with the consent of the tribal elders in the ancestral domain situated in White Kulaman. FPIC is a requirement for any institution prior to establishment of any project or the conduct of any activity within the ancestral domain of the indigenous peoples.

Conrado T. Anlimbas, a tribal elder of the Tigwahanon tribe in White Kulaman, who also acts as the IP Mandatory Representative to the barangay council, claims that the school was established without going through the process provided for under the IPRA Law or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997. “Ang MISFI misulod kini sa amoang yutang kabilin dinhi sa White Kulaman nga walay pananghid sa tribu. Wala kini magtuman sa FPIC o Free Prior and Informed Consent. Dili namo gusto, kami nga mga Lumad, nga magpadayon ang maong eskwelahan kay mao kini ang dangpanan sa mga rebeldeng NPA.” (MISFI has entered our ancestral land without permission from the Lumads. They did not even executed an FPIC or Free Prior and Informed Consent. We do not want this school to continue their operation in our community because the NPA is using this as a shelter.) says Conrado Anlimbas.

Meanwhile, Venus Donggo, also a Lumad and a resident of White Kulaman, says that the land where the school is situated belongs to the Lumads of White Kulaman. “Ang yuta nga gitukuran nila anang eskwelahan yuta kana sa lumad. Ila kanang giilog sa amoa nga walay bili. Katungod namo nga ipasira kana kay amoa man kini nga komunidad ug amoa kini nga yutang kabilin. Nasayod mi nga kana nga eskwelahan latayanan kana sa mga NPA ug dili na namo gusto ug NPA diri kay gusto namo magpuyo nga malinawon.” (The land where the school was established is owned by the Lumads. They took it from us without cost. It is our right to close that school because this is our community and this is our ancestral land. We are aware that the school is the NPA’s link to the community and we do not want the NPA because we want to live our lives in peace.) says Venus Donggo. PAO 8IB / MCAG

US, Philippines top military officials meet in Hawaii

From Ang Malaya (Oct 25): US, Philippines top military officials meet in Hawaii

Commander of United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Admiral Harry Harris Jr. and Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces Philippines (AFP) General Hernando Iriberri led the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting at Oahu in Hawaii October 19. The meeting was held to program activities for next year that will sustain strong alliance.

Mutual Defense Board and the Security Engagement Board meetings have been held annually since 1958. The goal is to bring together key military and government personnel to discuss US and Philippine activities for the upcoming year. Balikatan and other military interactions are topics for the Mutual Defense Board. The Security Engagement Board on the other hand discusses plans for the two nations to work together in humanitarian assistance, disaster response, counter-terrorism and counter-trafficking.

At the end of Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting, Iriberri and Harris as co-chairs, endorsed the upcoming bilateral activities for next year. USPACOM said they “signed the activities agreement, shook hands, and thanked the many men and women from both the US and Philippines Armed Forces and government representatives. Their hard work and dedication ensured another year of exercises, training and engagements that continue to strengthen both nations.”

“Prepared to face any threat together, the two nation’s interoperability simply can’t be duplicated. An example of an activity discussed each year is the annual exercise Balikatan,” USPACOM said. “The talks are crucial in ensuring the US, Philippine alliance is one of the strongest military partnerships in the region surrounding the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).”

3 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed, scores wounded in Basilan clash

From InterAksyon (Oct 25): 3 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed, scores wounded in Basilan clash

File photo of Abu Sayyaf on patrol. REUTERS

A military unit on a clearing operation in Basilan on Sunday encountered Abu Sayyaf Group members - later reinforced by other armed groups - sparking a firefight that left three ASG men dead, and scores wounded, among them four soldiers.

The 40-minute firefight took place in Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip town, according to Captain Roy Trinidad, chief of staff of the Joint Task Force “Zambasulta” (Zamboanga, Basilan, Silu, and Tawi-Tawi).

“Operating troops of Joint Task Group-Basilan encountered an estimated 50 combined members of the ASG under sub-leader Radzmil Jannatul at around 11:50 o’clock this morning that resulted in three dead bandits,” Trinidad said.

