Friday, December 4, 2015

PNoy assures no special treatment for Pemberton

From GMA News (Dec 5): PNoy assures no special treatment for Pemberton

AFP detention an extension of 'Bilibid'

President Benigno Auqino III has assured that Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been convicted for the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, is not receiving a special treatment from the Philippine government. "controlled by the Philippines already—has been, ‘di ba, pati ‘nung point of detention.

The facility in the AFP, sa ISAFP yata, is going to be manned by Bureau of Corrections personnel or is already being manned by Bureau of Corrections personnel," Aquino said in a briefing with Filipino journalists in Rome, Italy on Friday.

The President was visited Pope Francis in Italy, as part of his Europe trip. He had just attended the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris.

Aquion said that Pemberton's detention inside the Armed Forces' national headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City is technically "an extension of the [New] Bilibid [Prison] (NBP) and consistent with the agreement under the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement)."

A day after Pemberton was convicted and ordered jailed in the NBP, Department of National Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced that the AFP will construct a new jail for the American soldier within the AFP Custodial Center, inside Camp Aguinaldo.

Pemberton is currently detained in an air-conditioned container van inside the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board compound, also in Camp Aguinaldo.

The cost of the new jail's construction will reportedly be shared by the US and Philippine governments.

Aquino clarified that the Philippines has to abide by the VFA, which the Philippine signed with the US government.

"By the very nature doon sa agreement na mayroong ‘agreed upon detention facility,’ sasabihin nila ‘o iba na ‘yung detention facility, special na.’ ‘Yung mga ganoong klaseng tanong wala namang kasagutang maayos e," he said.

The President said that Pemberton was treated fairly by the Philippines, based on the VFA and that the ruling against the American soldier was proof that "rule of law happens in our country."

Aquino also believes that the ruling "enhanced" the relationship between the Philippines and the US.

"Ipinakita natin na mayroon tayong korte na kayang humusga nang maayos. The rule of law happens in our country. It is respected by the other state. Therefore, it redounds to both parties’ benefits na hindi unequal. Mayroon tayong equality among two equally sovereign states na ‘pag may ginawa kang kasalanan, mayroon kang pananagutan na dapat mong pagbayaran," he said.

Militants slam ‘VIP treatment’ for Pemberton

From The Standard (Dec 4): Militants slam ‘VIP treatment’ for Pemberton

MILITANT groups  on Thursday  stormed the Department of Justice to express their indignation over what they called the “special treatment” the government was giving US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Protest. Student activists denounce the US government’s alleged refusal to turn over custody of US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been convicted of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude, to Philippine authorities in a rally in front of the US Embassy in Manila on Thursday. Danny Pata

Pemberton, who is being held in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, was sentenced to six to 12 years in jail by an Olongapo court on Tuesday for killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in October 2014. 

The groups, led by the Gabriela party-list and Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or Courage, denounced MalacaƱang for allegedly building a special detention facility for Pemberton in Camp Aguinaldo. 

The protesters urged the department to transfer Pemberton to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City where all convicted criminals are incarcerated.

“The Aquino government has only further unmasked itself as a coddler of torturers, rapists and killers even as it hurls Philippine sovereignty down the drain,” the groups said in a statement.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said   the US government was clearly behind Pemberton’s being lodged in Camp Aguinaldo instead of in a regular jail.

“What kind of government is this that instead of ensuring justice for one of its citizens, it busies itself in protecting the killer?” Hicap said.

He made his statement even as Bureau of Corrections chief Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said Pemberton will be moved to a “bungalow-type” detention facility that can house 50 people from the 20-footer van where he is now being held.

“It’s a big jail that can accommodate around 50 people,” Cruz said.

The militant groups on Tuesday also accused the Aquino administration of its alleged continuing detention of political prisoners. 

“President Aquino has already surpassed the record of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in terms of the number of political prisoners and even human rights violations and cases under his term,”the groups said in their statement.

In its verdict on Tuesday, the Olongapo City regional trial court Branch 74 found Pemberton guilty of homicide—not of murder as charged by the prosecution—and sentenced him to six up to 12 years in jail.

