Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Saudi roundup nets 3 Filipino ‘jihadists’

From The Standard (Jan 6): Saudi roundup nets 3 Filipino ‘jihadists’

THE military said  Tuesday  it was trying to verify reports that three suspected Filipino jihadists were among 44 people arrested in Saudi Arabia in a weeklong anti-terrorism operation last December.

“We’re now coordinating with the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]... to identify the reported three Filipinos. As of now, we’ve no details yet,” Colonel Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said.

Arab News   reported that Saudi security forces launched a series of special operations in December that resulted in the arrest of 44 suspects, “including three Filipinos, five Syrians, four Yemenis, a Sudanese and 31 Saudis.”

                      Colonel Restituto Padilla
“The largest number of arrests were made on the first day of the operation, with 10 Saudis and one Yemeni being arrested. Nine suspects, including three Syrians were arrested the following day,” it said.

“Ten suspects were rounded up on the fifth day of the operation, including seven Saudis, a Yemeni, a Sudanese and a Syrian,” it added.

Earlier, reports said that Islamic terrorists brandishing the flags of terrorists in Iraq and Syria had been recruiting and training recruits in Mindanao.

Videos and photographs of the alleged training were posted on the Internet.

The military and the Palace, however, have denied the presence of terrorist training camps in Mindanao.

Padilla dismissed the videos and photographs as part of the terrorists’ recruitment propaganda.

A high-ranking military intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the three Filipinos arrested were not directly recruited from the Philippines, but had probably been in Saudi Arabia for some time.

Provincial police, meanwhile, said an alleged member of the Abu Sayyaf Group involved in several kidnappings and the ambush against a vice mayor in December was arrested  Monday  in Patikul, Sulu.

The police identified the suspect as Jummi Jumala, who was now temporarily detained at the provincial police office.

The Patikul police said they received information regarding the presence of Jumala, and asked for help from the Alpha Company of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion.

Sulu Task Group commander Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado cleared the request for support and joined the arresting team.

Arrojado said Jumala is a “known ASG member” with pending criminal cases filed in court.

Jumala was also being sought for the ambush of Vice Mayor Jun Tarsum and series of killings in Jolo and Patikul.

Jumala was also involved in several kidnapping operations of the ASG, the police said.


MILF: Editorial -- Civilians must be spared

Editorial posted to the MILF Website (Jan 4): Editorial -- Civilians must be spared in war

Thirteen civilians were reported to have died late last month as a result of the offensive initiated by so-called Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway group of the MILF. Eight of the civilians were from Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, all Christians, and the others from the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sangki, both in Maguindanao.

Great God, this is against the teachings of Islam. A Muslim should only fight the one who fights him; and children, women, and the elderly should be spared. There is no terrorism in jihad or a threat to civilians.

Of course, the BIFF’s spokesman denied they have killed civilians. He clarified that those slain were members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGUs), who he said are fair targets.  We have not verified who is telling the truth, the military or the BIFF.

However, if the intention of the BIFF in launching these attacks is for media mileage, then it must not be at the expense of civilians. It is counter-productive and will not bring them any glad tiding. Under no circumstances, killing of civilians can be justified.

The MILF never wanted these unfortunate incidents to happen at all, but there is no way it can stop them. The BIFF is a separate group and does not take orders from the MILF. In fact, in a way, the BIFF was a protest action of its founder, the late Ameril Omra Kato, against the moderate stance of the MILF in solving the armed mess in Mindanao. It came into being in 2008 after the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was not signed by the government, after it was initialed by government and MILF peace negotiators on July 27, 2008.

Habitual non-compliance of obligations by the government directly provide food to the radicals’ appetite, who after all want the peace negotiations to fail. Radicals, who promote narrow and superficial misinterpretations of what they hold true, do not believe in peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. They best thrive --- and enjoy --- in chaos, uncertainty, and destruction.

In the heels of the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress, the radicals are laughing to their hearts full. They expect many hardliners to troop to and swell their ranks.


MILF: Mufti Menk, Bro Wael Ibrahim to hold Da’wah sessions in Davao, Zamboanga

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 6): Mufti Menk, Bro Wael Ibrahim to hold Da’wah sessions in Davao, Zamboanga

 Mufti Menk, Bro Wael Ibrahim to hold Da’wah sessions in Davao, Zamboanga

Prominent Ulama (Islamic scholars), Mufti Ismael Menk and Brother Wael Ibrahim, will hold Da’wah sessions in the cities of Zamboanga and Davao this coming January 31st and February 2nd respectively.

For Zamboanga City, the  event with the theme “The Promised Life” will be hosted by Addhiya’ Foundation and Al Husna Foundation in coordination with the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula to be held at Astoria Regency Convention Center at Pasonanca Park.

Fareedatun Nissa Foundation will host the same activity which has the theme “Challenges of the Chosen” at SMX Convention Center, Lanang, Davao City.

The two international lecturers, whose previous lectures are also available in social media and youtube, are popular especially among the Muslim youth.

They have been in the Philippines in the past couple of years to share their knowledge on Islam particularly educating the Muslim youth on how to deal with the challenges of the era where prohibited drugs, music, vices, computer games and pornography are trending.

Menk and Ibrahim advocate respect to life and strongly condemn terroristic acts perpetrated by extremists.

Those who want to watch their lectures can find the materials through searching in the internet.


MILF: Zamboanga City Community and Religious Leaders attend Seminar-Workshop on Peace Building

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 5): Zamboanga City Community and Religious Leaders attend Seminar-Workshop on Peace Building

Zamboanga City Community and Religious Leaders attend Seminar-Workshop on Peace Building

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in partnership with United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD) conducted two-day Seminar-Workshop on Peace Building on January 3-4, 2016 at Barangay Sangali, Zamboanga City attended by community and religious leaders some came from east coast barangays of the city.

The activity was part of BLMI and UNYPAD comprehensive approach and initiatives in providing basic knowledge to the grassroots level on Leadership and Management as well as raising public awareness and enhancing their participation in peace-building. 