During the firefight, another group of lawless elements, led by a certain Katatuh Balaman, joined Jannatul’s group, Trinidad said. 

“The troops were conducting clearing operations when they chanced upon Jannatul’s group. They were joined later by the group of Balaman,” Trinidad said.

Though the fighting was prolonged by the arrival of the second lawless group, the bandits finally withdrew after government reinforcements came. The bandits left behind their three casualties.

Trinidad said government troops "are now relentlessly pursuing the withdrawing ASG.”

The Joint Task Group Basilan deployed more elite forces into areas where the bandits may have sought sanctuary.

Almonte: National identity is key to resolving WPS issue

From CNN Philippines (Oct 24): Almonte: National identity is key to resolving WPS issue

Jose Almonte has led a colorful life in the military and government.

He's known as the right-hand man of former President Fidel Ramos, serving as the Director-General of the National Security Council.

But the former military officer has also held key positions in under several presidents from Ferdinand Marcos to Corazon Aquino.

And for the coming elections, Almonte believes the presidential candidates need to focus on two issues to move the country forward.

He said, "The maritime entitlements of the Philippines — not just the West Philippine Sea, but our maritime entitlements around the archipelago."

The other is the "wang-wang" mentality or the culture of corruption and abuse of power.

But Almonte acknowledged the efforts of President Benigno Aquino III and what he has done to stop the "wang-wang."

On the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Almonte believes it is important to educate the Filipino people on this issue.

Almonte said, "Whoever is the president, he cannot manage China without the support of the Filipino people. And the Filipino people cannot support if they do not understand the issue."

He said Beijing's strategy in the South China Sea is an integral part of its global plan in being to become a superpower and possibly replace the United States on world stage.

If China is allowed to control the South China Sea, Almonte said there is no stopping the northeast Asian country from  claiming another nine-dash line in the Western Pacific.

The national security expert believes the decision on the Philippine case before the International Tribunal in the Hague will be irrelevant.

He said world opinion will judge China on the issue.

Almonte also voiced his frustration over the Filipino people's lack of national identity as he stressed the need for presidential candidates to focus on the development of the citizenry.

He said, "For me, a great president is the one who can make the Filipino people great. Then how do you make the Filipino people great? You can only make them great if you can make them strong. You can make them confident about themselves."

Among the top presidential candidates, Almonte's unsure if anyone can solve the country's problems without incorporating these two points in their plans.

Col. Manangquil induct “Media 101”

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 24): Col. Manangquil induct “Media 101”

To promote public awareness and strengthen cooperation with media entities  in its area  of responsibility, the  101st Infantry (Three Red Arrows) Brigade based in Barangay Del Pilar, Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte recently organized media personalities in the province including Misamis Occidental.

The newly-elected officers known as Media 101 were officially installed into office over the week-end.

In a simple oath-taking ceremony held at Malindang Hall, 101st Brigade headquarters, Commanding Officer Col. Jesus A.Mananquil Jr., officially inducted Ms. Elena T.Pelare as President of Media 101.

Other elected officers include Mr. James Tremedal, Vice-President for Misamis Occidental and Dipolog City Information Officer Mr. Lorenzo Aseniero II, Vice-President-Zamboanga del Norte; Rosemarie P. Miranda, Treasurer; Joy Engoc, Auditor; Zorayda Eva Mostaril, Secretary; and Mr. Alfonso T. Ruda, PIA-Zamboanga del Norte, Board of Director.

Pelare expressed her gratefulness for the trust bestowed upon her by colleagues to lead Media 101 and vowed fairness in news reporting and to be responsible mediamen.

In his message, Col. Manangquil lauded the media’s desire to help in its information and dissemination campaign especially on medical outreach programs and other civic services apart from its anti-insurgency campaign.

OPAPP still hopeful of BBL passage

From the Philippine Information Agency (Oct 25): OPAPP still hopeful of BBL passage

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) remains hopeful that the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be passed by Congress before the Aquino administration ends.

