Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another Abu Sayyaf member linked to kidnapping plantation workers nabbed

From the Philippine Star (Apr 8): Another Abu Sayyaf member linked to kidnapping plantation workers nabbed 

The suspect identified as Bantong Basinti alias Bantong Basiri is said to be involved in the kidnapping of eight plantation workers of Golden Harvest in Barangay Tairan in the town of Lantawan almost 15 years ago. 

Government security forces captured another Abu Sayyaf member tagged in the June 2001 kidnapping of plantation workers during a pre-dawn raid on Friday in Basilan province, police said.
The suspect identified as Bantong Basinti alias Bantong Basiri is said to be a follower of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and involved in the kidnapping of eight plantation workers of Golden Harvest in Barangay Tairan in the town of Lantawan almost 15 years ago.  
The police said the raid led by the intelligence unit of the 530th Air Base Wing (ABW), 53rd and 54th Special Action Company of the Special Action Force (SAF), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and Basilan police arrested Basinti at 2:35 a.m in his safehouse in Barangay Bulansa in Lantawan town.
Basinti was the second Abu Sayyaf member involved in the Golden Harvest Plantation kidnapping who was captured in a span of four days.
The police reported that at least two other Abu Sayyaf suspects were also arrested separately last week in an island off this city.
Basinti was temporarily detained by the CIDG for further questioning.

MILF: Editorial -- Big fuss over ‘raised hands’

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 8): Editorial -- Big fuss over ‘raised hands’

When presidential aspirant Mayor Rodrigo Duterte came to Darapanan last February 27, he was described as the “next president of the Philippines” by MILF 1st Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar. When another presidential candidate, Secretary Mar Roxas, met with the MILF in the same place on March 31, hands (of Murad, Roxas, Gov. Toto Mangudadatu, Cong. Bai Sandra Sema, and others) were raised. On both gestures, the MILF was criticized bitterly for them. We do not know why. Why are people making a mountain out of a molehill -- and why a big fuss over such friendly gestures?

Former President Fidel Ramos used to raise the hands of every candidate visiting him, in particular Congressman Leni Robredo and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who are both running for the vice presidency. Critics interpreted this as an endorsement, which was never affirmed by the former president.

When asked about it, Chair Murad merely said, “I can raise the hands of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Grace Poe if ever they come to Darapanan, and also of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte if he considers coming again to the MILF administrative base.  

In short, raising of hands is not necessarily an endorsement; it is more of an expression of friendship. Why fault the MILF for such friendliness and civility?

The official policy of the MILF is not only not to endorse any candidate, but more seriously, not to participate in Philippine elections. This will only cease as soon as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), compliant to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), will pass into law, ratified, and implemented.

Of course, there are critics who merely want to criticize. They are spreading them through the internet. There are others who have valid concerns about the need to preserve and maintain the pristine integrity of the MILF, as a legitimate revolutionary organization. There are still others who are politically motivated, in consideration of the nearing presidential elections.

The fact of the matter is that the MILF is not an amateur revolutionary organization. It has not grown yesterday. The leadership is experienced, matured, and knows the ABC’s of politics. Even for practical reasons, it is not a sound decision to endorse any presidential aspirant or any candidate for that matter. That would in effect alienate or more gravely offend the others --- and we do not know who will win the presidency and vice presidency. For us, what is most important is not the person but the policy he or she would pursue on the armed conflict in Mindanao and the BBL if any of them wins the presidency.  It is good to build bridges now than later. Surely, one of the five candidates will be the next president of this country.

The five presidential aspirants: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Secretary Mar Roxas, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and Senator Miriam Santiago are treated “friends” of the MILF. We make no distinctions between them.

MILF will not officially support any candidate: Chairman Murad

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 5): MILF will not officially support any candidate: Chairman Murad

Reiterating the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) hand’s off policy on the Philippine elections, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, said in an interview by Suara Mindanao last Friday that “the Front will not officially support any presidential candidate.”

He stressed, “We will not join the government unless a new system of governance through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be established.”

The MILF issued a memorandum last October banning officers of both the political and military wings of the Front from participating in the conduct of the 2016 elections that includes running for any elected posts and joining in political campaigns and rallies.

The MILF Chair said welcoming the candidates to the MILF camp is one way of establishing connection with “whoever will be the next president.”

“We open our door to the presidential candidates so we can help one another with the next administration,” he explained.

He pointed out the importance of working with the next administration for the peace process to succeed.