The issue on Pemberton’s detention arose after the Olongapo court ordered his transfer to the New Bilibid Prison. But the Justice Department said Pemberton would remain in Camp Aguinaldo despite the conviction.

Lawmaker to CHR: probe August clash in Masbate

From The Standard (Dec 5): Lawmaker to CHR: probe August clash in Masbate

A lawmaker has asked the Commission on Human Rights to conduct a fact-finding investigation into the possible human rights violations committed during an encounter between government troops and alleged members of the New People’s Army in Cawayan, Masbate last August.

In House Resolution 2276, Masbate Rep. Scott Davies Lanete said information gathered by his office revealed that “overkill occurred and human rights violations were committed during the encounter between the two groups.”

“It is the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights to investigate all form of human rights violations, including the aforementioned incident,” Lanete said as he pushed for the probe.

“Incidents of this nature,” Lanete, member for the majority bloc, added, “should not be left in the dark and hurled towards the realm of the forgotten but strictly condemned and looked into to avoid further human rights violations.”

It has been reported that a gunfight ensued between government troops and NPA members in Cawayan, Masbate at 4:30 p.m.   on Aug. 3, 2015.

The alleged gunfight resulted in the death of a soldier and four suspected NPA members and injury to three soldiers.

But the initial findings by a human rights probe team revealed that the four alleged NPA members were actually habal-habal or tricycle drivers sent by Del Carmen Barangay Captain Silpicio Abilida Mahinay to help soldiers wounded during the rebel-staged ambush in Barangay Del Carmen.

Rogelio Mahinay, 27, single; Adam Fajardo, 34, widower with five children; Robert Badillo, 23, single; and Gary Vistar, 37, married, went to the site to respond but Army soldiers allegedly intercepted them, shot them on the sport and identified them as “rebels.”

Lanete asked the CHR to “initiate criminal proceedings against persons found liable to propose legislative measure that will provide stringent regulations in the curtailment of human rights violations of this nature.”

More tribesmen flee new anti-Red action

From The Standard (Dec 5): More tribesmen flee new anti-Red action

OVER a hundred lumad evacuees from Compostela Valley have fled to refugee facilities in Davao City, complaining that militiamen backed by the military have encamped in their communities purportedly as part of an operation against communist insurgents.

“We evacuated because the soldiers have occupied our community on November 23, noon time. When they reached our village they asked me if they can stay in Side 4. I asked them how many days will you be staying? They told me two years because they will be providing assistance,” said village leader Oraya Mansayloan.

Despite dialogue with the troops’ commander, Lt. Danjo Lagula, the soldiers refused to move away from the civilian houses.

Meanwhile, rights group Karapatan reiterated calls for the immediate disbandment of paramilitary groups under the influence of the military, for the lumad evacuees in various areas in Mindanao to return in their homes for Christmas.

“We demand the immediate pull-out of troops from lumad communities to stop the exodus of people from the villages and to let the [evacuees] go home for the holidays,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.

“While the Aquino administration pretended not to hear our demands during the 30-day Manilakbayan, it continues its fascist attacks in our communities. Aquino’s ‘daang matuwid’ has to end. The people, especially the lumad, will lead Aquino on the road to prison,” said Manilakbayan spokesperson Kerlan Fanagel.

In 2015 alone, there are at least 19 incidents of forced evacuation and 7,000 documented victims in Mindanao, Southern Tagalog and Cagayan Valley. The figure does not include the evacuees displaced after the Mamasapano carnage in Maguindanao last January 2015.

The majority of the more than 7,000 evacuees came from the Caraga region; most of them are at the Tandag Sports Complex for three months now. The almost a thousand evacuees in the UCCP-Haran in Davao City are from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte, and from Bukidnon who arrived in UCCP-Haran by batches since January 2015.

“Forced evacuation due to intensified military and paramilitary counterinsurgency operations has brought so much damage to the lives of the Filipinos, especially among children,” Palabay said.