“Wala namang dahilan para hindi pu-pwedeng mangyari [ang BBL] kung talagang mapakita rin ng ating Kongreso ang ganitong klaseng determination at support dito sa napakahabang proseso ng paghahanap ng maayos na solusyon – ng mapayapang solusyon sa kaguluhang nangyayari sa Mindanao,”  GPH Chief Negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer Ferrer said.

Congress resumes session on November 3.

Ferrer said they expect the BBL to reach the bicameral conference next month. “Ibig sabihin ay naipasa na both sa House at sa Senado yung kani-kanilang mga versions at pupunta na doon sa pag-reconcile.”

She said, “Pagkatapos ay ihahabol na sa plenary for final call. Inaasahan natin at ipinapakiusap natin [sa Kongreso] na mangyari lahat yan pagdating ng Disyembre.”

If passed in December, Ferrer is hopeful that the Comelec can schedule the plebiscite by February. If ratified, President Aquino will sign the BBL into law so that by March the 'Transition Mechanism' may be put in place.

Ferrer said many sectors have expressed support for the BBL, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), officials of Ateneo campuses, and other civil society organizations.

She said government agencies can participate in CAB implementation and in working for BBL passage since the program covers many sectors including tax issues, financing and budget, jurisdiction over energy and mineral resources and telecommunication.

"There is a need to promote understanding among different sectors on the issue because if the BBL is not passed under the Aquino administration, it will be back to zero for all of us in the next Congress," Ferrer added.

“Kailangan ma-refile yan ulit, aattend ka na naman ng mga committee hearings na aabutin ka na naman ng ilang taon bago ka makaabot kung asan tayo ngayon… nakakapanghinayang yung opportunity na ma-fast track na natin yung peace and development.”

Ferrer was the guest at the Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan last Friday held at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building.

Kapihan sa Media ng Bayan airs live over PBS Radyo ng Bayan 738 kHz every Friday, 10-11am, with a replay on the same day in People's Television Network (PTV 4), 7-8pm and in IBC 13, 10:30-11:30pm. 

Media ng Bayan comprises government media including Philippine Broadcasting System-Radyo ng Bayan, People’s Television, Philippines News Agency and Philippine Information Agency.

1 of 3 slain rebels claimed by PA

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 25): 1 of 3 slain rebels claimed by PA

Police on Sunday said that one of the three New People’s Army rebels killed in an encounter with soldiers from the 31st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army this week has been claimed by his father after he had been identified by authorities.

The remains of Domingo Z. Llantos Jr., 29, single, farmer and resident of Barangay Taluto, Camalig, Albay, was taken into custody by his father, Domingo N. Llantos Sr. for proper burial.

Llantos and two other companions died in a 45-minute firefight between 15 communist insurgents under a certain Dupax of SPP1 Larangan 2 Komprob (Komite Probinsyal) Sorsogon and the government troopers at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday this week at Sitio Cavite, Barangay Tinago, Juban, Sorsogon.

Two Army soldiers, whose unit was conducting a combat operation at the area, were wounded in the clash.

The identities of the two other slain rebels have remained unknown as of press time.

2 suspected NPA extortionists bagged in Davao Del Norte

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 25): 2 suspected NPA extortionists bagged in Davao Del Norte

Two suspeected New People's Army (NPA) extortionists were arrested during entrapment operations conducted by government security troops in Panabo City, Davao Del Norte Saturday afternoon.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said the arrest took place 1 p.m. at Tibulao Terminal, Barangay New Pandan, Panabo City.

Troopers from the 69th Infantry Battalion and the Panabo City Police Office joint forces in the operation.

Arrested were Gary Francisco Bayoang, 25, married and resident of Lower Pandaitan, Paquibato District, Davao City and Daniel Francisco Bayoang, 19, single, resident of Purok 3, Lemonsito, Barangay New Visayas, Panabo City.

The pair demanded Php20,000, three sacks of rice, medicines and three .45 caliber pistols from their victim whose identity is being withheld for security reasons.

The two were brought to Panabo City Police Station for further investigation and filing of appropriate charges against them.

