Friday, April 1, 2016

2 soldiers killed in NPA attack

From the Philippine Star (Apr 2): 2 soldiers killed in NPA attack

Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded when suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas opened fire at a command post in Bukidnon on Tuesday.

The bodies of Privates Nicol Sermito and Norbert Romanillos were recovered only on Wednesday, said Capt. Lorenzo Siobal, spokesman for the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade.

The wounded soldier was identified as Sgt. Elmer Cabingi.

Siobal said the victims were part of a team conducting security operations in Upper Lubuna, Barangay Casisang in Malaybalay City.

“Our soldiers were eating and caught off guard,” he said.

Troops capture BIFF commander in Cotabato

From the Daily Tribune (Apr 2): Troops capture BIFF commander in Cotabato

Government troops captured a commander of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter Special Operation Group (BIFF-SOG) during an operation in Cotabato City on Thursday, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) announced yesterday.

Director Victor Deona, CIDG chief, identified the arrested BIFF leader as Zainudin Kawilan, who is wanted for double murder.

Kawilan was nabbed by detectives of CIDG-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) under Supt. Jimmy Daza, together with the Philippine Army, PRO-ARMM, Cotabato City police station, and Regional Intelligence Unit-15.

The arrest was made by virtue of an arrest warrant against Kawilan who was collared at around 11:30 a.m. in Cotabato City.

Daza said that Kawilan is responsible in the series of harassment against military installation and the killing of military personnel in Salvo, Pagatin, Mamasapano and Shariff Aguak (SPMS) box area.

According to Daza, Kawilan is also involved in gun-for-hire activities in Central Mindanao.

Only last February, BIFF elements engaged government forces in weeks of clashes in Maguindanao, particularly in Datu Salibu town where they attacked a government project.

It was not clear, however, if Kawilan was with the BIFF band that launched the attacks in Satu Salibu.

Branded as “peace spoiler,” the BIFF is a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is talking peace with the government.

NPA commander among arrested in Kidapawan dispersal, says PNP

From GMA News (Apr 1): NPA commander among arrested in Kidapawan dispersal, says PNP

A commander of New People's Army was among those arrested after the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, the Philippine National Police spokesperson said Friday.

In press conference, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said a number of rallyists were arrested, including an individual reported to be an NPA commander from Brgy. Basak, Magpet, North Cotabato. He, however, did not provide the name of the person.

He added that it was the protesters who first attack the policemen.

Mayor said around 4,000 people from several farmers, indigenous peoples, and cause-oriented groups assembled on the Cotabato-Davao Highway, Kidapawan City Thursday morning to raise their concern on El Nino and the non-distribution of rice from the National Food Authority.

He said the Provincial Governor Emilou Mendoza and other North Cotabato mayors talked with the protesters prompting sections of the crowd to disperse and head back to their communities.

However, many of the protesters refused to clear the area continued with their protest in one of the major transportation arteries of Mindanao.

Mayor said when the group's permit to rally lapsed Friday morning, acting upon guidance from Mendoza, combined PNP troops under the police district and Senior Supt Alexander Tagum conducted an operation to clear the national highway and, in coordination with the DSWD, rescue minors who were allegedly part of the picket line.

He added before the PNP could start their operation,  protesters attacked them with poles and pieces of wood.

"Large rocks were also thrown at the policemen, and at the stationary fire truck deployed to the area. A commotion followed, which resulted in injuries to policemen and rallyists," he said.

He added, as of last count, 40 policemen have been injured, with two of them in critical condition due to head trauma.

He said they are consolidating information as regards the injured and a reported casualty on the side of the rallyists. He further said all those injured were immediately brought to nearby hospitals to receive proper medical care.

US plans third patrol near disputed Spratly Islands —source

From GMA News (Apr 2): US plans third patrol near disputed Spratly Islands —source

The US Navy plans to conduct another passage near disputed islands in the South China Sea in early April, a source familiar with the plan said on Friday, the third in series of challenges that have drawn sharps rebukes from China.

The exact timing of the exercise and which ship would travel inside a 12-nautical mile limit around a disputed island was not immediately clear.

The United States has conducted what it calls "freedom of navigation" exercises in recent months, sailing near disputed islands to underscore its rights to navigate the seas.

US Navy officials have said they plan to conduct more and increasingly complex exercises in the future.

The USS Stennis carrier strike group is currently operating in the South China Sea.

The next freedom of navigation exercise is unlikely to be conducted by a carrier like the Stennis, but rather by a smaller ship, the source said.

Experts predict the next US challenge to the various claims in the South China Sea could occur near Mischief Reef, a feature claimed by the Philippines and which was submerged at high tide before China began a dredging project to turn it into an island in 2014.

Mischief Reef, called Panganiban Reef by the Philippines, is now the site of one of three military-length airfields China has built on man-made islands in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

US Navy ships regularly patrol the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade travels every year.

China claims most of the area, and Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

In recent months, with tensions rising around China's reclamation activities, US ships have been frequently and routinely shadowed by Chinese ships and regular communications with Chinese vessels have often been tense.

News of the planned exercise comes a day after US President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a nuclear summit in Washington.

During the meetings, Xi told Obama that China would not accept any behavior in the disguise of freedom of navigation that violates its sovereignty, said China's Xinhua news agency, in a clear warning to the United States.

US, Philippines hold war games as China flexes muscles

From GMA News (Apr 2): US, Philippines hold war games as China flexes muscles

Thousands of US and Filipino soldiers will on Monday launch annual war games that this year are being seen as a show of strength in the face of China's increasing assertiveness in the region.

The 11-day Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises are expected to show how the Philippines, though severely outgunned, can counter China with the help of the United States, its longest-standing ally.

China has in recent months built massive structures including radar systems and an airstrip over reefs and outcrops in the contested South China Sea, sparking international concern.

Beijing lays claim to almost all of the waters, which are important for international shipping and believed to hold valuable mineral and energy deposits, and neighbouring countries fear China could impose military controls over the entire sea.

The joint manoeuvres come ahead of a decision this year by a United Nations-backed tribunal on a legal challenge by Manila to China's territorial claims.

Adding to the tensions, the Philippines is preparing to host US troops in five bases under a defense pact born out of US President Barack Obama's plan to reassert American influence in the Pacific.

Balikatan has evolved from counter-terrorism maneuvers against Islamic extremists like the Philippines' Abu Sayyaf, to simulations of retaking and protecting territory as disputes with Beijing have escalated.

However, Filipino and US officials insist the exercises are not explicitly aimed at China.

Balikatan spokesman Captain Celeste Frank Sayson said 55 US aircraft would take part in the drills, while the Philippines will deploy fighter jets it has recently acquired.

While no specific staging areas have been disclosed, the two allies have in recent years held war games at air bases just 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Rene de Castro, an international studies professor at the De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP the drills appeared to have China's expansion in the South China Sea in mind.

"Looking at the features of Balikatan -- the mobile missile-launchers, the fighter planes -- that is an indication that the alliance is being geared for territorial defense," he said.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at the De La Salle University in Manila, added that the exercises "aim to enhance interoperability among allies nations and signal their preparedness to confront China if necessary."

Manila courts US, Japan The Philippine military said the US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), designed to shoot down aircraft, will be sent to Palawan, the Philippines' westernmost island on the South China Sea, during the war games.

