Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ifugao pupils get early Christmas gifts

From the Baguio Midland Courier (Dec 15): Ifugao pupils get early Christmas gifts
LAMUT, Ifugao – Military officers reached out to pupils in far-flung schools in this town.
The activity is a partnership between the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and Ifugao State University-College of Education and Arts (IFSU-CEA) Nayon as part of the Army’s “Project Shoe Box” this year.
Each shoe box, which came from individuals who responded to the Army’s call for people to share what they can to inspire elementary pupils in far flung areas, contained  assorted items either  school and hygiene supplies, slippers, stuffed toy and a letter containing the message of the donor.
Dubbed as Maagang Pamasko, Handog ng Philippine Army at IFSU,” the activity was done in different schools of Lamut District from Dec. 1 to 3.

King Jelord Ha-ong, a fatherless grade 2 pupil of the Nayon Elementary School thanked the soldiers for the gift.

Ha-ong is one of the 800 pupils from the 18 elementary schools of Lamut who benefited from the activity.

Lt. Col. Eddie M. Pilapil, 54th IB’s commanding officer, said the event is one way by which Army personnel show their care for the future generation.

“As much as possible, the Army wants to continue this kind of endeavor. We want to inspire children (to do good) in their studies for them to be better prepared for the future,” Pilapil said.

Alice Brawner, dean of IFSU-CEA, thanked the donors and principals, teachers, parents, and students of the participating schools for supporting the activity.


PIA Caraga gears preparation for IP Reg’l Youth Leadership & Communicators’ Summit

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 15): PIA Caraga gears preparation for IP Reg’l Youth Leadership & Communicators’ Summit

BUTUAN CITY – With eagerness to help the youth in the tribal communities in the region, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Caraga has geared its preparations for the upcoming Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Regional Youth Leadership and Communicators’ Summit, in coordination with the 4th Infantry Division of Philippine Army on December 18-21, 2015 to be held at Tiberias Retreat House in Carmen, Agusan del Norte.

PIA-Caraga regional director Abner Caga expressed that there is really a need to gather the IP youth and empower them through different activities especially in the field of communication.

“Considering the issues and challenges being faced these days by the IPs in the region, we feel the need to help them especially the vulnerable youth who are the most affected ones. As the information arm of the government, PIA is committed to assist them in learning/gaining new knowledge that will help them better in their decision-making. We will demonstrate how it is to be effective communicators by imparting to them the workshops on the following: news writing, photo journalism, radio broadcasting, and the like,” stressed Caga.

Caga added that this will be the first summit conducted that focuses on the welfare of the IP youth.

Other government agencies have also expressed their support to PIA and Philippine Army in the conduct of said event.

“PIA will conduct full documentation during the four-day activity and will maximize its distinct and valuable platforms to support the IP youth and boost their morale and confidence,” he remarked.

The major ethnic tribes in Caraga region that will be participating are the following: Manobo, Higa-onon, Mamanwa, Banwaon, Talaandig and Mandaya/Kamayo.

Caraga Region has 21 approved Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and two CADT applications.


Negros NPA launching widespread offensives

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 16): Negros NPA launching widespread offensives

The New People's Army Leonardo Panaligan Command in central Negros has enjoined other NPA units in Negros to launch widespread tactical offensives against military units, a week before the 12-day holiday truce ordered by the Communist Party of the Philippines, that takes effect on Dec. 23.

The CPP, that will mark its 47th founding anniversary on Dec. 26, declared that it will observe a 12-day holiday ceasefire with government forces from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3 next year.

But days before the declared holiday truce, the NPA abducted a member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, raided a cock farm in La Castellana, Negros Occidental, and detonated an improvised explosive device, inflicting injuries on six Army soldiers and a civilian in Iloilo.

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division expressed hope that remnants of the NPA in Negros and Panay will abide with its unilateral ceasefire, following the series of atrocities they had perpetrated in Negros and Panay.

“We hope they won't violate their own ceasefire,” Maj. Rey Tiongson, 3ID Public Affairs Office chief, said.

Lt. Col. Enriqueto Deocadez, 82nd Infantry Battalion commander, also reported that rebels also burned seven trucks and heavy equipment of a mini-hydro project also in Iloilo.

Ka JB Regalado, spokesman of the Leonardo Panaligan Commmand, also dismissed the peace and development as well as Oplan Bayanihan campaign of the AFP as a “dirty war”, which he claimed to be anti-people.

Regalado also linked the military in central Negros to alleged killings of civilians and activists in Isabela and Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, as well as in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, Tiongson said there is no order yet for the government to suspend military operations against the NPA. But he said the Philippine Army is committed and sincere in its resolve to peace.

“Our presence will remain in the communities to protect the civilian populace and to maintain peace and security in the area,” he said.

AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said the military will hold its own ceasefire but it is still up for approval.

“AFP-PNP law enforcement operations and AFP focused military operations against threat groups in the country will continue until the Philippine government announces a halt to them for the Christmas season,” Padilla said

The recent encounter in Hinobaan town also claimed the lives of two suspected NPA rebels and an Army soldier.

The spate of NPA violent activities in Negros and Panay came after all its provinces had been declared as peaceful and ready for further development.”


Army, partners give free dental, medical to Sadanga residents

From the Baguio Midland Courier (Dec 15): Army, partners give free dental, medical to Sadanga residents

The Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion and civilian medical practitioners of Mountain Province reached out to residents of Sadanga, Mountain Province through a medical-dental mission and gift-giving.
On Dec. 4, the 54IB and Philippine Pharmacists Association-Mountain Province Chapter (PPhA-MPC) conducted gift giving and feeding program to around 800 students from the elementary schools of Poblacion, Sacasacan, Bekigan, Demmang, and Belwang. Students of the Alternative Learning System also benefited from the event.
On Dec. 5, medical and urinalysis, tooth extractions, and haircuts were administered to around 500 residents of same barangays.

One of the beneficiaries, 100-year-old Kib-oy Kinayen, from Poblacion who availed herself of the free medical check-up thanked the group.

Arlene Alingawad, PPhA-MPC president and coordinator of the activity, said the gifts, feeding, and medicines for the mission were sponsored by the PPhA-MPC, CB and F Marketing Association, Bontoc General Hospital, Provincial Health Office, and from those solicited by Charlie Company, 54IB.

The Philippine Army also provided additional medical personnel coming from 5th Infantry (Star) Division, PA, Upi, Gamu, Isabela.

L. Col. Eddie M. Pilapil, battalion commander of 54IB, thanked the PPhA-MPC members for their initiative.

“Seeing group of professionals who came together and look back to where they came from by providing free services to their less fortunate constituents is really a trait that this country must nurture among its citizens.”


Kalahi-CIDSS lights up remote village in Sultan Kudarat

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 14): Kalahi-CIDSS lights up remote village in Sultan Kudarat

BAGUMBAYAN, Sultan Kudarat --- Christmas has  literally  become brighter for villagers in the remote community of Kanulay, this town.

Too remote to be  reached  by the national grid, Kanulay  has  for decades  been left  without electricity and it svillagers, mostly Manobo  indigenous people, have  been  reliant  on  kerosene  lamps  as  a source of light at  night.

“We spent more or less, from Php150 to Php200 for our lights,” Non Togue, village leader, recounted.  Incidenttally, Togue’s  house  was burned because of unattended  kerosene  lamp.