“The continuing attack against lumad communities and schools, including the recent evacuation in Compostela, show both the hypocrisy and desperation of the US-Aquino regime, especially with Oplan Bayanihan’s failure,” added Fanagel.

NPA killings geared at extortion – Army

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 5): NPA killings geared at extortion – Army

“More on election activities.”

This was how Army Col. Francisco Delfin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday described the motive in the series of killings perpetrated by the New People's Army, most of which had taken place in the Cauayan and Ilog hinterland areas.

The NPA Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the New People's Army has claimed responsibility for the killing of Romualdo Dollente and Rene Villar, active and former members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, respectively, former NPA members Jojo Grande and Jose Siplao, who later joined the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Rebel spokesperson Andrea Guerrero justified their deaths by claiming they were either involved in illegal activities, or were military informants.

Ex-CAFGU member Jimboy Nalagon was also shot and killed by four armed men on Dec. 1 in Brgy. Camalandaan, Cauayan, police records show.

Delfin, who supervises the security operations of Army units in Negros Island Region, however, dismissed it as an isolated incident, saying that they have so many ongoing security operations against the NPA.

But he advised government troops to take extra security precautions by adopting the “buddy system” and to always be vigilant .

Delfin also slammed the NPA for killing unarmed individuals, who cannot defend themselves.

The 303rd Infantry Brigade is now helping the family of Dollente, in coordination with other government agencies, to cushion the impact of the loss of their “bread winner”. Delfin said.

The Communist Party of the Philippines, a political wing of the NPA is marking its 46th founding anniversary on Dec. 26.

Because of the killings, Delfin said the NPA may also be trying to project to candidates in next year's election, and the businessmen that they are still alive.

This also bolstered by the activities of NPA of sending extortion letters to private companies demanding revolutionary taxes, he added.

Although they have not received any complaints yet from candidates being victimized by the NPA, Delfin said he is discouraging them from complying with the rebel demands.

Should there be any, he advised candidates to share the information with them, so they can act on it, in coordination with the Philippine National Police.

DND allocates Php1.1-B for acquisition of night fighting systems

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 5): DND allocates Php1.1-B for acquisition of night fighting systems

The Department of National Defense (DND) is allocating about Php1.1 billion to purchase 4,464 brand-new units of night-fighting systems.

The money will be sourced from the agency's Capability Upgrade Program 2013-2017.

DND did not give specifics on what equipment would be purchased but night fighting system usually includes night vision goggles and rifle targeting systems that can illuminate targets at night.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 180 calendar days, DND bids and awards committee chair Assistant Secretary Ernesto D. Boac said.

Interested bidders must have completed a similar project within the last five years.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled on December 10, 2015, 10 a.m. at the DND bidding and awards committee conference room, left wing, basement, DND Building, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Bid opening is on December 22, 10 am, in the same venue.

152 new officers join AFP

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): 152 new officers join AFP

One hundred and fifty-two new officers of the Major Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) formally graduated Friday morning.

These officers are under the newly implemented common curriculum for all Officer Candidate Courses (OCC), said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato

The synchronized graduation ceremonies, the first in Filipino military history took place at the AFP Museum and Multi-Purpose Theater in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Hernando DCA Iriberri graced the event and welcomed the new officers into the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force.

Of 152 graduates, 58 were from Army OCC, 52 were from the Navy OCC and 42 were from the Air Force OCC.

Probationary (P)2nd Lt. Paul John C. Valencia (PAF), P/Ensign Gay T. Famero (PN) and P2nd Lt. Rey Gaezzel M Anfone topped the list of graduates in their respective branches of service.

They were all given the Presidential Saber for being top one in their OCC batches.

P2nd Lt. Gemadel J. Maquiling and P2nd Lt. Tyrone T. Estillero placed second and third, respectively, on the list of topnotchers in the PAF Air Education and Training Command.

P/Ensign Mechelle T. Amores placed second followed by P/Ensign Christy A. Raterta on the third place in the list of OCC graduates of Naval Education and Training Command.