The Philippines operates one airstrip in the South China Sea, on Thitu island, where there are around 350 civilian residents.

It also keeps small military contingents in smaller outcrops, including Second Thomas Shoal, where Marines are stationed on a decaying World War II ship.

The Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has sought to counter China's overwhelming military advantage by improving ties with the United States and Japan.

While it has acquired new fighter jets and surplus US naval ships, the Southeast Asian nation still has far to go, De Castro warned.

China's defense budget dwarfs that of the Philippines and Beijing is this year set to outspend its smaller neighbour by a factor of around 60.

The Philippines is also increasing its military engagements with the US with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which took effect in January.

Under the deal, US troops will rotate through five military camps including two air bases that are strategically positioned near the South China Sea.

"It is very apparent that the thrust of (the agreement) is air power," said former national security adviser Roilo Golez.

Australia, which recently criticised China's assertiveness in the disputed waters, is sending 80 troops to join parachute drills as part of the manoeuvres, Sayson said.

Obama this week confronted Chinese President Xi Jinping over Beijing's actions in the disputed seas. Tensions have flared between the superpowers since the US sent warships close to disputed islands twice in the past six months.

Negative arbitral ruling is death of UNCLOS: Carpio

From The Standard (Apr 1): Negative arbitral ruling is death of UNCLOS: Carpio

SUPREME Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio yesterday warned of the “death of UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea)” if a UN arbitral court does not rule on the case lodged by the Philippines against China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea in the next few weeks.

Carpio drew up the worst-case scenario before military and defense officials in a forum as the US and China traded barbs over the latter’s perceived plan to declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over its claimed territory.

Carpio said once the arbitral panel makes an unfavorable ruling, China may enforce its nine-dash line claim, which would make Southeast Asian countries resort to an arms race to protect their shrinking territorial waters.

“China will block or harass Philippine, Vietnamese, Malaysia re-supply to islands they occupy in the Spratlys, the legal dispute over the waters enclosed by the nine-dashed lines continues,” he said.

Carpio said “the only defense of other coastal states against Chinese encroachment is to acquire warships, warplanes and missiles…The naval arms race will accelerate.”

He said the tension will increase because the US and its allies would conduct more freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, which China will oppose.

In a later interview, Carpio said the worst-case scenario he presented will spell the death of UNCLOS “because that means UNCLOS cannot settle the most important maritime dispute today.”

“And if it cannot settle, then it’s useless. People will not go to avail of the remedies under UNCLOS. They will just buy warships, warplanes and anti-ship missiles to defend their maritime zones,” he said.

Carpio said the territorial dispute as the “largest threat” to the Philippines since World War II “because an area larger that our land area is being encroached and taken away from us, seized away from us.”

He said Vietnam and Brunei stand to lose more because they will no longer have an EEZ while the Philippines would still have an EEZ on the Pacific side.

If tension continues to rise, he said the government would have to rechannel its resources for education, social services and infrastructure to acquiring military assets.

“A lot of balancing has to be done, we have to strengthen our alliances because we cannot acquire assets overnight, it takes time,” he said.

But if the arbitral court declares the nine-dash line as void, he said the Philippines will have its full 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Carpio said such a ruling would mean Taiwan’s Itu Aba will not have an EEZ since it is not capable of human habitation.

He said it would also confirm the status of Low Tide Elevations identified by Philippines, and Scarborough Shoal will only have a territorial sea.

He said the scenario means that LTEs within the Philippines’ EEZ (including the Chinese-occupied Mischief Reef) and extended continental shelf (like the Chinese-occupied Subi Reef), “form part of the Philippines’ submerged continental shelf (and) only the Philippines can erect structures on such LTEs.”

“We’ll I’m very optimistic that the second scenario will prevail, the best-case scenario, because the worst-case scenario is something, the world will lose, the entire world will suffer, and I don’t think the tribunal will do that,” said Carpio in an interview.


In Washington, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work told China on Wednesday it will not recognize an exclusion zone in the South China Sea and would view such a move as “destabilizing.”

Work told an event hosted by the Washington Post that the United States would not recognize such an exclusion zone in the South China Sea, just as it did not recognize the one China established in the East China Sea.

“We don’t believe they have a basis in international law, and we’ve said over and over (that) we will fly, sail and go wherever international law allows,” Work said.

“We have spoken quite plainly to our Chinese counterparts and said that we think an ADIZ would be destabilizing. We would prefer that all of the claims in the South China Sea be handled through mediation and not force or coercion,” he said.

Work spoke as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepared to visit Washington for a nuclear security summit this week.

In Beijing, China’s Defense Ministry on Thursday denounced as gesticulation the speculation it would declare an air defense zone over the South China Sea.

Roxas courts MILF brass in Sultan Kudarat

From Malaya Business Insight (Apr 1): Roxas courts MILF brass in Sultan Kudarat

ADMINISTRATION standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II yesterday visited a camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Sultan Kudarat and assured MILF leaders he will continue with the peace process if he becomes president.

“We are committed to stay in that path, to continue to look for solutions, to continue to remove the obstacles to the journey, the path of peace and prosperity for all Filipinos,” Roxas said in his opening speech during the meeting in Camp Darapanan.

Roxas, accompanied by “Daang Matuwid” coalition senatorial candidates Ina Ambolodto and Cresente Paez and presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles, was met by the MILF central committee headed by chairman Murad Ebrahim who later told reporters that the peace process has a better chance under a Roxas presidency since he, himself, used to be part of the process when he was interior secretary.

“If it (proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law) will be given another chance, we’re optimistic that the chances will be better because there could be a right atmosphere. The impact and the purpose of the BBL will be seen objectively,” he said.

Murad blamed politics for Congress’ failure to pass the proposed BBL, the goal of the peace agreement that the government signed with the MILF in March 2014.

The BBL will create a new political entity in Mindanao.

The House of Representatives and the Senate buried the measure before the campaign period for the national elections began last February.

Roxas said government and the MILF are determined to work together for the passage of the BBL. He said however that “nothing as important, nothing of great value comes easily.”

“The work of nation-building is never finished. It is never completed. We continue to struggle, we continue to fight, we continue to endeavor for the betterment of our people and for the accomplishment for a good, better, safe and prosperous and secure future for every Filipino,” he said.

Murad clarified that the MILF is apolitical, although its members who would want to participate in the elections have been told to vote for a presidential candidate who will work for the peace process.

He said the MILF, as a whole, will not participate in the elections as it remains a revolutionary organization.

While Roxas was in Mindanao, President Aquino campaigned for administration candidates in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, together with Roxas’ son Paolo and one of three daughters of vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, Aika.

The Roxas and Robredo children have been campaigning for their parents.

The younger Roxas and Aika Robredo delivered the message of their parents, including their call for support in the May 9 elections.

Aquino was in Laguna for the a visit to the facility of a French-Filipino firm.

He also endorsed local candidates led by Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez and Sta. Rosa Mayor Arlene Arcillas.

Aquino reiterated that as the father of the nation, it is his responsibility to guide his constituents in making the right decision come election day, and to ensure that he will leave the country in capable hands.

Obama-Xi talks tackle sea dispute

From The Standard (Apr 2): Obama-Xi talks tackle sea dispute

US President Barack Obama opened a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping with a promise of candid discussion over Beijing’s alleged military buildup in the South China Sea.