Some villagers  had to resorted to an environmentally  damaging and health risky practice of burning  old sacks and plastic   so that they could provide  light  for their children.

Thanks to  the solar home lights project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development,the  village is now  with  electricity.

Through its flagship poverty-reduction programs, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-A Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services or Kalahi-CIDSS  with  Php 1.7 million funding from World Bank, DSWD 12 has  installed  solar panels on 103 Kanulay homes, providing each with  electricity  without cost and adverse effect to health.

Thus, even when  other places  are experiencing  power curtailment, their homes are well lighted.  At  night, when other places are experiencing  brownout,  houses in Barangay  Kanulay, which is located  on a plateau,  would look like  fireflies on a dark night.

“Many wonder why we have always light while there are power interruptions in the whole town,” Togue said.

Takal Togue, a 67-year old Manobo farmer, did not expect  that in  his lifetime, his house would have  electricity.  The  power from the  solar panels, he added, seemingly extended   the  daylight allowing  him and  his household  more valuable  activities at  night.

Meanwhile, 48-year old Florentina Pimentel noted  that one of the  most  important   benefits  from the  solar panels is allowing  more time  for  their children to study  since  the  traditional kerosene lamps were  replaced by light  bulbs.

“Our lives have been changed here the moment our homes were energized and lighted,” Pimentel said.

Savings  from expenses for kerosene, she added, are now spent   for more  valuable  purposes such  school  needs of  children.

For Jerwin Tiwan, 28, a Manobo father of two and the chairperson of the sub-project management committee in the village, the installation of the solar home system is a big help as it practically offers more livelihood opportunities for them.

With  electricity from solar panels the  the Christmas and  New  Year  celebrations would  definitely be  merrier and  brighter, the  residents  agree.


AFP pursues rebels over landmine blasts

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 16): AFP pursues rebels over landmine blasts

DAVAO CITY --  Pursuit operations go on as soldiers belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion scour the rebels’ lair in Sitio Kialaw, Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District following a series of encounters last Friday and Saturday.

A report from the 10th Infantry Division based in Mawab, Compostela Valley revealed that members of the 69th IB engaged the rebels belonging to the guerrilla front 56 and Pulang Bagani Command 1 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee resulting to the killing of one soldier and the wounding of another.

The report said the first incident happened while soldiers from Bravo Company, 69IB were checking the reported presence of the rebels under alias Ka Jiares at Sitio Kialaw, Brgy Malabog of Paquibato District.

The rebels detonated an improvised explosive device that killed Pfc Johnhill Victor Alarcon and wounded Cpl Ramil Aquino.

Alarcon’s wake is at a funeral home in Panabo City.  He hailed from Iloilo City.

Aquino is undergoing medical treatment at Camp Panacan Station Hospital.

Three other soldiers were wounded in a separate encounter on December 12.

They were identified as 2Lt Earl Jun Atucha, Sgt Maynard de Guzman and Cpl Allan Paul Salvador who are now given medical treatment.

The soldiers recovered live ammunitions for M14 and M16 rifles, empty shells of assorted high-powered firearms, 150-meter electrical wire and several personal belongings from the rebels who immediately fled.

Major General Rafael Valencia, commander of the 10th ID expressed his grief to the family of Alarcon.

"We share the grief of the family of Pfc Alarcon who paid the ultimate sacrifice in serving our country and people. We will continue our efforts against the rebels who exploit their  surroundings while they sow terror against the people," he stressed.


403rdBde joins nation in NHRCW commemoration, renews commitment to HR adherence

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 14): 403rdBde joins nation in NHRCW commemoration, renews commitment to HR adherence

CAMP OSITO BAHIAN, MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon —The army’s 403rd Infantry (Peacemaker) Brigade, on December 13, joined the nation’s simultaneous Flag Raising in all major AFP camps to commemorate the National Human Rights Consiousness Week (NHRCW).

At the home of Peacemakers at Camp Osito Bahian in Impalambong, Malaybalay City, the 403rd Brigade soldiers raised the flag by reading the Human Rights Pledge or the “Panunumpa sa Karapatang Pantao.”

The activity was also highlighted by a "Ceremonial Signing of Wall of Commitment" by soldiers from different OpCon and tenant units of the brigade headed by Colonel Claro C. De Guzman, Deputy Brigade Commander.

In the same event, Philippine Red Cross Bukidnon Chapter President Jocelyn A. Daroy gave an overview on Human Rights & International Humanitarian Law (HR-IHL) during the symposium.

Anchored on the theme “Karapatang Pantao: Igalang, Ipagtanggol at Isakatuparan,” the ceremony aims to raise awareness on people’s basic Human Rights in relation to functions and services offered by the government as instruments in propagating human rights culture.

Likewise, the activity also directs soldiers to become more responsible members of the AFP and adhere to the by-laws and provisions of HR & IHL.

Currently, the 403rd Bde through its stakeholder engagement activities, in connection with the Internal Peace & Security Plan (IPSP) “Bayanihan,” is involving all major stakeholders in winning the peace. A tarpaulin/streamer reflecting the commemoration is being  displayed at the main gate of the camp to drum up people’s consciousness on the importance of knowing one’s ‘Human Rights’.


Former rebels to receive financial assistance worth P1.4M

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 14): Former rebels to receive financial assistance worth P1.4M

PAGADIAN CITY, Dec. 14 (PIA) – At least 21 former rebels who voluntarily surrendered to the 53rd Infantry (MATAPAT) Battalion, Philippine Army will receive checks worth P1.4-M on Wednesday.

LtCol. Alvin Luzon, commanding officer of  the 53rd IB, in an interview with the  Philippine Information Agency said 40 checks will be awarded to former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in a formal ceremony  to be held at the Amusement and Events Center, Capitol compound here.

The cash assistance is part of the Comprehensive Livelihood Integration Program (CLIP) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which aims to persuade rebels to abandon their armed struggle and be part of a peaceful society.

The awarding and distribution of checks to former rebels will magnify the impact of the government’s CLIP program in Zamboanga del Sur, according to the army chief.
“We intend to snowball the impact of the CLIP program in our campaign against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CNN),” Luzon reported.

However, he attributed the success of their counter-insurgency campaign to the successful implementation of the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) ‘Bayanihan’ in their area of responsibility.

Luzon said the MATAPAT troopers conducted focused military operation with the ‘Bayanihan’ team, where soldiers socially immersed in barangays.

“With the immersion of soldiers in barangays and sitios, we established rapport with them, determined their social and basic needs and responded  to their call for assistance. We do not only help in maintaining peace and order but also address social concerns,” Luzon said.

He said the troopers have intensified stakeholders’ engagement with the active involvement and collaboration of national government agencies and local government units.

With the growing number of surrenderees, Luzon expressed confidence that there will be more rebels to lay down their arms, return to mainstream society and live a peaceful and happy life.

Expected to attend the event are Western Mindanao Command Chief MGen. Mayoralgo Dela Cruz, PNP9 Regional Director Chief Supt. Miguel C. Antonio, Jr., DILG Regional Director Paisal O. Abutazil, 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division Commander MGen. Gerardo Barrientos, and Governor Antonio H. Cerilles.


