Saturday, November 14, 2015

MILF: SWC embarks on ARMM-wide advocacy on the Gains of the Peace Process

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 14): SWC embarks on ARMM-wide advocacy on the Gains of the Peace Process

SWC embarks on ARMM-wide advocacy on the Gains of the Peace Process

Realizing the important role and participation of women in peace building, the Social Welfare Committee (SWC), an all women MILF committee, embarked on a province to province advocacy activities on the gains of the peace process in the four (4) provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the province of Lanao Norte.

Emran Mohamad, President of Bangsamoro Communications Network (BCN), who has a deep understanding of the GPH-MILF peace process joined the team by facilitating the discussions on the gains of the peace process. These activities were conducted in partnership with Al-Amanah Humanitarian and Development Services Inc. (AHDSi)

These advocacy programs were aimed at shifting the attention of the SWC members and other sectors in the ground from the current status of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in congress to the gains of the peace process specifically the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

With the seemingly ill-fated journey of the BBL, many are badly affected, thus, are losing the hope for peaceful resolution of the century-old aspiration of the Bangsamoro right to self-determination.   To address such a declining morale of the Bangsamoro communities especially the Moro women, SWC-National has initiated this advocacy programs to help them understand that the proposed Bangsamoro Law is solely for the implementation of the mutually-signed GPH-MILF FAB and CAB.

The signing of FAB and CAB witnessed by the international community are significant living peace documents gained by the Bangsamoro and other peace loving peoples of Mindanao and the entire Filipino nation in the 18 long years of peace process for which the Government of the Philippines are duty-bound to implement.

Series of advocacy activities were conducted in the five (5) provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in the province Lanao Norte, and in Zamboanga City from October 24, 2015 to November 10, 2015.

The 1st advocacy activity was done at SWC Multi-Purpose Hall in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat for participants from Maguindanao province and Cotabato City attended by a total of 100 SWC officers.  The 2nd orientation was on October 31, 2015 held at the same venue in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat for participants from North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces attended by 100 SWC officers.

On November 1 and 2, 2015, the 3rd and the 4th series of advocacy activities were held at Safrullah M. Dipatuan Medical Center Foundation (SDMF) Hall in Marawi City for Lanao Del Sur participants and at Mahad Abdulazis in Balo-i for Lanao Norte participants.

On November 7-10, 2015, the SWC-National-led advocacy activities continued in the island provinces; with the 5th orientation was held in ITADFI Theatre, Tawi-Tawi on Nov. 7, 2015; 6th in Zamboanga City at Baliwasan on Nov. 8, 2015; 7th in Basilan at BDA RMO-Basilan Multi-Purpose Hall on Nov. 9, 2015, and the 8th which was the last of the series was held in Sulu at MSU Hostel on Nov. 10, 2015.

 A total of 942 SWC officers attended in these series of advocacy activities.

After the province-wide orientations, advocacy activities will continue at the ground level.  The provincial level SWC specifically the HRD Sub-Committees which will lead the advocacy activities were given advocacy materials such as flip charts and posters that they can use as guide and visual aids in their orientations.

Provincial level SWC’s has started downloading the information at the ground level on November 5, 2015 in Maguindanao and North Cotabato on November 22, 2015.

SWC is doing its share in delivering true and accurate information on the peace process especially on the current status of the BBL.

These series of advocacy activities on the gains of the peace process by all-women Social Welfare Committee (SWC) manifested the important role and participation of women in peacebuilding, rekindling hopes and sustaining the trust in the peace process.

Obama set to challenge China at Asia-Pacific summit

From GMA News (Nov 15): Obama set to challenge China at Asia-Pacific summit
US President Barack Obama is set to challenge China when Asia-Pacific leaders gather in the Philippines this week, speaking out on a territorial row and lobbying to set pro-American trade rules.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will also be in Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, an annual event that is meant to forge unity on free trade within the region.

But this year's meeting risks becoming entangled in various US-China power struggles, including over the South China Sea where Chinese island building in disputed waters has caused alarm in the United States and with its Asian allies.

The global menace of terrorism will also be an unwanted talking point after gunmen massacred more than 120 people in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris on Friday.

Philippine authorities had already undertaken their biggest security operation for the summit, which will gather leaders from 21 Pacific Rim economies on Wednesday and Thursday, but they vowed after the French carnage to do even more.

While China said it wanted the summit to focus only on trade, the French attacks and US attention on the South China Sea showed this was unrealistic, according to Curtis S. Chin, a former US ambassador to the Manila-based Asian Development Bank. 

"One cannot separate the economic and the non-economic in today's interconnected world," Chin, now an Asia fellow of the Milken Institute, a non-partisan think-tank, told AFP.

"That's as true in the battle against ISIS (Islamic State group) as in the search for a peaceful resolution to the many territorial disputes with China that haunt development in the South China Sea."