Chairman Murad said it is hard to join the government unless a new system put in place. “If you are not able to change the system, it is you who will be changed by the system,” he explained.

In the latest editorial of, the MILF’s official portal, it said, “The hands-off policy of the MILF on Philippine elections will continue to be observed even during the current presidential election in this country.”

“The rationale anchors on the premise that the system of election here is so divisive, elitist, and expensive that in the end many if not most of those who get elected are usually not the best, honest, and capable personalities to lead the people,” the editorial explained.

Although the MILF has policy of non-participation to elections, it does not stop any of its officers and members from casting their votes.

The MILF chairman said they ask the Bangsamoro people to vote for candidates who can be of great help to the peace process.

Last March 27, 2014, the Philippine Government and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, a peace deal signed after more than 17 years of peace negotiation.

CAB provides the enactment of the BBL by the Philippine Congress. However, the lawmakers failed to pass the BBL which is a unilateral obligation of the government as stated in the peace agreement.

Despite frustration brought by the non-passage of the measure, the MILF said it will stay in the course of the peace process and will ask the next administration to pass the BBL.

“The visit of the candidates to the MILF camp is a sign of respect and recognition,” a Moro lawyer said.

Presidential wannabees Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas have already visited the MILF central leadership in Darapanan.

MILF: Kutawato Provincial Political Committee conducts advocacy on GPH-MILF Peace Process

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 6): Kutawato Provincial Political Committee conducts advocacy on GPH-MILF Peace Process

Despite the frustrations by some members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) due to non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by 16th Congress, the Provincial Political Committee of Kutawatu conducted an advocacy on the GPH-MILF peace process in Nuro, Upi Gymnasium last April 3, 2016.

Among those invited were from the local government unit (LGU), MILF, indigenous people, migrant settlers and civil society groups.

The program started with invocations by representatives from Muslims, settlers and tribal groups, followed by words of wisdom by Uz. Mohammad Abdulrahman.

Moidjoddin Talusob, Secretary of Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society (FBCSO’s) discussed the process of legislation by congress.

  Talusob also related the stages of the Bangsamoro struggle as well as the principles laid down by the late MILF Chair Salamat Hashim. These principles are still in effect and followed by the current MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim.

Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, Sr. who hosted the program urged his barangay chairmen and other barangay officials to maintain peace and order in their constituencies.

Mr. Nasser Pulindao (a.k.a. Ama ni Salman), anchorman of BTC-on-the-Air Program over a local radio station in Cotabato City delved on the peace track between the government and the MILF.

Mr. Pulindao discussed agreements signed by the GPH and the MILF as well as the Tripoli Agreement, the Jeddah Accord and 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) between the GRP and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

He also told the participants to stand for peace, follow the path of peace and whatever the position of the MILF in moving forward to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.

He said that had the BBL been passed by Congress, the MILF shall transform itself from a revolutionary group to social movement. With the non-passage of BBL, the MILF shall continue the democratic struggle until the CAB is faithfully implemented by government through the passage of BBL.

In the open forum, Mr. Talusob and Pulindao answered and responded to the concerns of the participants who were deeply frustrated by the non-enactment of the proposed Bangsamaoro Law.

The event was attended by more than two hundred individuals from different sectors of society of Upi, Maguindanao.

MILF: CSO leaders hold dialogue with BTC Chair on Bangsamoro unity and solidarity

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 8): CSO leaders hold dialogue with BTC Chair on Bangsamoro unity and solidarity

Around 44 Civil Society Organization (CSO) leaders from Mindanao and the island provinces held a dialogue with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair to discuss Bangsamoro unity and solidarity geared towards achieving the Bangsamoro people’s Right to Self-Determination (RSD).

The CSO leaders’ dialogue with BTC Chair Mohagher Iqbal on March 23, 2016 at Cotabato City was facilitated by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS).

CBCS has been undertaking initiatives like peace advocacy and intra-dialogue among the Bangsamoro leaders and sectors in line with its pursuit for peaceful resolve to Bangsamoro question.

Chairman Iqbal said the Muslims in the country are united by two things “by being Bangsamoro as a nation and being Muslims.”

He said if the Bangsamoro people may not agree to each other “it would be good if we won’t fight each other.”

The BTC Chair cited the importance of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum, a mechanism that consolidates the efforts of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) towards achieving the Bangsamoro people’s aspiration for just political solution and lasting peace and inclusive development.

He said uniting the MNLF and MILF into a single organization is difficult but the two Fronts can work together through the BCF for the higher interest of the Bangsamoro people.