The activity was organized and facilitated by community leaders and Bangsamoro Religious sector.

During the first-day session, Tirso Tahir, BLMI Research Unit Officer lectured on Leadership and Management in Islamic perspective, He accentuated its essential principles and practices as embodied in Noble Qur’an and the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Tahir also quoted various Quranic verses and Hadiths that related to the topic presented.

“Leadership in Islam is a trust (amanah). It represents a psychological contract between a leader and his followers that he will try his best to guide them, to protect them and to treat them fairly and with justice”, Tahir said. 

Mr Zulfhikar Samsaraji lectured on “Bridging Leadership”. He emphasized the concept of ownership, co-ownership and co-creation that encourages stakeholders to take initiative in making feasible changes in establishing new institutional arrangement that reflects in governance bases on principle of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.  

To make it more comprehensive and correlative with Islamic point of view, Tahir presented another integral element of leadership, the “Integrity” He pointed out that integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and consistent commitment to honor, moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles. As Allah said….

“O ye who believe ; stand firmly for justice as witness to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For God can best protect both” Qur”an (4:13)

Tahir also updated the participants on the current status of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). He encouraged them not to lost hope in the pursuit of peace. He likewise underscored the importance of sustaining the gains of the GPH-MILF Peace accords, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). 

During the closing program, the participants expressed their profoundest gratitude to the resource persons, BLMI, UNYPAD and the organizers as well.  


Court junks Palparan plea for bail

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 5): Court junks Palparan plea for bail

Witness found credible in disappearance case


FOR THE MAN so-called “The Butcher” for his alleged human rights violations, the new year opened with a defeat in court.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. is bound to stay detained as a Bulacan court has ruled that the evidence “is strong” to hold him accountable for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

In a ruling released on Monday, the Malolos City Regional Trial Court Branch 15 junked Palparan’s plea for bail, upholding the testimony of one witness as “credible” in establishing his possible role in the unresolved disappearance of the two students.


Analysts warn of Beijing-controlled air defense zone after test flight

From the Business World (Jan 5): Analysts warn of Beijing-controlled air defense zone after test flight

CHINA’S first landing of a plane on one of its new island runways in the South China Sea shows Beijing’s facilities in the disputed region are being completed on schedule and military flights will inevitably follow, foreign officials and analysts said.

China’s increasing military presence in the disputed sea could effectively lead to a Beijing-controlled air defense zone, they said, ratcheting up tensions with other claimants and with the United States in one of the world’s most volatile areas.

China has confirmed that a test flight by a civilian plane landed on an artificial island built in the Spratlys, the first time Beijing has used a runway in the area.

Vietnam said the plane landed on Jan. 2 and launched a formal diplomatic protest, while the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs department Spokesman Charles C. Jose said Manila was planning to do the same. Both have claims to the area that overlap with China.

“That’s the fear, that China will be able to take control of the South China Sea and it will affect the freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight,” Mr. Jose told reporters.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said China’s landing of the plane “raises tensions and threatens regional stability.”

Senator John McCain, the chairman of the influential US Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized the Obama administration for delaying further “freedom of navigation” patrols within 12 nautical miles of the islands built by China.

China has been building runways on the artificial islands for over a year, and the plane’s landing was not a surprise.

The runway at the Fiery Cross Reef is 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) long and is one of three China was constructing on artificial islands built up from seven reefs and atolls in the Spratlys.

The runways would be long enough to handle long-range bombers and transport craft as well as China’s best jet fighters, giving them a presence deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia that they have lacked until now.

Chinese officials have repeatedly stressed that the new islands would be mostly for civilian use, such as coast guard activity and fishing research.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the weekend that the test flight was intended to check whether the runway met civilian aviation standards and fell “completely within China’s sovereignty.”

Asked about Mr. McCain’s remarks on Tuesday, she said: “We hope the US can take an objective and fair attitude, and not make statements that confuse the situation and are harmful to regional peace and stability.”


However, military landings on the islands were now “inevitable,” said Leszek Buszynski, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

“The next step will be, once they’ve tested it with several flights, they will bring down some of their fighter air power -- SU-27s and SU-33s -- and they will station them there permanently. That’s what they’re likely to do.”

Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, said he expected tensions to worsen as China used its new facilities to project power deeper into the South China Sea.

Even if China stopped short of formally declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone, known as an ADIZ, Beijing’s need to protect its new airstrips and other facilities could see it effectively operating one.

Work is well under way to complete a range of port, storage and personnel facilities on the new islands, US and regional officials have said.

Fiery Cross is also expected to house advanced early warning radars and military communications facilities, they said.

“As these facilities become operational, Chinese warnings to both military and civilian aircraft will become routine,” Mr. Storey said. “These events are a precursor to an ADIZ, or an undeclared but de facto ADIZ, and one has to expect tensions to rise.”

China sparked condemnation from the United States and Japan in late 2013 when it declared an ADIZ over the East China Sea, covering uninhabited islands disputed with Tokyo.

Ms. Hua said on Monday that there were no immediate plans for an ADIZ in the South China Sea.

However, regional military officials say they are logging increased warnings to aircraft from Chinese radio operators, including some from ground stations on Fiery Cross reef.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade ships every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

The United States has no claim in the South China Sea, but has been highly critical of China’s assertiveness and says it will protect freedom of navigation.

In Washington, Mr. McCain said that the lack of US action after a navy patrol near the islands in October was allowing China to continue to “pursue its territorial ambitions” in the region.

US officials remain committed to carrying out further “freedom of navigation” patrols near the disputed islands, but are still debating the timing of another patrol, said one US defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. -- Reuters


Japan defense minister eyes visit to Philippines

From ABS-CBN (Jan 6): Japan defense minister eyes visit to Philippines

Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani plans to meet with his Philippine counterpart Voltaire Gazmin in the Southeast Asian country as early as April to beef up security ties amid China's increasing maritime assertiveness, a government source said Tuesday.