Mayor, town residents thankful for DSWD’s PAMANA

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 12): Mayor, town residents thankful for DSWD’s PAMANA

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A municipal mayor and community volunteers shared their appreciation for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) project which has made possible the construction of various infrastructure and development projects in several municipalities in the region during a PAMANA Peace Festival held on Dec. 10-11 in a local hotel here.

Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte Mayor Norbideiri Edding said “DSWD was one of the first agencies to take the challenge of visiting Sibuco because there’s this stigma that our municipality is a hotspot.

But with the interventions provided by DSWD since the leadership of Assistant Secretary Teodulo Romo, especially the road projects which made our community more accessible and longer an isolated municipality, I can now say that Sibuco is a peaceful place.”

“After implementing PAMANA, the people have adopted knowledge on the process on how to implement projects.

For me, the infrastructure projects only come second to this knowledge,” Mayor Edding furthered.PAMANA uses the community-driven development strategy made known by the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), which empowers ordinary community residents to identify, implement and sustain development projects, with the support of the local government units.

Projects include roads, day care centers, peace centers, and others that stimulate growth, peace and development in the communities.

“Thank you Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA because we, the women have also been empowered. We were taught how to implement projects,” said Marlyn Duhaylungsod, a community volunteer from Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

Duhaylungsod was one of the volunteers who helped realize the installation of 30 streetlights in barangay Poblacion.


18 killed in military, ASG clash in Basilan

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 16): 18 killed in military, ASG clash in Basilan

Three soldiers were killed along with 15 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits following a two-day operation against the brigands in Barangay Macalang, Al-Barka, Basilan.

The operation which took place Monday until Tuesday, was aimed at reducing the ASG presence in the area.

Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said 10 troopers were also hurt while another seven of the bandits were wounded.

ASG casualty reports are based on intelligence reports, adding that these figures are as of 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Tan did not give the names of the dead and wounded soldiers pending notification of their next-of-kin.

Western Mindanao Command units involved in the two-day offensive include troopers from the 104th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion, Marine Special Operations Group, and 12th Light Armor Cavalry.


5 soldiers hurt in Army HQ attack in Sulu; undetermined number of ASGs killed, wounded

From the Philippine News Agency (Dec 16): 5 soldiers hurt in Army HQ attack in Sulu; undetermined number of ASGs killed, wounded
Five soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were hurt while an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were believed killed and wounded following an attack on the military unit's headquarters in Patikul, Sulu province Tuesday night.

The attack, which was carried out by an estimated 150 ASG bandits, transpired at 8:15 p.m., said Joint Task Group Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado.

It lasted until 9:20 p.m. when the attack was repelled.

The fight resulted in the wounding of five soldiers and killing and wounding of an undetermined number of the bandits headed by ASG sub-commander Radullan Sahiron.

Arrojado said the brigands were planning to overrun the 32nd Infantry Battalion headquarters but were easily foiled as all troops in the facility were on alert for the conduct of Operation "Swift Justice," another focused military operation aimed at the ASG.

He added all nearby units were immediately deployed to aid the 32nd Infantry Battalion.

After the fight, all five wounded troopers were evacuated for treatment at the Kutang Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo for treatment.

Tracking and pursuit operations are still ongoing.


Chinese navy warns Filipino civilian plane carrying BBC reporter

From ABS-CBN (Dec 15): Chinese navy warns Filipino civilian plane carrying BBC reporter

The Chinese navy warned a Filipino plane carrying a British reporter near China's man-made islands, a report by BBC said.

BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes boarded a single-engine civilian aircraft and flew near Mischief Reef, one of the Chinese-controlled features in the Spratlys being claimed by both China and the Philippines.

However, as the civilian plane went near the reclaimed reefs, the Chinese navy gave a warning.

''Foreign military aircraft in northwest of Meiji Reef, this is Chinese navy. You are threatening the security of our station. In order to avoid miscalculations please stay away [from] this area and leave immediately,'' a Chinese officer said, referring to the Chinese name for Mischief Reef.

The Filipino pilot responded: ''Chinese navy we are a civilian single-engine aircraft carrying passengers proceeding to Palawan Island.''

''Down below we can see a pair of Chinese navy ships. Our pilots are nervous. They wanted to turn away,'' Wingfield-Hayes said in his report.

Mischief Reef is just one of the features in the Spratlys where China has carried out massive land reclamation works. The Philippines hailed China to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal to invalidate China's so-called ''nine-dash line'' claim to almost the entire South China Sea.

China has refused to recognize the arbitration process, calling it a political provocation, but this snubbing did not bar the tribunal from hearing the case. The tribunal is finished hearing the merits of the case and is due to release its decision in the middle of next year.

While China refuses to recognize the arbitration process, some analysts believe a favorable decision for the Philippines would raise the pressure for Beijing.

READ: China may pay 'international price' in S. China Sea legal case, experts say


During the fly-by, BBC also captured a radio message coming from an Australian aircraft.

The Australian aircraft was apparently conducting a freedom of navigation operation.

''China navy, china navy, we are Australian aircraft exercising international freedom of navigation rights in international airspace in accordance with the international civil aviation convention, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – over,'' the Australian pilot said.

A Reuters report said Australia's defense department confirmed that one of its aircraft was involved in "a routine maritime patrol" over the South China Sea from November 25 to December 4.

READ: Australia alarmed by strategic rivalry in disputed sea


At least 10 killed, 30 wounded in Basilan clash

From ABS-CBN (Dec 16): At least 10 killed, 30 wounded in Basilan clash

BASILAN - At least 10 were killed while more than 30 were wounded when government troops encountered members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Macalang, Albarka, Basilan past 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

According to Major Cris Mugot, spokesperson of joint task force ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi), three soldiers from the Philippine Army, including a military officer, were killed in an exchange of gunfire with the ASG.

About 10 others were injured in the gunfight.

Mugot said the operation started Sunday, targeting high-value targets, including ASG leader Isnilon Hapilon and Malaysian bomb expert Moho Najib Bin Husen, who was allegedly training the local bandits in bomb-making.

Husen was also behind the operation of a bomb factory discovered by the military in a remote village in Mohammad Ajul, Basilan in May this year.

The gunfight between the government operatives and the ASG lasted for almost an hour.

The military was able to overrun the bandit's temporary encampment. The camp had more than 20 foxholes.

Mugot said that at least seven members of the ASG were killed during the gunfight, and more than 20 were injured.

However, the military failed to recover the remains of the casualties.

Mugot said the remains of the three soldiers were brought to Zamboanga City, while the wounded soldiers were transferred to Camp Navarro General Hospital for medical treatment.

Albarka town has been one of the strongholds of the ASG in Basilan for the past decades, according to Mugot.

Government troops find the town well-secured and hard to penetrate due to the support the ASG is getting from the local communities.


MILF: OIC Secretary General expresses grave concern on latest development of Southern Philippines’ Peace Process

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 14): OIC Secretary General expresses grave concern on latest development of Southern Philippines’ Peace Process

OIC Secretary General expresses grave concern on latest development of Southern Philippines’ Peace Process

His Excellency Iyad Ameen Madani, Secretary General of the influential Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had expressed grave concern about latest development of the peace process in the Southern Philippines, and about the difficulties facing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the Philippines parliament, particularly the substantial amendments to the BBL which constitute drastic modification to the original agreement.