- Sovereign rights -China insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the sea, even waters approaching the coasts of its Asian neighbors.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to some of the waters, which are home to some of the world's most important shipping trade routes.

China's island building in the Spratlys archipelago, which is close to the Philippines, prompted the US military to recently deploy a missile destroyer and B-52 bomber planes to the area.

China had insisted repeatedly in the lead-up to the summit that the South China Sea dispute was not relevant to the trade talks.

But US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said the dispute would be a "central issue" during Obama's three-day trip to the Philippines starting on Tuesday, and a subsequent visit to Malaysia for another regional summit.

Rice also emphasized Obama would raise the issues of "maritime security" and "freedom of navigation", terms commonly used when referring to the dispute. 

The Philippines, which has hauled China before a United Nations tribunal over the row, initially promised to respect that demand.

But in his first press conference as official APEC spokesperson on Friday, Philippine foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose talked at length about China's "aggressive" actions in the sea.

Jose also said that, while the issue was not on the official agenda, leaders may discuss it at their retreat, one of the summit's key events where the delegates speak less formally.

- Promoting trade deals -Obama will also use both legs of his Asian trip to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) mega-trade deal, which was signed last month by 12 APEC nations but excludes China

On the sidelines of APEC, the leaders of the TPP nations will meet for the first time since the signing.

"TPP is central to our vision of the region's future and our place in it," Rice said.

"(It) is a critical step towards a high-standard free trade area in Asia and the Pacific, and our goal of revitalizing the open rules-based economic system that the US has led since World War II."

China has flagged it will push on with its own effort to steer regional economic rules with a planned Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

"We need to actively work for the establishment of FTAAP," Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen told a briefing in Beijing.

China sought to champion the FTAAP at last year's APEC summit, which it hosted, and Wang promised a report would be released in Manila on its progress.

APEC members account for 57 percent of the global economy and 40 percent of the world's population, with the diverse grouping including Papua New Guinea, Peru, Japan and Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indonesia's Joko Widodo are the only major leaders of APEC nations who have said they will not attend.

Militia blamed for lumad slay

From The Standard (Nov 15): Militia blamed for lumad slay

ANOTHER lumad, or tribesman, was killed in Surigao del Sur by Magahat militiamen on suspicion that he was a supporter of the communist New People’s Army, San Miguel town mayor Alvaro Elizalde said Saturday.

The victim was identified as 23-year-old Orlando Rabuca, a watchman employed by San Miguel town to guard the Bulho-on Elementary School, San Miguel Mayor Alvaro Elizalde told the local newspaper Gold Star Daily.

Elizalde said CCTV footage and witness accounts showed that around 30 armed men in military camouflage uniforms arrived in two white Starex vans at Bulho-on village around 4 a.m. Thursday.

Photo by Lino Santos
The gunmen warned the villages they would be killed if they support the communist rebels and then shot Rabuca in the head. They left a warning letter bearing the heading “Magahat Regional Command” before leaving the area.

“I pity the victim,” Gold Star Daily quoted Elizalde as saying. “The P2,000 monthly honorarium the municipal government was paying him as school watchman was not even enough for him what more to his family.”

Elizalde said he immediately called an emergency meeting with officers of the Army’s 2nd Special Forces, led by Lt. Col. Gaspar Panopio, and asked them to disarm the militia “since it is suspected that the military are the ones arming the Magahat” who are “again creating trouble in my town.”

But Panopio said the military is still investigating the killing and no armed group has claimed responsibility despite the claim of witnesses, including Elizalde, that they even left a letter warning the villagers against supporting the NPA.

“We just arrived here in Surigao del Sur from Bohol two weeks ago. We were sent here in Surigao del Sur by higher authorities to arrest three primary suspects in Sitio Han-ayan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur lumad killings, to protect the lumads, and identify and arrest the 20 armed John Does companions of Loloy Tejero, Bobby Tejero and Layno,” Panopio said.

But Panopio said he did not see the letter supposedly left by the Magahats. Panopio reasoned that his group has just been deployed in Surigao del Sur, and his troops were part of the augmentation forces sent to Surigao del Sur.

Elizalde insisted that he saw the Magahats’ warning letter and that the town’s chief of police was in possession of the letter, in addition to the sworn statements of witnesses.

Elizalde said the execution of Rabuca convinced him that the people who armed these Magahats are “creating monsters they could no longer control.”

Elizalde echoed the view of Surigao del Sur Gov. Johnny Pimentel who insisted that the military organized and armed the Magahats which has since abused their authority and committed atrocities against lumad communities over the past six years.

Manhunt on vs. suspects in grenade attacks that hurt 8 in North Cotabato and Cotabato City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 15): Manhunt on vs. suspects in grenade attacks that hurt 8 in North Cotabato and Cotabato City

Police authorities have launched a manhunt against four men who carried out bombing attacks in Cotabato City and Kabacan, North Cotabato that injured eight persons, including two soldiers and two minors, on Saturday night.

