Sunday, December 13, 2015

Army pays ‘ghost soldiers’ P21m—CoA

From The Standard (Dec 14): Army pays ‘ghost soldiers’ P21m—CoA

THE Philippine Army paid the salaries and wages of “297 ghost soldiers” amounting to P21 million in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Commission on Audit.

A CoA Annual Audit Report of the Philippine Army for 2014, showed that out of the 297, at least 37 were confirmed retired, deceased and discharged from the service but continued to be paid their salaries.

“The Philippine Army paid salaries and wages totaling more than P21 million to personnel no longer in active service or in the employ of the Army,” CoA said.   

For this reason, the CoA ordered the  Army to “require the refund of P1.24 million by 37 military personnel and determine the status of the remaining 260 military personnel who were paid P20.04 million.”   

Out of the 81,674 average monthly personnel of the Army included in the payroll for the period January to March 2014, CoA said, the 297 personnel were not included in the masterlist/roster maintained by the Plans and Research Branch, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1 since they are military and civilian personnel who are already retired, deceased or discharged/terminated from the service; hence, resulted in the payment of salaries and wages totaling P21,293,423.26.

“Regular account for the period January to March 2014 showed that the Philippine Army has an average monthly payroll of 2.2 billion for salaries and wages of 81,674 personnel [average] consisting of 80,795 military personnel and 879 civilian employees,” it said.

It said the payment of salaries and wages of those no longer in the service resulted in the “overpayment/doubtful payment of salaries and wages.”   

CoA revealed that 297 personnel in the Philippine Army payroll for January to March 2014 were not included in the master list maintained by the Plans and Research Branch of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel.

The CoA  found “gaps in the payment of salaries and wages of military and civilian personnel of the Philippine Army.”

CoA also found the discrepancy in the master list and payroll roster was due to the G1 and the Electronic Data Processing branch of the Philippine Army using different reference documents in the updating/preparation of the master list and payroll files. 

Inquiry from the Plans and Research Branch, Operations Group 1, the updating of the masterlist/roster of personnel of the Philippine Army is based on the roster of troops submitted by the G1 of each Philippine Army Major Units, it added.

Each unit, CoA said, conducts daily head count of their personnel to determine their status (on official leave, on official travel, Awol, etc.), which is summarized in the Morning Report and serves as the basis in the preparation of the roster of troops.

“Realizing that one major deficiency in the human resource management of the Philippine Army is the absence of a working database program that can account for its personnel and generate accurate personnel information in real time, personnel accounting system was established,” COA said.

The Operation Group1 has developed a modified information system called Personnel Accounting Information System (PAIS) in order to address this perennial problem, COA said.   

The database program which passed its pilot-testing at the Operation Group 1, Philippine Army has already automated a lot of manual work in the Office; hence, the reason for increased efficiency. The system is capable of generating the following reports in real time:

a)   PA roster of Troops (Listing of military personnel and their unit of assignment);

b) Total Annual Re-enlistees for Reenlistment Clothing Allowance (RCA) projection (Used in projecting the Re-enlistment Clothing Allowance because of detailed information of military personnel);

c) Attrition listing as basis of Procurement Programming such as discharged, retired,separated, deceased, terminated personnel.

However, COA said, despite the application of the system, there was inaccuracy of data on the PA masterlist/roster of troops.

(YEARENDER) PAF ends 2015 with supersonic capability, more capable aircraft

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): (YEARENDER) PAF ends 2015 with supersonic capability, more capable aircraft

The Philippine Air Force (PAF), ended 2015 not with a bang, but with the loud full-throated roar as the first of its two Mach 1.5 capable South Korean-made FA-50PHs light-interim fighter aircraft sped through the skies last Nov. 28.

The arrival of the two jet aircraft, the first pair out of the 12-plane contract from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) worth Php18.9 billion, highlights the return of supersonic capability to the PAF after an absence of 10 years.

This fact was also pointed out by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who was the guest-of-honor in the welcoming ceremonies for the jets at Clark Air Base, Angeles City, Pampanga.

"We’re glad we’re finally back to supersonic age," Voltaire said.

Supersonic refers to having aircraft capable of flying faster than sound or 750 miles per hour.

Having this capability will allow the PAF to respond much faster to possible threats.