These amendments restore the National Government control over many areas and they actually reduce the Bangsamoro Government to an entity similar to an ordinary local government unit.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) that was signed on 27th March 2014 and which was described by H. E. President Aquino of the Philippines as a real genuine seal of lasting peace in Mindanao promised to usher in a new era of peace after decades of war, displacement, misery and destitution. This agreement is now being threatened.

The OIC strongly supports the President of the Philippines in his efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in Mindanao including the passage of the agreed version of the BBL, and calls upon all concerned to support these efforts.

In the said statement, the OIC urged the Philippines authorities, in particular the law makers, who share the common goal at working for peace and stability, not to let this historical moment becomes another lost opportunity.

The OIC, which has been engaged with the peace process in Southern Philippines since its inception, calls upon all concerned to work hand in hand to ensure that the final BBL will ensure 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 law makers to ensure that the BBL, which is now pending before the parliament, will not come out different from the original BBL”, the OIC statement said.

On the other hand, “We urge the leaders of both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to consolidate their coordination and cooperation through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and to engage other stakeholders in order to close ranks and strengthen and consolidate their cooperation and unity and maintain their peaceful struggle for the common cause”, the statement also said.

Madani called upon the development agencies of the OIC and other International bodies to continue their rehabilitation and development programs in the region.

“The preparation for holding a meeting of the Tripartite Review Process on the implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement and linking and converging of the two previous peace agreements with the Bangsamoro Basic Law is underway”, Madani further said in the statement.

In the same statement, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation assured that “It will continue its efforts for peace in Mindanao and will continue monitoring the situation closely until our efforts lead us to the real dawn of peace and stability and a final end to the long struggle of the Bangsamoro people”.

The OIC is composed of more than 50 Muslims countries, some of which are producers and exporters of oil products mostly needed by developed and developing countries of the world.

MILF: Community leaders in Kabacan spearhead Symposium on Peace & Development

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 15): Community leaders in Kabacan spearhead Symposium on Peace & Development

Photo by Toto D. Laguialaot

Photo by Toto D. Laguialaot

Community leaders of Lote, Kayaga, Kabacan,  Cotabato organized an Islamic Symposium with the theme “Community Participation for Peace and Development” held at the Madrasatol Da’rul Hijra Al-Islamie, in the said barangay on December 6, 2015.

About 156 people attended the symposium that included Jabib Guiabar, a Moro candidate for Congressman for the 3rd District of Cotabato, and representatives from the standing committees of the North Cotabato Provincial Political Committee and the Bangsamoro Communication Network (BCN) North Cotabato Chapter.

The event aimed to inform the present generation on the opportunities for peace and development and served as a way of achieving peace not solely for the organizers and participants but for the community and the entire nation as well.

In their message, key community leaders and the provincial vice chairman of the Cotabato Provincial Political Committee expressed support to the program and its objectives. They believed that working together shall redound to success and that people united will never be defeated.

Some Masajid officials observed the flow of the program on how to run it in order to replicate in some other concern areas in Kabacan town.   

Induction of officers of the committee was done through formal (Mubaya)  or oath taking led by Shiekh Samirudin Bandila, in order to put their minds accountable and make their role more active to serve the people in the pursuit of peace and development.

Among the invited resource person was Sheikh Lukman Sultan who explained Leadership in Islam. He emphasized that the wisdom of the Almighty God in creating human being is to make the words of Allah supreme.

Good leaders always make the difference to the lives of the people. He also explained that leadership in Islam aims for the highest position in paradise and works for the pleasure of the Almighty Creator not solely for sake of mankind.   

Director Akmad Agao spoke on the status of BBL.  He emphasized that the degree of achieving peace is to remain calm and make sacrifice whatever the fate of the BBL would be. He also explained that the participation of people is very important part of a struggle.

Throughout the entire symposium, advice was given to future community and leaders of new generations.  The guests in the activity mostly concentrated their messages on the importance of participation saying that it creates better networks among people and breaks down stereotypes; that it can promote economic (such as employment) as well as social participation.

Abusama Lubalang presented the amended organizational structure of the committee sectors and line agencies in the area of jurisdiction of the provincial committee.  Induction of officers was done through formal (Mubaya) oath taking led by Shiekh Samirudin Bandila in order to put their minds accountable and make them more active in serving the people in pursuit of peace and development.

The organizers extended their deepest thanks to community residents for their overwhelming participation and for their financial contributions resulting to the realization of the activity.


MILF: Stakeholders to tackle social solidarity economy and social enterprise dev't in the Bangsamoro

Posted to the MILF Website (Dec 15): Stakeholders to tackle social solidarity economy and social enterprise dev't in the Bangsamoro

Stakeholders to tackle social solidarity economy and social enterprise dev't in the Bangsamoro

Approximately 100 development actors will gather at Cotabato City for the “1st  Stakeholders Conversation on Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) and Social Enterprise (SE) Development in the Bangsamoro.”

The activity, to be held at Pagana Restaurant Kutawato on December 19, 2015, will advance a collaborative, responsive and inclusive development intervention blueprint for the Bangsamoro people.

“Amidst influx of support for development efforts, poverty incidence remains extremely high coupled with intense conflict situation.” lead organizer Joselito Libres, Chief Executive Officer of Solidarity for Global Peace, Ecology and Inclusive Economic Development  (SUCCEED Global) said.

He said the gathering will enhance understanding on SSE and SE as Alternative Economic Development frameworks and concepts towards inclusive economic development and sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro and define the ways forward (i.e. formation of regional network and/or platform, other mechanism for collaboration) on the promotion and advancement of SSE/SE in the region.

“The participants' experiences, views and opinions would surely help in integrating and upscaling interventions in the bangsamoro areas,” Libres added.

Dr. Mohamad S. Yacob, Executive Director of the Bangsamoro Development Agency, is invited to tackle poverty and conflict situation in the Bangsamoro and to present the Bangsamoro Development Plan.

In the second session of the conference entitled Changing Mindscape: Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) and Social Enterprise (SE) as Alternative Development Framework, three speakers are invited namely Dr. Benjamin Rendon Quinones from Asian Economy Solidarity Council and Jay Lacsamana of Foundation for Sustainable Society.

They will be joined by Dimnatang Radia, Regional Administrator of Cooperative Development Authority to discusss the “State of the Cooperative Sector and its Role in Poverty Alleviation in the Region.”

Libres will handle the topic Advancing Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Development in the Bangsamoro and will facilitate a workshop.

SUCCEED is promoting a model of sustainable and inclusive local economic development in Muslim Mindanao in support to the current peace process. Its undertaking is supported by Cordaid, a development partner.