Supt. Bernard Tayong, spokesperson of the North Cotabato police provincial office, said on Sunday the manhunt is conducted jointly by the police and Army's 7th Infantry Battalion.

"We are pursuing the attackers, we have initial information about their identities," Tayong said of the Kabacan grenade attack which occurred at 6:30 p.m.

Tayong said two men riding on a motorbike lobbed a hand grenade at the corner of Rizal Avenue and Malvar Street in Kabacan.

Wounded were Johainna Pops Alon, 17; Berlie Baluyot, 46; Rosalie Parenas, 36; John Clark Opena, 13; and Gerardo Moya, 48, all residents of Poblacion Kabacan.

Tayong said the suspects sped toward Barangay Kayaga, also in Kabacan. He said the motive of the attack and the perpetrators remained unknown.

At past 7:30 p.m., Senior Supt. Raul Supiter, Cotabato City police director, said a blast occurred in front of a parked cargo truck along Sinsuat Avenue after a grenade was lobbed by two men riding tandem on a motorbike.

It so happened that a military truck conducting patrol was passing by and two soldiers were injured.

Supiter identified them as PFC Romer Agustin, 27, and PFC Noel Ganab, 28, both of the Army Special Forces Battalion.

Also injured was student Mohaimen Biron, 21, who was passing by at the time of the blast.

Rebel mining attempt foiled in Davao City

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 15): Rebel mining attempt foiled in Davao City

Troopers from the 84th Infantry Battalion foiled a New People's Army (NPA) attempt to lay improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Davao City on Saturday.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said a clash took place at 10 a.m. at the vicinity of Purok 8, Barangay Carmen, Baguio District, of the above-mentioned locality.

Batchar added that the rebels were from the Pulang Bagani Company 2 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

The NPA intention to mine the area was forwarded by concerned citizens to military authorities.

Retreating rebels left behind three backpacks, three IEDs, 300 meters wire and one detonator.

No soldier was hurt while the NPAs were believed to have incurred several casualties, Batchar said.

Obama to visit PH coastal facility amid China row

From Rappler (Nov 14): Obama to visit PH coastal facility amid China row

Set on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, US President Barack Obama's visit 'showcases US maritime security assistance to the Philippines and the region'

VISITING PHILIPPINES. US President Barack Obama is set to visit a coastal facility in the Philippines on the sidelines of the APEC Summit. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Pool/EPA

VISITING PHILIPPINES. US President Barack Obama is set to visit a coastal facility in the Philippines on the sidelines of the APEC Summit. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Pool/EPA

US President Barack Obama is set to visit a coastal facility in the Philippines as the Southeast Asian country faces a dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama is “going to a coastal facility in the Philippines to showcase our maritime cooperation with the Philippines.”
This trip is scheduled on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Manila.
To attend the summit, Obama is visiting the Philippines from Tuesday, November 17, to Friday, November 20.
Philippine government sources told Rappler that Obama is planning to visit a US frigate in the Philippines, likely in Subic.
Rhodes, also assistant to the US president, said Obama’s outdoor event on Tuesday “showcases US maritime security assistance to the Philippines and the region.”
For 'peaceful resolution of disputes'
“And clearly, in our alliance with the Philippines and our focus in the region, we have been committed to maritime security, to principles like freedom of navigation, and to the peaceful resolution of disputes. And, again, this event will be an opportunity for the President to showcase some of that maritime security assistance,” Rhodes said.
Obama’s visit comes as the Philippines and China remain locked in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines and China, however, both said the sea dispute should be downplayed during the mainly economic APEC Summit.
On the sidelines of the APEC Summit, Obama and 11 other world leaders will also meet to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a landmark deal creating the world’s largest free trade area.
Founded in 1989, APEC is the highest-level, most influential forum in the Asia-Pacific.
By hosting APEC, the Philippines aims to showcase its booming economy, even as critics slam the P9.8-billion ($208-million) price tag of this regional summit.

Task Force APEC holds security simulation

From Rappler (Nov 14): Task Force APEC holds security simulation

The inter-agency task force in charge of APEC security holds a full scale simulation to practice and spot loopholes in their plans.

As security alerts all over the world heighten after the Paris attacks, is the Philippines ready to host economic leaders in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit?

Bea Cupin reports.

Philippine security officials are leaving nothing to chance for the visit of several world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and China President Xi Jinping, for the APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting.

On Saturday, November 14, days before the meet, the inter-agency task force in charge of APEC security holds a full scale simulation to practice and spot loopholes in their plans.

Choppers buzz overhead, military tanks occupy the street and companies of soldiers and police flock the venue to practice their response to the country’s “worst-case scenario” – a bombing or terrorist attack.