P2nd Lt. Arnold A. QuiƱon and P2ndLt. Stephanie C. Collado garnered the second and third places, respectively, among the graduates of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Top two OCC graduates received the Secretary of National Defense Saber while the top three OCC graduates were given the Chief-of-Staff Saber.

Air Force OCC top one P2nd Lt. Valencia graduated Bachelor of Science in Aviation Electronics Technology from Philippine State College of Aeronautics in Basa Air Base, Pampanga before deciding to become a cadet at PAF OCC.

He is 25 years old and a native of Porac, Pampanga.

Army OCC top one P2nd Lt. Anfone holds a degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing from San Pedro College in Davao City. She is from Cotabato City. She is 24 years old.

Navy OCC top one P/Ensign Famero is a graduate of Romblon State University in Odiongan, Romblon where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. She is 27 years old and a native of Odiongan, Romblon.

The new curriculum took effect last year which gave way to overlapping of classes among the Major Services Officer Candidate Schools to realize the upper class-underclass system and standardize the awards given to OCC graduates.

Beginning 2015, the Major Services Officer Candidate Schools will synchronize their graduation to facilitate the projected summative evaluation that will measure the effect of the implemented curriculum and leadership development to the graduates as a result of the new program.

The Army OCC graduates took up their course in Training and Doctrine Command based in Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac.

The Navy OCCs had their training in Naval Education and Training Command based in Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui in San Antonio, Zambales while the Air Force OCCs had their in PAF Air Education and Training Command based in Fernando Air Base, Lipa City.

MILF: Editorial -- If BBL passes, whose credits?

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Dec 2): Editorial -- If BBL passes, whose credits?

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is not engaged in blaming game. We do not get anything in finger-pointing. We still believe in and pursue constructive partnership in the search for peace and justice in Mindanao.

Be this as it may, if at the end, however, the BBL does not pass, we have to examine why it did not pass. We cannot just say that it is due to the biases, hatred, and prejudices of the majority population against the Moros, which are shared by many if not most of the lawmakers in Congress, as pointed out correctly by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo. Someone or groups have to assume responsibility.

There is no need to push for answers to this question. Perhaps, we can reverse the formulation to make it positive or non-adversarial. Suppose the BBL passes Congress, who would be credited for it?

Right now the fate of the BBL is in the hands of Congress, the Senate and the Lower House.  This is crystal clear. Decision lies in their hands; they can pass it or they don’t. The people can only lobby against or in favor of it, but they are not part of decision-making. No amount of reasons can smokescreen the decisiveness or indecisiveness of lawmakers especially the leadership. Lack of quorum (in the Lower House) is not a viable reason; why no quorum is raised if the BBL is under deliberation and no question of quorum if it is the national budget. Come to think of it!

Until this time our trust of President Benigno Aquino III is safely intact. We never waver in this trust. For this reason, we hope that he will push for the passage of the BBL in Congress now. The last two minutes, so to speak, can make a difference. Many lawmakers are urging him now to certify the BBL as urgent bill. This would abbreviate the discussion. Only eight session days are left to enact the bill. Time is running out but there is still to do it. We hope to see the enlightened decisiveness of the President once again.

‘Sense of alienation, neglect fuel terror threats in Mindanao’

From the Manila Bulletin (Dec 3):  ‘Sense of alienation, neglect fuel terror threats in Mindanao’
The threat of radicalization lingers in most parts of Mindanao largely due to the some sectors who continue to feel alienated and neglected.

This was the pronouncement made by government peace panel (GPH) chair Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer during the awarding of an art contest sponsored by the PAMANA program of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on Wednesday, December 2 at the SM City here.

Ferrer said the threat of radicalization after the infamous Paris and Mali incidents continue in the country, particularly in Mindanao.

The chief negotiator talked of “the alienated segment of the Islamic population”, mostly the young generation but not necessarily members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who are prone to be influenced deeply by the radicals.

Ferrer pointed out that disillusionment if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not passed can further fuel their feeling of alienation and neglect from the government.

“Kung hindi ito matuloy (the BBL) alam natin yong magiging dangers. Maraming impatient, not necessarily the MILF. (If the BBL is not passed, we know the dangers. There are impatient sectors and groups out there, not necessarily the MILF). There are those younger members of their communities who feel alienated more and more from the government.”