In the talks, Nakatani could discuss the provision of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force TC-90 training aircraft to the Philippines to strengthen its surveillance capabilities in the South China Sea, where China and the Philippines have competing territorial claims, the source said.

The two ministers are also expected to discuss expanding joint exercises between the MSDF and the Philippines navy as well as Japanese support measures to strengthen the Philippines' military, the source said.

Nakatani will also convey Japan's support for the Philippines' efforts to settle its territorial disputes with China through a case brought by Manila before an arbitral tribunal in the Netherlands under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The visit, which may take place during Japan's Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, would follow the two countries' broad agreement on an accord for the transfer of defense equipment and technology reached last November.

Tokyo has signed a similar pact with India, which Nakatani is also considering visiting in April or later.

Nakatani plans to meet with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar to discuss the possibility of India purchasing Japan's US-2 amphibious aircraft.

In a major shift in its postwar security policy, Japan enacted new security legislation last September with the aim of expanding the scope of the Self-Defense Forces' activities abroad.

Since the enactment of the legislation, Nakatani has visited Hawaii, Australia, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation.


Peace advisers resume their push for BBL

From The Standard (Jan 6): Peace advisers resume their push for BBL

THE Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process on Tuesday resumed its push for the passage of Malacañang’s proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law despite the uncertainties and challenges facing it.

“We should hit the ground running.  This last six months are going to move... fast [during which] we will face challenges,” Peace Process adviser Teresita Quintos Deles said.

“We are looking forward, working hard and praying hard that we will see the passage of [the] BBL when Congress resumes [sessions].”

Deles said the passage of the BBL would ease the talks during the coming ministerial meeting in January in Jeddah on the Tripartite Review Process on the implementation of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Government of the Philippines  and the Moro National Liberation Front.

“The House leadership is hopeful that they will be able to muster a quorum and finish the process,” Deles said.

“We should not give up hope and we need to keep pushing for the completion of the most important milestone on the peace table.”

As stipulated in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, two separate components will run through its implementation simultaneously.

The political process will lead to the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao through the enactment of an enabling law, which is the BBL, and the normalization process that seeks to restore the communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

Once all provisions in the CAB have been implemented, both sides will sign an exit agreement.

Government peace panel chairwoman Miriam Coronel Ferrer said the government and the MILF would remain steadfast in upholding the ceasefire in pursuit of lasting peace in the southern Philippines.

“The best thing about the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is that the two parties have not gone back to war,” Ferrer said.

“We are gradually transforming the lives of the people on the ground, nurturing their hopes and dreams for a better future.”


US warns Beijing about reef landings

From The Standard (Jan 6): US warns Beijing about reef landings

THE US says China’s recent test of a newly completed runway on one of seven islands Beijing has constructed in the disputed South China Sea raises tensions and threatens regional stability.

State Department spokesman John Kirby reiterated  Monday  a US call for a halt to land reclamation and militarization of outposts in those waters, where China and five other Asian governments have competing territorial claims.

“We are concerned by China’s decision to land its aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea,” Kirby said.

Protest. This photo taken on Dec. 31, 2015, shows Filipino children in a demonstration on Pagasa Island, a remote area being claimed by China. AFP

“To begin flight operations at this new airfield in a disputed area raises tensions and threatens regional stability,” he said.

“We again call for all claimants to halt land reclamation, further development of new facilities, and the militarization on their outposts, and instead focus on reaching agreement on acceptable behavior in disputed areas. We have made this case clear repeatedly, and we will continue to make it,” Kirby added.

Vietnam last week protested China’s decision to land an aircraft at Fiery Cross Reef, saying it violated Hanoi’s sovereignty, and demanded that China stop such actions. China rejected Hanoi’s protest.

On Monday, the Philippines joined Vietnam in criticizing China’s move, and said it was also considering a formal protest.

Senator John McCain  on Monday  criticized the White House for delaying any future “freedom of navigation” patrols near artificial islands that China has built in the disputed South China Sea.

McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said China was continuing to “pursue its territorial ambitions” in the region, including by landing a plane on a man-made island in the Spratly Islands on Jan. 2.

In a statement, the senator from Arizona said the US military’s failure to conduct additional patrols last year was “disappointing yet hardly surprising.”

He said the Obama administration was “either unable to manage the complexities of interagency national security decision making or simply too risk averse to do what is necessary to safeguard the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific.”

In October, the Pentagon began conducting patrols within 12 nautical miles of the man-made islands.

McCain’s complaints come after Chinese foreign ministry officials confirmed on Saturday that a test flight by a civilian plane landed on one of the islands, the first time Beijing has used a runway in the area, Reuters reported.

The landing was not a surprise, as China has been building runways on the artificial islands for over a year.

Washington suspects that the islands may be used as military outposts, while Beijing insists that they will serve primarily a humanitarian purpose.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillion dollars in trade passes annually. However, there are overlapping claims from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.


900 JTF-NCR personnel to help secure Black Nazarene Procession

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): 900 JTF-NCR personnel to help secure Black Nazarene Procession

Nine hundred military personnel will be augmenting Philippine National Police (PNP) units tasked to secure this year's Black Nazarene Procession in Quiapo, Manila this Saturday.

These officers and enlisted personnel will be under the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region (JTF-NCR), said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla.

He added these military personnel, who are coming from the Army, Air Force and Navy, will be equipped with search-and-rescue, explosive ordnance disposal, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear equipment for possible contingencies.

JTF-NCR personnel will also be aided in their security task by K-9 units, medical and communication teams.

And if needed, military vehicles and helicopters are also available.

Padilla said JTF-NCR personnel will be deploy in five task groups which are divided into logistics, covert security, overt security, disaster response operations and communications.

The security protocols will be similar to the ones used during Pope Francis' visit and APEC Economic Leaders' Summit.

Padilla also said that AFP intelligence units are to detect any threats for Saturday's festivities.