Elite anti-terrorism from both the Philippine military and police lead the exercise at the PICC, the venue for the economic leaders’ meeting.

It’s timely. On the same day of the dry run security alerts worldwide heighten,
following a terrorist attack in Paris that kills over 100 people.

On Saturday, President Benigno Aquino III convenes the Cabinet security cluster.
DIRECTOR GENERAL RICARDO MARQUEZ, TASK FORCE APEC COMMANDER: Our security plan for the APEC summit includes security plans for a terrorist attack. So we were instructed by our president to prepare for a worst case scenario. When you have prepared for quite a long time, your only concern would be the people you put on the ground would deliver as trained, as prepared for we remain confident that we could weather any security challenges for our APEC hosting.
On top of terrorist threats, police in the Philippines also worry about protesters.
Over 32,000 personnel are deployed to different areas around Metro Manila to secure the APEC meet.

10,000 of those are civil disturbance management personnel from the PNP.

It’s a security plan that is almost one year in the making.

The head of the APEC security task force and the chief of the Philippine National Police says he is confident in his men and women.

Terrorists, violent protest actions, typhoons, earthquakes, missing bags, Metro Manila’s notorious traffic, and VIP cars breaking down –– these are only a handful of problems security officials have prepared for in the lead-up to the big summit.

All eyes are on Manila as it plays host to the APEC Economic Leaders meeting next week and in the wake of world leaders' condemnation of the Paris attacks. Will almost a year of preparations be enough?
[Video report: Task Force APEC holds security simulation
As security alerts all over the world heighten after the Paris attacks, is the Philippines ready to host economic leaders in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit?

Army, NPA clash in Davao City village

From Rappler (Nov 15): Army, NPA clash in Davao City village

No casualties are reported from either the soldiers' or the rebels' sides

Soldiers from the 84th Infantry Battalion engaged in a firefight with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels Saturday morning, November 14, in Barangay Carmen, Davao City, the military said in a statement.

"The troops, acting on reports of NPAs laying landmines in the area engaged the armed group in a 45-minute fire fight,” the military said.

The public affairs office of the 10th Infantry Division claimed the troops recovered 3 backpacks, 3 improvised explosive devices, 300-meter wire, and one detonator after the rebels fled the site of the clash.

No casualties were reported from either the soldiers or the rebels, but the military said it is conducting pursuit operations on the fleeing NPAs.

The communist rebellion across the Philippines is Asia’s longest running insurgency.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist leadership have been delayed due to several issues, such as the demand of the Communist Party of the Philippines to release its detained consultants.

Government officials admitted there is not enough time to complete a peace agreement with the Philippines' revolutionary Left. There is, however, keen interest to reduce the encounters between government troops and the NPA, especially in the coming elections.

(READ: NDF proposes 6-month, time-bound peace talks)

Condemn Lumad killings, American law expert tells Obama

From ABS-CBN (Nov 14): Condemn Lumad killings, American law expert tells Obama

Gill Boehringer. Photo courtesy of Inday Espina-Varona

MANILA - An American and former law dean of an Australian university has asked US President Barack Obama to speak out about human rights violations carried out by the Philippine military and their militia against the Lumad, indigenous peoples in mineral-rich southern provinces.

"Mr. President, I am asking that you convey in the strongest possible terms the view of the United States government that violations of human rights of the Lumad peoples by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and armed paramilitary gangs are absolutely unacceptable," Gill Boehringer wrote in an open letter to Obama, who is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit hosted by Manila.

"I also ask that you make it clear that until the paramilitaries are disarmed and disbanded, no further aid nor cooperation between the US military and the Philippine armed force will be forthcoming,” wrote Boehringer, who carries the US passport No. 53083593 and former dean of the Macquarie University law school in Sydney, Australia.

He also asked Obama to stress "that the long standing impunity for such violations must cease, and the perpetrators brought to justice."

Boehringer joined the recent international fact-finding mission to Lianga, Surigao del Sur, where paramilitary forces allegedly killed two Lumad leaders and the head teacher of an award-winning school in the early hours of September 1.

The AFP complained the mission was "illegal" though civilian authorities in the province welcomed them, gave them access to displaced Lumad and facilitated visits to besieged IP communities. The military has threatened to move for the deportation of foreigners in the fact-finding mission.

Witnesses told probers that government soldiers, from 200 meters away, did not take action as the militia executed the Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo, both Lumad, in front of hundreds of residents, including teachers, students and toddlers. Their murders followed that of Emerito Samarca, head teacher of Alcadev, who was held back as militia ordered a hundred students and more than a dozen teachers out of the school compound.

In his letter to Obama, Boehringer said proceedings of the probe show that Lumad "are being killed and forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands" by militia that the Armed Forces allow to operate with impunity.

"Even as I write, news has come from Agusan Sur that military elements have burned another school building of the award winning Alternative Learning and Livelihood Development system of education for indigent Lumad children. Lost was a supply of rice for the young students and staff, generator, school supplies, a sewing machine. What kind of allies are these for the US to be supporting?," he said.

