Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Japan defense minister supports US in South China Sea

From the Philippine Star (Nov 25): Japan defense minister supports US in South China Sea

Japan Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani, middle, visits the USS Arizona Memorial, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, to lay a wreath in the Shrine Room of the memorial. Nakatani was scheduled to meet with U.S. Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris on Tuesday. The Pacific Command said Nakatani’s discussions were expected to cover security in the region, including in the East and South China Seas. Ballistic missile defense was also on the agenda. Bruce Asato/The Star-Advertiser via AP

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani is expressing his support for the U.S. Navy's sailing of a warship close to one of China's artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Nakatani met Pacific Command commander Adm. Harry Harris in Hawaii on Tuesday.

Nakatani told reporters he told Harris that the U.S. military was at the forefront of the international community's efforts to protect open, free and peaceful oceans in the South China Sea.

He told reporters he expressed Japan's support for U.S. actions to Harris.

The U.S. Navy sailed a guided missile destroyer inside what China claims is a 12-mile territorial limit around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands last month.

The move was a challenge to what the U.S. considers Beijing's "excessive claim" of sovereignty in those waters.


China: Philippines breached consensus by filing arbitration case

From the Philippine Star (Nov 25): China: Philippines breached consensus by filing arbitration case

"Our position is crystal clear: we will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spoeksperson Hong Lei said in a press conference on Tuesday. FMPRC

Beijing on Tuesday insisted that the Philippines breached the bilateral consensus between the two countries as it filed an arbitration case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations.

"In an attempt to negate China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, the Philippine side unilaterally initiated the arbitration in breach of bilateral consensus with China and its commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press conference.

Hong maintained that China will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration case in connection to the disputed South China Sea.

The first round of oral arguments on merits before the arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has started on Tuesday and will last until November 30.

MalacaƱang assured that the Philippine delegation, headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, is fully prepared to present the country's case before the tribunal.

Meanwhile, China is set to install facilities on islands and reefs in the disputed sea to fulfill its "international responsibility and offer better public goods and services to countries in the region."

"For example, the two light houses constructed by us on relevant islands and reefs have made it safer and more convenient for personnel stationed there and ships passing by," Hong said.

The land reclamation project of China on some islands and reefs in the Nansha or Spratly group of islands has been completed since June.

Hong stressed that the construction of defense facilities in the artificial islands is not related to militarization in the region.

READ: China denies militarization in South China Sea

"We will also build a moderate amount of necessary defense facilities on some of the islands and reefs which have nothing to do with militarization, target no one and have no impact on the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea conferred by international law on all countries," the Chinese official said.

President Benigno Aquino III earlier called on China to respect the rule of law following its extensive claims over the South China Sea.


No clashes yet as troops intensify ops vs Abu Sayyaf

From the Philippine Star (Nov 24): No clashes yet as troops intensify ops vs Abu Sayyaf

"Operation Plan Gambit" has been ongoing in the areas of Patikul and Indanan towns, known to have strong presence of the Abu Sayyaf groups. File photo

The Abu Sayyaf group continues to evade the government troops in Sulu, three days after President Benigno Aquino III ordered to intensify the offensive against the bandits following the beheading of a Malaysian captive.

Navy Captain Roy Vincent Trinidad, chief of staff of Joint Task Force ZamBaSulTa, said the military mission dubbed as "Operation Plan Gambit" has been ongoing in the areas of Patikul and Indanan towns, known to have strong presence of the Abu Sayyaf groups.

“But so far there has been no engagement yet,” Trinidad said.

President Aquino, while attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nation Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to intensify its operations against the Abu Sayyaf group.

Aquino's order came in the wake of the pronouncement of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak seeking justice for the beheading of his compatriot Bernard Then Ted Fen.

Fen was executed by the Abu Sayyaf group a week ago in Mt. Taran, Indanan after his family reportedly failed to pay a P40-million ransom.

The decapitated head of Fen that was recovered in a village of Jolo town has already been handed over to the family of the victim following the police's post-mortem examination.

Trinidad said the search for the headless cadaver of Fen continues in the vicinity of Indanan town.

“The efforts continued to locate the body of Bernard but there is no positive result so far from the ground forces,” Trinidad added.


Day 1 at The Hague: Philippines hits China's lack of basis on claims

From the Philippine Star (Nov 25): Day 1 at The Hague: Philippines hits China's lack of basis on claims

The entire Philippine delegation to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands is composed of 48 individuals, including six Philippine ambassadors from different posts in Europe, counsel, advocates, expert witnesses and support staff. Official Gazette

The Philippines focused on the lack of basis for China's historic claims over the nine-dash line in the South China Sea during the first day of the oral arguments of the hearing on merits at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay took the floor to present the country's sequence of arguments before the tribunal, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

Meanwhile, principal counsel Paul Reichler focused in China's historic right claim and how it was derived under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He pointed out that China's historic claims over the disputed sea do not exist under the provisions of the UNCLOS.

"Mr. Reichler mentioned that China has asserted exclusive rights over the areas covered by the Nine-Dash Line and has deprived the Philippines of fishing and exploration activities," Valte said.

Professor Bernard Oxman of the University of Miami School of Law pointed out the unlawfulness of China's claim to the South China Sea, which is beyond its maritime entitlements under the UNCLOS.

He stressed that China's massive claims over the disputed sea encroaches the rights of coastal states such as the Philippines.

"Andrew Loewenstein argued that even assuming, for the sake of argument, that a claim of historic rights can exist after the UNCLOS, China has failed to satisfy the requirements to establish the claim, namely: a continuous exercise of exclusive control for a long period of time over the said area," Valte said.

Loewenstein showed eight maps showing that China's territory did not include the nine-dash line. The said maps date back to the Ming Dynasty.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario heads the Philippine delegation to The Hague, which is comprised of representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government.

China reiterated on Tuesday that it will neither accept nor participate in the said arbitration case.


AFP transfers to Antique peace, security functions

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 25): AFP transfers to Antique peace, security functions

THE military is due to turn over today to the local government of Antique the primary responsibility of internal peace and security operations, a military official said yesterday.

The handover will take place in response to the provincial government’s October 1 resolution accepting the responsibility, said Maj. Ray Tiongson, public affairs officer of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

Tiongson said the province was declared “conflict-manageable and development ready” in March 2013 after registering no violent incident from the communist New People’s Army since 2011.

“With the handover of the internal peace and security efforts, the lead role in maintaining the internal peace and security will be upon the Antique PPOC (provincial peace and order council),” he said.

Tiongson could not immediately give the number of NPA rebels in province but said it is already “negligible.”