US Pacific Fleet shrinks even as China grows more aggressive

From the Stars & Stripes (Jan 5): US Pacific Fleet shrinks even as China grows more aggressive

When the U.S. wanted to show the world it didn't recognize what it called China's "excessive" territorial claims in disputed waters of the South China Sea this fall, it sent a warship near one of Beijing's newly built artificial reefs.

The move came amid a debate about whether the U.S. has enough ships to meet challenges posed by a fast-growing, increasingly assertive Chinese navy that is unsettling some of its neighbors. In its latest move, China announced last week that it would build its second aircraft carrier, this one with domestic technology.

The Navy and its regional component, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, both have fewer ships now than in the mid-1990s. Navy officials say vastly improved technology on those vessels outweighs any disadvantage from a drop in numbers.

Questions about whether the Pacific Fleet has enough resources are more of a reflection of regional anxieties than the Navy's actual capability, said its commander, Adm. Scott Swift.

Even if the entire fleet were in the South China Sea, he said, he'd still get asked whether the U.S. was bringing more forces.

"It's this sense of angst that I hear from those in the region, driven by the uncertainty and the rhetoric and, you know, the challenges that the region is facing right now," Swift said. "But I'm very comfortable with the resources I have."

An expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank said the issue in peacetime is whether there are enough American vessels to reassure friends and allies and demonstrate U.S. capacity to use power when it needs to.

In wartime, it comes down to whether enough platforms survive missile strikes to carry on their work, Peter Jennings said.

"I think this is emerging as a serious long-term problem," he said.

The Pacific Fleet currently has 182 vessels, including combat ships like aircraft carriers as well as auxiliary and logistics vessels, said spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss. That compares to 192 nearly two decades ago.

Around the world, the Navy has 272 ships usable in combat or to support ships in combat, nearly 20 percent less than 1998. The current total includes 10 aircraft carriers.

Swift said he would rather have the Navy he has today — and its advanced technology — than the Navy of two decades ago.

He pointed to the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer upgraded with new ballistic missile defenses, as well as three new stealth destroyers, the DDG-1000, in the pipeline, as examples.

One consequence of a smaller fleet has been more time at sea. Retired Adm. Zap Zlatoper, who commanded Pacific Fleet in the 1990s, said six-month deployments used to be "sacrosanct" as anything longer made it harder for the Navy to retain sailors.

Ships now deploy for an average of seven to nine months, though the Navy plans to lower this to seven.

Ship conditions have also suffered. The USS Essex left an exercise with Australia early in 2011 and skipped another with Thailand the following year because it developed mechanical problems after delaying maintenance to stay at sea.

Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank, said these are signs the status quo is unsustainable.

In a November report, Clark outlined alternatives: build more ships, though this would require money Congress may not give the Navy or deploy less, though the Pentagon has been reluctant to accept less of an overseas presence.

The other choices: keep more ships at overseas bases where they would be closer to where they operate or mix up how ships deploy, for example by sending fewer escorts with an aircraft carrier which would free some ships to operate separately.
China's People's Liberation Army Navy has more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships and patrol craft, according to the Pentagon's Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy report released in August.

China's coast guard and other maritime law enforcement fleet, meanwhile, has upward of 200 ships — more than the combined fleets of neighbors with competing claims to tiny islands in the East and South China Seas.

The U.S. Coast Guard has about 280 cutters, or vessels at least 65 feet in length, though they primarily operate stateside.

China has also grown more aggressive in asserting its claims to disputed territory. Since December 2013, it's built what the U.S. estimates to be 3,000 acres of artificial islands in the South China Sea using sand dredged from the ocean floor.

China has said the islands are meant to help ships, fishermen and disaster relief.

The U.S. says the islands will enable China to expand its maritime law enforcement and naval presence further south. It worries China could use them to disrupt sea traffic in the South China Sea, a thoroughfare for 30 percent of global maritime trade.

Some of China's ships are rudimentary, like its existing aircraft carrier.

But Narushige Michishita, Japan scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the lay person doesn't know this so the vessels have the same psychological effect on the public as more advanced ones.

Further, he said U.S. forces are spread around the world while China is focused on its own neighborhood.

"So even if the United States spends much more than China, it doesn't mean the local balance stays the same. The local balance in Asia is rapidly changing," Michishita said.


CA affirms writs of amparo, habeas corpus for rights lawyer

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jan 4): CA affirms writs of amparo, habeas corpus for rights lawyer
THE COURT of Appeals has affirmed its decision granting protection orders to an Isabela-based human rights lawyer who claimed she was subjected to surveillance and harassment by the police and military for providing legal assistance to political detainees in Northern Luzon.

In a 7-page resolution dated Dec. 2, 2015, the appellate court’s Special Former Sixth Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General on behalf of the respondents, including Chief Supt. Miguel de Mayo Laurel, the acting regional police chief of Cagayan Valley, then Philippine Army chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri, then military intelligence chief Gen. Eduardo Año, and then AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.

In its ruling written by Justice Romeo Barza, the appeals tribunal affirmed its March 2015 decision granting writs of amparo and habeas data to Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon by reason of substantial evidence, adding that there existed a “unique circumstance necessitating the relaxation of the hearsay rule” in her favor.

Philippines Looks to Arm Its New Fighter Jets

From The Diplomat (Jan 4): Philippines Looks to Arm Its New Fighter Jets

Manila is moving forward with purchasing ammunition for its new jets from South Korea.

The Philippine military will look to purchase more than 100 million pesos ($5.77 million) worth of ammunition for two of its new fighter aircraft from South Korea, defense officials confirmed this week.

As I reported for The Diplomat in December, the Philippines had received the first two of a dozen new FA-50 jets it had ordered from South Korea, with the remaining jets expected to be delivered through 2017. As I indicated then, the jets were still unarmed and Philippine defense officials had indicated that getting them combat ready would require some additional time.