Ferrer said the BBL will help the government maintain peace and order and close the doors of the influence of the more radical ideologies in the country especially in Mindanao.

She added that there are armed groups who are willing to lay down their arms and pursue peaceful lives once the BBL is passed.

“We have a significant chunk of former rebels yet still armed but are willing to put down their arms and become civilians and put their weapons beyond use as long as political and economic reforms stipulated in the BBL are made available to them,” she added.

MILF: Minister Macoto Iyori of Japanese Embassy and Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters visit MILF Leadership at Camp Darapanan

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 4): Minister Macoto Iyori of Japanese Embassy and Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters visit MILF Leadership at Camp Darapanan

Minister Macoto Iyori of Japanese Embassy and Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters visit MILF Leadership at Camp Darapanan

Early morning on Wednesday, December 2, a delegation from the Japanese Embassy in Manila and JICA Officers, arrived at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Administrative Camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. 

The group was composed of Minister Macoto Iyori from the Japanese Embassy, Director Atsushi Hanatani, Infrastructure and Peace Building Dept., JICA Headquarters; Deputy Director General Kei Toyama of Southeast Asia & Pacific Regional Dept., JICA Headquarters, other officers and staff of JICA- Philippines.

MILF Vice Chairmen Ghazali Jaafar and Aleem Ali Sulayman along with other members of the Central Committee warmly welcomed the guests. Also in attendance during the program was Sammy Al-Mansour, Chief of Staff of the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), at the same time the Secretary General of United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

 In his welcome message, 1st Vice Chairman Jaafar thanked the Japanese Government for its continued support, with its Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro ((CCDP-B) Programs, thru the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP).

Director Hanatani said that the objectives of their visit aside from making a courtesy call, is to familiarize themselves with the  MILF leadership and the situation on the ground, pay courtesy visits to the stakeholders of the peace process in Mindanao. 

Another purpose is to convey their continuing support to the peace process, despite the delay of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). With or without the BBL yet, there would be a firm commitment of Japan and JICA to continue to support Peace Process, Director Hanatani added. 

Moreover, JICA will continue to extend economic support thru livelihood projects. After their visit at Camp Darapanan, they will also   attend a turn-over ceremony of a multi-purpose hall building in Simsiman, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, on the same day. 

The multi-purpose hall building was funded by the Japanese Government through the JICA under the BTC-JICA CCDP-B.

As the short meeting winds up, Vice Chairman Jaafar, in behalf of the MILF Central Committee members expressed once again, their thanks and gratitude for Japan’s commitment in supporting the peace process in the Bangsamoro.

MILF: BDA-CenMin volunteers conduct Orientation on the Gains of GPH-MILF Peace Process

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 4): BDA-CenMin volunteers conduct Orientation on the Gains of GPH-MILF Peace Process

BDA-CenMin volunteers conduct Orientation on the Gains of GPH-MILF Peace Process

Over a hundred volunteers of Bangsamoro Development Agency-Central Mindanao (BDA-CenMin) conducted orientation on the gains of peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held on November 25 at Mahad Matanog, T'ba, Matanog, Maguindanao.

The orientation was aimed at raising the awareness of the participants on the gains of the GPH-MILF Peace Process. 

Ustazah Jehan A. Ariman, one of the volunteers of BDA-CenMin said, "This orientation reminds us that the gains of the peace process were achieved as a result of tedious and long peace negotiations between the GPH and the MILF Peace Panels to appropriately address the centuries-old Bangsamoro Question". 

Ariman also said that, "The orientation further aims to remind the participants that the gains of the GPH and the MILF Peace Process were realized through the strong support of the Bangsamoro and all other peace-loving people".         

Anuar Cabalo, Regional Coordinator of Peace Building Program emphasized that, "This orientation is meaningful as it reminds us of the historical tribulation and other difficulties of the Bangsamoro struggle for freedom and self-determination".