“There are still remnants but they no longer have the capability to conduct atrocities, that’s why we have zero incident attributable the CPP-NPA,” he said.

Dozens of provinces throughout the country have been cleared of insurgency or declared as “conflict-manageable and development ready” over the past years as the military is continuing its campaign to defeat the decades-old insurgency problem.

Col. Eric Uchica, commander of the Army’s 301st Brigade, said the feat in Antique can be attributed to the partnership of the military with the police, local officials and other stakeholders.


Arbitration hearing on sea dispute begins

From Malaya Business Insight (Nov 25): Arbitration hearing on sea dispute begins

LAWYERS for the Philippines, backed by a large delegation of government officials, appeared Tuesday before a panel of international judges in The Hague seeking a ruling that could bolster territorial claims by a series of countries against China in the resource-rich South China Sea.

China, which claims economic and territorial rights in almost the entire Sea, has boycotted the proceedings and rejects the court’s authority in the case.

Paul Reichler, chief counsel of the Philippines in the arbitration case, assured the Philippine delegation that his team is fully prepared to present its case on the first day of the hearing at the Peace Palace, deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said Monday night in Manila.

Valte, in a statement issued from The Hague, said Reichler, together with Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, briefed the Philippine delegation on the expected flow of the proceedings from November 24 and 30.

She said the 48-member Philippine delegation is headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and includes Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justice and former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, House committee on national defense and security chairman Rodolfo Biazon, political affairs secretary Ronald Llamas, Security Cluster Executive Director Emmanuel Bautista, and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“We are confident. The court did not reject the 15 issues we raised against China,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

The conduct of the First Round of Arguments for the Hearing on the Merits of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines stemmed from the arbitral tribunal’s decision in October that it has jurisdiction over the case.

The Philippines on July 7 presented its petition before the Tribunal seeking to clarify the maritime entitlements of countries over parts of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.

A final ruling is expected in mid-2016.


MILF: 75 Members of BIAF- MILF to undergo Training on Joint Peace and Security Team

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 24): 75 Members of BIAF- MILF to undergo Training on Joint Peace and Security Team

75 Members of BIAF- MILF to undergo Training on Joint Peace and Security Team

Seventy five (75) members of Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF) received briefing in preparation for their training as 1st batch of the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST) held at the BIAF General Headquarters on November 24.

No less than MILF Peace Panel chair and also chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Mohagher Iqbal, headed the briefing, joined by Chief of Staff Sammy Al Mansor, Joint Normalization Committee Head for MILF Mohammad Nassef, JNC Secretariat Toks Ebrahim and Butch Malang.

JPST is one of the Transitional Components of Normalization identified as operating units composed of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the MILF’s BIAF. As one of the mechanisms, stated in the Annex on Normalization, JPST shall work for the maintenance of peace and order and the stability of the areas mutually identified by the GPH and the MILF.

Some important points mentioned by Chairman Iqbal during the briefing pertain to humility of character and service to people. He also gave brief history of the struggle and the stages of negotiations. Chief of Staff Sammy Al Mansor supplemented with short topics on purity of intention that will lead to inner peace and contentment.

Said training will commence tomorrow, November 24, at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.


MILF: Central Mindanao Muslim Youth Organizations unite and consolidate into one Union

Posted to the MILF Website (Nov 24): Central Mindanao Muslim Youth Organizations unite and consolidate into one Union

Central Mindanao Muslim Youth Organizations unite and consolidate into one Union

The Bangsamoro-Muslim Youth Organizations in Central Mindanao held a two-day consultative meeting on the formalization of the Union of Muslim Youth Organization (UMYO). The activity was held at Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) Training Center, Crossing, Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on November 21-22. 2015.

The activity centerpiece was to lay groundwork for consolidation of youth organizations in Central Mindanao for cohesive and strong partnership through unity in purpose and faith as vital elements in any undertaking. Engineer Zubair A. Guiaman, Chairman of the Steering Committee that represented one youth organization facilitated the program. 

The Sixty (64) Youth Leaders that represented the twenty one youth organizations committed to work together in promoting peace, unity and development that anchors on Islamic Faith- The Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah (Traditions and Practices) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

In his Inspirational message, Sheikh Mahmod S. Ahmad, BLMI Executive Director reminded the youth on the significance of having a strong sense of brotherhood and unity as the source of strength and success.

Practically, the youth will replace the old one, and you will carry the torch, thus self-enhancement through acquisition of knowledge and preparation are imperative. 

As you are about to establish a union of youth organizations, It is imperative to practice the agreed protocol and avoid divisions. Respect one another and help uplift and correct the mistakes of other officers and members instead of displeasing them through undesirable approach and repulsive words, Director Ahmad stressed.

In its two-day activity, the Youth Union was able to develop their collective constitution and By-laws that guide them in pursuing their vision-mission, goals and objectives. The UMYO will serve as an umbrella organization of youth organizations that will eventually join after its organization into one Union. 

In its by-laws, the UMYO vision is to transform and develop the Muslim youth who are educated on Islam that can represent and benefit the society.

The two of the five UMYO missions are to integrate Islamic and secular education with its inclination on the Islamic teachings and promote healthy lifestyle for a healthy Muslim youth. 

Gingoog city gives hero’s welcome to Lupiba

From the Philippine Information Agency (Nov 24): Gingoog city gives hero’s welcome to Lupiba

A meaningful flag raising ceremony was felt by Gingoognons on November 22, 2015 when Cpl Adones Jess M Lupiba, the soldier who sacrificed himself for the safety of civilians and now considered as the “Hero of Alagatan” joins them together with his team who secured government projects during a NPA attack at Brgy Alagatan, Gingoog City on July 11, 2015.

During the event, a tearful reunion among the squad members who defended the barangay also took place except for its leader, Cpl Nadir M Bairulla who offered the ultimate sacrifice of his life during the incident.
City councilor Miguel Paderanga, chairman of Gingoog City Peace and Order Committee conveyed the sentiments of the populace.

He said “We are all proud of you for your patriotism and sacrifices in protecting the people of Gingoog City, selflessly giving even your own life in the name of service to our country and people.”

Employees of the city government together with civilians from Brgy. Alagatan later offered boquetes of Roses to the soldiers who gallantly defended their place.

Plaques of Recognition were also awarded by Mayor Marie Guingona to Cpl Lupiba and the late Cpl Bairulla for their acts of heroism in giving utmost concern for the safety of innocent civilians in Brgy Alagatan despite grave dangers to thier very own lives.

"Best day of my life," is how Cpl Lupiba described his feeling after the ceremony.

He further said this act of appreciation and gratitude further strengthened my resolve to continue serving our people through the Armed Forces.