“We will have candid exchanges about areas where we have differences, issues like human rights, cyber and maritime issues,” Obama said as he sat across the conference table from his Chinese counterpart.

US officials have expressed concern that China’s actions in the South China Sea are not consistent with Xi’s pledge at the White House last year not to pursue militarization of the hotly contested and strategically vital waterway.
Nuclear talks. United States Presidenet Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. 
China claims virtually all the South China Sea despite conflicting claims by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, and has built up artificial islands in the area in recent months, including some with airstrips.

“We do continue to be concerned about militarization in the South China Sea,” said senior Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes ahead of the meeting with Xi.

“We certainly have seen developments, reports that are not consistent with commitments to avoid and to non-militarize the South China Sea.”

“This will be certainly an important topic of conversation between the two presidents.”

Washington has since October carried out two high-profile “freedom of navigation” operations in which it sailed warships within 12 nautical miles of islets claimed by China.

Xi spoke of the need to avoid misunderstandings and big disruptions in the “major power relations” between the two countries.

But state-run news agency Xinhua cited the Chinese leader as saying that “China will not accept any behavior under the disguise of freedom of navigation that violates its sovereignty and damages its security interests.”

On Thursday, Beijing’s defense ministry also warned the US Navy to “be careful” in the South China Sea and slammed a newly signed agreement between Washington and Manila.

Earlier this month, the Philippines agreed to give US forces access to five military bases, including some close to the disputed South China Sea, where tensions have risen over Beijing’s assertion of its territorial claims.

A defense ministry spokesman said strengthening military alliances was “a reflection of a Cold War mentality.”

In Washington, Obama and Xi also discussed pressure on North Korea, which in January detonated a nuclear device and launched a long-range rocket a month later, prompting UN sanctions backed by both Beijing and Washington.

“Of great importance to both of us is North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, which threatens the security and stability of the region,” said Obama.

“President Xi and I are both committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the full implementation of UN sanctions.”

“We are going to discuss how we can discourage actions like nuclear missile tests that escalate tensions and violate international obligations.”

The White House wants to keep up pressure on the North Korean regime, increasing the economic and diplomatic cost of ignoring international appeals to mothball its nukes.

Xinhua cited Xi as saying that the sanctions should be carried out “fully and strictly.”

US officials have long believed that China could more forcefully wield its influence over Pyongyang, including encouraging its Stalinist neighbor to tone down destabilizing rhetoric.

Tensions are only expected to rise in advance of a major North Korean Communist Party Congress in North Korea in May.

The White House has begun talks with South Korea over the deployment of a missile defense system. But it has struggled to convince China that the move is only in response to Pyongyang’s threats.

China fears it may be an effort to deepen US influence in the region.

“It is designed and capable only of responding to the North Korean threat,” said Dan Kritenbrink, senior Asian affairs director at the National Security Council.

“It in no way threatens either Chinese or Russian or other security interests in the region and will do nothing to undermine strategic stability between the United States and China.”

After the meeting the White House released a joint statement promising a series of technical measures to help boost nuclear security, including actions against nuclear smuggling and securing “radioactive sources.”

PAF uses crushed ice to help stop Mt. Apo blaze

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 1): PAF uses crushed ice to help stop Mt. Apo blaze

Instead of water, some 400 kilos of crushed ice were dropped this morning to the still ablaze portion of Mt. Apo.

Lt. Col. Jose Ritchie Pabilonia, commander of the Technical Operations Group (TOG) XI, 3rd Air Division of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) revealed the first experimental operation after six days of continuing grassfire in Mt. Apo.

He said the Super Huey  helicopter made a 50-minute flight to accomplish the experimental operation but he could not offhand determine the comparable effectiveness of crushed ice in putting out the fire.

“We have yet to confirm the effect of the crushed ice with the volunteers on the ground,” he told the media in an interview during the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting  in Davao City.

Under the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the TOG 3rd Air Division has been conducting bambi-bucket operation , pouring water into the grassfire site using a single Super  Huey helicopter.

Pabilonia looked forward to the possibility of again dropping crushed ice in succeeding days, depending on the availability of supply.  If effective, the PAF can mobilize its UH1H helicopter (aside from the Super Huey) to lift and dump crushed ice over affected areas.

Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada in a separate interview said a total of 324 hectares were gutted but only around 10 hectares to 20 hectares were forest tree areas while the rest were grasslands.

Meanwhile,  PAF has received request of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 11 for additional helicopter but Pabilonia said his command has yet to receive  the other Super Huey from PAF central command.

He deemed it necessary to have a replacement of the Super Huey that has been deployed to do the bambi-bucket operation because “it  has only 11 (hours) and 59 minutes remaining flying hours” which he estimated to run about three to four days.

“It will have to end its operation to undergo maintenance for about 8 days to 10 days; after which, it will  take few days for test flights,” he explained to the media.

On the other hand,  OCD 11 Regional Director Liza Mazo revealed  that Solano and Davao ice plants donated the 400 kilos of crushed ice used  this morning during the experimental operation  of TOG 3rd Division of PAF.

“We are supposed to buy it. Upon knowing that it was for Mt. Apo, they donated it,” she said in an interview.  If found effective to douse the grassfire in  Mt Apo, OCD will buy more crushed ice.

Mazo saw another option of putting out the fire through cloud-seeding operation which the  Department of Agriculture  is ready to conduct once necessary cloud formation is present and wind direction is favourable.

DA 11 expressed such commitment  to  help douse the Mt Apo grassfire during  the RDRRMC meeting which also tackled concerns on El Nino.

Police readies charges vs Kidapawan rally leaders

From Rappler (Apr 2): Police readies charges vs Kidapawan rally leaders

Armed with a warrant, police search the facilities of the Spottswood Methodist Center for firearms a day after the scuffle

SEARCH. A policeman conducts a search for firearms in facility inside the Spottswood Methodist Center on April 2, 2016. Photo from Kilab Multimedia Facebook page

SEARCH. A policeman conducts a search for firearms in facility inside the Spottswood Methodist Center on April 2, 2016. Photo from Kilab Multimedia Facebook page

Police are preparing charges against 5 leaders of the Kidapawan protest rally that killed at least two people and hurt over a hundred others.

Criminal charges are being prepared against the following over the illegal protest action, according to a military report.
  • Pedro Arnado, Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas
  • Jerome Aba, Suara Bangsamoro
  • Norma Capuyan, Aspo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa North Cotabato
  • Lito Roxas, FTF
  • Mary Joy Mirasol, PCPR
The report said that Police Chief Inspector Patrick Kalinga, Kidapawan police officer-in-charge, prepared the criminal charges against the "identified leaders of the groups that organized the illegal protest action."

The regional trial court in Kidapawan City also issued a search warrant on April 1 – the day of the bloody incident – against Spottswood Methodist Center, citing "probable cause and good reasons to believe that firearms are being kept" in the facilities in its compound.

The search was carried out on Saturday.

2 killed, 116 hurt

According to the Philippine National Police, two rallyists were killed during the dispersal of the human barricade along the Cotabato-Davao Road in Kidapawan City on Friday, April 1.

The PNP said 116 were hurt during the scuffle – 23 rallyists and 93 policemen. Sixteen people were confined in the hospital for further treatment.

Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento and PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez are due to fly into the city to check the situation. The government had vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the "tragic incident."

Police said about 3,000 protesters blocked the Davao-Cotabato Highway starting Wednesday, March 30, to demand government assistance in the wake of the effects of drought in the area. (Organizers put the number of protesters at 5,000.)
The PNP said the permit to rally lapsed Friday morning. The highway protest that began 6 am March 30 brought together farmers, members of indigenous groups, and other cause-oriented groups.
The Kidapawan City police dispersed the protest shortly before 11 am Friday and shot at the farmers, according to Kilab Multimedia on its Facebook page.

Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista earlier said the farmers were demanding that North Cotabato Governor Emylou Taliño-Mendoza release 15,000 sacks of rice to them, but Mendoza reportedly refused to talk to them.

Mendoza clarified that she refused to speak with the protestors as the rice assistance from the provincial government is intended only for the province's farmer-residents affected by the drought.

Some of those who participated in the rally reportedly came from other provinces, as they were told that they would get a sack of rice from the governor.

Indonesia deploying F-16 jets to protect territory in South China Sea

From Update.Ph (Apr 1): Indonesia deploying F-16 jets to protect territory in South China Sea

Indonesia said that five Indonesian Air Force F-16 fighter jets will be deployed to its Natuna islands in South China Sea days after a stand-off transpired between Indonesian authorities and Chinese Coast Guard. This was revealed to Bloomberg by Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

“The move is part of a military buildup on islands overlooking the South China Sea that will see a refurbished runway and a new port constructed, Ryamizard Ryacudu said in an interview on Thursday with Bloomberg News. It also involves the deployment of marines, air force special force units, an army battalion, three frigates, a new radar system and drones, he said,” Bloomberg reports.

“Natuna is a door, if the door is not guarded then thieves will come inside,” said Ryacudu. “There has been all this fuss because until now it has not been guarded. This is about the respect of the country.”

Last March 19, it was reported that Indonesian officials arrested eight crew members of a Chinese trawler, but a Chinese coast guard boat interfered and took the trawler back into the South China Sea.

Indonesia is not a claimant in West Philippine Sea.

The Chinese side previously said that China has no objection to Indonesia’s sovereignty over the Natuna islands.

MILF: “We are thankful to Sec. Roxas for confirming our optimism for peace”: Cardinal Quevedo

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 2): “We are thankful to Sec. Roxas for confirming our optimism for peace”: Cardinal Quevedo

In a brief conversations with Presidential candidate Mar Roxas held at the Bishops Palace, Cotabato City before he and his delegation proceeded to Camp Darapanan on March 31, 2016, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and the ‘Friends of Peace’ members asked four questions to Mar Roxas:

1. If you were to become President, will you uphold the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamaoro (CAB) and what steps would you take to push the enactment of the BBL?

2. If elected President, would you publicly apologize for the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro on the basis of the TJRC Report?

3. What was the context and why did you used the phrase "Muslim na Mananakop" during the Presidential Debate in Cebu in reference to the incident in Zamboanga?

 4. What can Mindanao expect from a second Roxas Presidency?

Roxas clarified the issue of tagging Muslims as “mananakop”.

“Unfortunate word or unintended”, as  he was referring to the MNLF  as ‘mananakop’ or other groups that intended to occupy Zamboanga city in past several years,; the sustained 21-day siege of Zamboanga City by MNLF- Misuari faction as his justifications.

In response to the question of upholding the CAB, he said, “Finding common ground”. ” The president can’t find solution but to be able to find solution is to ask the people”, Roxas answered.

Institutionalizing the CAB, FAB and refiling of the BBL in next administration are other ways to sustain peace process of the GPH and MILF.

On the question of public apology for the historical injustices committed by the government against the Bangsamoro people, Roxas replied, “action is better than apology”.

Senate President Franklin Drilon assured Cardinal Quevedo and the Friends of Peace that the BBL has better chances of passing under the next administration.

Drilon committed to assess the process done why BBL didn’t passed after 17 years peace process as a guide to the next administration. He assured that the next administration will also institutionalize the CAB and the FAB.

On behalf of the Friends of Peace, Cardinal Quevedo extended their thanks and gratitude to Roxas and his delegation for confirming their optimism for peace in Mindanao.

Fr. Bert Layson, reminded the LP candidates that war is not a viable solution to the Mindanao problem instead all are losers. “We must stand for Peace”, Layson added.

Consortium of the Bangsamoro Civil society (CBCS), United youth for Peace and Development, (UNYPAD), Bangsamoro Center for Just Peace (BCJP), Kadtuntaya Foundation, Inc. (KFI), Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC), Bangsamoro Study Group (BSG), KASAMA, inc. and other CSOs and some candidates for the upcoming elections from the ARMM.  

From the Bishops Palace, Roxas proceeded to Camp Darapanan to sign a social contract with CSOs and met with MILF leaders and had a brief meeting them.

MILF: UBJP, PolCom-Sultan Kudarat Province hold Provincial Assembly for Bangsamoro Peace and Security

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 31): UBJP, PolCom-Sultan Kudarat Province hold Provincial Assembly for Bangsamoro Peace and Security

United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) and the Political Committee (PolCom) of Sultan Kudarat Province held Provincial Assembly for Bagsamoro Peace and Security at Ma’had Lambayong Al-Islamie, Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat on March 27, 2016, participated by more than 800 people from different sectors of Lambayong Municipality and nearby municipalities.

In his opening remarks, the Provincial Chairman of PolCom Daguma Province encouraged the participants to listen well for it may help them boost their ima’an (faith) and for better understanding of the Bangsamoro struggle”.

Pilo Samal, CEO UBJP-Lambayong acknowledged the participating organizations and agencies and extended his gratitude for attending the first Provincial Assembly.

“We follow the same policy as what we did in Sarangani that there will be no politicians or politics involve in our program. I am glad that we followed this policy here”, said Muhaimen “Jam” Mambao, UBJP Provincial Secretary during his presentation of the overview of the program.

“This program was planned in just 7 days and we did it well”, he added.

The Brigade Commander of 106th Base Command who is overwhelmed for the holding of the program said, “It’s been a long time that there was an activity like this in Lambayong”.

 He also said that he was a young man when he first participated in an activity in Lambayong before.

“I am old in the Bangsamoro struggle but it is the first time I am speaking before you with Mohagher Iqbal, our UBJP Vice Chairman for Southern Mindanao by my side”, he said with teary eyes.

He repeatedly said that we should plant today so that the next generation will harvest and benefits from our effort; we work for it not for us but for the generations to come.
The Chairman of Committee on Dawah of MILF Central Committee gave emphasis on the importance of consultations, for it makes better understanding.

He also encouraged every leader to produce a good leader as he said, “A good leader should produce more good leaders and if not he is not an effective leader.”

“BBL is just a tool, whether there is BBL or not our struggle will continue” he added.
He also said that we should not forget salah (prayer) in everything we do, we had to seek love of Allah for He governs whatever we do.

Iqbal explained the current status of Bangsamoro struggle for the right to self determination.

Addressing those who were frustrated for the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the 16th Congress, Iqbal said, “The non-passage of BBL is not the end of the peace process”.