NPA owns up to the killing of Loreto mayor Otaza, son Daryl

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 25): NPA owns up to the killing of Loreto mayor Otaza, son Daryl

The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility for the killing of Agusan del Sur town mayor Dario Otaza and his son Daryl Otaza who were found dead at the vicinity of Purok 2, Barangay Bitan-agan, Butuan City on October 19.

In a press statement, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command spokesperson, Rigoberto Sanchez said the NPA imposed a death sentence to Otaza and Daryl to give justice to the thousands of indigenous peoples and peasants terrorized by their tyranny in Loreto and surrounding municipalities in Agusan del sur. The NPA accused Otaza and Daryl as Bagani paramilitary leaders.

Sanchez said the NPA Operatives posing as National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) elements raided the Otaza residence in Barangay Baan, Butuan city, subdued Otaza’s security details and confiscated four (4) bushmasters rifles, one (1) AK rifle, one (1) AK 2000 and two (2) 45 cal. pistols. Sanchez said the rebels also found the Otazas in possession of some Php 25,000.00 which had been secured and shall be turned over to their family through a third party at the soonest possible time.

According to Sanchez, the NPA found Otaza and Daryl guilty of committing acts constituting war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The NPA accused Otaza and Daryl for brutal murder and acts of torture of Lumad and ordinary civilians: Benjie Planos of Barangay Kauswagan on September13, 2013; Gabriel Alindao of Barangay Kauswagan on October 10, 2013; Romeo Wagas and Willy Gabisan of Barangay Kauswagan on October 26, 2013 and Gerry Villamo of Datu Ampunan on September 10, 2014.

The Otaza’s were also held responsible for the multiple frustrated murder and robbery of some families residing in km. 16, Barangay Datu Davao, Loreto on September 9, 2014 perpetrated by Bukakang Banggaan and certain Augit and Intoy, members of the Otaza-created Taptap paramilitary group.

Sanchez said Otaza’s paramilitary men identified as Mariel Dioganon, Aki Dioganon, Jordan Dioganon, Abdon Dioganon, Abdon Sinkok, Peping Maambib and Loloy Cedilla were also responsible for the arson and destruction of the homes of the farmers in Barangay Kauswagan in 2013.

Sanchez said the NPA also found Otaza’s Bagani forces as behind the intense military operations jointly conducted with the 26th infantry Battalion Philippine Army under Oplan Bayanihan that resulted to the gruesome rights abuses against the Lumad Population such as the torture of four minors from San Isidro, Loreto; hamletting and imposition of food and economic blockade in five villages in Kauswagan, Loreto; forced evacuation which also translated to the economic dislocation of at least 459 indigenous Manobo individuals from Kauswagan and other villages of Loreto. Many of the evacuees, Sanchez said have not reclaimed their land to this day as their villages continue to be Otaza’s Bagani war zone.

Sanchez also mentioned divestment and destruction of not less than 100 hectares of agricultural and upland farms which have been rehabilitated and tilled by the evacuees after the Typhoon Pablo; attacks and closure of two community-based learning centers which constituted violation of the rights of the children to development and education.

He added that Otaza planned and executed espionage and murder as NCIP provincial Chieftain together with Captain Gusi, officer of MIG-4th Infantry Divisionas part of the AFP ‘s Task Force Gantangan, a major component of the Oplan Bantay Laya 2, the centerpiece of which is the perversion of the Lumad bagani culture.

According to Sanchez, Otaza continued military counter-insurgency and paramilitarism when he became mayor of Loreto in 2010. “Otaza's Bagani Force and the 26th IB continued their atrocious reign through forcible arrests, fake NPA surrenders, arbitrary detention, psychological warfare, harassment, threats against the families of the NPAs even after entering an agreement brokered by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with the evacuees that no retaliatory attacks will be waged against them upon their return from evacuation in August 2013,” Sanchez said.

Other accusations against Otaza were detailed by Sanchez in his statement all of which were reportedly perpetrated against lumads and NPA members.