For her part, Punong Barangay Emelyn Bucio of Alagatan who was celebrating her birthday said “This is the best gift i ever recieved, the day our hero was released.”

After the ceremony, Cpl Lupiba was treated to a “boodlefight” by Ltc Jose Eriel M Niembra, the commanding officer as well as other personnel of 58th Infantry Battalion at its headquarters in Claveria, Misamis Oriental wherein he told the tropos, “I never expected i will be seeing you again.” (4ID/PA)


AFP rewards tipsters for helping track down NPA, Abu Sayyaf leaders, cohorts (photo)

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 24): AFP rewards tipsters for helping track down NPA, Abu Sayyaf leaders, cohorts (photo)

military tipster

Armed Forces of the Philippines Vice Chief of Staff Major General Romeo T. Tanalgo hands a bundle of cash to one of the nine military tipsters who were instrumental in the neutralization of nine members of the New People’s Army and Abu Sayyaf and cohorts in a ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES
A total of P22.5 million worth of reward money was handed to informants at the Intelligence Service at Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday following the neutralization of key New People’s Army and other terrorist leaders.

The cash awards ranged from P350,000 to P5.8 million. The tipsters were instrumental in the neutralization of two NPA leaders, three Abu Sayyaf Group personalities and four of their companions.

The neutralized leaders include Eduardo Esteban known as Esteban/ Manuel/ Bonnie/ Benny/ Pilo, a ranking leader of NPA who was wanted for murder in Abra province. He was arrested August 14 last year by joint security forces in Iloilo.

He had a P5.8 million bounty on his head.

Another arrested NPA leader was Dominiciano Muya known as Atoy/Marco, who was wanted for various crimes. He carried a reward of P4.8 million. He was wanted in Agusan del Sur for killing two police officers and he was charged with multiple murder and double frustrated murder in Malaybalay City for killing five militiamen and a civilian. He was arrested on October 16 last year.

Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Khair Mundos with cases of murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder in Cotabato was arrested June 11 last year in Paranaque City. He also served as Finance and Logistics officer who facilitated transfer of funds and supplies to the Abu Sayyaf from foreign supporters, local politicians and businessmen in Basilan. He carried a P5.3 million bounty.

Long Malat Sulayman, an Abu Sayyaf commander, was killed last April 2012. He was wanted for nine counts of murder and four counts of frustrated murder in Basilan. He was also involved in the murder of 14 Marine troops and 12 injured in Al-Barka, Basilan. He also took part in the killing of the 19 Special Forces in the same town.

He carried a reward of P3.3 million.

ASG companions Jaojin Salam, who was wanted for murder, died in a law enforcement operation last June 2014. He carried a P1.1-million reward.

Other companions were Jemaah Islamiya-trained Daty Mama Abpa, wanted for multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder in General Santos City on Dec. 7, 2010; and Nur Hassam, arrested in Zamboanga in August last year for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in Basilan. Both had a P600,000 bounty.

Abi Pamanay, who was facing charges of murder and multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder was arrested in Kidapawan City. He was tagged in a bombing incident in Kidapawan City which killed one and injured 36 others, as well as bombings in Sultan Kudarat. He had a P350,000 reward.

4 ‘Reds’ captured in Cavite yield gun, ammo

From the Journal Online (Nov 24): 4 ‘Reds’ captured in Cavite yield gun, ammo

GENERAL Trias, Cavite -- Four alleged members of the New People’s Army rebels were nabbed in upland Bgy. Javalera, here, before dawn on Monday.

The authorities, led by Cavite police director Senior Supt. Eliseo Cruz, identified the suspects as George Bruce, Rommel Nunez, Jose Nayve and Armando Matres.
The four “NPA” rebels are alleged members of the NPA’s Bagong Hukbong Makabayan Movement operating in the area.
The suspects yielded a cal. .45 pistol, ammunition, vehicle and an improvised explosive device.


NPA continues to use IEDs in violation of int’l human rights law

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 24): NPA continues to use IEDs in violation of int’l human rights law

Camp Bancasi, Butuan City –  The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deplored the New People’s Army’s (NPA) continued use of landmines that victimized even innocent civilians, according to Fourth Civil Military Operations (4th-CMO) chief Col. Rey Pasco.

“This senseless and diabolical strategy made by the NPA bandits should be stopped and human rights groups must come in now to put an end to this,” Pasco said yesterday.

The 4th-CMO chief said the NPA has continuously victimized innocent civilians, who did not support their cause by using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on them.

According to him, the use of IEDs “once again exposes NPAs blatant disregard to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”

Pasco cited the recent IED attacks in Bukidnon where a barangay councilor and two Army soldiers were critically wounded.

He said the Army soldiers were conducting security patrol while barangay councilor William P. Ando and some local villagers of White Kulaman in Kitaotao town, Bukidnon were conducting peace and development activity last week when IEDs exploded and wounded them.


1 soldier killed, 5 hurt in ambush by suspected NPA in N. Samar

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Nov 25): 1 soldier killed, 5 hurt in ambush by suspected NPA in N. Samar

CATARMAN, Northern Samar—An Army soldier was killed while five others were wounded in an ambush by suspected communist rebels along the national highway in Catarman town on Tuesday afternoon.

The fatality was identified as Corporal Raymundo H. Corales, member of the 63rd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army based in Lope de Vega town.

Corales was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician at the Catarman Doctor’s Hospital where he was rushed after the ambush that also wounded his five companions including their team leader, First Lieutenant Mark Vincent Ching.

Reports reaching the Northern Samar Police Provincial Office showed that the ambush occurred around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday along the national highway in Sitio Hibabaogan, Barangay Washington in Catarman.

Lieutenant Ching along with five other soldiers were heading back to their headquarters in Lope De Vega town on board a KIA military vehicle when they were fired by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) upon reaching Barangay Washington.

Bullets hit those on board. They were Corales, Ching, Sergeant Marlon Constantino, Private First Class Eric Lazarra, Private First Class Chris Jonathan Bisnar and Private First Class Pablito Pomarca, who drove the vehicle.

Although wounded, Pomarca continued driving with a flat wheel, the police report said.

The vehicle managed to reach Sitio Pagsangjan, Barangay Polangi, some 5 kilometers away from the ambush site, where civilians helped bring the wounded soldiers to the hospital.