The country's last supersonic aircraft was the Mach 1.6 capable Northrop F-5 "Tiger" jet fighters. These were decommissioned in 2005 due airframe defects and lack of spare parts, forcing the PAF to rely on the subsonic SIAI-Marchetti S-211 jet trainers as its primary interceptor aircraft.

The other 10 FA-50PHs are expected to be deliver by 2017. The DND and KAI signed the Php18.9 billion contract for the planes in March 2014.

The acquisition of the FA-50PHs is the highlight of the ongoing AFP Modernization Program worth Php85 billion.

The F/A-50 (the other designation for the FA-50PH) has a top speed of Mach 1.5 (990 miles per hour) or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

It will act as the country's interim fighter until the Philippines get enough experience of operating fast jet assets and money to fund the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft.

The F/A-50 design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

KAI's previous engineering experience in license-producing the KF-16 was a starting point for the development of the F/A-50.

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The F/A-50 uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and Korean Aerospace Industries.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.

Aside from the FA-50PHs, another PAF highlight for 2015 is the arrival and commissioning of all of eight attack versions of the AgustaWestland AW-109 "Power" helicopter.

The first PAF attack AW-109s were commissioned last Aug. 17 while the remaining six were formally accepted for PAF service this Dec. 5.

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

Arrival of the attack AW-109Es will greatly boost the Air Force's close-air support capability, PAF chief-of-air staff Major Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar said.

"Definitely it will significantly increase our capability for close-air support as the (PAF) commanding general (Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado) said we only have a dozen of the MG-520 so this is a welcome addition of capabilities, what is important is it has more capabilities to speak of, it will be able to carry more ordnance and it can operate at night," Kintanar said.

Another feather in the PAF's cap, to speak of is the completion and delivery of its three C-295 medium transport order from Airbus Defense and Space which is worth Php5.3 billion.

The first C-295 was commissioned in March 30 while the second was formally accepted by the PAF last Dec. 5.

While the third, which arrived last Dec. 11, is expected to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2016.

The 220th Airlift Wing of the PAF will operate and maintain the above-mentioned aircraft.

The PAF uses the medium lift aircraft for tactical and medium airlift requirements, and are essential to internal security operations in ferrying personnel and logistical requirements of different line/combat units to any part of the country.

The timely deployment of troops and supplies is vital to ensure the success of any military operations.

With the acquisition of the C-295, the present and future needs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) could be addressed having an additional aircraft dedicated to operate in any combat support, territorial defense and disaster response missions of the AFP as well as the national development.

The Airbus C-295 is a new generation, very robust and reliable, highly versatile tactical airlifter able to carry up to nine tonnes of payload or up to 71 personnel, at a maximum cruise speed of 260 kt /480 km/h.

Fitted with a retractable landing gear and a pressurized cabin, it can cruise at altitudes up to 25,000 ft, while retaining remarkable short take-off & landing (STOL) performance from unprepared short, soft and rough airstrips, as well as low level flight characteristics.

As this developed, modernization efforts for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has gained further momentum after President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved DND Gazmin's request to enter into a "Multi-Year Contract" for seven acquisition projects.

This was disclosed by DND undersecretary for finance, munitions, material and modernization Fernando Manalo in an interview.

"PNoy (President Aquino) has approved the request of DND for SND to be authorized to enter into Multi-Year-Contract. The approval will pave the way for the acquisition of two frigates for the Philippine Navy; anti-submarine helicopters and amphibious assault vehicle for PN; long-range patrol aircraft, close-air support aircraft, munitions for FA-50 and air surveillance for the PAF," Manalo said.

Manalo said payment from the seven projects will run from 2015 to 2018.

Granting of the Multi-Year-Contract will allow to pursue the military modernization program beyond Aquino's term.

Total value of the seven projects is about Php44 billion.