He urged them to strengthen the unity of Bangsamoro people, not just Muslims but also the indigenous people and settlers because UBJP is for all whether you are Muslims, IPs or settlers.

“We should also strengthen MILF because it is the backbone of Bangsamoro struggle to self-determination”, he added.

“Uniting Bangsamoro people is one of the objectives in creating UBJP”, said Iqbal as he ended his speech and entertained questions from the participants.

Qurais Langkap, CEO UBJP Sultan Kudarat thanked all the people who supported and attended the activity, among others, the Provincial Police Force (PPF), PolCom, UBJP and to the people who found time  in attending the activity.

Langcao also expressed his thanks to the Lambayong PNP for securing the area.

MILF: Moro youth undergo Office Management & Executive Assistant Training in Turkey

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 31): Moro youth undergo Office Management & Executive Assistant Training in Turkey

In a bid to capacitate the Bangsamoro people, particularly in preparation to the envisaged Bangsamoro government, fifteen select Moro youth from different institutions in Mindanao were sent to Istanbul, Turkey last March 8 to take Office Management & Executive Assistant Training, a capacity-building initiative for the Bangsamoro that will run until April 16 this year.

The undertaking is a joint effort of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Turkmek, Turkey International Cooperation Agency and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce.

Organizers tapped expert training resource persons from the academe and other fields of specialization in Turkey to impart their knowledge to the trainees. Aside from lectures, the participants were brought to some agencies thereat.

The trainees are required to complete the modules on Office Services and Management, Office Facilities, Professional Development, Effective Communications and Communication Tools, Solution-Focused Coaching, and Skill-based Education System.

To further enhance the leadership capability of the participants, the topics Memory Techniques for Leaders, Team Management and Leadership, and Secret of Effective Leaders also constitute the learning program.

Turkey is one of the states comprising the International Contact Group which supports the Bangsamoro peace process.

It has been providing capacity-building initiatives to the Bangsamoro leaders and extends socio-economic support through sponsoring orphans and providing Iftar during Ramadhan and Qurbani meat during hajj season in Mindanao.

H.E. Esra Cankorur, Turkey ambassador to the Philippines, graced the inauguration ceremony of Ugur Suleymen Soylemez Orphanage on May 16, 2015 at Barangay Tamontaka 1 in Cotabato City.

MILF: IMT-Mission 11 pays courtesy call to MILF Leadership

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 1): IMT-Mission 11 pays courtesy call to MILF Leadership

International Monitoring Team - Mindanao Batch 11, headed by Major General Datuk Wira Zambrose Bin Mohd Zain   paid courtesy call to MILF Leadership at the Moro Front’s Administrative in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao at 2PM on March 30, 2016.

Major General Datuk Wira Zambrose Bin Mohd Zain and members of his contingent were received warmly by MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim along with members of the Central Committee and the BIAF’s General Staff.

In his opening statement, Muhammad Ameen, Secretary to the Central Committee said, “It has been 12 years now that the first batch of IMT was deployed in the Bangsamoro, Southern Philippines. Since then, the IMT have been performing their mandate satisfactorily.

After Ameen’s message, Ustadz Abu Ismail Ibrahim read some verses from the Noble Qur’an.

BIAF Chief of Staff Sammy Al Mansor in his welcome remarks mentioned that the sending of the eleventh batch of IMT signaled the tour of duty's fresh mandate of monitoring is now in motion as it also implies that the peace process is still on track.

Chairman Murad praised the International Monitoring Team for being effective in maintaining and sustaining a conducive atmosphere in the ground in its more than ten years of tour of duty in the Bangsamoro homeland.

“Before the deployment of IMT, the peace process was suffering so many complex situations but when the IMT was already deployed, hostilities were gradually reduced until finally these last three years, zero encounters were achieved”, Al Haj Murad said.

Chairman Murad related the impasse situation of the peace process because of the non-passage yet of BBL.

Major General Datuk Wira  Zambrose Bin Mohd Zain expressed his thanks for the honor of having visited the beautiful camp and the warm reception and hospitality afforded to them. His one year stay is short but he promised to try his very best to make sure peace process will prevail. Not only corrective measures will be applied, but preventive measures will be taken in his approaches.

Deputy Head of Mission Brig. Gen. Datu Hj Sanusi Bin Hj Samion, expressed with curiosity as he queried Bangsamoro Transition Commission Chairman (BTC) Mohagher Iqbal, on why the BBL failed to pass.

Chairman Iqbal said, "It’s the Congress, both the lower house and the upper house that did not pass the BBL."

In addition, as contained in his speech during the CAB Commemoration, Chairman Iqbal said that the reason why the BBL did not passed is because there are groups who worked for its non- passage in congress. Those are the groups with vested interest, powerholders, economic holders, and some extreme religious groups.

The meeting ended up shortly, though it was cordial and  the warm shake hands among them signifies sincere commitment to peace aspirations.

MILF: Multi–stakeholders hold Forum on Participatory Governance in Bangsamoro

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 1): Multi–stakeholders hold Forum on Participatory Governance in Bangsamoro

Cotabato City- On March 29, 2016, the Democratic Party Development Bangsamoro DEPAdev., Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) held Multi-Stakeholders Forum on Participatory Governance in Bangsamoro at Notre Dame University, Cotabato City in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) funded by the European Union (EU).

Jun Jover, IAG Training Coordinator in his presentation of the program rationale said the activity helps increase the awareness of the Bangsamoro people in participatory governance in the proposed Bangsamoro Government.

Jover said that awareness raising activity will be implemented in the entire core territory of the Bangsamoro and will be participated by partner’s CSOs and NGOs run by the indigenous peoples (IPS), settlers and Muslims.

Dr. Socorro L. Reyes, an expert on governance lectured on the State of the Philippine Politics. She discussed why the Philippines still ranked 95 out of 185 most corrupt countries in the world.

Reyes emphasized the causes why the Philippines remained poor of the poorest country despite the promises of the candidates during elections to undertake changes and reforms.

Unholy alliance, political dynasty, corruption and poor leadership were among the issues identified that push uprising by some groups to resist poverty and aim for transformation.

She also shared the results of her study on why the BBL became diluted and not passed. She said that Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Chair of Senate Committee on Local Government treated BBL as local ordinance. She also found out that the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident, the strong opposition by Congressman Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City and other anti-BBL lawmakers, the issue of independence and highly politicalized BBL due to the upcoming election caused the failure of BBL to pass.

The participants gave reactions and opinions in relation to the issues presented.
Yusoph S. Lumambas, a Secretary General of UNYPAD asked Reyes to comment regarding the findings of the surviving framers of the 1987 Constitution that that BBL is constitutional, while lawmakers said otherwise.

Lumambas said he doubts the lawmakers’ interpretation of the Philippine Constitution. He mentioned the saying, “If you want, there are many ways, if you don’t, there are many reasons”.

Kuraish Langkap of Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) said,” It is very clear that Bangsamoro people have lost hope in addressing their grievances due to leaders’ lack of political will and misinterpretations of law by members of Philippine Congress.

 Indigenous Peoples representatives who requested anonymity expressed their sentiments towards congress due to the unjust treatment of the Bangsamoro people.

MAPAD representatives Albana Alfonso urged congress to pass the original version of BBL that he describes as the solution to the Bangsamoro problem as well as other major problems besetting the country.