This week, Col. Restituto Padilla, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), confirmed that as part of an existing arms acquisition package for the aircraft, the Philippine military would look to acquire 93,600 rounds of 20 mm ammunition as part of efforts to make the jets combat ready. The purchase, Padilla said, would cost P106.138 million and will be sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

“Part of the procurement process is the armament system for our FA-50 fighters. This purchase is part of the arms acquisition package for our aircraft,” Padilla said, according to local media outlets.

Padilla also added that the military had also allocated over P33 million ($700,000) for the fighter jets’ countermeasures project. The Department of National Defense (DND) will reportedly be purchasing 17,280 RR-170 Chaffs and 8,640 MJU-7 infrared flares with impulsive cartridges for the Elbit Elisra countermeasure dispenser system of the fighter jets.

A pre-bid conference has been scheduled for January 6 at the DND bids and awards committee conference room in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. The winning bidder will be required to deliver the ammunition within 360 calendar days.

The 12 FA-50 Golden Eagle jet fighters were acquired from Korean Aerospace Inc. (KAI) for 18.9 billion pesos ($402 million) last year (See: “South Korea, Philippines Deepen Military Ties”). That deal is part of an ongoing military modernization program which has taken off under President Benigno Aquino III, whose tenure expires this year.

As I have noted before, Philippine officials have said that the FA-50 – technically classified as a light combat aircraft – will only act as the country’s “interim fighter” until Manila gets both enough familiarity with operating such jets and additional funding that will pave the way for the acquisition of more capable fighter aircraft. The longer term goal is to develop a full combat wing by 2028.


AFP to deploy 900 soldiers for Nazarene procession

From the Philippine Star (Jan 5): AFP to deploy 900 soldiers for Nazarene procession

The military will dedicate about 900 soldiers for the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of devotees.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the soldiers would come from the Joint Task Force National Capital Region (NCR) based in Camp Aguinaldo. He said most of the soldiers would be deployed to the venue of the procession while others will be part of the standby force.

“They have the necessary equipment and we will also provide transportation and mobility requirements,” Padilla said in a press conference Tuesday.

“Our colleagues are continuously coordinating with the national (organizing) committee and the PNP (Philippine National Police),” he added.

Padilla said the Joint Task Force NCR would also activate five support task groups for logistics, covert security which would involve soldiers in civilian clothes, overt operations, which will be handled by military personnel in uniform, disaster response operations and communications.

He said soldiers would also be provided with equipment for biological and chemical hazards, explosives and search and rescue. Helicopters and trucks will also be deployed when necessary.

Padilla said security forces have not monitored any threat that would disrupt the procession. He, however, admitted that crowd control remains a concern.

“The most serious concern we are expecting is the crowd control. This has caused injuries because the devotees were overwhelmed by their emotions,” the military spokesman said.

Padilla said the Joint Task Force NCR may be placed on red alert to ensure enough manpower during the event. A red alert entails the cancelation of all leaves of absence. Supporting military units, meanwhile, may declare a blue alert, which places half of the troops on standby.

The January 9 event is called the Traslacion and commemorates the transfer of the Black Nazarene image to Quiapo from Intramuros in the 18th century. Contrary to popular belief, it does not celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene. The feast of the image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross is celebrated every Good Friday.

The Black Nazarene is a life-size image of Jesus clad in maroon robe, wearing a crown of thorns and carrying a big wooden cross in a semi-kneeling position.

The image, which has survived earthquakes, fires, bombings and floods, is believed to be miraculous.

Many devotees brave the huge crowds to attend the Traslacion to seek forgiveness for their sins and to ask favors.


Davao City election officer reiterates call on candidates not to yield to NPA’s PTC

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Davao City election officer reiterates call on candidates not to yield to NPA’s PTC

The city election officer here warned candidates not to yield to extortion that goes along with the permits to campaign (PTC), to post and to win, by the communist rebels or they will be disqualified from joining the political race.

City Election Officer Danilo Cullo reiterated the warning issued by the national poll body in Manila not to give in to the demands of the rebels.

“The Commission on Elections in Manila has already issued the warning for all political candidates not to support this scheme by the insurgents,” he said.

He said that just like vote buying, someone must have to witness in court and attest that such situation really happened.

Cullo underscored the five main prohibitions as provided by the Omnibus Election Code from January 10 to the Election Day on May 9 ranging from the alteration and establishment of new precincts, transfer or movement of civil service personnel, use of bodyguards by candidates unless authorized by the poll body, gun ban and suspension of elected local officials.

He explained that the transfer or movement of civil service personnel might impact on the results of the elections.

Cullo said that the movement of poll body personnel during the election period could be one of the exemptions aimed at avoiding the familiarity of the election personnel to the candidates.

“A reshuffle of poll body personnel might start on the second week of January, 2016 starting from the Regional Election Director to the election officers in cities, provinces and municipalities,” he said.


Manhunt on vs. killers of North Cotabato village chieftain

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Manhunt on vs. killers of North Cotabato village chieftain

Police and military forces are now hunting down four men who ambushed and killed a village chieftain here on Tuesday morning.

Brig.Gen. Noel Clement, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade, said soldiers have been sent to the village of Silik and Ginatilan, both in Pikit to help the police in hunting down the attackers of Pecson Alang Mangansakan, 60, chairman of Barangay Silik.

Chief Insp. Sindatuk Karim, Pikit police chief, said the victim was driving a village-owned Susuki multicab with his wife Marela enroute to the Barangay Poblacion when the ambush took place.

Karim said pursuit operation is still on going against the suspects who reportedly fled to Barangay Silik.

Quoting witnesses, Karim said two motorbikes, each with two men on board, were seen tailing Mangansakan from Silik.

As Mangansakan and his wife were approaching Barangay Ginatilan along a dirt road, one of two men on a motorcycle shot the village official three times.

Mangansakan was hit in the head, chest and body but his wife was unharmed.

Village watchmen of Barangay Ginatilan responded and engaged the gunmen in a brief firefight until the suspects fled.

Villagers also rushed Mangansakan to Cruzado Medical Clinic in Barangay Poblacion but the official was declared dead on arrival.