Gerilya artists, Lumads band together for street art exhibit to fight for a cause

From InterAksyon (Nov 24): Gerilya artists, Lumads band together for street art exhibit to fight for a cause

Gerilya artists Janno Gonzales and Mar Rios with their work in progress. The mural aims to bring awareness to the Lumad crisis in Mindanao. Photo by  Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

Gerilya artists Janno Gonzales and Mar Rios with their work in progress. The mural aims to bring awareness to the Lumad crisis in Mindanao. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

Members of Gerilya, an art collective composed of street and digital artists, recently participated in a street art gathering to promote awareness about the Lumad culture, the tribe’s plight, and to protest against the killings of the indigenous group’s members recently.

Gerilya, composed of seven artists who each have day jobs besides their group, has followers among the comics and digital art community.

During Manilakbayan 2015, where more than 700 Lumads from Mindanao camped at the Liwasang Bonifacio, Gerilya artists Janno Gonzales and Mar Rios worked on an 8 x 16 feet wooden panel given to them by the group. The two UP Fine Arts graduates thought of creating a collage that would give a shout out on the struggles of the Lumads.

A member of the Lumad group plays the 'kudyapi,' a two-stringed musical instrument created by particular tribal groups in Mindanao. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

A member of the Lumad group plays the ‘kudyapi,’ a two-stringed musical instrument used by particular tribal groups in Mindanao. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

(Read related InterAksyon story on the Surigao del Sur Lumad crisis).

The artists worked quickly on their canvas since there was news that the Kampuhan will be dispersed.

In a few days, APEC leaders and delegates were schedule to arrive in the country for the economic summit and security measures by MalacaƱang were to be implemented. Later, the indigenous group moved their camp to Baclaran church.

The creative hands of these Lumads who have set camp in Manila are stringing beads to make their colorful jewelry. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

The creative hands of these Lumads who have set camp in Manila are stringing beads to make their colorful jewelry. Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

There is a certain nobleness to graffiti art as it carries a temporary quality along with the fast-paced changes happening in urban areas. Left, a 2012 Gerilya mural depicting Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan, and at right, the mural defaced in 2013. Photos by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

There is a certain nobleness to graffiti art as it carries a temporary quality along with the fast-paced changes happening in urban areas. Left, a 2012 Gerilya mural depicting Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan, and at right, the mural defaced in 2013. Photos by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

(Check the Ang Gerilya Facebook page to view their impressive creations.)

According to Gonzales, the street artists are inspired by history, agriculture, and politics when creating comics illustrations and digital art works. Their genre and medium are popular among the youth, which makes their message readily acceptable by their target audience, the millennials.

Gonzales shared, “Nagsisimula kami sa content then we interpret it through digital works—dati sa komiks, sa diyaryo—and after almost 10 years since graduation, heto nagpipinta kami sa kalye.”

Rios added, “Our art form is part of the community. It doesn’t veer away from the community’s everyday life, the daily struggles. Through street art, we can send share our message without bothering others and we are also part of the generation of millennials.”

A Lumad elder dressed in traditional attire takes a break after performing some traditional songs with his 'kudyapi.' Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com.

A Lumad elder dressed in traditional attire takes a break after performing some traditional songs with his ‘kudyapi.’ Photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com


MNLF men clash with gov’t troops; 1 dead, 5 wounded

From Tempo (Nov 25): MNLF men clash with gov’t troops; 1 dead, 5 wounded

Followers of fugitive Nur Misuari opposing a multi-million peso road concreting in Sultan Mastura town, Maguindanao, clashed with government soldiers leaving one dead and five others wounded.
Col. Arnel dela Vega, head of the Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade, said the hostilities erupted last Sunday when some resident-combatants of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sultan Mastura town blocked the way of project workers and even forcibly drove them away.
The workers left and sought assistance from the 37th Infantry Battalion, which deployed soldiers to escort them back to the project site in Barangay Bungabong, Dela Vega said.
On their way to the project site, Army troops were fired upon by the MNLF men led by one Commander Kamlon, prompting the soldiers to fire back. The firefight lasted for about five hours.
Dela Vega confirmed that one of the attackers died and two government troopers were wounded.

A local media report, citing accounts from villagers, said two soldiers were wounded in the skirmish while the attackers suffered one fatality, whose identity was still unknown, and three wounded victims.
Kamlon and his men reportedly belong to the faction of MNLF founding Chairman Nur Misuari, who has been wanted for leading the bloody siege of Zamboanga City in September 2013.

The gunfight reportedly lasted when Kamlon and his men ran out of ammunitions and scampered away.

Village residents condemned the “unnecessary interruption” in the road project.

Village-level talks said Kamlon’s group was allegedly asking for “protection money” from the contractor of the road project in exchange for the free movement of workers at the site.

The Sultan Mastura municipal peace and order council is now trying to resolve the incident peacefully to ensure the completion of the road project, according to higher authorities.


Sabah at a loss over recurrent kidnappings-for-ransom

From the Free Malaysia Today (Nov 24): Sabah at a loss over recurrent kidnappings-for-ransom

Sabah Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun however thinks it’s necessary to look at the big picture and get the Manila Government to drop its Sabah claim.


KOTA KINABALU: Authorities in Sabah are at their wit’s end over the recurrent kidnappings-for-ransom incidents along the state’s eastern seaboard. The views are divided on the phenomenon and range from the gangs having inside information from “moles” planted among the illegal immigrants to the need to find closure on the defunct Sulu sultanate’s Sabah claim to ensure security for the state.

Former Special Branch Deputy Director Leong Chee Woh thinks that the families, relatives and friends of the kidnapping gangs had infiltrated the state and were providing information on potential kidnap victims to them. “Only up to the minute intelligence can pin down the infiltrators,” said Leong. “They cannot simply come in without local support.”

The police, in echoing such views, believe that Sabah faces the problem of “enemies within”. The Eastern Sabah Security Command (EssCom), which exercises oversight on ten districts covered by the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone), has been emphasizing on the people coming forward and providing information on possible kidnapping attempts and the movement of the kidnappings-for-ransom gangs. So far, they have been no takers including among locals who fear being victimized by gang members for co-operating with the authorities.

Sabah Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun however thinks it’s necessary to look at the big picture and get the Manila Government to drop its Sabah claim. “The first basic principle for resolving Sabah’s security problem is to get the Philippines to drop its Sabah claim,” said Masidi.

Like the others, he was commenting on the rhetoric and polemics in the local media and the social media on ways to end the kidnapping incidents in Sabah especially in the wake of the beheading of Bernard Then, 39, an engineer from Sarawak working in Cambodia. Bernard was on holiday with his family in Sandakan when he was taken at the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant on May 15 along with the owner and manager Thein Nyuk Fun, 50. Thein was freed on November 8 after a 30 million peso (RM2.78 million) ransom was paid.