“The passage of the BBL in congress will prevent the rise of the radical groups”, he added.

Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, Executive Director of Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), lectured on Participatory Governance in Bangsamoro.

 He emphasized the opportunity of the Bansamoro Government to exercise participatory governance that stipulated the principles of the power sharing. He said that the Bangsamoro Government would be parliamentary in nature and ministerial form of government.

Linnga also said that the IPs have the freedom in designing their own system based on their belief and traditions, and also mentioned the allocation of reserved seats in the Bangsamoro Parliament for non-Muslims and other sectors.

MILF: Welcome Remarks of MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 28): Welcome Remarks of MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal

Commemoration of the First Anniversary of the Signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB)
28 March 2016, Monday @ Notre Dame University, Cotabato City


In almost all occasions that I have attended after both Houses of Congress failed to enact the Bangsamoro Basic Law, the common question raised is what to do now.

Even after the Special Meeting of the Peace Panels in Kuala Lumpur last February 10 and 11, and even as well after MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim issued an official statement on February 18, we are still hard pressed to explain to our fellow Bangsamoro the ways forward.

That they have journeyed with us in every step of the peace process only raised their expectations. The public consultations, advocacies, information dissemination of all sorts, and the glaring coverage of both traditional and social and mainstream media have all contributed to the high awareness over the BBL that it will pass into law. That is why, when hopes were raised, with good reasons of course, and those high hopes were dimmed or shut-out, we have a flurry of frustrations, of anger, of doubt, and of fear over a future that is becoming uncertain again. At the back of their mind, they see this country as not wanting genuine and permanent peace at all.

This commemoration of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro is not spared from mockery and opposition. There are those who see no need, meaning and wisdom over this commemorative event. For them, the non-passage of BBL totally diminishes the value of the CAB.

There may be germ of truth to this opinion. We are all agreed that without the BBL, the CAB will never be fully implemented. While some aspects of CAB can be started, yet we will never agree that we just only observe the ceasefire and socio-economic initiatives without seeing the fulfillment of the political track. Without the BBL, the CAB can never become the solution to the Bangsamoro Problem or Question.

At this juncture, a question has to be asked: Who caused the non-passage of the BBL in Congress? Many explanations, nay alibis, were offered, but the truth of the matter is that the vested interests groups caused the defeat of the BBL in Congress. They all ganged up together and worked their way triumphantly. Who are they? They are those who are insatiable with wealth and power, and those still enslaved by religious bigotry.

Given this situation, and I would say it is a worrying situation, there are actually only three options left for the MILF and the Bangsamoro: one is to do away with the peace process and revert to armed struggle; or to pursue further the peace process, the BBL especially; or not to do anything at all.

Nowadays, one can be easily swayed by emotions, rhetoric and agitations. There are calls for war, as well as the passive acceptance of this fate of the BBL by some sectors. The MILF chooses neither of the two options.

Instead, we are more determined to assert the full, unconditional implementation of the CAB, especially the enactment of the BBL. This is a commitment of the Government of the Philippines, whoever becomes its Chief Executive in June 30. This is a commitment that we will ask from all the organs of the Government of the Philippines which, in its entirety, is the signatory to the CAB, in the same manner that the MILF, also in its totality, is a signatory to that historic agreement as well.

In commemorating the CAB today, I take this occasion to appeal to all Bangsamoro, the migrant communities, the indigenous peoples and the Filipino nation in general NOT to take for granted the value of the CAB. The CAB is very much alive. Even though we suffer the setback in the BBL, it is not the end of the road. It was the BLBAR that died, not the BBL that is based on the CAB.

I also take this opportunity, and I do hope it would reach them or their campaign strategists at the very least, to appeal to all our presidential candidates and senatorial aspirants to take their unequivocal stand on the CAB and the BBL. You will surely inherit this political problem. We urge all of you to clarify to us the policy that your administration will pursue vis-à-vis the CAB and the BBL. The Bangsamoro votes may pale in comparison to the votes of Christians, but even a single vote can make a difference.

Many of us shed tears when the CAB was signed, something hardened warriors never do in public and rarely in private. But the CAB is the summation of all our aspirations and emotions. Now that our legitimate grievances and aspirations have already been recognized and affirmed not only by the Government of the Philippines but by the nations of the world, do we have to stop in our struggle just because the moment is not favorable to us? No, and I personally urge everyone to “Stand Up for Peace! Long Live the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro”!

Accept my warmest welcome to all of you.

Thank you and good day!

MILF: Speech of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, for 2nd Anniversary Commemoration Of CAB Signing

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Mar 29): Speech of Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, for 2nd Anniversary Commemoration Of CAB Signing

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem. Alhamdulillah. Wassalaatu Wassalaamu Ala Rasulillah. Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatoh

To His Excellency Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, OPAPP Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, GPH Peace Panel Chair Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF Peace Panel Chair Brother Mohagher Iqbal, our reliable members of the different normalization mechanisms of the peace process both from GPH and MILF, members of the International Contact Group, Third Party Monitoring Team, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Committee, Joint Normalization Committee, International Monitoring Team, the international donor communities, today’s awardees, to my Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, and fellow peace advocates, warm greetings to you all.

It cannot be more obvious: Peace has been elusive to this part of the country. Much hope to finally grasp this ever-elusive prize of peace was strung around the anticipated passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. But the elation that greeted the submission of the draft in 2014 soon evaporated when both Houses of Congress failed to submit what could have been the historic piece of legislation to end the more than four (4) decades of war and conflict in the Southern Philippines.

This recent development on the fate of the peace process would easily discourage any optimist. But let me tell you, a hurried but flawed outcome would have been counterproductive and could have added to the cycle of distrust between the parties. To simplify, anything below the existing status quo is objectionable to the MILF.

Turning our backs on the peace process would be a mistake. After all, we have the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro intact, and which is over and above the Bangsamoro Basic Law. This silver lining among the dark clouds is the legitimacy of the CAB and its binding effect to the GPH and the MILF that forged the mutually acceptable agreement two (2) years ago. It will take patience, steadfastness and leadership on both sides to reach the ultimate goal of achieving just and lasting peace. And even if the roadmap was not met, the signed CAB would at least ensure that commitments are kept and compliance is demandable. Such strong words: commitment and compliance.

It is worth reiterating that the CAB sets up a new relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government that would involve fulfilling the many legal obligations each party has assumed to put an end to conflict. To name a few, the Central Government agreed to relinquish some governmental powers to the Bangsamoro Government, and to share in the revenues generated within the region. The MILF, on the other hand, agreed to terms of decommissioning where combatants would turn over weapons and enjoy various developmental and capacity-building programs as part of the normalization process.

The decision on the part of the MILF to agree to a symbolic decommissioning in June 2015 was a gesture of good faith to give real and lasting peace a chance. For the record, we did not rise up in arms if the continued nonchalance to our causes had not provoked us to agitate for a remedy. But we remain committed to strengthen the ceasefire mechanisms, through our able and competent MILF representatives in the various peace process infrastructures, such as, the Joint Normalization Committee, the CCCH, AHJAG, Joint Peace and Security Committee, Joint Peace and Security Team, Task Force on Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities, and Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation, to name a few.

