Sunday, November 8, 2015

NEUTRALIZED // Notorious UTG-ASG Leader Slain in Basilan

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Nov 9): NEUTRALIZED // Notorious UTG-ASG Leader Slain in Basilan

TUBURAN, Basilan (DWDD) A Joint Law Enforcement Operation (LEO) was conducted by troops under Joint Task Group – Basilan and the Lamitan City Police Office in coordination with the Local Government of  Tuburan against the Urban Terrorist Group-Abu Sayyaf Group under Abdulhasan Yusop Sanajalun aka Bullet in Lower Sinangkapan, Tuburan, Basilan on November 08, 2015 at 4 o’clock in the morning.

File photo

The joint AFP-PNP forces, while conducting LEO to serve the warrant of arrest against aka Bullet in Campo Dos, Colonia, Lamitan City was fired-upon by undetermined gunmen. Immediately, the organized inter-agency task group conducted pursuit operation with the support of the LGU of Tuburan to track down the perpetrator until he was pinned down in Lower Sinangkapan, Tuburan, Basilan.

The firefight ensued between the government forces and the UTG-ASG led by aka Bullet for about thirty minutes that resulted in the death of the latter.

The operations resulted to the death of the UTG-ASG leader Abdulhasan Sanajalun aka Bullet and his follower a certain Halid Calbie, recovery of one M653 Armalite rifle, caliber .45 pistol, IEDs, hand grenades, air gun, magazines with live munitions, cellphones and personal belongings (pictures, philhealth cards and school identification cards).

Unfortunately, the AFP has risk their lives by suffering three wounded personnel but was able to pre-empt the planned IED bombings in Lamitan City which can inflict civilian casualties and damage to properties.

Abdulhasan Yosop Sanajalun also known for aliases such as Rhey Cuebas Santos, Arjan Y Sapii, Abdulhasaan Tannajul and Bullet has existing Warrants of Arrest for the cases of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom issued by the RTC Branch 16, Zamboanga City.

Aka Bullet is a well-known UTG leader or locally called Anak Yatim(Orphans of ASG Martyrs) involved in the series of killings of AFP-PNP personnel, retailers and foreign nationals. His group is also engaged in extortion with intimidation of IED bombing and the kidnapping of three employees of a construction firm in Barangay Cadayan, Akbar Municipality sometime in January of this year.

The persistent illegal activities and involvement in the series of killings of the UTG-ASG under Bullet have forced the local populace of lower sinangkapan as well as the relatives of alias Bullet provided reliable information regarding the whereabouts of the latter.

Col Rolando Joselito D Bautista, Commander of Joint Task Group Basilan said, “the successful operation against Abdulhasan Sanajalun is a manifestation of the effective cooperation and collaboration of the PNP and local chief executives in running after the perpetrators of terrorists activities in Basilan Province”.

JTG Basilan will have no let-up in hunting them down to ensure the unhampered delivery of basic services and development in communities where they mostly needed, he further said.

After the pursuit operation, the PNP aided by the AFP immediately conducted crime scene preservation and confiscated the personal belongings, IEDs, ammunitions and firearms of the perpetrators.

The cadaver was brought to the Advance Command Post of JTG Basilan in Campo Uno, Lamitan City, BP, which was witnessed by the Hon Durie S Kallahal, Mayor of Tuburan for the identification and was further turned-over to the family for appropriate Islamic burial rites.

The PNP-AFP is jointly conducting follow-up investigation on the recovered documents, cellular phones and other electronic gadgets to be able to determine the group’s connections and transactions. By Josephine Jaron Codilla / MCAG

Sorsogon breaks new ground with 1st modern army camp in Bicol

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 7): Sorsogon breaks new ground with 1st modern army camp in Bicol

Castilla, Sorsogon — The military’s Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) is now brimming with pride after the inauguration of what has been touted as the first modern military camp in all of Bicol, the P27.1-million headquarters of the Philippine Army’s (PA’s) 903rd Infantry Brigade (903rd IB) in this town.

Last October 29, Major General Yerson Depayso, commanding general of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (9th ID), welcomed Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero as the guest of honor in the inauguration and blessing of the military facility located on the national highway in Barangay San Rafael, here.

ARMY’S NEW HOME – Skies are as clear as the new headquarters of the 903rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division, inaugurated last October 28 in Barangay San Rafael, Castilla, Sorsogon. (Ruel Saldico)

ARMY’S NEW HOME – Skies are as clear as the new headquarters of the 903rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division, inaugurated last October 28 in Barangay San Rafael, Castilla, Sorsogon. (Ruel Saldico)
A proud Bicolano who hails from this province, Sen. Escudero said in his speech that such a camp with modern military facilities is what our soldiers are entitled to as public servants who put their lives on the line.

“The modernization of AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) should not be second hand,” said the senator, who has long supported military modernization and pushed for the funding of this new camp.

Depayso acknowledged that the first modern army camp in Bicol, occupying a two-hectare parcel of land, was initiated by Escudero and funded through the General Appropriations Act of 2015.

For his part, Colonel Cesar Idio, 903rd IB commander, expressed excitement, saying such a military facility will not only serve the mission of the armed forces but also boost security and climate for business in the area.

“This will attract more entrepreneurs as soldiers will be more capable in securing the area,” Idio said.