EssCom Commander Abdul Rashid Harun, in agreeing with Masidi, pointed out that Philippine President Benigno Acquino III had reiterated his government’s desire to continue claiming Sabah. “This is a problem. It’s causing problems for the security forces and inviting trouble in EssZone where the illegal immigrants outnumber the locals in many towns,” he said.

Manila claims that the Sulu Sultanate only “leased” eastern Sabah, the EssZone area, to the British North Borneo Chartered Company and did not transfer sovereignty. The Philippines Government claims that the Sulu sultanate transferred “sovereignty” over eastern Sabah to it and wants the territory “back”.

Leong does not want to get into the Sabah claim and prefers to reiterate on the need to focus on intelligence gathering. “We have to eradicate them. When we were dealing with the terrorists, they were out there in the jungle and we flushed them out,” said Leong. “In Sabah, it’s a different situation. The enemy is not out in the jungle but here among the people.”

“So, intelligence gathering should be the first step to flush out these people.”

Another suggestion out there, seconded by local politicians, was to eradicate the many water villages dotted all around the long Sabah coastline.


MNLF, MILF meet to tackle peace initiatives in Mindanao

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 24): MNLF, MILF meet to tackle peace initiatives in Mindanao

Representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari in the hinterlands of Sulu to discuss peace initiatives in Mindanao, sources close to the two camps revealed yesterday.

The two sources, a senior MNLF leader and a government official who both requested anonymity, said the two camps are scheduled to have at least a second round of meeting before the end of this month.

Both sources said Misuari and the MILF representatives discussed peace in Mindanao. But they declined to provide more details of the November 9-10 meeting.

“They met somewhere in the hinterlands of Sulu on November 9-10. The MILF leadership sent representatives to meet with Brother Nur,” the MNLF source said.

He said it is widely known that Misuari is fiercely opposed to the peace talks between the government and the MILF and has voiced strong sentiments against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

The government official, on the other hand, welcomed the meeting, saying the government supports the effort of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unite the two Moro Fronts, if not structurally, then at least in unity of purpose.

“It is good for peace in Mindanao that the MNLF and the MILF are by themselves holding meetings. I think their meeting falls under their Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) for the convergence of the two peace tracks,” the government source said.

By two tracks, he meant the peace process between the government and MNLF on one hand, and the government and MILF on the other.

The convergence, as initiated by the OIC, is between the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) to preserve the dividends of peace, among others.

The MNLF source said during the meeting in Sulu, the MILF recalled the meeting in 1998 between its then chairman, the late Salamat Hashim, and Misuari at Camp Abubakar As-Siddigue in Maguindanao.

In that meeting, the two leaders made an understanding to collaborate on “talbiya” (orientation); “da’wah” (Islamic education); and quetar (armed struggle), the source said.

Under the OIC’s aegis, Misuari and MILF Chairman Al-Haji Murad Ebrahim agreed during their meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in May, 2010, to establish the BCF as a mechanism to continue their unity talks to achive peace in Mindanao and explore issues of concerns for each group.

Their meeting came at the sidelines of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) conference.

The two Moro leaders had said, “unity is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle,” that the two rival Moro Fronts have no basic differences as they are both seeking peace, justice, and fair solution to problems besetting the Bangsamoro people.

It was recalled that the OIC, the voice of the Muslim world, has long enshrined in its various resolutions since the 1970s the “Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines” after the MNLF’s war for Mindanao’s independence.

The OIC brokered the 1976 Tripoli Agreement and 1996 FPA.

In the government-MILF peace talks, the OIC is an observer, while Malaysia, a key member of the OIC, is third-party facilitator.

PNP: No reason to raise alert level

From GMA News (Nov 24): PNP: No reason to raise alert level

The Philippine National Police said Tuesday it sees no reason to raise the alert level in the country in connection with the increasing activity of jihadists group Islamic State.

"Sa assessment natin, wala namang reason para itaas ang alert level," PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor told radio dzBB in an interview.

Mayor was reacting to the US State Department's issuance of a global alert to its citizens amid the recent deadly terrorist attacks in France and Mali.

He also clarified that the PNP has gone back to "normal alert" status after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit held in the country last week.

In the radio interview, Mayor also denied reports of the supposed presence of three Abu Sayyaf Group members in Metro Manila.

He said that amid the increasing number of terror attacks in other countries, Filipinos should be more watchful of their surroundings.

"Siguro ang mas maganda, tayo ngayon sa mga ganitong panahon, dahil malapit na ang Kapaskuhan, maganda siguro mag-cooperate tayo sa kapulisan... Security is everybody's responsibility," he said.

Mayor added that people should immediately report to the police if they spot suspicous packages or bags in public places, including malls and public transport terminals.

Meanwhile, he said that regular security measures are in place, including regular patrol operations in malls and other places of public convergence.

"Sa mga areas na maraming mga tayo na nagpupuntahan, definitely kapag mga ganitong panahon,  nagde-deploy tayo ng maraming pulis. Sa malls, mayroon tayong patrol na mobile," he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday also assured the public that it has not received any terrorist threats in the country.

It, however, asked the public to be vigilant.

The military had earlier said it sees no reason to raise its alert level to red—the highest in its three-tiered alert level—despite the threats of terrorism in other countries.

According to Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, there is no existing terror threat in the country, although he advised the public to remain vigilant and report to authorities suspicious situations and persons.


Police to arrest individual responsible for Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers rumour

From the Malaysian Insider (Nov 24): Police to arrest individual responsible for Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers rumour

Police have identified the individual responsible for rumours about the presence of Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers in Kuala Lumpur and Sabah, which went viral on social media

Internal Security and Public Order director Datuk Muhammad Fuad Abu Zarim said the individual, a low-ranking policeman in Sabah, would be hauled up soon over the matter.

"I will be going to Sabah next week to be updated on the case and I hope it can be settled as soon as possible," he said in Kangar today.

Fuad also said police presence in Kuala Lumpur was beefed up from 4,000 to 7,000 men due to the Asean Summit and following terrorist attacks in Paris and not because of the rumours (on Abu Sayyaf suicide bombers) going viral.


Family of beheaded Malaysian hostage pays P.5M for wrong body

From the Manila Bulletin (Nov 24): Family of beheaded Malaysian hostage pays P.5M for wrong body

Grieving as they already are, the family of beheaded Malaysian-Chinese hostage Bernard Then may have suffered yet another heart-rending injustice.

A reliable source told the Manila Bulletin that the family of Then had reportedly given local villagers in a town in Jolo, Sulu R500,000 to be able to retrieve his body from the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which was believed to have buried his remains.

Then’s head is reportedly in the custody of the Western Mindanao Command (WesMincom).