Karim said the slain Mangansakan is the uncle of Pikit Vice Mayor Don Mangansakan who is running for mayor in May elections.

"We could not say if this is election related, we are still investigating deeper," Karim said, adding that the slain village chief also survived an ambush few years ago.

Karim also appealed to the relatives of Mangansakan to allow the law to take its course.


F-27 transport aircraft up for structural repairs

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): F-27 transport aircraft up for structural repairs
The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating a sum of PHP39,485,000 for the structural repair of one of its three Fokker F-27 "Friendship" transport aircraft.

The submission and opening of bids is set on Friday, 9:00 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

To undergo structural repair is PAF's F-27 with tail number 10669.

The said aircraft was damaged after a failed landing at the Legazpi Airport, Albay on May 11, 2015.


AFP hopeful rebels will negotiate peace settlement with gov't

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): AFP hopeful rebels will negotiate peace settlement with gov't

Despite four New People's Army (NPA) attacks during the Yuletide truce, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still hopeful the rebels will negotiate with the government for lasting and genuine peace.

"We are serious about talking peace, we are not recording the errors they committed, as part of the grounds we can use not to initiate talks," AFP spokesperson Col. Restituto Padilla said in an interview.

The rebels conducted three harassment attacks in military units in eastern Mindanao last Dec. 23 and another raid in the Southern Luzon Command last Jan. 1.

All attacks were repelled without serious losses to government forces.

This is in violation of the rebel-declared truce which started last Dec. 23 and ended midnight of Jan. 3.

Despite breaking their word, Padilla said the government remains committed to forging a lasting peace pact with the rebels.

"Our national government remains on the negotiating table, so if they are serious, they should come back," he said.

Padilla added there is a "good side" to the Yuletide season harassment as it indicated rebel leaders have lost some of control on their operatives on the ground.

"So this is a sign that we have to see as an opening, that we should negotiate with those on the ground instead of negotiating with those up there," he said.


Marcos sees reopening of Mamasapano probe to affect BBL passage

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): Marcos sees reopening of Mamasapano probe to affect BBL passage

Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday the reopening of the Senate inquiry into the 2015 Mamasapano incident will affect the passage of the proposed Bangamoro Basic Law (BBL) if new issues will arise during the reinvestigation.

”I think it will affect if there is new information that will come out,” Marcos said in a media interview at the sideline of his visit in Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City.

Last Monday, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano announced that the Senate Committee on Rules has granted the request of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile to reopen the bloody Mamasapano encounter between the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25 last year.

Enrile was in detention for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam when the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Grace Poe conducted inquiries into the incident that left 44 SAF commandos dead.

The 91-year-old lawmaker got temporary freedom only last August and four months later, he moved to reinvestigate the incident to clarify what the government did during the 11-hour encounter.

Despite the reopening of the Mamasapano investigation, Marcos said the plenary debates on the BBL’s substitute bill, the Basic Law on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR), can proceed.

”We can continue our deliberations on the BLBAR,” Marcos said.

He said the reopening of the Mamasapano probe will provide justice to the families of the SAF commandos killed in the encounter that took place while the government forces were on a mission to arrest international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan. The bomb expert was killed in the operation.

”To give justice to the victims, we have to look back on what really happened, we have to know who should be charged and perhaps provide the Justice department with all the information so it can act swiftly on this,” Marcos said.

Meanwhile, Poe welcomed the decision of the Rules Committee to give go-signal for the additional hearings.

”It's good that the Rules Committee gave a go-signal that additional hearing/s can be called, in response to Minority Leader Enrile's request to call such, citing his personal information, and possibly new evidence,” Poe said in a press statement.

Poe said the reopening of the Mamasapano probe “will not affect or void our earlier findings.”

Poe set the additional hearing on Jan. 25 at the session hall of the Philippine Senate.


PNP plans weapons upgrade

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 5): PNP plans weapons upgrade

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has programmed the procurement of M4-type platform basic assault rifles under its Annual Procurement Plans for 2014 and 2015, Police Director Juanito B. Vaño Jr., PNP Director for Logistics said on Tuesday.

Vaño said the modern 5.56mm M4 carbine is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, and is currently in service in the military and law enforcement services around the world.

He said the M4 is totally different from the 7.62mm M14 infantry rifle developed in the 1960s.

“The Annual Procurement Plans for the calendar years 2014 and 2015 of the PNP had programmed for the procurement of M4 type platform basic assault rifles caliber 5.56mm and not M14 rifles as reported in a recent publication by a national daily,” Vaño explained.

During a recent provincial sortie in Zamboanga City, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, announced plans to replace M16 rifles in the PNP inventory with the modern M4 carbine.


Gains in anti-insurgency to be sustained next year

From the Bicol Mail (Jan 3): Gains in anti-insurgency to be sustained next year

Military forces in Bicol are looking at 2016 as another bright year for its anti-insurgency campaign that marked in 2015 a remarkable success leading to the formal declaration of four of the region’s six provinces as already peaceful and ready for further development.

The Philippine Army (PA) said that along with the entire security sector of the government, it  would be putting more pressure to the remaining units of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in Bicol so that within 2016 the region is cleared of insurgency and all its provinces declared as “conflict manageable and ready for further development” (CMRFD) areas.

A CMRFD area is where anti-insurgency efforts of the government are shifted from clearing of barangays from insurgent affectation supported by socio-economic development to a reverse role.

It is formalized through a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and a particular provincial government following a recommendation by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) supported by a resolution passed by the provincial legislative board.

The PPOC recommendation is based on decreased violent activities of the NPA, the reduction of its potential support system in the barangays and its failed recovery efforts—meaning “the local NPA organizations have been reduced to a minimal level that they can no longer pose a serious threat to peace and order in the locality”.

It is a sad fact according to the military that the 45-year old insurgency being waged by the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) has been preventing the progress and economic development of all affected localities in Bicol and in the country.