Sanchez said Otaza was complicit in the sell-out of more than 30,000 hectares of lands in Loreto to a foreign palm oil plantation company.

On the other hand, Sanchez said the NPA also found Daryl Otaza as directly participating in the commission of the mentioned crimes and was reportedly a notorious druglord, illegally dealing prohibited drugs in Loreto and surrounding areas.

“Enforcing the death penalty against the Otazas was part of a just and fitting reprisal of the revolutionary movement,” Sanchez said, adding that in waging the people’s war, the NPA has been pursuing revolutionary justice by meting appropriate extreme penalties against war criminals to remove the continuation of conditions of human rights violations and to render justice.

4th ID assails rebel statement justifying abduction, murder of Loreto mayor, son

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 25): 4th ID assails rebel statement justifying abduction, murder of Loreto mayor, son

The Cagayan De Oro-based 4th Infantry Division on Sunday assailed the New People's Army (NPA) statement in which the rebels justified the abduction and killing of Loreto Mayor Dario Otaza and his 27-year-old son Daryl last Oct. 19.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, called the statement made by NPA spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez "deceitful".

The latter earlier gave a “superficial” detailed information accusing Mayor Otaza of the crimes against humanity that in the latter's town.

Sanchez is alleging Mayor Otaza as the mastermind of the killings referred to as brutal murder and acts of torture of Lumad and ordinary civilians.

One of which is the death of Benjie Planos and Gabriel Alindao, last September 2013.

Planos and Alindao are both occupying a very big position in the armed movement.

Their position is “Sangay sa Partido sa Lokalidad” or the main NPA recruiter, organizers, point of contact inside the barangay.

However, when Mayor Otaza have promised a better future for his town and urged his people to stop supporting the armed movement, Planos and Alindao have turned their back to the armed movement just like what the victim did in 1986.

Planos and Alindao have been subjected to death penalty of the NPA bandits because of betrayal.

They were killed in September 2013 by the NPA and charged it to Mayor Otaza.

Other killings mentioned in Sanchez’ statement have suffered the same fate with the NPA’s inhumane and brutal Kangaroo Court.

Another fabricated statement was about the four minors and two of whom “according to Sanchez’ imagination” have been subjected to illegal arrest and illegal detention.

Definitely, everyone has a soft heart when they hear about “minors”.

However, these are no ordinary minors. They have been used by the NPA bandits to do crimes to further their vested interest.

Last July 19, 2013, Ramon Diaganon, Brgy Chairman of Kauswagan, Loreto, Agusan Del Sur, for how many years of refusing support to the armed movement, was ambushed by these four minors (NPA child warriors).

Troops under 26th Infantry Battalion and the PNP went after the perpetrators and with the help of the civilians in the area, these four were apprehended.

The four were immediately turned over to Patin-ay DSWD for proper facilitation as opposed to the story of “illegal detention”.

Most of the issues proliferated and fabricated by Sanchez came about after losing NPA control over Loreto.

In 2013, the AFP started its Bayanihan Activities with the people. NPA in that area, have seen this as an opportunity for them to renew their lives.

That is why 246 NPA surrendered and lead a normal and peaceful life.

Earlier, Mayor Otaza said “Before, while the NPAs is in the town forcibly taking away the food and other resources from the people, soldiers now are here giving their services to the people and bridging the gap between the people and the government. The NPAs made our people hopeful through their false promises, while the Government taught the people ways to realize their dreams.”

Sanchez’ desperate move on discrediting the peace and development advocacies of Mayor Otaza have even add up to the anguish of all the peace-loving people especially the Lumads who are experiencing NPA manipulation and exploitation.

Further, Sanchez’ admission of the crime is actually another clear evidence of them (NPA) as number one violator of the Human Rights especially the Right to Life.

Human rights is fundamental to everyone regardless of his beliefs, religion or stature in life.

It is inherent to every human being. It cannot be waived.

"Thus, Sanchez’ reason based from his fabricated issues about Mayor Otaza doesn’t warrant the NPA to put justice on their hands. No person is allowed to kill. It is wrong to kill," Martinez stressed.