The source, who gave only his “nom de guerre” (assumed name) as Hamza Sulaiman, said he only learned about the worse fate that befell Then’s family from the diplomatic circle in Manila and his contacts at WesMinCom in Zamboanga City.

He said that a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) member, who was now living in Sandakan, Malaysia where Then hails, offered to help in retrieving his remains in Sulu.

The MNLF member allegedly made contact with some local villagers, who, in turn, asked for R500,000 “mobilization money” because the area from where they would be getting Then’s body was crawling with armed men, particularly ASG bandits.

After the transaction was completed, the MNLF intermediary reportedly returned to Sabah on a speed boat with what was supposed to be the body of Then.

“But our contacts informed me that upon seeing the body, the wife of the slain hostage declared it was not her husband’s,” the source said.

Enraged, the MNLF intermediary alleged blurted out: “This is another example you cannot trust the Abu Sayyaf bandits; they are only after money, money and more money.”

But the source did acknowledge that the MNLF intermediary did not coordinate with the military in Jolo, which already has orders to turn over Then’s body and head to the Malaysian government.

The ASG kidnapped Then, who hailed from Sarawak, and Thien Nyuk Fun, 50, on May 15 at the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan and brought them  initially to Tawi-Tawi, then to Sulu. Fun is the manager while Then was the electrical engineer consultant of the restaurant.

The ASG released Fun on November 8 after her family reportedly paid 2.7 Malaysian ringgit, or about R30 million, in ransom. However, Then was left behind.

His captors beheaded him after a breakdown in ransom negotiations just as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit was about to start in Manila that caused a major embarrasment for the Philippine government.

While in Manila, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak condemned the beheading as a “savage and barbaric” act and called on Manila to give justice to his countryman.

The week after, while he was in Malaysia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Aquino ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf.


Has a Philippine Militant Group Gone Regional Amid Islamic State Fears?

From The Diplomat (Nov 25): Has a Philippine Militant Group Gone Regional Amid Islamic State Fears?

The Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf may be spreading its unwanted tentacles.

Has a Philippine Militant Group Gone Regional Amid Islamic State Fears?

An American and Filipino soldier near a rebuilt school in Basilan in 2009 that was burnt down by the Abu Sayyaf.  (Image Credit: Flickr/US Pacific Command)

As the rest of the world grapples with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), their latest attacks on Paris, and what some commentators are calling the Global Jihad Insurgency, Philippines-based Islamic militant group the Abu Sayyaf may be spreading its own unwanted tentacles.

That message was clear following a leaked memo from within the Malaysian police published by the news portal Malaysiakini detailing how the Abu Sayyaf has established cell networks in East and West Malaysia, which were prepared to carry out terrorist-styled attacks.

Local police in Kota Kinabalu – where tourist dollars hold pride of place on the local political agenda – denied the reports circulating on social media that eight suicide bombers had been planted in the state of Sabah and another 10 in Kuala Lumpur.

But these threats can’t be discounted given the vacuum left by the bloody demise of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and its even nastier offshoot Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) across the region. Both groups once shared with the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines’ troubled south.

This is unusual as the Abu Sayyaf – who have been widely, and justifiably, vilified as thugs – have largely kept their operations in Basilan, Jolo  and surrounding islands, spilling into the Sulu Sea and only sometimes into nearby Sabah, since the group’s inception in 1991. Operational cells in Kuala Lumpur would indicate a major expansion of its operations.

Those operations include kidnap and extortion — a major income stream. Group leaders espouse Islamic virtues and have sworn allegiance to ISIS but the few who have had the chance to view them up close and personal tell a different story.

Among them is the Australian Warren Rodwell, who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf and held for more than 15 months. He told The Diplomat that kidnapping and extortion were “just scratches” on the surface of their operations.

He said the group was heavily involved in human trafficking, “none of which is regarded as criminally or perhaps morally wrong to the lowly educated members of this second/third generation cottage industry.”

Rodwell said Abu Sayyaf militants prayed when bored and rarely was jihad ever mentioned.

“I did not hear anything about jihad until the last month (of captivity) when a couple of seasoned jungle fighters were guarding me,” he said. “For the most part, I would regard them as a bunch of thugs.”

Sabah is prone to irregular kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf and has been occasionally embroiled with the rebels who plague the region, contradicting the image espoused by politicians and business.

The East Malaysian state has been subject to unwanted travel warnings from Western embassies and the Sabah state government also has a long and menacing history of leaning on journalists who do not toe the official business-friendly story.

Nevertheless it was JI – as al-Qaeda’s regional proxy – that wrote the latter day prescription for a Southeast Asian caliphate, detonating bombs across Indonesia with much of the planning and proselytizing done from Malaysia and hideouts in Thailand and Cambodia as well as the Philippines.

If the Abu Sayyaf is spreading its wings as an ISIS proxy into Malaysia, a Muslim country with secular pretensions, then fears that the militant insurgency — which dominated the region’s political landscape in the first decade of this century — is making a resurgence will be realized.

Just last week Malaysia’s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said he and other Malaysian leaders were on an ISIS hit list.

The Abu Sayyaf is every bit the Daesh — an Arab word meaning ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others.’ The word is currently striking a chord in the English lexicon following the Paris attacks.

As a paramilitary group, the Abu Sayyaf has sworn allegiance to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has outlasted its contemporaries, is well armed, and can make bombs. And that is exactly what ISIS needs if it is to pick-up from where JI and JAT left off in the push for a Southeast Asian caliphate, not unlike the one it seeks in the Middle East.

Bicol rebels scoff at 'fake surrenderees' presented by military

From InterAksyon (Nov 24): Bicol rebels scoff at 'fake surrenderees' presented by military

Communist rebels in the Bicol region mocked the military’s presentation last week of what they said were “fake” New People’s Army surrenderees.

“This tall tale of NPA surrenderees was highlighted during scripted press conferences and interviews they conducted to inculcate in the minds of the people that the military has been successful in ‘dismantling’ the revolutionary movement, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA at the provincial and regional levels,” Maria Rosa Banua, spokeswoman of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the region said in a statement.

She dismissed the exercise a “psy-war (psychological warfare) offensive was supposed to please foreign investors who attended the recently-concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (summit)” in what she described as “an assurance that they can freely continue to plunder the nation's natural resources without any of popular opposition and armed resistance.”

Banua acknowledged that “Ka Rolex,” the only surrenderee introduced openly by the 9th Infantry Division, was a former rebel but said he “had to quit since he was indecisive and ill-prepared to face the trials and sacrifices of waging a people’s war.”