Photo: New Philippine Air Force FA-50 with tail number 002 coming in to land at Manila runway

Pinoy Aviator photo posted to the Philippine Defense Bulletin (Dec 13): Photo: Philippine Air Force FA-50 with tail number 002 coming in to land at Manila Runway


Philippine Air Force FA-50 with tail number 002 coming in to land at Manila Runway piloted by our local pilots from the Bulldogs, the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron.... (Photo courtesy of Mr.Lester Tangco/Post courtesy of Pinoy Aviators)

Air traffic forces AFP to celebrate anniversary outside the metro

From the Philippine Star (Dec 13): Air traffic forces AFP to celebrate anniversary outside the metro

In this February 2015 file photo, military personnel conduct troop inspection at the Armed Forces' headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. "For the first time, we will celebrate our anniversary outside Manila," a military spokesperson says on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. AFP/File

The military will celebrate its 80th anniversary next week in Clark, Pampanga, the first time such event will be held outside Metro Manila.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said Clark was chosen as venue for the Dec. 21 event to prevent air traffic congestion when the military shows off its newly-acquired air assets.

"For the first time, we will celebrate our anniversary outside Manila. Before, we used to hold it at Camp Aguinaldo or Luneta. This year, we will hold it at Clark Air Base," Padilla told radio station dzBB on Sunday in Filipino.

"It will be hard to conduct a long flyby (of air assets) here in Manila. Traffic jam is experienced not only in EDSA and other roads in Metro Manila but also in our airways," he added.

Padilla said some passengers have been complaining that the one-hour trip from Cebu to Manila now lasts for one and a half hour because of air traffic congestion.

Padilla gave assurance that the military anniversary would not disrupt flight schedules. He said commercial traffic in Clark usually peaks in the afternoon or in the evening while the armed forces' anniversary will be held in the morning.

President Benigno Aquino III, the commander-in-chief of the 125,000-strong armed forces, is expected to attend the event.

"This is his (Aquino) last AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) day as president because there will be a change of leadership in the country in July. This will serve as our testimonial for the commander-in-chief," Padilla said.

"To thank him for his support, we will show that we have acquired a lot of equipment for the armed forces. This capability was not matched by the three previous administrations. Everything then was lip service. Now, they became a reality," he added.

During the event, the military is expected to display its newly-acquired air assets including the two FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer jets that were delivered on November 28.

The military has acquired 12 jets from South Korea's Korea Aerospace Industries for P18.9 billion, making it the largest item in the armed forces' modernization shopping list.

The two jets, along with a C295M medium lift fixed wing aircraft, and six AW-109E attack helicopters were formally turned over to the Philippine Air Force early this month.

Another C295 aircraft was also scheduled to arrive from Spain last weekend.

Earlier, The STAR reported that Spanish firm Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence & Space) won the bidding for the purchase of three medium lift fixed wing aircraft. The winning bidder submitted a bid of P5.29 billion, well within the P5.3-billion budget ceiling.

The first of the three C295 planes arrived in Clark in March while the second was delivered in Mabalacat City also in Pampanga in September.

Also to be displayed during the anniversary are the 77 M113 armored personnel carriers that were delivered on Wednesday. Padilla said the armored personnel carriers were acquired from the United States through the excess defense articles program.

"We will also display artillery pieces, mobility equipment, trucks, tanks we acquired the other year, and HADR or humanitarian assistance and disaster response equipment like rescue vehicles," Padilla said.

"We want to show our countrymen that the funds allotted for the modernization of the armed forces were spent properly," he added.

MILF: MILF panel shares learning lessons from Bangsamoro peace process with peace practitioners in a conference at Cambodia

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 13): MILF panel shares learning lessons from Bangsamoro peace process with peace practitioners in a conference at Cambodia

Photo courtesy of Center for Peace and Conflict Studies

Photo courtesy of Center for Peace and Conflict Studies

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel member, Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, shared the learning lessons from the Bangsamoro peace process with the delegates of the 4th Peace Practitioners Research Conference  held at Siem Reap, Cambodia on December 9-10, 2015.

The event, hosted by Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, gathered around 120 peace scholars and practitioners from around the globe to critically reflect on lessons learned in the areas of mediation, negotiation and dialogue from current peace processes in Asia region.

Lingga said, the dialogue with no pre-conditions made the start of the talks between the Government and the Moro National Liberation Front in 1975 and then the negotiations between the state and the MILF in 1997 easier.

He underscored the importance of “building trust” between parties and that “the role of a third party is helpful to bring together conflicting parties to talk peace.”

The peace panel member further stressed that the conflicting parties have to be encouraged  to negotiate and work towards building settlement.