The lawyer quoted Surigao del Sur governor Johhny Pimentel telling the fact-finding mission:

"There is a clear link. The army created them, a monster they cannot control. Someone had to create them. Where would they get their camouflage uniforms and combat boots? Their arms? Even the ordinary person here knows the military is behind this. The army is coddling these people. They probably know that if they took action against them they would say things that would be bad for the army such as 'they trained us.'"

He also noted that the UN sanctioned Protection Cluster in the Philippines has said blaming the killings on the New People's Army (NPA) on internal conflict in the indigenous communities was "an inaccurate depiction of the violence and killings in the indigenous communities."

Boehringer pointed out that Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has asked the military "to leave the persecuted Lumad communities" so they could live in peace.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), he added, issued a call for "an honest, thorough, impartial and speedy investigation so that the guilty may be held to account for their wrong doing" and warned against "refusing to hold accountable those to whom the administration so eagerly extends the mantle of protection."

Sixty Lumad, including minors have been killed under President Benigno Aquino III's government. Ten, including two children, have been killed this year.

The chair of the Commission on Human Rights has tagged as "extra-judicial killings" the Lianga incident and a supposed "encounter" in Bukidnon province where the alleged rebels killed included a blind, 70-year-old man, two minors and two sugarcane farm workers, all kin and living in one home.

The spokesman of the AFP, Brig. Gen. Jose Kakilala, told a congressional hearing last week that critics of the military, including several popular celebrities, are "misled."

He claimed the unrest in Mindanao Lumad areas on the successful recruitment of indigenous peoples by communist rebels. One alleged militia leader, who was identified as the boss of the Lianga killers, told lawmakers the Alcadev teacher was killed for "poisoning the minds" of youth.

In response to the military deportation threat, the rights group Karapatan, which organized the mission, said the government is "scared to reveal the skeletons in the closet."

From October 26 to October 30, the IFFM teams went to different villages in Lianga and San Miguel, Surigao del Sur to investigate the extent of human rights violations perpetrated by both the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary group and the 75th and 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Initial results of the mission indicated that rights violations were committed even after Lumad evacuated as a result of the massacre of school executive Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo.

"In at least two communities, houses and farm equipment were burned down. The majority of the houses were ransacked and defaced, including the schools. The pigs and chickens raised by individual households, as well as those in Alcadev demo farms, were stolen. Farm tools, personal belongings and household utensils were stolen," Karapatan said in a statement.

"By showing its claws to the international observers, the Philippine Army is preempting the full disclosure of the abuses and violations they committed against the Lumad. The AFP is again trying to divert the issue," Palabay said.

From Warriors to Preachers: More Rebels Embrace Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry

From the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 14): From Warriors to Preachers: More Rebels Embrace Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry 

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Members of the New Indigenous People’s Ar my Reform – mostly former communist New People’s Army rebels – led by Alde Salusad who were ‘baptized’ by ‘prayer warriors’ of the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry led by Brother Danny Cuarteros in Bukidnon province. 

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – More former communist rebels in southern Philippines have embraced the teachings of God and vowed to preach the miracles they themselves witnessed after being convinced by so-called “prayer warriors” of the influential Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.

Barely five months after a small team of prayer warriors led by Brother Danny Cuarteros braved the mountains of Bukidnon’s San Fernando town just to meet up with the armed group of Alde Salusad and convinced him and his followers to embrace Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry – the preachers once again risked life and limbs in trekking the jungle to bring the powerful message of hope and love of God to the others, actually to the whole community.

Salusad, alias Commander Butchoy, who is now the leader of the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform or NIPAR, was baptized by Cuarteros in June and so were dozens upon dozens of his brave followers and villagers loyal to the indigenous group. Cuarteros said God, through the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, convinced Salusad, a former leader of the communist rebel group New People’s Army, and his followers to embrace the faith following the daring mission in the hinterlands of Bukidnon.

Now, Salusad’s own father, Benjamin – alias Ka Nonong – also wanted to join his son and become the instrument of God so he can spread the peace and love among other indigenous communities in Bukidnon. The father and son tandem is among the most influential in the local Manobo tribal communities. They help protect the ancestral rights of the tribe and the welfare of the indigenous people from harm and exploitation.

Minister Wilde James Almeda, son of Evangelist Wilde Estrada Almeda, an internationally known pastor and founder of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, is expected to lead another evangelical mission in Bukidnon to fulfil God’s promises of salvation among the tribal people.

Cuarteros’s group had travelled to Bukidnon and trekked through rains and mud and climbed cliffs and boulders for over 7 hours with nothing but the words of God to fulfil his promise to Salusad’s group that he shall return – the third time – bringing miracles of God through the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.