She also said he could not stand the rebels’ discipline and left to become a “kaingero” (slash and burn farmer) in Bacon, Sorsogon, where he was arrested “and forced to weave tall tales and cast aspersions on a top NPA military cadre in the province that the AFP had targeted.”

She added that it was also in response to “successful tactical offensives” mounted by the rebels in the latter part of this year.


Police closing in on suspect in bombing of van, cop says

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 24): Police closing in on suspect in bombing of van, cop says

THE SPECIAL Investigation Task Force “UV Express” has already tracked the general location of the main suspect in the bombing of a commuter van along Ecowest Drive in Ecoland.

“We cannot tell his exact location although we have already the information,” said Chief Insp. Milgrace C. Driz, a member of the task group, said. ”He’s only traveling the Pikit to Davao route.”

She said police are set to file a case against the suspect for serious physical injury and violation to the Anti-Terror Law.

The task force already submitted the investigation report to the Police Regional Office including the post-blast results, composite sketch, affidavits of the van owner, driver and conductor.

“We are already focused on some personalities but we could not divulge their names,” she said.

The task force released on Wednesday a facial composite of the suspect in a passenger van explosion.

The suspect was described to be around 35-40 years old, 5’1” to 5’2” in height, medium built, with white complexion and was wearing a black t-shirt, bull cap and denim pants.

Accordingly, the suspect was one of the three passengers left who disembarked from the van in front of the SM Ecoland and picked up by another man on a motorcycle.

Still eyes extortion personal vendetta

Although the task force released the facial composite of the alleged suspect their investigation is still eyed on the extortion and personal grudge as the possible motive.

Investigators believed the explosion that rocked a passenger van on Wednesday was connected to the killing of a driver of another van as both vehicles belonged to the same owner.

This developed as the Task Force UV Express also assured the public that there’s no terror group operating in the city.

Driz earlier said that Jonas Guerrero, son of van owner Gregorio Guerrero, had claimed that one of their drivers was killed in Pikit, North Cotabato in connection to the extortion demand they have been receiving.

“They have around 30 units that ply the Cotabato to Davao route,” she said.

Driz said they already have the identity of the group behind the extortion.

On personal grudge, Driz said they received information that some drivers of legal terminals (which counts the SM City parking lot among them) have reported to the City Mayor’s Office about the proliferation of illegal terminals in the city.


2 NPA rebels ‘killed’ in separate clashes

From the Mindanao Times (Nov 24): 2 NPA rebels ‘killed’ in separate clashes

TWO MEMBERS of New People’s Army were reportedly killed in an encounter with troops under the 84th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Upper Immaculate, at the boundary of Barangay Tungkalan in Toril on Sunday afternoon.

Lt. Maximo Trinidad, acting Civil Military Operations officer of 84th Infantry Battalion, in an interview yesterday said that the troops, led by Lt. Joey Tezzoro, were conducting a security patrol around 2:50 p.m. when they received reports of NPA presence in the area.

The troops engaged in a two-hour firefight against the rebels of Guerilla Front 54 led by Roberto Rosete. One unidentified NPA was killed during the firefight.

Upon the clearing operation, soldiers were able to recover M16 rifle and several landmines, backpacks and subversive documents.

Meanwhile, another rebel was reportedly killed in another 30-minute clash at 10 p.m. in the same area.

Military recovered an AK47 rifle on the scene.

According to Trinidad, the troops already had a clash with rebels in Barangay Carmen, Baguio District  after the abduction of eleven workers of water pumping system of Congressman Isidro Ungab earlier this month.

Trinidad attributed also the effort to the community who reported them immediately about the location of the rebels.

“This was also a joint effort between the community and the government that yielded to a positive outcome in our thrust to maintain peace and order in the city,” he said.


CounterBomber technology combats suicide attacks – Fox News

Posted to the Mindanao Examiner (Nov 24): CounterBomber technology combats suicide attacks – Fox News

CounterBomber can help protect cities from terrorists by revealing their concealed suicide explosive vests.

Deployed by security forces around the globe, the CounterBomber system can automatically detect suicide vests and other person-borne threats at a distance that allows law enforcement and the military to intervene.

Made by Rapiscan, CounterBomber was on show at the Milipol 2015 exhibition in Paris last week.

With this tech, terrorists carrying threats can be quickly detected before they gain access to places with a high density of people – places like stadiums and concert venues such as those targeted by terrorists in the recent Paris attacks. It could also be used to protect people in transport hubs such as airports, subways and train stations.

By detecting a terrorist with a suicide vest early, the technology gives forces the opportunity to try to stop the perpetrator before people are harmed.

In addition to hidden explosives, Rapiscan says the technolgy can also detect other threats that have been concealed like handguns and rifles.

The U.S. government has tested CounterBomber for suicide vest detection and tested it against both men and women hiding explosives.

The specific test results are classified secret. The technology has been deployed by the U.S. military and other all over the world, according to Rapiscan.

How does it work?

Easily transportable and quickly assembled, the system weighs about 250 pounds.

CounterBomber can be configured to automatically assess for threats – without the need for an operator interpreting data. Designed to be intuitive, users require very little training.

To quickly assess approaching people and identify whether they are concealing any threats, the tech harnesses state-of-the-art radar signal processing and video tracking tech.

According to Rapiscan, the detection time to identify an approaching threat is within 3 to 5 seconds.

Scanning and searching for threats is done safely, according to Rapiscan. The technology employs a video-steered radar sensor. While some screening technology has fueled privacy concerns, CounterBomber does not involve imaging, according to the manufacturer.

In environments such as a stadium, CounterBomber can help accelerate the process of fans being screened as they enter the site while improving safety and security.

In addition to protecting civilians, automatic detection means reducing risk to security personnel and frees them up to focus on other tasks to ensure security.


SC junks Laude family's bid to have Pemberton transferred to regular jail

From GMA News (Nov 24): SC junks Laude family's bid to have Pemberton transferred to regular jail

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday dismissed the petition filed by the family of slain transgender Jennifer Laude seeking the transfer of Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton to a regular jail.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said that court junked the petition because it was filed "without the conformity of the public prosecutor."

Te added that the court cited that any criminal case filed in the name of "People of the Philippines" should be represented by a government prosecutor.

The court said: "Petitiners have not shown any reason for exception treatment."

Meanwhile, Te announced that the high court also dismissed the Laude family's petition to declare the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement unconstitutional.

"Petitioners' challenge to the constitutionality of the Visitin Forces Agreement is a collateral challenge which is not the lis mota (the cause of the suit) in this case," the SC said.

Laude's sisters, Marilou and Mesehilda, asked the SC to reverse and set aside the Olongapo Regional Trial Court Branch 74's order rejecting their plea for Pemberton's transfer to the Olongapo City Jail while the murder case is still being heard by the trial court.