Lingga, one of the much sought resource persons that tackles Mindanao conflict, emphasized the need for the leadership of conflicting parties to rally support for the peace process.

“The support of influential institutions like military, Congress, media, business, civil society and the religious strengthen parties' position to search for creative measures in resolving the conflict,” he pointed out.

He said that military approach does not only fail to resolve but in many cases fuel conflict.

“While talking peace, ceasefire is significant to keep the peace proess going and to preserve whatever gains achieved. It provides space to build confidence among conflicting parties.”

“Even after the negotiations drag on for long time, encourage parties to keep talking peace,” he suggested.

“Agreements on ceasefire, and return and rehabilitation of evacuees are important steps that have to be undertaken before or simultaneous with discussion on substantive issues” Lingga said.

“After an agreement is signed, it is important to have a road map of implementation and benchmarks to guide parties to the agreement, third parties intervener and funding institutions in implementing the agreement,” the peace negotiator explained.

He suggested, “Even after the agreement is signed, do not disband negotiating panels and other infrastructures until the parties are fully satisfied that the agreement is fully implemented” and added the importance of establishing the Third Party Monitoring Team (TMPT).

The TPMT monitors if all of the provisions of the peace accord have been implemented by both parties.

In preserving the gains of the peace process, Lingga emphasized it has to be done base on the needs. As for the negotiations, there is the International Contact Group (ICG) while for the security, the Local Monitoring Team (LMT), Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), Ad Hoc joint Action Group (AHJAG), and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) were in place.

He said in conceptualizing creative approaches to a conflict situation, it is useful to learn from the experiences of others. 

“Every conflict has its own history, context, issues, and necessity,” Lingga said and hinted that, “The approach and process to address them must be responsive to the circumstances.”

MILF: MILF holds meeting with other Moro factions, calls for unity among Bangsamoro people

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 13): MILF holds meeting with other Moro factions, calls for unity among Bangsamoro people

MILF holds meeting with other Moro factions, calls for unity among Bangsamoro people

ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao said in its report on December 12 that, “Leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held a unification and reconciliation meeting on Saturday, at Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao”.

Those who attended the meeting were MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, who led the meeting, Abulkaihr Alonto, leader of a separate MNLF faction and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Assemblyman Romeo Sema who represented Muslimin Sema. Muslimen Sema is leader of the MNLF Council of 15 who signed a unified declaration with the MILF last October.

Before that historic event at Camp Darapanan, Alonto had previously expressed support for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Alonto said that despite Misuari’s absence, the MNLF founder had expressed his interest to join the unification and reconciliation.

All three leaders expressed their optimism and hope that the BBL will still be passed under President Aquino's term. 

They said that they will also continue pushing for the BBL even in the next administration, if it fails to be passed under the Aquino administration. They, likewise, are pushing for unity among the Bangsamoro people.

Jaafar said that at present, the Moro people are divided as some are supporting different leaders who have different positions on the BBL.

Alonto insisted that there is only one MNLF organization. Through Romeo Sema, Alonto conveyed his message to Muslimen Sema and asked him to visit Misuari.

Alonto added they will settle the organization's internal problems and assured the public they can resolve it.

The MILF and other MNLF leaders will continue convincing Misuari to join them in their call for unity and reconciliation. (Source: ABS-CBN New central Mindanao)

ABS-CBN quoted Jafaar saying that, “When Moro leaders are on the same track towards the goal of achieving the Bangsamoro government, the Philippine government will most likely listen to them”.

MILF: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission hands over Report to GPH, MILF Peace Panels

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 12): Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission hands over Report to GPH, MILF Peace Panels

TJRC Chairperson Mo Bleeker in handshake with Chair Mohagher Iqbal to submit the official report of the TJRC Commission

TJRC Chairperson Mo Bleeker in handshake with Chair Mohagher Iqbal to submit the official report of the TJRC Commission

The Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), an independent commission created by the Government and MILF Peace Panels, has completed its work and submitted its official report to the two peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. 

The Normalization Annex under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) provides the creation of the TJRC ensuring the protection on the rights of the Bangsamoro anchored on mutual understanding, harmony and unity among the people.

TJRC Chair Mo Bleeker came in full force with the other members of the Commission to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission office to turn over the report to the MILF panel chair Mohagher Iqbal in the morning of December 9, 2015.