CPP/Ang Bayan (Dec 10): ANG BAYAN 7 Dec 2015 issue: Ganap na biguin ang Oplan Bayanihan ng US at papet na estado

December 7 edition of Ang Bayan posted to the CPP Website (Dec 7): ANG BAYAN 7 Dec 2015 issue: Ganap na biguin ang Oplan Bayanihan ng US at papet na estado

Sa kaibuturan, ang Oplan Bayanihan ay isang masaklaw at malawig na kampanyang gera na inilunsad ng imperyalismong US, sa pamamagitan ng papet nitong estado, upang ipagtanggol ang bulok na naghaharing sistemang malakolonyal at malapyudal at supilin ang lahat ng pwersang nagsusulong ng pakikibaka para sa demokrasya at pambansang paglaya. Go to: http://www.ndfp.org/sayt/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/20151207pi.pdf


CPP/NDF: Opensibang Atake ng Project Development Team Operation (PDTO) ng Philippine Army Laban sa Jose Rapsing Kumand (JRC-NPA) sa Isla ng Masbate, Nahubaran ng Maskarang para sa Kaunlaran sa Araw ng Komemorasyon ng Deklarasyon ng Karapatang Pantao

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): Opensibang Atake ng Project Development Team Operation (PDTO) ng Philippine Army Laban sa Jose Rapsing Kumand (JRC-NPA) sa Isla ng Masbate, Nahubaran ng Maskarang para sa Kaunlaran sa Araw ng Komemorasyon ng Deklarasyon ng Karapatang Pantao
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Disyembre 10, 2015 alas 12:00 ng tanghali, sa araw mismo ng muling paggunita ng mamamayang Pilipino sa ika-67 Pandaigdigang Araw ng Deklarasyon ng Karapatang Pantao, inatake ng tropa ng 9th Infantry Batallion Philippine Army ang tropa ng Jose Rapsing Kumand-Bagong Hukbong Bayan na nagpapahinga sa sityo Palopino, brgy Bartolabac bayan ng San Jacinto sa isla ng Ticao sa Masbate.

Tinatayang isang platun ng tropa ng kaaway ang umatake sa harapan bahagi laban sa isang platung tropa ng mga Pulang Mandirigma ng Jose Rapsing Command (JRC) ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan. Naobligang bombahin ng mga kasama ang paatakeng tropa ng kaaway ayon sa depensang plano ng kasama sa pagbabase. Nagresulta ito sa pagkalagas ng walong (8) tropa mula sa hanay ng kaaway. Sa layunin ng mga pulang mandirigma na ilayo ang sayt ng labanan dahil sa presensya ng mga masa sa lugar nagmaniobra ito papalayo subalit may isang platun pa ang tropa ng kaaway ang umaatake sa mga kasama. Tinamaan at namatay si Ka Cyrus, isang pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan ng Jose Rapsing Command habang dalawang bata naman ang nasugatan dahil sa tama ng sharpnel mula sa bala ng M203 mula sa kaaway.

Ipinapakita lamang sa nasabing labanan, walang sinusunod na protocol sa paglulunsad ng digma ang panig ng 9th Infantry Batallion Philippine Army. Walang pagsasaalang-alang sa masa sa pagsasagawa ng atake at itinuturing na lamang na “colateral damage” ang sinumang sibilyang madadamay para lang ipursige ang kanilang atake laban sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan. Hinubaran nito ang sarili bilang pasistang mersenaryong hukbo ng naghaharing uri sa araw mismo ng Disyembre 10 na Pandaigdigang Araw ng Pagkilala sa Karapatang Pantao. Hinubaran nito ang sarili sa harap ng masa na hindi pangkaunlarang layunin ang hatid ng PDTO kundi supilin ang mamamayan laban sa patuloy na pandarambong sa likas na yaman ng dayuhang Filmenra Resources Corporation at lokal na negosyo ng burgesya komprador na DMCI na humahakot ng reserbang ginto sa isla.

Samantala sa bayan ng Claveria noong Nobyembre 29, 2015 alas 12:30 ng tanghali hinaras ng mga kasama ang pinagsanib na 9th IBPA at RPSB sa Brgy Mabiton sa bayan Claveria sa isla ng Burias sa Masbate. Nagresulta ito sa dalawang (2) patay at isang (1) sugatan na bandang huli ay namatay sa hospital sa panig ng kaaway. Sa loob lamang ng limang (5) minuto tinapos ang labanan matapos mawalan ng kapasidad na lumaban ang natitirang tropa ng kaaway dahil sa sorpresang atake ng mga kasama. Mabilis na nagmaniobra ang mga pulang mandirigma ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan na taglay ang mataas na kapasyahan durugin ang PDT ng kaaway sa isla.

Labanan at Parusahan ang Mandarambong sa Likas Yaman sa Isla ng Masbate!

 Pagpupugay kay Ka Cyrus, Isang Martir sa Labanan!

 Mabuhay ang Rebolusyon!

Maria Roja Banua
National Democratic Front-Bicol


CPP/NDF: NDFP Peace Consultants and other Political Prisoners detained in Camp Bagong Diwa Greet the International Day for Respect of Human Rights

NDF propaganda statement posted to the CPP Website (Dec 10): NDFP Peace Consultants and other Political Prisoners detained in Camp Bagong Diwa Greet the International Day for Respect of Human Rights
NDFP National Democratic Front of the Philippines
We, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants and other political prisoners detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, heartily greet, today, the International Day for Respect of Human Rights, as it underlines before the world and all mankind the primary importance of protecting and asserting the rights of the people, especially those suppressed and oppressed by the powers that be.

Quite unfortunately, however, in our country, these rights continue to be heartlessly trampled upon by reactionary state forces, including successive ruling regimes of late, even if outright martial law had supposedly ended with the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986.

We, political prisoners — along with the mass of our people, especially the workers and other urban poor, peasants, women, youth, national minorities, and most especially those we fight alongside with, for their rights and those of the people — are among those whose rights continue to be kept suppressed and oppressed by the powers that be in our country.

Contrary to repeated claims by the present ruling regime that there are no political prisoners in the country, the fact is that there are presently more than 500 of us, political prisoners, in the country.

While many are scattered in various other jails throughout the country, some of us have been brought to “maximum risk” jails — jails euphemistically termed as “special intensive care areas”, where we are being concentrated in, quite distant from our work and native locations, our families and relations, and our sources of support, and where conditions of detention are overly restrictive and repressive.

We, our human rights advocates and our other supporters have also been apprehensive and have asked for investigations about reported plans by the jail authorities to manuever our transfer to an accordingly even more restrictive and more repressive “super jail”, where — if the information we are receiving are true — we would suffer violations of our human rights all the more.

To cover the arbitrariness, illegality and sheer injustice of our highly restrictive and repressive and practically indefinite detention, trumped-up criminal charges have been fabricated against us, or — as is often done — against our supposed “aliases”, or even other identities falsely attributed to us. Bounties, usually cooked up after arrests have been made, have only enriched by hundreds of millions the top uniformed officers behind the spurious arrests.

In the meantime, for years we have been continuing to suffer a snail’s pace of the system of “justice” — that is one of the slowest, if not actually the slowest, in the world. Numerous fabricated cases against many of us, political prisoners, have taken more than a decade already, and some have practically not been moving at all. More so, in the cases of those transferred from far-away provinces to “maximum risk” jails here in Camp Bagong Diwa.

Even worse, the rotten system of justice in the country and the handling of court cases against political prisoners in the country are often interfered with by fascist state forces. In a recent court decision to force the conviction of two political prisoners, who are also NDFP peace consultants — obviously and, in fact, according to information we have received — the decision was interfered with, and in fact actually ghost-written by state military intelligence forces. In an earlier court decision, where the judge has a notorious history of cooking up false cases against national democratic and social change advocates, another NDFP peace consultant was also foully convicted, with the acceptance by the court of planted evidence.