“All roads lead to Manila for APEC protests”

Posted to the pro-CPP BAYAN Website (Nov 6): “All roads lead to Manila for APEC protests”


News Release
November 6, 2015

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) today announced that weeklong protests are being readied in time for the arrival of US President Barack Obama and the participants of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders Meeting this November.

Bayan also warned the Aquino government from undertaking repressive measures that aim to suppress criticism of the annual economic meeting.

“The APEC meeting is the Aquino government’s last hurrah. It is a chance for it to showcase its so-called achievements. The regime will again hide the poor street dwellers, hide the traffic problems and window-dress economic figures to fit the narrative of inclusive growth under the ‘daang matuwid’. The protest actions are the people’s counterpoint to the lies and deception of the Philippine government,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Some 19 years after we first hosted, we remain an underdeveloped country with worsening unemployment, depressed wages, increased migration and gross economic inequality. The policies embodied by APEC have not developed the Philippine economy. Quite the opposite, the neoliberal policies articulated by APEC have severely damaged our domestic economy,” Reyes said.

The group said that wherever you may be from November 17 to 20, you will surely be “APECtado” because of the security arrangements that have been put in place by the Philippine government. “From the security measures to the actual economic policies that APEC promotes, people will definitely be affected. The Philippine government is pandering to foreign leaders will failing to address the most basic economic issues such as jobs, wages, mass transport, land reform, industrialization,” Reyes said.

Lumad eviction
The umbrella group slammed Malacanang’s efforts to whitewash poverty and other social realities in the country. In particular, it decried Malacanang’s insistence that the Lumad camp in Liwasang Bonifacio be removed after November 12.

“The City of Manila is under extreme pressure from the Palace to remove the Lumad camp-out in Liwasang Bonifacio. After being displaced from their communities in Mindanao, the Lumad now face eviction from their protest camp in Manila. Such is the heartlessness of the Aquino regime,” Reyes said.

“We remind the Aquino government that just because foreign leaders are here, it doesn’t mean that the Constitution is suspended. APEC does not give Aquino the power to arbitrarily suppress freedom of expression and right to assembly,” Reyes added.

Protesters from Mindanao arrived less than a month before the APEC summit. Other participants from Northern and Central Luzon are expected to also converge in Manila. Marches, camp-outs and international conferences are being organized by Bayan through the People’s Campaign Against Imperialist Globalization (PCAIG), which will be the people’s counter-APEC center.

Ex-Navy chief named defense undersecretary

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 9): Ex-Navy chief named defense undersecretary

RETIRED Vice Adm. Jesus Millan, former Navy chief, has been named undersecretary of the Department of National Defense.

Millan, who retired three months ago, is assuming the post as undersecretary for public, veterans and retiree affairs, the post left by Eduardo Batac, a retired Air Force colonel, who resigned last July for “personal and health reasons.”

Arsenio Andolong, DND public affairs service director, said Millan’s current designation is “officer in charge” in nature, pending signing of his papers by President Aquino.

Millan is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982. He retired from the military service in August upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

As undersecretary for public, veterans and retiree affairs, Millan has administrative supervision over the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Memorial Medical Center, and the Public Affairs Service.

Before he became Navy chief, Millan was commander of the Zamboanga City-based Naval Forces Western Mindanao which is supporting the fighting against various armed groups, including the Abu Sayyaf.

Millan is also a Navy pilot who once commanded the Naval Air group.

NPA eyed in slay of MAD convenor

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 9): NPA eyed in slay of MAD convenor

POLICE are eyeing non-payment of revolutionary tax as the initial motive behind the killing of Quintin San Diego, the lead convenor of the Movement Against Dynasties in his resort in Dingalan, Aurora last Saturday.

Sr. Supt. Danilo Florentino, Aurora provincial police director, said this was relayed to him by a trusted aide of San Diego, raising the possibility he was killed by an NPA hit squad, although he refused to discount other possible motives.

Florentino said the aide told him yesterday that San Diego, 74, had received demands for revolutionary taxes on his farm in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija. He added that investigators have also come up with the same initial report.

NPA rebels usually demand revolutionary taxes from rich individuals or firms and burn down the equipment of a company if their demands are rejected.

Florentino also said they are checking if the killing has something to do with San Diego’s radio program at dwBL.

Florentio has created a Special Investigating Task Group composed of the local police, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Crime Lab to look deeper into the killing. He has also ordered his men to review CCTV footage in the area.

Based on their initial investigation, Florentino said two men entered San Diego’s Maligaya Resort in Barangay Caragsacan, Dingalan, Aurora at around noon Saturday and pretended to be guests. San Diego visited the resort on the same day to talk to workers working on repairs.

At around 3 p.m., Florentino said while San Diego was inspecting facilities at the resort, one of the two men left his companion at their rented cottage.

“Then suddenly one of the suspects bigla na lang binaril si Mr. San Diego,” Florentino said, adding San Diego sustained five gunshot wounds–three to the head and two in the body.

The suspects left the resort on a motorcycle.

Army integration program of the Cordillera peace process to complete today

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 9): Army integration program of the Cordillera peace process to complete today

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the parties involved in the implementation of the 2011 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA)-Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) are set to complete the Army integration component of the Cordillera peace process today.

The ceremonies will be held at the 5th Infantry Division (ID) headquarters in Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz in Upi, Gamu, Isabela.