“We can now reverse the situation in CMRFD areas as the MOU emphasizes the implementation of more socio-economic and development projects to be implemented by the civil government with the continuous support and protection of the military,” said Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Quidilla, commanding general of the PA’s 9th Infantry (Spear) Division (ID) based in Pili, Camarines Sur.

The four Bicol provinces now under these declarations are Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Albay, leaving behind Sorsogon and Masbate.

For Catanduanes, the MOU governing the province’s CMRFD declaration was signed in late December 2014; followed last January by Camarines Norte; then by Camarines Sur and Albay.

These MOUs, according to Quidilla bring great pleasure for it is a proof that efforts of the government and its armed forces to restore peace and tranquility in the provinces have not been put in vain.

At least these first four Bicol provinces are now provided with space where the people can feel safe and grow as progressive communities and Quidilla said the AFP wants this environment expanded down to Sorsogon and Masbate.

The AFP has been maintaining the presence of the PA for about 16 years now in Bicol with its 9th ID manning the internal security of the region from the activities of the NPA.

This PA ID is in command of three infantry brigades composed of eight infantry battalions and seven support units, including an engineering battalion distributed in all the six provinces of the region.

In over 40 years, Bicol’s opportunity to advance to progress with its vast mineral deposits, agricultural lands, rich fishing grounds, exotic tourist destinations, rich natural resources and hard-working people has been stalled by unstable peace situation owing to the presence of the NPAs and the culture of violence it has developed among local communities.

They prevent the implementation of government infrastructure projects, harass mining companies, extort money in form of “revolutionary taxes” from businessmen, contractors and even from farmers, and execute those who refuse to remit including innocent civilians and civilian government officials.

Now, the strength of the rebels in the four provinces has been significantly reduced paving the way for the CMRFD declaration, Quidilla said.

In the case of Sorsogon, the PA’s 31st Infantry Battalion (IB) assigned in the province has said that each rebel unit presently operating within the so called “guerilla zones” has dwindled to only a handful of demoralized combatants not capable of any major anti-government operations.

According to 31st IB commander, Lt. Col. Beerjenson Aquino, the weakening and demoralization of the province’s NPA were rendered by massive military operations that resulted to the recent clearing of the remaining 13 barangays that served as the rebels’ last stand.

As an added punch to Sorsogon NPAs, their two most prominent leaders—Andres Hubilla and Felix Marcayda, Jr. recently fell into the hands of lawmen.

Aquino said that while there have been some incidents of harassment initiated recently by armed men believed to be NPA rebels against military installations in the province, those were just minor operations intended to show their presence in efforts to collect from candidates in the 2016 general elections “permit-to-campaign and permit-to-win” fees.

In fact, the PA commander said the AFP since lately has been preparing for the declaration of Sorsogon as the fifth of Bicol’s six provinces under the CMRFD area.

Various indicators are being considered in placing the province under this declaration and the most significant were the dramatic decrease in numbers of barangays affected or influenced by the NPA, actual number of armed insurgents and insurgency-related crime volume, Aquino said.

According to Quidilla, it is impressing that the security sector has been able to achieve significant gains in addressing the threat situation in the province of Sorsogon and the Bicol region obviously resulting from concerted efforts of different stakeholders in addressing social problems.

Bicol is now on its way towards becoming a region of peace, progress, and prosperity with the island of Masbate as the remaining province classified as highly infested by the NPA—“a situation that we would by all means address in 2016,” he added.


The current Philippine condition is fertile for social change — CPP

Posted to the often pro-CPP Northern Dispatch (Jan 3): The current Philippine condition is fertile for social change — CPP

BAGUIO CITY — In a statement posted in its website and furnished to the media, the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on its 47th founding anniversary pronounced that the crisis of the world capitalist system is worsening and the Philippines is one of the few countries in which the illusion of economic growth is conjured from time to time by large inflows of portfolio investments and still, the country suffers from an abrupt economic downturn.

The CPP stated that the economic, social and political crisis in the Philippines is fertile ground for the advance of the revolutionary movement. The organization also stated that because of the heavy burden of escalating oppression and exploitation, the people are driven to protest and rebel. “The crisis conditions easily lead to revolutionary resistance because there is a growing revolutionary party of the proletariat that exposes the increasing inability of the ruling system to rule in the old way and that arouses, organizes and mobilizes the people to take the road of revolution,” said the CPP.

The CPP explained that under monopoly capitalism particularly in a United States (US) dictated Philippine economic policies, the drive to extract higher profit by squeezing wages and adopting higher technology inevitably leads to and further aggravates the crisis of overproduction. The revolutionary movement stated although the expansion of money supply and credit in an attempt to override the crisis, raises the profits and asset values of the monopoly bourgeoisie, bails out the banks and big corporations, artificially raises consumption and boosts military production ahead of the recovery of civil production and employment, it generates at the same time bigger financial bubbles resulting in worse financial crises on top of the current worsening economic crisis.

The CPP stated that the biggest gainers under the present administration of President Benigno Aquino III backed by US are the foreign banks and corporation and the big comprador firms. “Their interests are in banking, insurance, real estate development, infrastructures, shopping malls, semi-manufacturing, mining, logging, plantations and the like. Public-private partnerships favor big comprador companies and foreign suppliers in infrastructure and energy projects.

As a result, the wealth of the 10 richest Filipinos has risen exponentially from P650 billion in 2010 to P2.2 trillion in 2015. Top-level corruption of the Aquino ruling clique and its business favorites is frequently exposed, with particular instances of corruption involving hundreds of millions and even billions of pesos” were detailed in the statement copy.

The revolutionary organization also mentioned that social inequalities have worsened as unemployment increases, the real income of the workers and even the middle social strata have decreased, and the prices of basic commodities have risen, and social services have deteriorated, and public utility charges have been raised. The statement also added that more than 10 million Filipino contract workers left for foreign lands of unfamiliar cultures under harsh working and living conditions, low wages accompanied with neglect by the Philippine government.