Peace talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP/GPH) have long been stalled, due to the ruling regime’s gross violations of long-standing agreements between the peace panels of the NDFP and the GRP/GPH. Such includes the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) for the protection of peace talks participants, consultants and staffs from surveillance, arrest, torture, filing of trumped cases and other acts of violence that would deter their effective participation and work in the peace process.

The NDFP peace panel has long been demanding the immediate release of jailed NDFP peace talks participants, consultants and staffs, and of all other political prisoners, as part of the GRP/GPH’s responsibility in the implementation of such long-standing peace agreements for the respect of human rights and the protection of those involved in the peace process. But the demands have only continued to fall on deaf ears.

In the meantime, we, unjustly arrested and detained NDFP peace consultants and other political prisoners, continue to suffer gross violations of our human rights and of our protection from other antagonistic acts of the ruling state and its minions.

We also continue to suffer all the more, as we follow developments outside of prison, where the human rights and other (political, socio-economic, cultural) rights of the people continue to be grossly violated.

We refer to the Lumad and other indigenous people whose rights to their ancestral lands and communities, their livelihoods, their education, their culture are being grossly violated by big-scale mining and monopoly plantation interests and by the state military and paramilitary forces protecting such rapacious interests. The Moro people, Cordillera people and other national minorities also continue to suffer the same violations of their rights and interests.

We refer to the workers whose struggles for higher wages, for the regularization of their jobs, against joblessness, for their right to unionize, and for their other labor rights have been meeting increased repressive measures and derogatory and heated opposition from giant multinational and local comprador businesses and their associations. The latter purportedly speak in the name of micro, small and medium enterprises, but are actually further promoting the neoliberal policy in the world, in this country and in the other semicolonies of imperialism.

We refer to the peasants whose struggles for genuine agrarian reform have continued to be frustrated, given the long-standing failures and anomalies of the sham land program of the pro-landlord establishment, including the present landlord president.
We refer to the urban poor, who are already victimized by joblessness, low wages and labor contractualization and who also continue to be victims of demolitions and ejection from where they have been living and making efforts to survive.

We refer to the majority of women in our society, who press on with their struggles against patriarchalism and for equal rights, simultaneously with their fight against class exploitation and oppression.

We refer to the youth and students, most of whose families cannot afford to send them to school and finish their studies, who need to wage many struggles, including struggles against oppressively high tuition due to deregulation and privatization of education and struggles for their rights as students, who see need of supporting the struggles of other exploited and oppressed sectors, while themselves being threatened by the K-12 Program that seeks to gear the whole education system to producing en masse young, skilled and cheap labor for foreign and local big businesses by increasing skills training, additional years of technical studies, and decreasing academic studies.
We refer to the migrants sector now numbering in millions, who have been driven to foreign lands away from their families, just to support their families, and who suffer various abuses and oppressions, and criminal government neglect to their problems abroad.

We refer to many other deprived and oppressed sectors of our society, whose human rights and their other rights are kept on being violated and deprived of them.

We have painfully been kept abreast of these — directly, through visits to us from their ranks, and through correspondences, publications, statements and the like, that we receive from them, and, indirectly, through what we get from newspapers and other media, and what are shared with us by others.

Just as we continue to press on with our fight for our human rights and other rights, we, imprisoned NDFP peace consultants and other political prisoners, continue in whatever way we can — even behind bars — to fight for the human rights and other rights of various sectors of our society.

We expect to more effectively be able to do so outside of prison, and wield our struggles together with those sectors of our oppressed and exploited people, for whose cause we have been arrested, jailed and subjected to fascist restrictions, repressions and various other gross violations of our human rights and other rights.

Detained NDFP peace consultants

Adelberto Silva

Alan Jazmines

Ernesto Lorenzo

Eduardo Serrano

Tirso Alcantara

Ruben Saluta

and other political prisoners
in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City


MNLF lawyer says group not against BBL

From the Business World (Dec 15): MNLF lawyer says group not against BBL

ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The legal counsel of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has categorically stated the group is not opposed to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Lawyer Randolph C. Parcasio said the MNLF, particularly the faction under the leadership of Nur MIsuari, maintains its position that it will allow Congress to decide on the proposal to create a new Bangsamoro political and geographic entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The ARMM was created in August 1989 following a peace deal between the MNLF and the government.

The BBL is based on the peace agreement signed by the government with another Moro group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which broke away from the MNLF in the late 1970s.

“The MNLF is not opposed to the BBL, because the official position of the MNLF is let the legislature take its natural course. As we have stated in the Bangsamoro Coordinating Forum, the MNLF position is ’No Comment’ out of reciprocity. That is the same position the MILF accorded to the MNLF when we negotiated the Final Peace Agreement, they did not interfere,” Mr. Parcasio said during a forum here last week.

The Regional Forum on Peace and Security was attended by some 200 civil society and religious leaders from the Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi subregion.

Mr. Parcasio’s pronouncement indicates a shift in the MNLF’s purported antagonism towards the BBL and its antecedent Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) forged between the government and the MILF in 2014.

MNLF members under Mr. Misuari attacked Zamboanga City in September 2013 to demonstrate their opposition to the government-MILF deal as it was being finalized in Malaysia at that time.

Mr. Parcasio, in his 40-minute talk, also updated the forum on the status of the review, which has been ongoing for years now, by the MNLF with the Philippine government on the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA).

He lamented that while it only took three years to negotiate the FPA, it has taken almost 10 years so far to discuss its implementation, with at least three major provisions still under contention.

Mr. Parcasio also discussed the status of current efforts led by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to unify the leaderships of the MILF with the MNLF.

The MILF broke away from the MNLF after disagreements over ideological issues following the Tripoli Agreement, which the OIC brokered in 1976.

Then and now, the MNLF under Mr. Misuari wants to establish a secularist “Bangsamoro Republik” while the MILF was aiming for an Islamic state, according to MNLF commander Amilpasa Bandaring.

Under the CAB, the MILF has dropped its call for an independent Islamic state in favor of regional autonomy based on a parliamentary political system.

The strategic unification of the MILF and MNLF is considered to be critical to the success of the peace process, a goal shared primarily by the OIC.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the OIC said, “We urge the leaders of both the MNLF and the MILF to consolidate their coordination and cooperation through the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF) and to engage other stakeholders in order to close ranks and strengthen and consolidate their cooperation and unity and maintain their peaceful struggle for the common cause.”

Mr. Parcasio also said at the forum, “Unity (of the MILF and MNLF) is indispensable to the success of the Bangsamoro struggle. There is no basic difference between the two fronts as both are seeking to achieve justice, peace and fair solution to the problem of the Bangsamoro people, to coordinate their efforts in order to consolidate their movements towards achieving the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people.”


Zamboanga City warned on possible terror attacks

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 16): Zamboanga City warned on possible terror attacks

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The National Intelligence Board’s special monitoring committee ‘Bravo’ has warned of possible terrorist attacks in several areas of the country during the yuletide season, the city’s police chief bared.

“In a meeting last November 26, 2015, the board came out with threat level for December 2015 – where many parts of the Zamboanga peninsula, the entire Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Palawan and Boracay were (placed) under threat level 3,” Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro told reporters here Tuesday.

Casimiro said they received reports of “high terrorism” threat in areas classified under the level.