“We are only instruments here. We are instrument of God, of his everlasting love, of his salvation, and most of all our strong faith to succeed because we know that God is with us and guiding us in all we do in spreading his glorious words and miracles,” Cuarteros told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said not only Salusad and his followers accepted and embraced God; they also donated a parcel of land for the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry, so it can put up a chapel in the heart of NIPAR’s stronghold in the town’s hinterlands.

According to Cuarteros, Salusad also told village leaders to play worship songs every morning to remind them of God and the glorious mission of Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.

In his past mission to Salusad’s stronghold, Cuarteros said: “That journey of faith and mission from God has become one of my most unforgettable experiences and it is a mission of peace. Ka Alde and his group accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and they wanted to start a new life through the Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry.”

Salusad, who is also being hunted by the now rival group New People’s Army, reportedly wanted to be part of the government’s militia force or CAFGU which is the acronym for Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit, to protect communities from lawless elements in the province.

Cuarteros said God is protecting the indigenous tribe and as long as the natives continue their strong faith in God and follow His teachings, no amount of harm shall befall them. “Everything is in the hands of God and God is protecting us all because He loves us,” he said.

The Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry is one of the largest and most successful apostolic churches based in the Philippines with millions of followers in the country alone. It has stations also in the United States and other parts of the world.

It was also Pastor Wilde Estrada Almeda who led a dozen “prayer warriors,” including Cuarteros, to a miraculous journey and mission of 100-days of fasting and prayers that victoriously convinced the rebel group Abu Sayyaf to release the 21 Sipadan hostages in Talipao town in Sulu province in 2000.

Almeda’s group also managed to convince a senior rebel leader Galib Andang, alias Commander Robot and his group to embrace the Christian faith and baptized them. And the victorious peace mission is related in vivid detail in the book, “Miracles in Moroland” written by American professor Dr. Sam Smith.

Manhunt on against cohorts of ex-MILF bomber nabbed in North Cotabato

From GMA News (Nov 14): Manhunt on against cohorts of ex-MILF bomber nabbed in North Cotabato

Manhunt operations continue against accomplices of an alleged bomb expert arrested last Wednesday tagged in two deadly bombing attacks in southern Philippines.
A report on GMA News' Balitanghali on Saturday said Abdul Manap Mentang was arrested in Barangay Panatan in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato on Wednesday.
Receovered from him was a firearm, various identification cards and nearly P100,000 in cash.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said Mentang is a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front 108th Base Command, which operates in Maguindanao.
The PNP added that the suspect was trained for demolition and urban terrorism courses under the Jemaah Islamiyah in Lanao del Sur back in 1995.
Mentang is a suspect in the Sasa Wharf and Ecoland terminal bombing in Davao City in 2003 that killed 16 people and injured at least 50 others.
He is also a suspect in the Davao City Overland Transport bombing in 2005 where one was killed and 7 others were injured.
The suspect is facing murder and multiple frustrated murder charges.

Mindanao group leads move to form SE Asia jihad unit

Posted to the Daily Tribune (Nov 15): Mindanao group leads move to form SE Asia jihad unit

A former University of Malaysia professor is spearheading efforts out of Mindanao to unite different groups in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines supporting the Middle East-based terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Malaysian publication Free Malaysia Times (FMT) said in an article.

Dr Mahmud Ahmad, a former University of Malaya lecturer, is planning to form an official faction of the Islamic State terrorist movement in Southeast Asia, FMT said quoting Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan.

FMT said Ahmad’s group is hiding in Mindanao and is working to unite cells in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines such as Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups.

Mahmud and two others, sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen and former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39, are high on the police wanted list for involvement with Islamic State, according to FMT.

Mahmud, also known as Abu Handzalah, has been training with Abu Sayyaf and is believed to have been involved in two bomb attacks against the Philippines army recently, according to Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, head of counter-terrorism at the Federal Special Branch.

FMT said Mahmud’s goal was to officially form a Southeast Asian faction of the Islamic State, and would need to swear allegiance before Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria.

“We discovered through intelligence sharing that going to Syria is his priority now,” the source was quoted as saying.

Leaders of Abu Sayyaf had also made video recordings of themselves swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr, the FMT source said.

Ayob Khan said Malaysian police were cooperating with other security forces, especially with the Philippines, to thwart Mahmud’s plans and to track down and capture him and his accomplices.

Ayob said Mahmud was involved in two bomb attacks against the Philippine Army recently.

“We believe the ASG regards him highly as an asset,” he said.

But Ayob indicated Dr Mahmud was not content with just being involved with the ASG.
His ultimate goal is to officially form the Southeast Asian IS.

Mahmud also trained with the al-Qaeda terror group while studying. Ayob said if Mahmud’s plans came to fruition, it would spell even more danger to the region with the different terror groups operating under one banner.

“We are cooperating with other security forces in the region, especially the Philippines, to ensure that this will not occur,” he said.