What comes next after this is both a challenge and an opportunity to all stakeholders since these crucial times shall ultimately decide the genuine willingness of the parties, more so the government, to put an end to conflict in the region. We know that the government has a critical role in bringing peace, and we want to reach that optimal point where we do not need to question the commitment of the government to improve security, peace and services to our people.

No one can be certain of the policies or priorities of the next administration. This is why, more than ever, we need to assert the CAB and its implementation, which ensures the most reasonable framework for a sustainable basis for peace, stability and development. It would be the height of injustice to rob the Bangsamoro once more of its rights asserted in the CAB. It would likewise be the height of humiliation for the government to sidetrack the process especially with numerous sets of eyes carefully observing and scrutinizing the implementation of the internationally-acclaimed agreement.

We should focus on post-agreement implementation. Acknowledging that the CAB lives on and binds the parties is a good start to guide the incoming administration. Whoever wins the elections must honor the CAB and place it among the top of his or her agenda to ensure that everyone’s obligations are fulfilled. He or she must recognize that while the risk of failure is high, so are the costs of failure. Not only would a resumption of hostilities jeopardize the gains of the peace process, it would also undermine longer-term political and economic reforms for the country.

On the part of the MILF, we will continue to seek and work for the final peaceful settlement of the conflict in Mindanao. In particular, we will continue to ask government to comply with its unilateral obligation to enact a law that would give life and realization to the letter and spirit of the CAB. The gains of the peace process especially the FAB and CAB should be preserved.

Allow me then, at this point, to commend the various personalities and entities that helped fashion the political dialogue of the peace process that led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro: First, the Government of the Philippines through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the GPH Peace Negotiating Panel. The MILF Leadership and the MILF Peace Negotiating Panel. This includes all of those who have been part of the negotiations throughout its more than 17 years and even prior thereto.

Our most special thanks go out to His Excellency Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak; His Excellency Dr. Mahathir Mohammad under whose term of office as Prime Minister the peace negotiations were done in Malaysia; His Excellency Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Malaysian Facilitator, His Excellency Tengku Dato’ Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed, and Secretariat.

We also will never forget the tireless efforts and support of all the State and Non-State actors that compose the International Contact Group (ICG), the Government of the United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and its international NGO components, Conciliation Resources, Mohammadiyah, The Asia Foundation, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Third Party Monitoring Team (TPMT), the International Monitoring Team (or the IMT), and its Civilian Protection Component, Malaysia, Brunei, Libya, Japan, Norway, Indonesia, and the European Union, the Non-Violent Peace Force, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Mindanao Human Rights Action Center, and Muslim Organization of Government Officials and Professionals, and to the numerous world organizations and countries that have signified strong support to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro such as the United Nations, the European Union, United States of America, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

We likewise extend our deep appreciation to the organizers of this CAB 2nd Anniversary Commemoration, which seeks not only to remember but most importantly, to honor, acknowledge and recognize that the CAB is active and alive.
Finally, to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, let this occasion be a reason to stand up and stand strong for peace. We have not come this far to allow the CAB to be put to waste. Let cool heads and good tempers ultimately prevail. Remember that the greatest interest of the Bangsamoro is our primordial concern. We need to solidify as a people and strengthen our resolve more than ever, for a united Bangsamoro struggle. The struggle does not and may never end, but every step closer to peace is already progress. We must realize that we have never been more ready for peace.

 Stand up for peace! Long live the CAB!

Thank you everyone, and may we have a pleasant rest of the afternoon. Wassalaam.
Delivered at Notre dame University Gymnasium on March 28, 2016.

CPP/NDF/NPA: NPA marks 47th year, tags AFP a ‘rabid dog

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines Website (Mar 28): NPA marks 47th year, tags AFP a ‘rabid dog’


Statement of the New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Operations Command in their 47th year anniversary on March 29, 2016

With tail between its legs, the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Southern Mindanao is running like a rabid guard dog, protecting US-Aquino regime’s anti-people interests and leaving a bloody trail of human rights violations in its wake. This, as the New People’s Army in the region celebrates its 47th founding anniversary with victories that underscore the ultimate defeat of the counter-revolutionary fascist policy Oplan Bayanihan as the US-Aquino regime’s term draws to a close.

Under the leadership of the Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, all the NPA units in the region continue to show its mettle as the true army of the people by waging a protracted people’s war, gathering more and more strength from tactical offensives, agrarian revolution and base building. The NPA continues to develop guerrilla warfare and art of war tactics in displaying quick initiative, perseverance, determination and the flexibility to continue to prevail over and lead the people’s war against the US-Aquino regime’s brutal suppression campaign.

Almost 300 military actions since early last year were launched by NPA units in the region. More than a hundred high-powered firearms seized from successful tactical offensives were added to the NPA cache, including machine guns, sniper rifles and other military hardware. In these engagements, the enemy lost at least 400 of its troops, and almost 300 more were wounded-in-action. In particular, the masses rejoiced after the NPA’s successful raid that confiscated 74 high powered rifles in the mining firm armory of Monkayo Mayor Joel Brillantes and simultaneous attack against the 25th IB detachment last April 14, 2015.

In strict adherence to international humanitarian protocols, the NPA in the region safely held in custody and turned over several prisoners of war (POW) to their families amid unrelenting combat operations by enemy troops. Under the auspices of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in its exercise of political authority as a co-belligerent party to the civil war in the country, the NPA acts as the instrument of such political power and has had a long practice of capturing, detaining, giving due process and releasing POWs in the region after undergoing negotiation and political settlement. In contrast to the AFP which makes false arrests of civilians in order to claim and pocket million-peso bounty, the NPA takes prisoners of war as legitimate and necessary part of the people’s war.

In the same manner, the NPA in Southern Mindanao exercised the will, in deference to the legal, judicial system of the people’s democratic government when it successfully meted out revolutionary justice in punishing enemy agents like Dario and Daryl Otaza who terrorized peasants and Lumads in their despotic rule in Loreto, Agusan del Sur.

Red fighters were actively involved in the establishment of organs of political power, empowering peasants and Lumads in developing socialist village-level and municipal level governments in hinterland areas in the region. The NPA vigorously supported anti-feudal campaigns that aim to reduce land rent and costs of farming inputs, raise wages and benefits for farm workers and carry out land confiscations in favor of landless tillers. They were in the forefront of sustainable production work for the ever-growing needs of the army and the people, providing necessary social services such as health and education and aiding in the administration of revolutionary justice in the red bases. More significantly, the people’s army led in recovering areas in the Supertyphoon Pablo-ravaged villages in the region, in contrast to the token and corrupt-laden disaster rehabilitation services falsely trumpeted by the reactionary government agencies.

The year was also witness to an astounding display of the enemy’s desperation to mark a dent against the revolutionary movement in the region. In vain attempt to dismantle revolutionary structures, the AFP mobilized an unprecedented 13 full infantry battalions, three Division Reconnaissance Companies, two Scout Ranger Companies, including at least 3 companies of 3 battalions on operational command. The thousands of fascist AFP troops, not including its rabid paramilitaries and the PNP in North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao City conduct civil-military operations such as Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP), an insidious euphemism for psy-war tactics of brutal intimidation and extra-judicial killings.

The Eastern Mindanao Command’s spindoctors cannot make heads or tails of the classic dilemma: despite the enemy’s superiority in terms of sheer number of fighting troops and arms, it has miserably failed to run the NPA to the ground. To cover up, they babbled incoherence in the media, claiming Oplan Bayanihan is making strides in defeating the NPA while ironically, admitting there is a marked increase in military actions carried out by the NPA against AFP troops.