At the meeting chair Bleeker also sought permission of the two negotiating parties for the TJRC to have the report published, explaining that publishing the same will serve to inform the people and also guide policy making bodies in their decisions.

For his part, Chair Iqbal apprised the group of his personal agreement to the proposal and hoped that his counterpart in government, Prof. Miriam Ferrer-Coronel would agree to the publication of the report.

It can be recalled that the TJRC was a part of the signed agreements and even made an important provision in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law pending enactment in the Congress of the Philippines.

The TJRC has the mandate to undertake a study and make recommendations to address legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, human rights violations, correct historical injustices and marginalization through land dispossession.

It can also recommend immediate interventions for reconciliation, conflict prevention and the promotion of healing of physical, mental and spiritual wounds.

The other members of the Commission who came with Chair Mo Bleeker were Jonathan Sisson, senior adviser, Atty. Cecilia Jimenez representing the GPH and Atty. Ishak Mastura representing the MILF.

Filipinos asked: Who do you want on your side?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 13): Filipinos asked: Who do you want on your side?

“Who do you want to be with?”

This is the question former US Pacific Command chief, retired Admiral Samuel Locklear, would put to critics of the emerging partnership between the Philippines and United States amid the changing security situation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some Filipinos have criticized the unfolding alliance, saying the Philippines was being dragged into the US-China rivalry.
“I would say to those critics who say we are just using the Philippines, well, the Philippines is a part of a larger set of problems that have to be dealt with, you can’t isolate yourself… The fact that you sit in the most strategic part of Southeast Asia in a huge set of archipelago where 70 percent of the global economy is going to be generated… The question is: how do you want to be here and who do you want to be with while you are here?” Locklear said in an interview.

The retired admiral was in Manila for the soft launch of a report on the US-Philippine alliance by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

With Locklear were Chris Johnson, a former China station chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency, and CSIS senior fellow Murray Hiebert.

Johnson noted that China had also accused the Philippines of dragging the US into its maritime dispute with Beijing.

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” he said.

The CSIS report, titled “Building a More Robust US-PH Relations,” focused on security and politics, trade and investments, and enhancing people-to-people ties. It was written by Hiebert, Gregory Poling and Phuong Nguyen.

The report recommended that the United States and the Philippines conduct joint patrols in the South China Sea “to assert the freedom of navigation in certain disputed waters.”

“For instance, the two should jointly send ships in transit within 12 nautical miles of low-tide elevations that have been turned into artificial islands by China, such as Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, and other claimants, such as the Vietnamese-occupied Discovery Great Reef,” the report’s authors wrote.

Aside from the United States, the Philippines should also have joint patrols with “Japan, Australia and other like-minded states to assert that the rule of law in the South China Sea is of concern to all nations and is not a bilateral US-China issue,” the report said.

The report also stressed that the Philippine-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca), which is being questioned in the Supreme Court on constitutionality issues, would allow the Philippine military access to US ships and planes.

“This would have a sizable impact on the frequency and quality of US-Philippine training and other joint activities. It would also help boost the capacity for trilateral cooperation with other partners like Australia and, potentially, Japan,” it said.

The CSIS emphasized that under the Edca, the US military would be investing in improvements in the infrastructure of Philippine military bases.

“US-funded upgrades to the base’s naval and air infrastructure and use of those facilities for US naval and air patrols and intelligence gathering would have a substantial impact on the Philippines’ ability to monitor and react to developments in the South China Sea,” the report said.

11 wounded in Caloocan grenade blast

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 13): 11 wounded in Caloocan grenade blast

Eleven people were reportedly injured after a grenade exploded in Camarin, Caloocan City on Sunday morning.

A report by Radyo Inquirer 990AM said one of the injured was an 11-year-old boy.

The report said the suspect with an alias of “Kabeb” arrived at Sampaloc Street, Basilio 5 looking for a certain “Kokoy.”

But when the suspect did not find “Kokoy,” he threw the grenade at the victims who were just playing billiards.

Police are now looking for the suspect.

OIC worried by Congress inaction on Bangsamoro bill

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 13): OIC worried by Congress inaction on Bangsamoro bill
The powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concern over the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the present Congress.

Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary general of the OIC, formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference, was worried about the difficulties facing the BBL in the Philippine Congress, the substantial amendments to the BBL, which have led to the drastic modification of provisions that were agreed upon by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in their Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

In a statement on Saturday, Madani said the amendments have restored the national government’s control over many areas and have actually reduced the Bangsamoro government to an entity similar to an ordinary local government unit.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed by the executive department of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014.

President Aquino described the CAB as a real genuine seal of lasting peace in Mindanao that would usher in a new era of peace after decades of war, displacement, misery and destitution.

Madani said they have been strongly supporting President Aquino in his efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, including the passage of the agreed upon version of the BBL, and called upon all concerned to support these efforts.

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation urges the Philippine authorities, in particular the lawmakers, who share the common goal at working for peace and stability, not to let this historical moment become another lost opportunity,” Madani said.

He added the OIC, which has been engaged in the peace process in Southern Philippines, has been urging all stakeholders to work hand in hand to ensure that the final BBL would preserve the “concept of exclusivity of the powers of the Bangsamoro political entity” as agreed upon in the CAB.

“We urge the government of Philippines and the lawmakers to ensure that the BBL, which is now pending before the parliament, will not come out different from the original BBL,” he said.

The OIC also urged leaders of both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the MILF to consolidate their coordination and cooperation through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF).

On Saturday, the MILF and MNLF held a unification and reconciliation meeting in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao where they agreed to continue pushing for the BBL even in the next administration.
Madani called upon the development agencies of the OIC and other International bodies to continue their rehabilitation and development programs in the region.

Trooper killed, 4 hurt in series of Davao City clashes

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): Trooper killed, 4 hurt in series of Davao City clashes

A trooper from the 69th Infantry Battalion was killed while four others were wounded in a series of clashes with rebel forces in Paquibato District, Davao City last Dec. 11 and 12.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the rebels were from Guerrilla Front 56 and Pulang Bagani Company 1 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

The first incident happened while soldiers from Bravo Company, 69th Infantry Battalion, were checking the reported presence of New People's Army (NPA) rebels under one alias "Jiares" at Sitio Kialaw, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District last Dec. 11.

In this encounter, an improvised explosive device (IED) was exploded by the NPAs.

Killed in the blast was Pfc. Johnhill Victor Alarcon while wounded was Cpl. Ramil Aquino.

Alarcon's remains are currently at Villa Funeral Parlor, Panabo City while awaiting transfer to Iloilo, while Aquino is undergoing medical treatment at Camp Panacan Station Hospital, Davao City.

The second incident happened when soldiers from Charlie Company, 69th Infantry Battalion, engaged the fleeing NPAs at Sitio Bal-ong, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District at 4:30 p.m. last Dec. 12.

Three soldiers -- one officer and two enlisted personnel -- were hit by gunshots and shrapnel wounds but were immediately brought to the hospital for medical treatment while the NPAs were believed to suffer casualties as observed by the soldiers.

The wounded soldiers, identified as 2nd Lt. Earl Jun Atucha, Sgt. Maynard De Guzman and Cpl. Allan Paul Salvador, are now being treated at the hospital.

The soldiers recovered live ammunition for M-14 and M-16 rifles, empty shells of assorted high-powered firearms, 150-meter electrical wire and several personal belongings from the NPAs who immediately fled.

3 killed, 14 wounded in NPA landmine attack in Compostela Valley

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 13): 3 killed, 14 wounded in NPA landmine attack in Compostela Valley

A soldier and a militiaman from the 1001st Infantry Brigade were killed along with an innocent civilian while 14 other troopers were wounded in a New People's Army (NPA) landmine attack in Mabini, Compostela Valley Saturday evening.

Capt. Joy Benedict Corpuz, 1001st IB spokesman, said the government security troops had just finished conducting "peace and development outreach" programs when the rebels detonated their mine, killing a soldier, a militiaman and a civilian bystander and wounding 14 troopers at Kilometer 11, Barangay Cabuyoan, Mabini town.

Corpuz condemned the NPAs for their blatant use of landmines regardless of civilian and military casualties.

"This act of the NPAs is a clear violation of the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) where the CPP-NPA-NDF is a signatory. This is also a violation of the UN Convention against the use of landmines. These evil acts reflect the true nature of the CPP-NPA-NDF," Corpuz said.