“It is based on this declassified document coming from the National Intelligence Board (NIB),” he said.

The NIB is an advisory body to the chief of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

Casimiro said the classification came after “persistent reports” that “suggest(ed) the intention of the ASG and the (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) to launch bomb attacks and engage in kidnap for ransom activities.”

“These are the two parameters per report of the National Intelligence Board,” he said.

While the BIFF is considered confined in Maguindanao and some parts of Central Mindanao region, the Abu Sayyaf has been known to regularly venture out of its comfort zone. Its kidnapping activities even extend to Sabah in Malaysia. It was also blamed for the Rizal Day bombings in Metro Manila in 2000, in which, 22 were killed and dozens were injured.

Casimiro said the southern portion of Negros Island, the town of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat; Kidapawan City and areas of Kabacan, Midsayap and Aleosan in North Cotabato, had also been placed under threat level 3.

“While intelligence agencies suggest that there are threats of terroristic activities, the military will not let its guard down. We have been conducting relentless operations to prevent terrorist groups in carrying out these actions and neutralize them,” Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command based here, said.

“All the police, military and enforcement operatives in the city must maintain a heightened level of alert, no matter what the national threat is, to make sure we are always on our toes to prevent any eventuality,” Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said.

She also said the recent arrival of a team from the Army’s Light Reaction Company was most welcome as it could help intensify security in the city.

Free captive, NPA urged

From the Visayan Daily Star (Dec 15): Free captive, NPA urged

The recent abduction of Cirilo Bagnuran, a member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade, by the New People's Army, has been a traumatic experience for his family members.

RPA-ABB leader Rene Europa, alias Maco, who managed to escape unhurt during the raid at his cock farm Thursday last week in Hacienda Jamandre, Brgy. Robles, La Castellana, by NPA rebels, said the wife of Bagnuran is now in a hospital, because of what had happened to her husband.

Bagnuran was taken captive by rebels from the cock farm of Europa, who also took five high-powered firearms.

Europa said NPA rebels simultaneously raided his house and that of Bagnuran, that are several meters away from each other, and also the cock farm.

Europa and Bagnuran were linked by the NPA Leonardo Panaligan Command to two murder incidents in La Castellana and Negros Oriental.

The RPA-ABB leader strongly denied claims of a certain Ann Jacinto, a spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, in an interview with ABS-CBN Bacolod, linking him to murder incidents.

Europa challenged the media to investigate his background and what kind of a person he is in La Castellana, by interviewing town officials and even ordinary people.

Bagnuran told ABS-CBN that he is ready to answer my allegations against him, and also to accept his fate. He, however, said he is concerned about his wife, who is sick, and the other members of his family.

Europa said the NPA should spare Bagnuran, who is now living with only one kidney.

Col. Francisco Delfin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said there is an ongoing operation to rescue Bagnuran.

The abduction of Bagnuran by NPA members is nothing but a clear case of kidnapping, Veronica Tabara, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/RPA-ABB peace negotiator said.

He was manhandled and forcibly taken where he was peacefully staying and eking out a living for his family while waiting for the final signing of the closure agreement to the on-going peace talks between the Government of Republic of the Philippine (GPH) and the RPMP/RPA/ABB, she said.

The RPMP/RPA/ABB has been pursuing the peace process with the government that is to be concluded with the closure agreement.

Upon its signing, the group commits to turn over the firearms in its possession so that it may be able to pursue social-political reintegration activities, she said.

The five high-powered firearms seized by the NPA unit were to be turned over to the government. Bagnuran was a part of the team taking-charge of the safekeeping of the firearms and ammunitions and clearly not undertaking any hostile action against the NPA, she added.

The kidnapping of Bagnuran is a very clear case of violation of the International Humanitarian Law, Tabara said. Aside from forcibly abducting him, the Panaligan Command has admitted in its recent media statement that it still needs to establish if he has committed a crime, she noted.

He was manhandled and tortured in front of his two children and wife who had to be rushed to a hospital for medical attention because of the psychological and mental impact of this cruelty committed by the NPA members, she added.

The CPP-NPA-NDF and its network of supportive organizations have been actively invoking and proclaiming its support for human rights for its members and for many cases of alleged government and military violations of human rights, she said

If it truly and sincerely stands by its statement on respecting human rights and the International Humanitarian Law, it should, in good faith, immediately order for the release of Bagnuran and provide indemnification to his family members who have been traumatized by the actions of the NPA unit, Tabara also said.


News Feature: AFP’s Outreach: Making a difference in Lumad IDPs community

From the Philippine Information Agency (Dec 14): News Feature: AFP’s Outreach: Making a difference in Lumad IDPs community

CABANGLASAN, Bukidnon, December 14 (PIA) — In Bukidnon province, the Indigenous People (IP) or Lumads are the most vulnerable victims of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or “Bakwits,” as reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Lately, in Barangay Freedom, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, some Talaandig IP tribe “Bakwits” of 21 families composed of 107 individuals—including the oldest in the group who is 70 years old, and the helpless children—benefitted from the Philippine Army’s community outreach program.

Lt Col Lennon G Babilonia, commanding officer of the army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, said we should build relationships with our IDPs and care for our communities because it is a shared journey to peace.

The effects of conflict

In the case of Cabanglasan IDPs, the Talaandig Lumad “Bakwits” were forced to leave their homes in Sitio Ilian, Barangay Kasapa 2, La Paz, Agusan del Sur. They arrived in Freedom, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon on October 8, 2015 due to New People’s Army (NPA) attacks and harassments.

In an interview, Talaandig IDP tribal leader Lilongan Bucalas or Datu Manlomakad said they left their homes in La Paz, Agusan del Sur on October 3, 2015, when his brother Rene Bucalas or Datu Manhadukan Sandigan was brutally killed by the rebels of Pulang Bagani Unit, Section Committee 89, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee under a fellow Lumad, Junie Tilocan alias “Watiwit.”

Another victim, who is now 12 years old, is Ronie Bucalas. In one of the NPA’s attack in their village, Datu Manlomakad said the boy survived with a scar, when a bullet hit his forehead while he was five-month old.

Datu Manlomakad said they are now under threat by the NPAs.

He said, without warning, they are forced to flee immediately. In five days, they crossed valleys and rivers. Some get lost in the forest for days.

“And who can really bring everything you own? Remember that you will be walking long distances to reach safer areas where you can ask for help,” Manlomakad said dialect.
“Bakwits” have enormous needs

LtCol Babilonia, said our IDPs are in need of food, basic hygiene items, emergency shelter and other basic human rights that, unfortunately, are not easily within their reach.

“Our prime duty is to serve and protect the people. But the civil society groups can also do and share something to show that we care about our Lumad brothers and sisters especially those who are internally displaced. And that we do not agree with what is happening and that we want it to stop. There are many ways to get involved further.
The ‘Bayanihan’ outreach

Early this week, some 1,000 villagers, mostly women and children in said IDP community in Barangay Freedom, Cabanglasan town, benefited from the army’s outreach dubbed “Bayanihan para sa kapayapaan (working together for peace).”

Lumads availed of free tooth extraction and medical consultation. Others received free reading glasses, assorted medicines and vitamins after thorough medical examination; and males availed of free circumcision and haircut services.