According to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Atty. Maria Cleofe Gettie C. Sandoval, this 5th ID-Philippine Army initiative, highlights the accomplishment of the security sector in complying with the directive of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to put the armed component of this peace table to a close.

“We welcome the efforts of the AFP and the Philippine Army to accomplish this component as directed by the President. Specifically, we commend the 5th ID for ensuring an inclusive process to bring this component to completion by reaching out to all those who participated in the Cordillera struggle, regardless of factions or affiliations,” Sandoval noted.

Today’s ceremony marks the successful completion of the Army integration component of Cordillera peace process as provided by Executive Order no. 49 (EO 49) issued in 2011 by President Aquino.

EO 49 mandated the cooperation of all concerned government agencies in the implementation of the 2011 MOA/Closure Agreement. By virtue of EO 49, the Department of National Defense and the AFP is tasked to wind down programs under Administrative Order no. 18 (AO 18), series of 2001, including the Army integration and livelihood programs for the former Cordillera rebel group.

A total of one hundred sixty-eight (168) Army integrees are set to march at the 5th ID Grandstand to herald the end of the Army integration program.

According to 5th ID Chief Maj. Gen. Lysander A. Suerte, among those expected to attend the ceremonies include all six governors of the Cordilleras, regional heads of Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) partner agencies, partners from the CBA and Cordillera Forum for Peace and Development, Inc. (formerly CPLA), and members of civil society organizations.

Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen Eduardo M. Año, and OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles are also expected to witness the event. (OPAPP)

Duterte cheers rebels: ‘Mabuhay ang NPA’

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 9): Duterte cheers rebels: ‘Mabuhay ang NPA’

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte FILE PHOTO

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte FILE PHOTO

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte admitted calling out “Mabuhay ang NPA” during the release of two government soldiers in the mountains of Laak, Compostela Valley, on Tuesday.

The communist New People’s Army (NPA) had seized Pfc. Niño Alavaro and Pfc. Marjon Añover at a guerrilla checkpoint in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, on Sept. 30 and held them for investigation for “crimes against humanity” and “counter-revolutionary activities.”

“Mabuhay ang NPA, and I will not take that back,” Duterte repeated during his Sunday television program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”

But Duterte explained that his commendation of the communist rebel movement was in recognition of its “fair treatment” of “prisoners of war.”

The NPA surrendered its captives to Duterte.

“Wala akong nakita na inabuso nila na bihag (I have not seen any captives that they abused). Because they say they follow the Geneva Convention,” Duterte said.

The controversial mayor said he believed the NPA was “religiously following” international law when it came to handling captured policemen and soldiers.

“I salute you because you handed over the captives,” Duterte said, adding that he also jokingly chanted “Mabuhay si Duterte,” which got a favorable response from the NPA rebels.

“Bantay lang kayo sa (keep watch during the) election,” he told them in jest.

Duterte said that because the war with the communists could not be stopped, he was happy to at least know that the guerrillas treated “prisoners of war” according to the Geneva Convention.

Proper channel

He said negotiations for the release of the captive soldiers were channeled through the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and not the NPA, the rebel’s military arm.

“You don’t deal with the NPA… you negotiate with the NDF,” Duterte said.

The NDF is the body that represents the communist movement in peace negotiations with the government.

Peace advocates have called on both the government and the NDF to resume stalled negotiations and to address the root causes of the conflict.

In The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, both parties agreed to tackle issues such as human rights and international humanitarian law, socioeconomic reform, political and constitutional reform, the end of hostilities, and the disposition of forces.

In March 1998, both parties signed a Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The government and the NDF had formulated their drafts for a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms when the peace talks hit a snag.

The CPP-NPA insurgency is considered one of the longest running communist rebellions in Asia.

Palparan: Reds out to destroy my reputation

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 8): Palparan: Reds out to destroy my reputation

Jovito Palparan

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. AP FILE PHOTO
Taking the witness stand for the first time on Thursday in the continuation of his trial for the 2006 kidnapping and illegal detention of two missing University of the Philippines (UP) students, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan said he did not order their abduction.

“The parents of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño [the missing UP students] are looking for them… I pity them,” he told the Bulacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) hearing his case.

Palparan began his testimony by denouncing the charges against him as a fabrication that, he said, was concocted by “the enemy,” referring to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), to ruin “my reputation” because of his “aggressive stance against insurgency.”

Enemy of the state

Palparan, the former commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division (ID) based in Nueva Ecija province, described the CPP as “the declared enemy of the state” that has been using “the Karapatan [human rights group] to put me down.”

But he clarified that groups like Karapatan were not necessarily illegal like the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.

“The front organizations [of communist rebels] are…not NPA members themselves. They are not armed and they are not illegal,” he said when the court asked how he differentiated the NPA from activist groups.

Palparan asked Judge Alexander Tamayo of the Bulacan RTC Branch 15 to grant him bail, saying there was no evidence linking him to the abduction of Cadapan and Empeño in June 2006.

He also denied knowing one of his co-accused, S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, who, he said, “was never assigned to the 7th ID command.” Osorio could not have acted under his instructions to detain the missing students, Palparan said.

Osorio has been detained at the Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio, along with Palparan and Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado. The fourth accused, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, remains at large.

The former major general and the three soldiers are facing trial for complaints filed by Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, and Concepcion Empeño, mother of Karen.