“The Philippines has an agrarian semifeudal economy but it has lost food self-sufficiency, particularly with regard to rice and corn production due to the neoliberal economic policy of allowing rice and other food imports to swamp the market and discourage local production. At the same time, large plantations have been devoted to the production of such crops as rubber and palm oil for export and large areas of land allocated for bioethanol production.

Eventually, rice and other food imports have become more expensive while local food production and the peasant masses have become more impoverished,” stressed in the statement. The CPP stated that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and the CARP-Extension with Reforms (CARPER) have not solved the problem of landless tillers. “The peasant masses are waging various forms of struggles to fight for and assert their land rights. They are waging campaigns to reduce land rent, lower rates of usury, raise the wages of agricultural and farm workers, raise production and the prices of their produce, lower rentals on farm tools and equipment, set up cooperatives and engage in mutual help. In some regions, occupation of abandoned and contested lands are being undertaken. Nationwide protest campaigns such as peasant marches and Peasant Chain have been held,” as stated by the CPP.

The CPP also mentioned the plight of the indigenous peoples (Ips) where their right to ancestral domain is being brutally violated. The organization added that in the attempt to grab the lands of Ips, the Aquino government in favor of the foreign and local land grabbers subjects the peasants including the Ips to military and psywar operations under its Oplan Bayanihan.

The revolutionary organization also added that the students and the out-of-school youth are restless and stage militant mass actions against tuition fee hikes, the lack of jobs after graduation, the commercialized education especially in state colleges and universities, the imposition of the K12 system which was designed to produce a docile work force for the foreign and local exploiters, the reduction of budget allocation for education while there is a continuous increase in the fund for the military, police and intelligence equipment and operations.

The CPP said the Philippine revolution and the CPP have withstood all attacks of the US imperialism and the local exploiting classes because the ideological, political and organizational tasks of the Party has been well defined. By all means, the Party must lead and advance the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.
“No matter how long it takes, the strategic defensive must advance towards the strategic stalemate.

And this latter stage must develop for as long as it takes to build regular mobile forces, supported by the guerrilla forces, the people’s militia, self-defense units or the mass organizations and the mass movement and prepare all revolutionary forces for the strategic offensive in the future,” stated the CPP.


MILF: Gov't urged to put up “real” Islamic bank to attrack Muslim foreign investors

Posted to the MILF Website (Jan 4): Gov't urged to put up “real” Islamic bank to attrack Muslim foreign investors

  Photo courtesy of Duma Mascud

A Moro civil society organization leader urged the government to put up a real Islamic Bank in the country in order to attrack Muslim foreign businessmen who may pour in their investments that will eventually usher economic development of the Bangsamoro region.
“Muslim foreign capitalists want to put their funds in an Islamic bank , thus there is a need for us to have such kind (of bank) in the Philippines,” Duma Mascud, chairman of Bangsamoro Alliance for Peace, Social and Economic Development (BAPSED) said in an interview.
Mascud, a staunch advocate of the Mindanao peace process, said that while the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not yet in place, “it is advantageous for the country if the government could establish first Shari'ah-compliant banking system .”

The proposed BBL, the legal translation of the peace deal between the government and the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), provides the establishment of Islamic banking system in the proposed Bangsamoro region.

The measure is hoped to be passed into law before President Aquino's stint ends this year.

“The present Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank is not totally Shari'ah-compliant,” he commented.

For bank to be Shariah-compliant, it has to be free of transactions involving interest. Al-Amanah bank offers both conventional and Shari'ah-compliant financing structures.

Mascud is optimistic that the presence of Islamic bank in the country particularly in Mindanao will open financing opportunity to more Moro people, the type that is attuned to Islamic belief which is interest-free.

“If we have Islamic bank, even local Muslim businessmen and ordinary citizens can put their money in Islamic bank,” he stressed.

He said that Islamic bank is a great help for the Bangsamoro people and added “however, the best solution to address poverty in Mindanao is the BBL.”


MILF: RMO-BDA-CenMin holds VTT, enlightens CCSPC OJT students

Posted to the MILF Website (Jam 5): RMO-BDA-CenMin holds VTT, enlightens CCSPC OJT students

RMO-BDA-CenMin holds VTT, enlightens CCSPC OJT students

The Values Transformation Training (VTT) conducted by the Regional Management Office of Bangsamoro Development Agency-Central Mindanao (RMO-BDA-CenMin) inspired the on-the-job-training (OJT) students of Bachelor of Science in Social Work of Cotabato City State Polytechnic College (CCSPC) held at its session hall on December 28-30, 2015.

Lailanie A. Sali, one of the OJT students said, "VTT enlightens us not just in terms of the values but the wisdom it contains through the embodying knowledge about Islam."

"VTT appropriately guided us in our daily lives to become successful in this world and most especially in the day hereafter," Sali also said.

"The knowledge imparted to us through VTT is very helpful in rebuilding a strong Muslim Ummah because we believe that Islam is the only solution to the prevailing problem of mankind that will redound to permanent peace and justice," Sali further said.   

Esmael M. Utto, one of the OJT students said, "VTT helps me a lot in transforming my values in line with the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (PBUH)."

"Through VTT, I learned the Five Pillars of Islam and Six Articles of Faith," Utto said.

"Because of this learning, I thank the facilitators for their effective facilitation and the RMO of BDA-CenMin for conducting this VTT," emphasized Utto.

Moreover, Ansari E. Haron, another OJT student said, "VTT is a big help for me because I learned a lot about Islam."

"Although I have knowledge about Islam, but it increases because of VTT," added Haron.

Regional Manager Hashim B. Manticayan of the BDA-CenMin in his message emphasized the importance of VTT in transforming the values of the participants from the effects of secular and colonial modernization.

Manticayan explained that the real concept of development in order to guarantee lasting peace and prosperity is that moral and spiritual development must prevail over material things.

The VTT was participated in by the 23 OJT students.

VTT is a regular activity of the RMO for OJT students from different schools in Cotabato City and nearby localities in order to help them transform their values, for the better and develop their personalities to become more productive to the community and society where they belong.