The Laude sisters said Branch 74's judge, Roline Jinez-Jabalde, committed grave abuse of discretion in denying their motion based on technicality.

The motion of the Laude family was dismissed by the local court for the petitioners' violation of the three-day notice rule.

The rule, under Section 4, Rule 15 and Sectioon 5, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court, requires a party to furnish the adverse party copy of every written motion at least three days before the date of hearing.

The SC upheld the lower court's ruling, saying that the failure of the Laude family's camp to comply with the three-day rule was not justified.


US, Japan naval exercises make ‘big step forward’

From GMA News (Nov 24): US, Japan naval exercises make ‘big step forward’

USS RONALD REAGAN - The US and Japanese navies established a new level of cooperation to resupply each other's vessels during joint exercises in the seas south of Japan last week, the commander of the US Seventh Fleet said on Tuesday.

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said the delivery of boxes of food and other provisions to a Japanese warship by a US helicopter heralded greater operational integration.

It was the first first time that the two allies have shared supplies other than ship oil at sea.

"It's a big step forward, and we want to do more of that in the future," Aucoin said at a press conference aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

The 100,000-ton US aircraft carrier participated in the annual exercise along with six other US ships and around 25 Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels.

The agreement to begin such exchanges means that US vessels can now be resupplied by Japanese ships in waters closer to Japan and will make it easier for the JMSDF to operate further from home waters with the help of US supply ships.

The Japanese and US Navy are deepening already close military ties as Chinese military power in the region grows.

Vice Admiral Yasuhiro Shigeoka, commander of the JMSDF fleet, who joined Aucoin at the briefing described the security situation in the region surrounding Japan as "severe."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won lawmakers' approval in September for new security legislation that allows Japan's military to come to the aid of allies under attack.

Abe said the biggest shift in Japan's defense policy since the creation of its post-war military in 1954, was vital to meet emerging challenges such as those posed by China's growing military power.

It means the US and Japan can repackage regular joint drills, such as the one in waters about 350 miles (563.27 km)south of Japan "to do more high-level sophisticated" training.

Based in Yokosuka Japan, with the United States' only forward deployed carrier, the Seventh Fleet with some 80 vessels, 140 aircraft and 40,000 sailors is the most powerful naval force in the western Pacific.

After China, Japan is Asia's second most powerful maritime nation with more than a hundred warships.


Palace keeps up heat on China

From the Daily Tribune (Nov 24): Palace keeps up heat on China

The Aquino administration continues to raise the heat on China yesterday over the martime dispute despite the diplomatic initiatives of the Chinese in the recent twin high-profile fora Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders Meeting in Kuala Lumpur and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila.

In both events, China had sought to ease tensions with its neighbors and had offered $10 billion in infrastructure loans to Asean members during the Malaysian Summit.

The Palace said the govenment expects to convince the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an international tribunal supported by the United Nations (UN), in its arguments to establish its territorial claims over parts of the South China Sea which China says it owns historically.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda expressed confidence on the position that the country’s lawyers will take in defending the country’s case before the arbitral tribunal.

This amid the ongoing word war between the Philippines and China over maritime entitlements, with the former being backed by the United States as a treaty ally.

Both Manila and Washington directed its fire on Beijing during the summit over the weekend.

“We are moving toward the merits of the case filed in The Hague, there would be presentations on that. It is the substance of the petition which will be heard by the arbitral tribunal. We are very confident that our lawyers will be able to present a convincing case,” Lacierda said.

“We have emphasized the rule of law, we have been consistent with the Asean or the arbitral tribunal on the primacy of the rule of law”, he added. On the other hand, the Palace official did not give any details on the presentation of the Philippine legal team as Lacierda said he is not privy to the discussions regarding the South China Sea.

China is firm about not honoring the tribunal’s proceedings, saying the tribunal’s decision is not binding to it.

China has called the move a “unilateral” action on Manila’s part. China had criticized the Philippines for refusing to sit down for a bilateral talk on the dispute.

Asked on whether China’s tack would affect the pending decision of the PCA, Lacierda said with or without China, the arbitral tribunal would rule on the the case the Philippines presented to it.

“It’s in the procedural rules of the arbitral tribunal. They already cited jurisdictional issues of the case, so notwithstanding their non-participation, the tribunal will push through in hearing the merits of the case,” he said.

There are other claimants in the South China Sea besides the Philippines and China. These claimants are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan, all of which are members of the Asean, which has recently concluded its annual summit.

Aquino was visibly aloof on Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asean Summit and the Apec forum that the Philippines hosted.

Aquino said his not being too close with Xi was due to a language barrier.

“It is really hard to talk when you have different languages. But, sorry, I read somewhere that we are aloof. We are not aloof. It’s just that if there’s no translator, there’s no dialog,” he said.

During the Apec leaders’ November 18 plenary session with members of the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac ), Aquino was seen conversing and walking beside Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. To Bachelet’s left was President Xi.

All eyes were on Aquino and Xi amid the territorial dispute between the two countries on the South China Sea, parts of which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino issued a slew of statements against China during the Asean summit apparently making up for his lost chance during the Apec forum.

China seeks deeper
ties with Asean

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the Summit in Kuala Lumpur called on East Asian nations to forge closer economic ties and promote political trust to ensure stable growth in the region amid global economic slowdown.

Speaking at the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS), Li said the economically integrating region should treasure the hard-earned desirable situation to further contribute to world peace, stability and growth.

He suggested that the participants stick to the EAS’ nature of a “leaders-led strategic forum,” to Asean’s central role, to advancing on the two wheels of economic development and political security, and to promoting coordinated development of different mechanisms.

In a three-pronged proposal for future East Asian summitry, Li first called for faster regional economic integration so as to make East Asia a stable growth pole for the world economy.

The AseanE conomic Community (AEC), the first sub-regional community in Asia, is expected to take shape by the end of this year. Beijing has described the development as “a milestone in regional integration.”

China, Li said, is willing to enhance the dovetailing of its development strategy with those of Asean in order to realize the vision of forging an East Asian economic community by 2020.

He also called on financial institutions in the region to form an association to facilitate cooperation.
Meanwhile, the Chinese premier called for active political and security dialog and the establishment of a security architecture suitable for the region.

“All parties should strengthen communication and coordination on their respective development strategies and policies so as to promote political trust,” Li said.

Also, the premier proposed that nations in the region enhance dialogue and exchanges to promote harmonious co-existence of different civilizations.

Countries in the region should deepen communication and cooperation in areas of education, science and technology, culture, media, think tanks and youth, he said.