At the end of Palparan’s testimony, Tamayo announced that the retired general’s petition for bail had been submitted for resolution, after his lawyer, Narzal Mallares, informed him that he was no longer presenting a second witness.

Students, not rebels

Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera challenged Palparan’s assertions during cross-examination, but the former general said, “I am not just relying on denials and I can produce witnesses to support my assertions.”

Outside the court room, lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said Cadapan and Empeño were conducting research when they were abducted, and were not militant students.

In his testimony, Palparan also denied speaking with Raymond Manalo, the principal witness of the prosecution, while the latter was detained along with his brother in a military camp in Bulacan in May 2006, a month before the two UP students were abducted.

Palparan said he first met Manalo during a hearing conducted by the Commission on Human Rights in 2009.

He also denied meeting Manalo at a basketball court in San Miguel. “I will not do that… I will not meet anyone… especially in a suspected rebel-infested town. I am an [Army] commander. There are other men who could do that,” Palparan told the court.

Sayyafs shoot jeepney in Sulu; 1 wounded

From the Sun Star-Zamboanga (Nov 8): Sayyafs shoot jeepney in Sulu; 1 wounded

WOMAN was wounded when a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits indiscriminately fired their guns, hitting a passing passenger jeep in the province of Sulu, a top military official said.

Joint Task Group Sulu Commander Alan Arrojado said the incident occurred around 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the village of Tandu Bagua, Patikul, more than two hours after an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader was wounded in a clash in the same town.

Arrojado withheld the victim’s name, who happens to be a relative of one of the two informants that tipped the government troops about the presence of the Abu Sayyaf bandits that led to the clash.

Arrojado said the passenger jeep was on the way to Jolo when the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Ninok Sapari indiscriminately fired their guns and hit the vehicle.

He said Sapari was mad since his brother, Ben Saudi, another Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, was wounded in a clash around 11:20 a.m. Saturday in the village of Liang, Patikul.

He said Sapari’s group extricated Saudi from the clash site and fled toward the village of Tandu Bagua.

He said that troops are continuously tracking down the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the hinterlands of Sulu.

BTC leads other participants in a parliamentary training with the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas

From Bangsamoro Online (Bangsamoro Transition Commission) (Nov 7): BTC leads other participants in a parliamentary training with the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas  

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) received guests from the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO) yesterday, November 3, 2015. NI-CO delegates, in partnership with Politics Plus and with the assistance of the United Kingdom (UK) Embassy, were in Cotabato City to meet different sectors involved in the Bangsamoro peace process for practical training and capacity building. NI-CO is a non-profit, public body dedicated to the pursuit of building efficient, accountable and sustainable public sector institutions.

BTC leads other participants in a parliamentary training with the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas

The delegation included Grame McCammon, Chief Executive of NI-CO and at the same time part of the Ministry of Trade, Enterprise and Investment; Gareth Grath, Director for Clerking and Reporting of the Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) and the Executive Director of Politics Plus; and Dawn Purvis who was a former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the NIA. Dawn was also involved in in the negotiations of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, which is the equivalent of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

BTC Chairman Mohagher Iqbal led the participants which included members from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Central Committee, MILF Peace Panel, Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI), United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) and the Coordinating Team for Transition (CT4T). Discussions covered the short history of Northern Ireland, the peace agreement, the parliament’s structure and the processes involved and how a parliament could effectively deliver the services needed by their constituencies.

It was also emphasized that a parliamentary government has many qualities that could address the diversity in the Bangsamoro such as its more representational character compared to the current setup and that party discipline in the legislature is very strong. The participants were very thankful for the fruitful event as it was much needed in preparation for the Bangsamoro government.

Thomas Phipps of the UK Embassy accompanied the guests while they were in Cotabato. The UK also sits in the GPH-MILF negotiations as a state-member of the International Contact Group (ICG).

PAF insists on reliability of choppers despite Sarangani crash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 8): PAF insists on reliability of choppers despite Sarangani crash

The Philippine Air Force has maintained that its UH 1D helicopters are still reliable following a chopper crash in Malapatan town, Sarangani over the weekend.

 An investigation of the accident is underway to determine if the reasons for the crash was influenced by human, environmental or materiel factors.

Col. Enrico Canaya, the PAF spokesperson, declared the helicopter crash an accident, which could happen to any aircraft as he urged the public to wait for the result of their investigation.

“There is no result yet of the probe, which would identify the cause, let us wait for the investigation,” he said when asked if the accident might give credence to the supposed unreliability of the aircraft.

On Saturday, a UH 1D helicopter airlifting wounded soldiers crash-landed in Sarangani, injuring all nine personnel aboard. It was the first incident involving the said type of aircraft.

In July, the military conducted a flight demonstration of its recently acquired Huey helicopters to prove that these were “mission capable” in the light of allegations that these were unreliable.

Seven UH 1H helicopters and two UH 1D choppers took part in the demonstration. These were part of the P1.2-billion chopper deal with an American firm, which the Department of National Defense later partially terminated for failure to deliver the units on time.

Before the partial termination of the 21-chopper deal with the Rice Aircraft Services, an American firm, a newspaper report claimed that the aircraft were “defective.”

The purchase of the 21 helicopters were supposed to boost the capability of the Philippine Air Force.
Canaya said there had been accidents in mountaineous areas where the wind conditions caused helicopters to crash.