"Specifically, it makes us aware on the gains of the GPH and the MILF Peace process that provided great contribution in attaining true peace and holistic development not only in Mindanao but throughout the country as a whole', Cabalu further said. 

"And once the Bangsamoro and other stakeholders are not aware of the gains of the peace process, they may not be able to avoid things that may hamper the smooth implementation of the gains of the peace process”, Cabalu added.

Ustadz Ahmad Hassan, one of BDA-CenMin Provincial development Catalyst (PDC) mentioned the gradual return of normal life of those who were adversely affected, the internally-displaced persons (IDP’s), as one of the gains of the peace process.

“Reduction of poverty among people in the Bangsamoro, illiteracy rate and number of unskilled individuals were also gradually addressed”, Hassan also said.

Hassan pointed out that "due to the peace process, peace and holistic development are gradually and partly achieved".

"And, failure to sustain the gains of peace process will tantamount to returning to the abnormal and uncertain conditions of IDPs", Hassan added. 

Ameril Guimba, BDA-CenMin Regional Coordinator for Economic Program said, "As part of orienting the participants on the gains of the peace process, we must be aware of the consequences of war that will affect not only the Bangamoro people but the Filipino people as well".

"Thus the gains of the peace process between the GPH and the MILF is worth sustaining for", concluded Guimba.

BDA-CenMin is the proponent of Muslim Blood Donation (MBD) and Youth Development Program (YDP) which is among the seven regions of the agency.

MILF: BTC-JICA Quick Impact Project turned-over to community organization in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 4): BTC-JICA Quick Impact Project turned-over to community organization in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato

BTC-JICA Quick Impact Project turned-over to community organization in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato

Officials of Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) led by BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal and Atshusi Hanatani, Director for Infrastructure and Peace Building Department of JICA Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, respectively, turned-over a quick impact project (QIP) Multi-Purpose Hall Building on December 2 at Barangay Simsiman, Pigcawayan, North Cotabato to Simsiman Bangsamoro Organizastion headed by its President Akmad T. Alimuden.

A day before Director Hanatani paid courtesy visit to the Office of the BTC, in Cotabato City.

Barangay Simsiman is one of the fortunate barangays that passed the site validation and selection process identified by the Quick Impact Project (QIP) Task Force. 

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Alimuden said, “We must be thankful to Allah because our barangay was chosen as recipient of QIP Task Force.  Simsiman is among the five hundred barangays in North Cotabato but was the one identified as beneficiary of the Multi-Purpose Project, funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)”, Mr. Alimuden added.

He told his audience that the multi-purpose building will be utilized by the people where programs such as conduct of meetings, reading of the Holy Qur’an, meeting and other community programs are held.

This multi-purpose building was given to us and so we must take care of it, Mr. Alimuden added.

BTC and MILF Peace Panel Chair Iqbal said, “Thank you to Government of Japan and the people of Japan in helping search for the elusive peace in Mindanao. Even if there is Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) or not, the Japanese government will continue to support the peace process between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH).

Chair Iqbal also gave updates on the status of the BBBL. 

He said, on status of BBL, we don't know if Congress can pass it or not. There are only eight (8) sessions left for Congress to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Law. On the chances of passing the BBL, there is hope but the ratio of chances is getting too small. Optimism has been dead but there is still hope.

BTC is the key partner of JICA in the peace process in Mindanao particularly with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Director Hanatani said, “Let us not lose hope and we come and stay to engage with you until we see the fruits of the peace process.

We, JICA and the people of Japan will remain trusted partner of the Bangsamoro people, Director Hanatani added.

Hashim Mantikayan , BDA Regional Manager for Central Mindanao reminded the Simsiman Bangsamoro Peoples Organization on the operation, maintenance and sustainability of the Multi-Purpose building.

 He said anyone can use the building but you must (PO’s) maintain the cleanliness of the building.

MILF: Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters pays courtesy visit to BTC

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 3): Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters pays courtesy visit to BTC

Director Hanatani of JICA Headquarters pays courtesy visit to BTC

Director Atsushi Hanatani of JICA Headquarter in Tokyo, Japan and his delegation paid courtesy visit to the Office of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in Cotabato City on December 1, at around 3:30 in the afternoon.