The soldiers distributed used clothes and relief packs to IDPs during the event.
Datu Manlomakad, in response, expressed his gratefulness to the government troops and lauded the 8th Infantry Battalion for organizing such an event. "Daghan kaayong salamat kaninyo tanan sa inyong maayong kasing-kasing. Salamat kaayo sa mga kasundaluhan. Tinuod gyod nga kamo ang among masaligan (Thank you so much to all of you. You all have a good heart. Thank you so much to the soldiers. Indeed, we can depend on you),” he said.

The 8IB, likewise, expressed gratitude to its partners—the local government unit (LGU) of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon Pulangui River Lion's Club and Soriano Philippines Community Health Foundation.

IDPs should not be forgotten

When we hear the word Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs, we think of something like human rights abuses, violence, and other forms of conflict that result to the uprooting of families from their homes and ways of life.

Thus, it is right because UNHCR says IDPs are people who have been forced or obliged to leave their homes in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, but remains within the country’s borders.

Indeed, it is in our Bayanihan (collaboration) that we can come up with an unequalled effort in ensuring that our less fortunate brothers, especially the Lumads who have been victims of the exploitations of NPA and all its cohorts, will benefit from services that our democratic society can give. It is through “Bayanihan” that we can truly be set free from the bondage of poverty and win peace in our community.

“In this present situation, “Bakwits” are ‘On the run in their own land’. They should not be forgotten because we can do something. Each one of us can make a difference; together we make change, and make a difference,” Babilonia said.


Photo: Quick Rally

From the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Dec 16): Photo: Quick Rally

At least five trucks and three Lawin-type public utility jeepneys  (PUJ) loaded with paramilitary men from tribal communities pass by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Haran compound, Fr. Selga Street, Davao City on Tuesday morning. The apparent show of force happened in the area where hundreds of Lumad evacuees are staying for almost nine months now. The paramilitary men called for justice for their Lumad leaders who were allegedly killed by the New People's Army (NPA). (Medel V. Hernani/davaotoday.com)

At least five trucks and three Lawin-type public utility jeepneys (PUJ) loaded with paramilitary men from tribal communities pass by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Haran compound, Fr. Selga Street, Davao City on Tuesday morning. The apparent show of force happened in the area where hundreds of Lumad evacuees are staying for almost nine months now. The paramilitary men called for justice for their Lumad leaders who were allegedly killed by the New People’s Army (NPA). (Medel V. Hernani/davaotoday.com)

Tribal militiamen stage rally outside evacuation camp in Davao City

From the often pro-CPP Davao Today (Dec 16): Tribal militiamen stage rally outside evacuation camp in Davao City

DAVAO CITY – While a Lumad woman was in labor inside an evacuation center ran by the religious, hundreds of indigenous peoples (IPs) believed to be members of the paramilitary group, Alamara, passed by the center and held a brief protest action against the New People’s Army.

The militiamen aboard trucks and Lawin-type public utility jeepneys carried placards with messages which read “NPA hinungdan sa kalisud sa tribu sa kabukiran” (NPA is the cause of the hardships of the tribes in the countrysides).

Jong Monzon, spokesperson of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations said they were preparing for the coming of the Alamara after receiving a text message from an evacuee who was able to return to their community. Monzon said they are withholding the identity of their informant for his safety.

Monzon said the source was taken by the Army and Alamara members upon returning to their community. He said the source overheard that the Alamara will be holding a protest action and will be calling on their relatives to return home.

Inside the evacuation camp, some men were preparing bamboos and “suyak” which they say they will use in defending the camp.

Monzon, kept on telling the Lumads to “relax” and not to engage on a fight.

Last July 23, the police assaulted the church-compound in a bid to “rescue” the IPs inside.

The police forced their way inside by breaking the gate. Both the Lumads and the police suffered casualties after the commotion.

Buses and trucks to ferry the indigenous peoples home were provided by the local government unit. After negotiations, no Lumad boarded the vehicles.

After almost five months, the IPs believed they will face the same scenario.

“Sakit makita nga mismo mga bata namo diri nangandam og suyak. Klaro nga na-trauma gyud sila sa nahitabo diri tong Hulyo diin gisulod gyud ang evacuation center aron nga pugson nga mopauli ang mga Lumad bisan wala pa gihatag ang amoang mga demanda (It is disheartening to see that even our children here are preparing “suyak”.

It is clear that they were traumatized after the incident in July where the authorities forcibly entered the evacuation center to force the Lumads to return home even if our demands were not yet given),” said Monzon.

The Lumads were calling for the pull out of the military from their communities and the rebuilding of the community schools which were closed down due to allegations that is is being operated by the New People’s Army.

But Maj. Gen. Rey Guerrero, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command said that they cannot order the pull out of the troops who are carrying out government programs.

Guerrero said the presence of military in the communities does not mean “militarization” because they have a duty to maintain peace and order.

Guerrero also called on the groups to talk about the issue.

Meanwhile, Monzon said they are “preparing to defend the evacuation camp.”

“This is a private property and should they attempt to enter here again, it will really be chaotic,” he said.

“We believe that the protesters were dictated upon by the Army,” he said.

The Army denied that they have knowledge about the protest.

For her part, Josie Labeninay, a Lumad from Kitaotao town in Bukidnon who assisted in the giving of birth of her niece Tuesday said she was unaware of the protest of the IPs.

However, she said the protesters seem to believe that they are NPA members.

“So they really believe that the Lumads who are evacuating here are NPA members?” asked Josie.

“We are not NPA members. We don’t have arms and we don’t live in the forest,” she said.

Labeninay was among the 15 civilians who was arrested on allegations that they were NPA members on August this year. She left her 7-month old son when she was taken to Maramag town in Bukidnon.

Labeninay said militarization of their communities is happening because the military is occupying their village and school.

She said they decided to flee their community because the military is arresting even civilians.

Monzon said they believe the Alamara will return on Wednesday.


(UPDATE) 13 Abu Sayyaf men, 2 soldiers killed; 10 gov’t troops hurt in Basilan clash

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Dec 15): (UPDATE) 13 Abu Sayyaf men, 2 soldiers killed; 10 gov’t troops hurt in Basilan clash
Gov't troops were tracking down bandits' lair when they encountered bandits

Thirteen Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in a firefight in Al Barka, Basilan, at 5 p.m., Tuesday, while 10 other soldiers were injured, Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said.

Tuesday’s encounter was the third day of fighting between the bandit group and government troops composed of the Scout Rangers and the Philippine Marines

“It has been ongoing for three day.  It was on Tuesday that the major skirmishes happened,” the military official said of the encounter that began at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Tan said combined elements of the 104th Army Brigade, the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, 4th Special Forces Battalion, Marine Special Operations Group and the 12th Light Armor Cavalry, were conducting “focused operation” against a suspected Abu Sayyaf encampment in Barangay Macalang when they clashed with a still undetermined number of bandits.

“It was an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group. It is a focused military operation. Prior to this, there was an intelligence operation that led to the identification of the ASG lair,” Tan said.

Tan said the identities of the slain soldiers and those wounded in the encounter could not be released yet “due to operational security.”

The military withholds information on its casualties until after their next of kin have been notified.

The military did not recover any bodies of the Abu Sayyaf men while the 10 injured soldiers have been undergoing medical treatment.