Despite Saturday’s accident, the UH 1D choppers are reliable particularly in combat missions and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, according to Canaya.

The UH 1D’s seatbelt featured a four point harness, which extends to the shoulder.

The PAF’s UH 1D were deployed for relief operations during last month’s typhoon “Lando,” which slammed into northern Luzon.

“It has been in Mindanao for combat missions, so the performance of the UH 1D has been good… That’s why we have confidence in using the UH 1D,” Canaya said.

So far, there is no decision to ground the choppers, which are also used for transporting VIPs and in inspecting troops.

Col. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, said the investigation would determine if the cause of the crash was caused by human, environmental or materiel factors.

He noted that strong winds were prevailing in the area when helicopter crashed.

The military spokesperson added that allegations of the UH 1D’s unreliability were speculative and unfair.

“The investigation body has been formed and will be conducting their work, and it’s unfair to make a judgement until such time that the investigation is conducted, done and concluded,” Padilla said.

MILF:Editorial -- Managing frustration re: BBL delay

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Nov 8): Editorial -- Managing frustration re: BBL delay

There is little way to doubt that people’s frustration over the delayed passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is growing. This is a natural response of normal people when something good they expect does not happen.

This validates the time-tested thesis in peace-making, which runs thus: “When peace making gains ground, frustration goes down, and vice-versa.”  Explained in another way, the higher the expectation rises and does not happen, the worse the frustration would become.

The only consolation is that until now people have not concluded that the BBL would not pass at all. Thanks to their trust to the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III.

But this would not be long, because the hour of reckoning, whether BBL passes or not, is not far away.  In the end, people will not only conclude but the ultimate truth will explode right on their faces.

Right now, the BBL seems heading towards a frozen trail in the Senate, which has only eight session days left to pass the proposed law. There are still at least three senators who are going to interpellate namely, Senator Vic Sotto, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Miriam Santiago. In the House, it continues to be haunted by lack of quorum. So far, the leadership in the House has failed to solve this continuous absenteeism of congressmen and congresswomen.

Seriously speaking, the MILF is doing everything possible to manage this growing frustrations. Of course, it is not an easy undertaking, because when people are emotionally charged, it is very difficult to communicate. Frustration is toxic.

Surely, suppressing or ignoring frustration is not an option; it would only make it worse. When not handled well, surely it can build up of resentment that --- even when over only small things --- can overwhelm any desire to relate in a positive fashion.

Fully aware of this, the MILF is resorting to many creative ways to manage this frustration. One way is educating our people, including members of the MILF, through the conduct of training or seminar highlighting the difficulties faced by other conflict resolution models around the world. The case of the BBL is not isolated. We also engaged our people in various positive or productive activities, such as in farming, fishing, etc. We also bear in mind that under the Aquino dispensation, peace-making has not only made strides after strides but more and more people, groups, institutions, and the international community are supporting the search for peace in Mindanao. Further, the MILF firmly believes that there is still life even after the non-passage of the proposed law. More importantly, as Muslims, we believe in what the Holy Qur’an says that there are things that we want for ourselves but not good for us (and there are things that appear bad but in reality good for us).

The final real thing is that we are doing everything possible to push the BBL and if it does not pass, it certainly is the will of God.

Military should stop buying junk – JV

From the Manila Times (Nov 8): Military should stop buying junk – JV

SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to stop buying second hand equipment that could put the lives of soldiers at risk.

He made the call a day after a Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopter crashed in Mindanao. Nine people were hurt when a UH-1D helicopter crash-landed in Sitio Lamsalo in Barangay Upper Suyan in Malapatan town, Sarangani province on Saturday.

Ejercito, one of three senators who filed a resolution calling for a Senate investigation into the “anomalous” deal to acquire P1.2 billion UH-1D second-hand helicopters, said he will ask the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to resume the inquiry.

The senator noted that dilapidated military equipment does not only pose a risk to its users but to the public as well.

Ejercito said he cannot understand why the Defense department would insist on purchasing used helicopters instead of buying brand new ones.

The lawmaker noted that buying “antiquated” equipment is not allowed even in local government units, and yet, the DND decided to buy “40-year-old to 50-year-old helicopters.”

Ejercito said he will ask the Blue Ribbon panel chaired by Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd to resume hearings on the chopper deal which has been on hold since July.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, said the pilot and crew onboard the helicopter were transporting the remains of a soldier as well as five injured soldiers from the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion when it crashed after being pounded by strong winds.

The UH-1D helicopter was part of the 21 combat utility helicopters acquired under the controversial P1.2 billion procurement deal between the DND and the joint venture of RASI and Eagle Copters Inc., represented by Robert Rice.

Of the 21 helicopters, the DND accepted eight units despite alleged defects and the failure of the supplier to comply with the specifications stated in the terms of reference (TOR) of the project.

The irregularity was exposed by The Manila Times. The source of the story, Rhodora Alvarez, is now under the witness protection program of the government.


From the Manila Times (Nov 8): SUPREME COURT TO DECLARE: EDCA constitutional

The Supreme Court (SC) is poised to declare the controversial Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States constitutional, according to unimpeachable sources.

The Manila Times has gathered from several sources that an 82-page draft decision upholding the constitutionality of the defense agreement had been circulated among the 14 magistrates.
The ponente of the case is Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

In her draft decision, Sereno said EDCA is “not constitutionally infirm,” the sources told the Times.