Hanatani is Director for Infrastructure and Peace Building Department of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. He was accompanied by Mr. Naoyuki Ochiai, Head and Chief Leader JICA-CPO/CCDP-B based in Cotabato City.
Also present were Engr. Muhajirin Ali, Head of BTC Socio-Economic Component of JICA-BTC, BTC Commissioners Atty. Raissa  Jajuri, Froilyn Mendoza, Talib abdulhamid Binito, and Sheikh Ibrahim Ali.

Mohagher M. Iqbal, Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission and the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel said, “It is an honor on the part of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission as well as the Commissioners who are with us this afternoon to welcome the JICA and the Japanese delegation headed by Director Atsushi Hanatani.

Dir. Hanatani said, “We would like to pay courtesy call to the leaders of peace process in Mindanao. This is one of our objectives in coming to Mindanao to familiarize ourselves with the leaders and the happenings in area.

 “I Know the political process is still under way in Manila, I would to show that JICA and the people of Japan are committed to provide our outmost support to the peace process” and provide peace dividends to  the people in Mindanao”.

BTC is the key partner of JICA in the peace process in Mindanao particularly with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“On March 28, 2014, JICA President Dir. Akiko Tanaka and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim agreed and committed that the peace dividends should be realized swiftly and inclusively to create confidence and mutual trust among the stakeholders of the peace process through the implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIP)”.
BTC Socio-Economic Office is responsible in the overall coordination for QIP while the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) is the implementing agency in cooperation with JICA Cotabato Project Office (CPO).
QIP is under the Component of Improvement of Public Service Delivery of Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B) and this is funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Under QIP, twenty (20) barangays in the core and outside core territory of the Bangsamoro were provided with one of the following social infrastructures;
a)    Multi-Purpose Hall
b)    Renovation/expansion of school buildings or classrooms
c)    Warehouses with solar dryer.

The site selection and validation is based on the selection criteria identified by the QIP Task Force.

Formal turnover of 2 FA-5OPHs, 6 attack helis, and 1 C-295 to PAF up on Saturday

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): Formal turnover of 2 FA-5OPHs, 6 attack helis, and 1 C-295 to PAF up on Saturday

The Philippine Air Force (PAF)aircraft inventory will get a much-needed boost as two South Korean FA-50PHs, six AgustaWestland AW-109E "Power" attack helicopters and one Airbus C-295 medium transport will be formally turn over Saturday.

Turnover and blessing ceremonies will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, RampColonel Jesus Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

PAF spokesperson Col. Enrico Canaya said President Benigno S. Aquino III would be the guest-of-honor and speaker.

The first two Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50PH arrived last Nov. 28 in Clark Air Base, Pampanga while the C-295 medium, the second to be acquired this year, was delivered in Sept. 15, also in Clark Air Base.

The first C-295 arrived last March 22.

While the six attack versions of the AW-109Es were all delivered in the last quarter of 2015.

The PAF has ordered eight attack AW-109Es with the first two being commissioned last Aug. 17.

These aircraft, especially the Mach 1.5 capable FA-50PHs, are expected to boost the PAF's external defense capabilities.

ASG bandit captured in Sulu hospital

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 4): ASG bandit captured in Sulu hospital

Government security forces arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandit during operations in Jolo, Sulu Friday morning.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, identified the arrested ASG bandit as Kadaffy Muktadil/Khadaffy Camsa, a resident of Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi.

He was nabbed while undergoing treatment at the Integrated Provincial Hospital in Sulu at around 11:10 a.m.

The suspect has an outstanding warrant of arrest for kidnapping issued by courts in Sandakan, Sabah.

Arrojado said Muktadil is now being secured by the Jolo Municipal Police.

He added that it is very likely the captured ASG bandit was among the group who abducted Malaysian Bernard Then and a female companion during a raid in Sandakan early this year.