The US-Aquino regime is daydreaming when it attempts to turn the tide of the people’s war against the NPA in the region by deploying troops in sheer numbers and foisting firepower in superior amounts. Year after year, Aquino and the AFP, like all their reactionary predecessors, mobilize a mercenary and hated army in an attempt to win in a class war against a guerrilla army that is beloved by the masses of tens of millions.

How can a mercenary army like the AFP keep its head above waters when its troops are manic guard dogs of capitalist plunderers and exploiters of the people and the environment? Its troops have been reduced to armed minions that pave the way for destructive coal-fired power plants and large-scale mining companies such as St. Augustine Minerals, Agusan Petroleum and Minerals, Apex Mining and Xstrata Mining Corp., or else paid protectors of landlords and warlord politicians.

How can a fascist army ever hope to win the hearts and minds of the people when, failing to strike a blow against the NPA, it turns against hapless civilians with murderous impunity? The AFP troops in its mad rage killed with impunity 57 farmers, Lumads, activists, urban poor and revolutionaries sparing neither elderly nor children in Southern Mindanao. Brutal invaders that they are, they turn schools and communities into military garrisons, displacing almost 4,000 Lumads from their homes and livelihood around Mindanao.

In the midst of its struggle against the brutal US-Aquino regime over the past year, the NPA paid homage and turned its profound grief into revolutionary courage as it commiserated with the masses and condemned the brutal killing of Ka Parago (Leoncio Pitao), Commander of the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion-NPA on June 28, 2015 in Purok 9, Brgy. Panalum, Paquibato District, Davao City. Words, fists, and a fitting tribute could barely express the NPA’s deepest regard to the NPA’s great commander and well-loved Red leader Ka Parago, who was suffering from multiple ailments when he, along with medic Ka Kyle (Vanessa Limpag) were riddled with bullets by raiding enemy troops last year.

In Southern Mindanao, this is the bloody legacy that the US-Aquino regime will be remembered for, much like the Marcos regime it hypocritically criticizes. Its last year in power, like the previous years of its administration, was deeply hated by the Filipino people for its criminal neglect during calamities, wanton plunder of our natural resources, insatiable corruption and atrocious militaristic approach towards justified social unrest.

To be sure, the next puppet regime that US imperialism installs will try again to repackage a new internal peace and security plan against the revolutionary movement. But the New People s Army, the true army of the people, will continue to defeat them until the final, inevitable overthrow of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism in the entire country.

(sgd.) Rigoberto F. Sanchez
New People s Army
Southern Mindanao
Regional Operations Command

CPP/NDF/NPA: NPA at 47: We become large and strong

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Philippines Website (Mar 29): NPA at 47: We become large and strong

DAVAO CITY — We become large and strong.

This was how the North Central Mindanao Region of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army described their gains as they celebrate their 47th founding anniversary.

For 47 years, the NPA has served as the leading revolutionary mass organization in the countryside tasked to building and preserving the people’s democratic government in the countryside, according to Ka Norsen Manggubat, spokesperson of CPP in North Central Mindanao Region.

Manggubat said the government’s counter-revolutionary campaigns and operations have failed to crush the NPA.

“We have correctly grasped the basic guerrilla tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting. For several years now, our Red army learned warfare through warfare, earned the overwhelming support of the people and thus, grew from being small and weak to become large and strong.”

“Let us celebrate the victories we have earned in advancing the revolutionary armed struggle, in agrarian revolution to dismantle the monopoly of land ownership and in liberating the peasant and Lumad masses from feudal and semi-feudal exploitation, in the struggle against multinational plantations and in resisting militarization,” Manggubat said.

NPA says mass base gained by 8.5%

Manggubat claimed that they have launched 56 episodes of “anti-feudal struggles” wherein majority of these are found in inter-cluster of barrios.

“More than 150,000 peasants and their families have benefited from the increase of wages of the farm-workers, in bringing down the pay of rice and corn mills, in raising the prices of their farm produce, in attaining potable drinking water, in resisting the health-hazard operations of mechanical dryers and in raising the share of rice field maintainers.”

He, however, noted that despite the increasing support from the people, peasants are still suffering from several “unsettled” problems such as landlessness, displacement of peasants from their communities, and proliferation of imperialist seeds damaging environment-friendly insects and traditional seeds.

‘Steady increase in members, rifles, offensive operations’

In terms of its members, Manggubat said that their group has achieved “19 % increase in the number of full-time guerillas, 29% increase in the number of new platoons and 23% increase in high-powered rifles.”

“We have launched 132 different types of military actions in which 36 assorted firearms were seized, including two K3 light-machine guns,” Manggubat noted. “The people’s militias have maintained 20% share in the total NPA military actions. The four guerrilla fronts have launched command conferences for the municipal and cluster commands of the people’s militias.”

NPA honors revolutionary martyrs, heroes

Manggubat said that NPA gave a tribute to honor the 11 revolutionary martyrs and heroes since March 2015 up to this date, including two NPA commanders and two members of the people’s militia.

He urged the members of the NPA to “persist in accumulating victories and sustain the advance of the armed struggle and fulfil the requisites of the strategic stalemate.”
NPA calls for ‘socialist revolution’

With the upcoming elections, Manggubat has called for a “socialist revolution” to end the problems of the country.

“With the upcoming reactionary elections in May 2016, the masses must not be swayed in their focus to revolution. No presidential candidate can resolve the three basic problems of the Philippines. The real solution is to end the semi-feudal and semi-colonial system and replace it with the genuine people’s democratic government which would proceed to the next stage of socialist revolution,” he stressed.

He added: “We must prepare for the counter-revolutionary plot of the succeeding regime which will impede the continuous advance of the national-democratic revolution.” (

Photos: U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps arrive in Subic Bay to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines during Exercise Balikatan 2016

From the  Balikatan Facebook page (Mar 31): Photos: U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps arrive in Subic Bay to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines during Exercise  Balikatan 2016

U.S. Marines and Sailors arrive in Subic Bay, Philippines aboard United States Naval Ship Millinocket in order to participate in Balikatan 2016 (BK 16) on March 30, 2016. The purpose of BK 16 is to strengthen interoperability and partner-nation capabilities for the planning and execution of military operations, and advance regional security operations. (U.S. photo by Lance Cpl. Damon A. Mclean/Released)

U.S. Marines and Sailors arrive in Subic Bay, Philippines aboard United States Naval Ship Millinocket in order to participate in Balikatan 2016 (BK 16) on March 30, 2016. The purpose of BK 16 is to strengthen interoperability and partner-nation capabilities for the planning and execution of military operations, and advance regional security operations. (U.S. photo by Lance Cpl. Damon A. Mclean/Released)

A U.S. Marine with 4th Combat Logistics Battalion, navigates a Millennium Military Vehicle using hand signals during Balikatan 2016 (BK 16) in Subic Bay, Philippines on March 30, 2016. The purpose of BK 16 is to strengthen interoperability and partner-nation capabilities for the planning and execution of military operations, and advance regional security operations. (U.S. photo by Lance Cpl. Damon A. Mclean/Released)