According to the decision, President Benigno Aquino 3rd, as head of the executive department, has the power to sign agreements on matters of foreign affairs and national security.

An overwhelming majority of the justices are inclined to agree with Sereno since no dissenting opinion had been issued.

Some of the justices who do not see eye to eye with the Chief Justice, however, are waiting for a magistrate to issue a separate opinion concurring with the constitutionality of EDCA and they will favor that opinion so that Sereno will not gain credit from Aquino because she is the ponente of the case.

A source said Sereno circulated her draft decision days before the holding of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to please Malacañang and gain “pogi points [credit]” from the President.

The EDCA decision is seen to be the Philippines’ “gift” to US President Barack Obama, who will be flying in to Manila to attend the APEC summit scheduled from November 17 to 19.

The high tribunal is set to discuss and deliberate Sereno’s ponencia on Tuesday, November 10.

If there will be no objections, the justices may vote on the decision or reset the voting for November 16, the eve of the APEC summit.

Upholding the legality of EDCA will shoot down petitions filed by former senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada Sr., Mary John Mananzan, University of the Philippines Professor Pacifico Agabin, Francisco Nemenzo, Harry Roque Jr. and Evalyn Ursua questioning the constitutionality of the defense agreement.

Several groups also filed similar petitions—Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Gabriela Women’s Party-list, ACT Teachers, Anakpawis and Kabataan Party-list.

Named respondents were Aquino, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).


 In her ponencia, Sereno maintained that the Philippines needs “friends” and that EDCA will help keep the peace in the archipelago.

She cited the case filed by the government against China, now under arbitration by a United Nations tribunal.

Sources said the Chief Justice dismissed as “speculative” claims that if the defense agreement is put into force, the US may bring in nuclear weapons. She pointed out that the Constitution mandates that the country be free of nuclear weapons.

Sereno also squelched fears that the country could be attacked by the enemies of the US because of the presence of American forces in the Philippines.

The Chief Justice, the sources said, believes that EDCA will not impair the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country because the defense agreement will be implemented under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

The draft decision said the Philippines will benefit from the agreement because joint military exercises will be held to enhance capability of Filipino and American troops.

Sereno said in times of disaster and calamities, the Philippines can also call on US forces to help in relief and rescue operations, similar to what US soldiers did when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) leveled communities in the Visayas.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay had argued that signing the agreement was well within the power of Aquino as the country’s commander-in-chief, chief executive and chief architect of foreign policy.
Hibay said EDCA was approved to implement and enhance two existing treaties —the Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA.

Rebel surrenders in La Union

From the Philippine Star (Nov 9): Rebel surrenders in La Union

An alleged communist rebel surrendered to authorities in this province yesterday.

La Union police director Senior Superintendent Angelito Dumangeng said Joey Adviento, alias Ka JM, 27, was a member of the local communist group Iskwad Tres under the west committee of the Danilo Ben Command.

Adviento turned over a US-made shotgun with a defaced serial number.

It was the second time that a rebel returned to the fold of law in the province this year.        
The government committed to give financial support to every rebel who would surrender to the authorities.

AFP probes crash of controversial chopper, but rest of UH-1D fleet won't be grounded

From InterAksyon (Nov 8): AFP probes crash of controversial chopper, but rest of UH-1D fleet won't be grounded

Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado is seen in file photo with former NEDA chief Jesus Estanislao after receiving a Performance Governance System award for the PAF. General Delgado has not grounded the five other UH-1Ds of the command after Saturday's crash of one chopper in Sarangani, wounding nine people. An air-crash investigation has begun.

Military officials have begun probing Saturday's crash of one of six helicopters acquired in a controversy-laden deal. Initially, however, they said there were strong indications it was caused by "environmental" factors, specifically, strong winds, and there was no order yet to ground the rest of the fleet.

Besides the environmental factor, two other possibilities are being eyed by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) air-crash investigators:  human (pilot) error, or materiel (mechanical) problems.

Military officials tried to explain the crash of one of the second-hand UH-1Ds from an American contractor.

Colonel Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said Sunday the military top brass is grateful not one of the nine passengers onboard, including the pilots, was killed in the crash that occurred around 9:40 a.m. Saturday in Sitio Lamsalo, Barangay Upper Suyan, Malapatan Sarangani.

The UH-1D chopper bearing nine soldiers including the pilots and crew was evacuating casualties from a bomb attack by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

All personnel aboard were injured.

The local military said the crash was caused by “strong winds.”

Despite the crash, PAF spokesman Colonel Enrico Canaya said Air Force chief Lieutenant General Jeffrey Delgado has not yet given any order to ground the remaining UH-1D choppers.“It could happen to any aircraft,” he said.

Asked if the PAF still considers the UH-1d choppers reliable, Canaya said yes.

Padilla, meanwhile, said they will wait for the investigation report.

A few months ago, the Senate investigated the chopper purchase after whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez linked Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Undersecretary Fernando Manolo, Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez, among others, to alleged anomalies in the P1.2-billion project bagged by Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. after at least three failed biddings involving the latter.

Alvarez claimed in her affidavit that up to 15% in kickbacks were given to some officials of the DND and AFP.

Meanwhile, Padilla, an airman himself, said investigators were zeroing in on these factors: human (pilot) error, materiel (mechanical) and environment.