‘Swiss Challenge’ stays in dev’t of Fort Boni property–SC

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 4): ‘Swiss Challenge’ stays in dev’t of Fort Boni property–SC
Voting 3-2, the Supreme Court maintained that the unsolicited proposal of SM Land, Inc. (SMLI) to develop the 33.1-hectare government property in Bonifacio South in Taguig City for P25.9 billion should be subjected to competitive challenge, or “Swiss Challenge,” and not competitive bidding.

In a 13-page decision released to the media on Friday, the high court’s special Third Division through Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco dismissed the second motion for reconsideration filed by the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) which seeks to allow them to terminate the Swiss Challenge process for the development of the property.
A “Swiss Challenge” is a form of public procurement of a property or services which requires the government to publish the unsolicited proposal and invite third parties to match or exceed it.

The high court also dismissed the motions for intervention jointly filed by the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which sought to reverse the high court’s Aug. 13, 2014 decision and resolution dated March 18, 2015 denying BCDA’s motion.

The decision also denied BCDA’s bid to elevate the case to the high court’s en banc and set it for oral argument.
The high court pointed out that there exists a valid contract between the government and SM Land Inc.
Under the agreement and the National Economic Development Authority Joint Venture Guidelines, the BCDA is duty-bound to proceed with and complete the “Swiss challenge.”
Failure to honor such a valid agreement, the high court said, is “to allow the government to trample on the very rules it itself issued and to renege on its contractual and legal obligations by invoking the all too familiar mantra of public interest, at any time it pleases, will only result in uncertainty in the application of laws, a trait inimical to the Rule of Law.”
“In holding respondent-movants accountable for the representations they made during the long drawn-out negotiation process and during the times the competitive challege repeatedly encountered roadblocks in the form of constant delays and postponements, the Court endeavors to concretize into a norm the government’s strict adherence to its statutory enactments, and its fulfilment in good faith of the commitments it made and of the covenants it entered into.”
The Court added that its ruling which granted SMLI’s petition was intended to send a strong message that “this is the conduct that the public should reasonably expect of the government.”
The high court added that the government also failed to provide evidence that granting a second motion for reconsideration which is, as a general is a prohibited pleading under the rules would be “in the higher interest of justice.”
It likewise did not give weight to the claim of DND and AFP that being the beneficiaries of the proceeds from the conversion, development and disposal of the camps transferred to BCDA, which include the subject property, their military’s modernization program stand to suffer if the ruling is not reversed
But, the Court  states: “This ‘right to the  proceeds’ is far from actual as it veritably rests on the success of the bidding process, such that there will be no proceeds that will accrue to their benefit to speak of if the project does not push through.”
“Consequently, the said right does not constitute sufficient legal interest that would qualify the DND and AFP, in this case, to intervene,” it added.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Jose Catral Mendoza while Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr. and Marvic Leonen dissented.
In its ruling last March 18, the high court affirmed with finality its August 13, 2014 decision directing the BCDA to subject to  Swiss challenge the unsolicited proposal of SM Land Inc. (SMLI).

Suspected ASG kidnapper nabbed near Zamboanga City Hall (Photo)

From CNN Philippines (Dec 3): Suspected ASG kidnapper nabbed near Zamboanga City Hall

The suspected ASG kidnapper was identified as as Arasad Saidjuwan/Arasad Amin Sahid, also known as Abu Ayob or Abu Mara/Amama.

A notorious Abu Sayyaf kidnapper was arrested by combined PNP elements just meters away from the Zamboanga City Hall on Thursday morning (December 3).

Chief Insp. Joel Tuttuh, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City Police Office, identified the suspect as Arasad Saidjuwan/Arasad Amin Sahid, also known as Abu Ayob or Abu Mara/Amama.

The suspect was arrested by police during a joint law enforcement operations Thursday at 9:30 a.m. along Valderrosa Street.

Tuttuh said that the suspect is a known Abu Sayyaf member reported to have participated in the kidnapping incident in Tairan, Basilan.

Saidjuwan has a standing warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention under Criminal Case 3570 issued by Judge Leo Principe of the Regional Trial Court, 9th Judicial Region, Branch 1, Isabela, Basilan.