“We believe that Dr Mahmud is trying different means to gain safe passage to Syria, including using fake identification documents and passports but we will remain vigilant,” he said.

“Our priority is intelligence gathering to ensure that we are on top of any development concerning militant groups,” he said.

“We are working with our counterparts in the Philippines to track down and capture Dr Mahmud and his accomplices,” Ayob said.

Ayob, who has been dealing with terrorism matters for more than 20 years, said it was not uncommon for militant scholars or academicians to become leaders of regional extremist groups.

IS volunteers in Singapore

The Asian bandwagon in joining the Islamic State had even reached Singapore which recently detained two men who the government said were planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.

Mohamed Shamin bin Mohamed Sidek, 29, and Muhammad Harith Jailani, 18, were detained in August under an internal security law, which allows for detention without trial, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

The two were radicalized online by accessing propaganda material from IS, the ministry said in a statement.

Shamin was initially jailed for three months in May for “inciting religious violence” through his pro-IS postings on social media, the ministry said.

He was rearrested under the Internal Security Act after he continued to express support for the terror group while in prison, and investigations showed he planned to travel to Syria once he had raised enough money to fund the trip.

“He had also decided that if he was unable to join ISIS, he would consider fighting alongside a regional militant group that he considered to be aligned with ISIS,” the ministry said, referring to another name used for the group.

The other suspect, Harith, “was prepared to be trained by ISIS to fight and kill the group’s enemies, and to die in the process,” the ministry said.
Harith gathered information on travelling to Syria and tried to recruit others to join him, it added.
The government statement indicated there was no direct connection between the two individuals.

“The detentions of Shamin and Harith underline the persistent ISIS threat and the threat posed by self-radicalised Singaporeans,” the ministry said.

“The government takes a very serious view of any form of support for terrorism.”

Thousands of fighters from around the world, including individuals from Southeast Asia, have travelled to Syria to join IS, and regional governments fear these militants could become threats to their respective countries once they returned.

Singapore is predominantly ethnic Chinese, with 13.3 percent of the population belonging to the Muslim Malay minority.

Group demands military pullout in mining-affected communities

From the Business Mirror (Nov 13): Group demands military pullout in mining-affected communities

Antimining activists on Wednesday reiterated the call for the immediate pullout of military and paramilitary forces in mining-affected communities.

They said military and paramilitary forces, who become “indebted” to mining companies, are to blame for the human-rights violations and harassment committed against those who oppose mining.

Members of the lumad tribes in Mindanao, in particular, alleged that large-scale companies directly hire and provide subsidy to military and paramilitary forces for security of mining operation.

“If their job is to protect mining companies against attacks by the New People’s Army [NPA], then these state forces should go after the NPA, not the lumads,” Clemente Bautista of the environmental advocacy group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) said.

The Kalikasan-PNE and members of lumad communities on Tuesday staged a noise barrage in front of the Makati City offices of several large-scale mining firms.

On Wednesday more than a hundred protesters staged a picket at the gate of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) compound along North Avenue in Quezon City demanding that the mining regulatory body cancel the mining permits it issued to companies.

The protesters included lumads. They blame the increasing incidents of human-rights violations in mining-affected areas to the presence of military and paramilitary forces who, they claim, actually work for mining companies.

But MGB Acting Director Leo L. Jasareno said such claim needs to be substantiated.

“Just like any other business entity, a mining company is allowed to avail [itself] the services of a security-service provider. When there is a military unit stationed in the mining area, it is not because it is a security-service provider of the mine but because it is, on its own, securing the area because of insurgents’ activities, whether there is a mine [operating there],” Jasareno said.

But Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE national coordinator, maintains that mining companies have private security guards, enough to protect the mines against threats. Antimining advocates, he said, only conduct peaceful protests and do not burn heavy equipment or trucks owned by mining companies.

“The fact that these companies are hiring military and paramilitary forces to act as security is proof that mining is not welcome in these communities. This is because the people [feel] they do not benefit at all from mining operation,” Bautista said.

Bautista added that one of the requirements before the MGB issues a permit to operate to mining companies is a provision in the mining law that guarantees social acceptability.

These include the consent and approval of local government units (LGUs) such as the provincial, city or municipal government and barangays in the form of a resolution or ordinance.

The law also requires mining companies to secure the approval of indigenous communities in case where mines are situated within the ancestral domain of indigenous cultural communities or tribes.

“If the people benefit from mining, they will be the ones to protect the mining companies against the NPA. There will be no need for the presence of military and paramilitary forces,” Bautista explained.

Local governments, he added, oppose large-scale mining operations because they themselves feel that mining companies are not fulfilling their obligations to the host communities through taxes and social-development programs.

According to the MGB, 47 percent, or 38 out 81 provinces, in the country, have at least one LGU  with antimining resolutions.