Padilla believed the crash was caused by “environment,” based on initial investigation.

He quoted the pilot's narration that "the chopper tilted, so, malakas ang hangin, “parang bumulusok siya [the wind was strong, it surged].”

He ruled out allegations that the choppers were unreliable.

“That’s unfair. That’s highly (speculative) because we still don't know the cause of the accident and, fortunately, everyone on board survived, so they are all eyewitnesses. Based on our initial talk with the pilot, it doesn't seem to be a materiel (mechanical) problem, it seems more environmental (wind)," Padilla said.

Sayyaf leader, 2 others slain in Philippine clash

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 8): Sayyaf leader, 2 others slain in Philippine clash

Security forces have killed 3 Abu Sayyaf rebels, including their leader, in a raid on their hideout before dawn Sunday in the restive province of Basilan in southern Philippines, a military spokesman said.

Captain Roy Trinidad said troops swooped down on a village called Lower Sinangkapan in Tuburan town and killed Abdulhasaan Tanadjalun and two of his followers in a fierce 30-minute firefight that left three soldiers wounded.

Tanadjalun, tagged as behind the spate of attacks on military and police targets in the province, was the leader of the so-called Urban Terror Group of the Abu Sayyaf, according to Trinidad.

The rebel leader was so notorious that authorities branded him “bullet” because of the number of soldiers and policemen he killed in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.

“The Urban Terror Group, also called Anak Yatim or Orphans of Martyrs, has been involved in the killing of military and police personnel, and extortion activities,” Trinidad said.

He said troops under Colonel Rolando Joselito Bautista, commander of an anti-terror task force, tracked down Tanadjalun following a tip off from his relatives and villagers of the rebels’ hideout.

Trinidad said the raiders also recovered weapons, improvised explosives, grenades and cell phones from Tanadjalun’s hideout. He said other followers of the slain rebel leader managed to escape and this allowed soldiers to recover the bodies of the Abu Sayyaf fighters.

Basilan is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf which is fighting for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the South. The rebel group has recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

China's President Xi: South China Sea is Chinese territory

From CNN Philippines (Nov 7): China's President Xi: South China Sea is Chinese territory

The South China Sea is Chinese territory, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech in Singapore Saturday (November 7), according to Chinese state-run media.

Xi added that his nation would settle disputes over contested waters with other powers in the region.
China has recently built artificial islands in the sea on top of previously submerged reefs, and has met with harsh criticism from the United States and key allies in the region, who accuse China of trying to expand its maritime territorial claims.

Related: EU sides with U.S. on South China Sea incident

Related: PH ready for eventualities in disputed sea - DND

Late last month, a U.S. Navy warship made a close pass by built-upon reefs that China claims as its territory in contested waters. Chinese ships and aircraft tracked the U.S. ship, and China's foreign ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador to the country to complain bitterly about the pass.

In his speech at the National University of Singapore, Xi disputed that free passage has been a problem.

"The free passage of vessels and flights has never been a problem, and there never will be any problem, because China is the one that needs the free passage of vessels in the South China Sea the most," Xi said.

The sea has been Chinese territory since ancient times, and protecting it is a matter of China's territorial sovereignty, Xi said. It's a line of reasoning Beijing has often applied when justifying claims to maritime territory.

When speaking on any possible disputes in the South China Sea, Xi made mention of nations outside the region — a possible reference to the United States — but did not connect them directly with a resolution.

Related: Carter visits U.S. carrier in disputed South China Sea

"We welcome countries outside the region to participate in the peace and development of Asia, and to make a positive impact," he said.

Xi is on a diplomatic trip in the region and met with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in a historically significant meeting on Saturday.

It was the first time leaders from Taiwan and China have met since 1949, when the two split following China's civil war, which saw the Communist Party take control of the majority of China and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists flee to Taiwan.

China regards the island as a renegade province, but there are significant trade and cultural relations between the two.

Army beefs up troops for security measures

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 8): Army beefs up troops for security measures

Bracing for the worsening drug menace and feared spill-over of abduction spree in Mindanao, Philippine Army beefed up Bohol troops with additional 100 soldiers from the 302nd Infantry Brigade under Col. Allan Martin.

The additional soldiers arrived on Thursday last week onboard the Philippine Navy vessel and were met by Col. Martin, Lt. Col. Dodgie Belloga---commander of the 47th Infantry Battalion, SEEM (Social, Economic and Environment Management) Cluster Coordinator Liza Quirog.

According to Belloga, the Reconnaissance Company formed the joint task force in Negros Oriental which Col. Martin plans to replicate in Bohol.

The joint task force will assist the Bohol Police Provincial Office in the campaign against illegal drugs and prevent any plots of abduction of foreign tourists like what happened in Mindanao.

On the other hand, the BPPO remained on alert even after the red alert status for the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day had already been lifted.

PSupt. Superintendent Nicomedes Olaivar Jr., public information officer of the BPPO, said the different police units in the towns and the city will continue implementing tight security measures in the light of expected increase of tourist influx for the Christmas season.

Olaivar, who also heads the Provincial Public Safety Company-Special Weapons and Tactics (PPSC-SWAT) at Camp Dagohoy, called on the public to continue assisting the police in gathering of intelligence information regarding all forms of criminality.