These are LGUs in Leyte, Rombolon, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Marinduque, Bukidnon, Capiz, Davao City, Mindoro Provinces, Antique, Bohol, Samar, South Cotabato, La Union, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Aklan, Cagayan de Oro City, Sultan Kudarat and Iloilo.

There are also proposed measures filed in the House of Representatives seeking to prohibit mining in nine provinces, namely, Catanduanes, Romblon, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Davao City, Sorsogon, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan de Oro and Biliran, as of October last year.

Blast injures 2 soldiers, bystander in Cotabato City

From ABS-CBN (Nov 15): Blast injures 2 soldiers, bystander in Cotabato City

Two soldiers and a civilian were injured in an explosion along Sinsuat Avenue in Cotabato City Saturday evening.

The explosion happened as a truck of the 5th Special Forces Battalion passed by the area, on their way back to their detachment in Tamontaka from a checkpoint in the downtown area.

The blast injured two soldiers and a bystander. They were identified as Cpl. Noel Ganab, 28; Private First Class Romer De Guzman, 27; and Mohaimen Talim Biron, 21.

5th SF Battalion Commander Col. Ranulfo Sevilla is set to give an official statement on Monday. Based on initial investigation, the blast came from an M-203 grenade launcher.

Authorities conducted a post-blast investigation. They, however, have yet to determine the motive behind the attack.

A deeper probe is underway to identify those responsible for the explosion.

5 hurt in grenade blast in N. Cotabato town

From ABS-CBN (Nov 14): 5 hurt in grenade blast in N. Cotabato town

KABACAN - A grenade blast injured at least five people on Saturday evening in this town in North Cotabato.

The blast occurred at the corner Rizal Avenue and Malvar Street past 6 p.m.

Three of the victims were Gerardo Ombrete Moya, 48; Berlie Lamban Baluyot, 46; and Rosalie Lacbao Parenas, 36. The two other victims were minors.

Authorities said motorcycle-riding men lobbed the grenade.

Authorities immediately conducted a pursuit operation against the attackers.

The motive behind the attack remains undetermined.

Last week, a grenade blast also occurred in Barangay Kayaga in Kabacan, leaving one injured. Police said the attack was due to a personal quarrel.

AFP, PNP units now in 'red alert' for APEC summit

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): AFP, PNP units now in 'red alert' for APEC summit

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on Saturday upgraded their alert status from "blue" to "red" in preparation for the hosting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Metro Manila this Nov. 17 to 20.

This comes in wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France where more than 150 people were reported killed.

"The alert status was also raised a day ahead of schedule as a matter of procedure following any international terrorist incident such as this morning's terrorist attack in Paris. The AFP and PNP extends its sincerest condolences to the families who lost loved ones," AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla.

He added that APEC security planners are now seriously looking into this recent incident to ensure security preparations are appropriately upgraded.

At 8:20 a.m., PNP head Director General Ricardo C. Marquez, placed all PNP units nationwide under "FULL ALERT" condition to ensure availability and operational readiness of police forces to respond to any contingencies.

Upgrading of the alert condition of police units is a matter of routine procedure under similar situations involving international security concerns, and necessitated further by ongoing security operations for the coming APEC meeting.

"Although we have not monitored any specific or direct threat in our homefront, nonetheless, target hardening measures on vital installations, particularly seaports, airports and our rail systems have been further elevated to maximize deterrence against unforeseen events," Marquez said.

"We have received reports of scare messages circulating through telecom and social media networks warning of purported scenarios and events. These only serve to add to public anxiety that may further lead to hysteria and panic. Please disregard such messages and report immediately to authorities," he added.

Bangladesh naval ship intown for 3-day visit

From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 14): Bangladesh naval ship intown for 3-day visit

The Bangladesh Navy Ship (BNS) Somudra Avijan, a Hamilton-class high endurance cutter, arrived at Manila South Harbor Saturday for a three-day goodwill visit until Nov. 16.

The ship arrived at 9 a.m. at Pier 15, Manila South Harbor, said Navy public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna.

A Philippine Navy (PN) vessel rendered customary meeting procedures with the visiting ship at vicinity of Corregidor Island and escorted the vessel to her designated berthing area at Pier 15.

PN delegates accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a port briefing related to security, intelligence and health aboard the Bangladeshi ship.

This goodwill visit involves series of confidence building engagements between PN and Bangladesh Navy personnel such as courtesy call to the Flag Officer in Command, PN, shipboard tour by PN personnel and Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) cadets and goodwill games between the two navies.

The engagement between the Philippine and Bangladeshi navies will cap off with a send-off ceremony and a customary Passing Exercise (PASSEX) between BNS Somudra Avijan and a designated PN vessel in the vicinity of Corregidor Island.

The fitting reception bestowed by PN to the visiting Bangladesh Navy is a manifestation of sustained promotion of peace and stability and enhancement of maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy and camaraderie.