Part of the accomplishments of the One Time-Big Time campaign against criminality was the implementation of 26 search warrants, arrest of 53 personalities, confiscation of two high-powered firearms and almost P1-million worth of shabu in 50 operations against illegal drugs in just two days.

Police Provincial Director Dennis Agustin earlier reported before the Provincial Peace and Order Council that PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez instructed police directors to cascade Oplan Lambat as “a deliberate, programmatic and sustainable approach aimed at regularly auditing crime incident reports at the police station level and use the data thus generated to identify ‘crime hot spots’ and crime patterns’ where and when intensified police interventions are necessary”.

Agustin said Marquez had explained to them that “these interventions include strategically placed checkpoints, foot and mobile patrols, focused and intel-driven operations against most wanted persons and member of criminal gangs”.

It had been proven effective in the National Capital Region, Region 3 and Region 4A, Agustin said.

Agustin explained that from the word “lambat” or net, the operation is “concerned with prevention and more specifically pertains to police presence in the community”.

“It is a proactive policing that considers an area-wide dragnet, focused patrols, and checkpoint operations with targeted actions that covers, but not limited to Oplan Katok, Oplan Bakal/Sita, intensified serving of warrants, and implementation of situation-driven Information Operations (IO) plan,” according to Agustin.

In the optional use of resources, the PNP will have “deliberate and rapid matching of deployment with identified crime prone areas; utilization of Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) and Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) for Law Enforcement Operations (One-time big-time); Selective adoption of Oplan “HUGOT” as a best practice”.

Bukidnon villagers call for govt. troops reinforcement, brace for planned NPA attack

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 8): Bukidnon villagers call for govt. troops reinforcement, brace for planned NPA attack

Two adjoining remote villages here have vowed to stand against any attack by New Peoples’ Army (NPA) rebels following the abduction and release this week of three locals to relay a message of an impending major assault by the militants to the communities.

White Kulaman village chair Felipe Cabugnason confirmed to reporters the abduction last Nov. 5 of his three constituents namely, Samuel Paradero, a tribal leader; his son Beltran, and Jovani Rebaka, in adjacent sitio Bayugan, Kitubo village.

Cabugnason said the three were released on the same day with a message from the rebels for villagers to leave Kulaman and the near environs to be spared from the attack.

Apart from White Kulaman, the NPAs also threatened to attack the neighboring village of Kitubo.

He added that the rebels have stopped local storeowners to buy goods from the town center to force government soldiers assigned in the area to come out from their detachments and become easy targets of rebels' potshots.

Cabugnason maintained that despite the security threat, they would hold ground to repel the rebel attack even as he called on government to send more troops in their area.

The peripheries of White Kulaman and Kitubo villages, both situated in the border of Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces serve as rendezvous points of NPA guerillas when launching attacks against government troops and installations.

Gunman kills officer-in-charge of Sulu high school

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 8): Gunman kills officer-in-charge of Sulu high school

A still unidentified assassin shot and killed the officer-in-charge of Luuk National High School in Luuk, Sulu Saturday night.

Joint Task Group-Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado identified the victim as Edwin Saraji, 41, and a resident of Kakuyagan Village, Jolo, Sulu.

The shooting took place at 7:30 p.m. at Barangay San Raymundo, also in Jolo.

Initial investigation showed that Saraji was walking when the suspect shot him several times.

Saraji died on the spot.

The gunman escaped and investigations are still ongoing to determine the motive for the attack.

Notorious ASG leader, member killed, 3 troopers wounded in Basilan clash

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 8): Notorious ASG leader, member killed, 3 troopers wounded in Basilan clash

A notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader and one of his followers were killed while three government troopers were wounded during an encounter at Lower Sinangkapan, Tuburan, Basilan early Sunday morning.

Capt. Sally Magno, Joint Task Group Basilan spokesperson, said the clash took place at 4 a.m. between ASG bandits headed by Abdulhasan Yusop Sanajalun, alias "Bullet," and JTGB and Lamitan City Police operatives.

The encounter stemmed from efforts to serve arrest warrants against Sanajalun in Campo Dos, Colonia, Lamitan City.

Magno said the joint military-police team was fired upon by undetermined gunmen.

"Immediately, the organized inter-agency task group conducted pursuit operation with the support of the local government unit (LGU) of Tuburan to track down the perpetrators until they were pinned down in Lower Sinangkapan, Tuburan, Basilan," she added.

The gun battle lasted for 30 minutes and resulted in the death of Sanajalun and a follower identified as Halid Calbie.

Recovered from the encounter site were an M-653 Armalite rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, several improvised explosive devices (IEDs), hand grenades, air gun, magazines with live ammunition, cellphones and personal belongings.

Magno said three soldiers were wounded in the firefight.

Sanajalun, also known as Rhey Cuebas Santos, Arjan Y. Sapii, Abdulhasaan Tannajul and Bullet, had existing warrants of arrest for the cases of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom issued by the Regional Trial Court Branch 16, Zamboanga City.

The military said the slain ASG leader, a well-known ASG bandit and leader of an affiliate terrorist group known as "Anak Yatim"(Orphans of ASG Martyrs), was involved in the series of killings of military and police personnel, retailers and foreign nationals.

His group is also engaged in extortion with intimidation of IED bombing and the kidnapping of three employees of a construction firm in Barangay Cadayan, Akbar town, sometime in January of this year.