On the issue of the non-passage of the BBL, the BTC Chair said they were not discouraged but rather “it strengthens us to be united.”

After the non-passage of the BBL, Iqbal said the MILF may opt to go to war or continue pursuing the path of peace.

“The decision of the MILF is to continue the peace process,” he related and pointed out that “The MILF will not decide base on emotion.”

The BTC Chair is hopeful that the next administration will prioritize the passage of the measure.

While waiting for the BBL to be enacted, he cited the need for the Bangsamoro people to strengthen itself in preparation for peace.

“BBL may be re-filed or another BBL will be crafted on the basis of FAB (Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro) and CAB (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro CAB),” he explained.

“I don’t think the next president can ignore it,” Chairman Iqbal said.

Signed on March 27, 2014, the CAB is a peace truce between the government and the MILF that aims to put an end to Mindanao conflict and usher development in the region.

CAB provides the enactment of the BBL by the Philippine Congress to pave way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro autonomous government with more political and fiscal powers.

However, sessions of both Senate and House of Representatives on early February ended without passing the BBL which drew widespread frustration among the Bangsamoro people.

Chairman Iqbal stressed the need to strengthen the Bangsamoro people
said the Bangsamoro people can delve on the Bangsamoro.

MILF: UBJP SouthMin undergoes Political Party Development training

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Apr 8): UBJP SouthMin undergoes Political Party Development training

With the aim to increase the capacity of the local chapters of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) in strengthening the organization, key officers of UBJP from Southern Mindanao underwent two-day training on party development held at the Sun City Suites in General Santos City on April 5-7.

The activity is under the Democratic Party Development (DEPADev) - Bangsamoro Project organized by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Institute for Autonomy and Governance (AIG) and UBJP with the funding assistance of the European Union (EU).

The project is in support to the peace process particularly on the political struggle of the Bangsamoro people.

UBJP is the party organized by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2013 that facilitates its transformation from secessionist movement to a political organization so it can participate in the democratic process of governance in the country.

Creating the UBJP is a major undertaking of the MILF, the organization that represents the Bangsamoro people in peace negotiations with the Philippine government, in preparation for the establishment of the autonomous Bangsamoro government.

The organizers tapped experts in the field of political party development to impart their knowledge to the participants.

Dr. Peter Koeppinger from Christian Democratic Union in Germany tackled the definition, criteria, rationale and role of political parties under a parliamentary system of government.

He also discussed the transformation from armed movement to political party delving on the political party structure and organization and the importance of clear constitution and by-laws.

The resource person also shared his ideas on initiating local party activities and reaching out sectors and the civil society as part of the initiatives in strengthening the political organization.

Koeppinger said a political party is organization of the citizens with similar objectives and trying to influence political decisions of the respective community.

He cited the important role of political party for the stability of the government. “The party is an instrument for the democratic participation of committed citizens” he said.

April de la Cruz from Centrist Democracy Political Institute discussed the internal and external communication, political party membership, recruitment, and discipline.

She gave hints on how the party can outsource financial support and how the party members can initiate major activities even with meager financial resources. The lecturer also tackled the administrative and financial management of a political party.

She stressed the importance of knowing who and where the audiences are and what are the effective means to communicate the party’s messages or advocacy.

Irene Santiago, a renowned peace and women’s rights advocate, discussed the State of the Philippine Politics. She conveyed one of her major contributions to the peace process was the crafting of the ceasefire mechanism.

The political aspects of Islam were imparted by Bangsamoro Development Agency BOD Member Ustadz Abdulkadir Abdullah.

Dr. Parido Pigkaulan did a contextual discussion on the Bangsamoro attempt on political party building.

Present in the event were DEPADev Project Manager Hendrick Mollenhauer, IAG Executive Director Atty. Benedicto Bacani and Sammy Almansor, UBJP Interim Secretary-General.

UBJP SouthMin is covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and cities of General Santos and Tacurong.

It is under the auspices of UBJP Vice President for Southern Mindanao Mohagher Iqbal who is also the MILF chief negotiator and Chairman of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

CPP/NDFP: Claims of NPA presence at Kidapawan are part of an idiotic coverup–CPP

Posted to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Website (Apr 3): Claims of NPA presence at Kidapawan are part of an idiotic coverup–CPP

Press Release | April 3, 2016

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces statements made yesterday by Malacañang saying investigation of the violent dispersal of peasant demonstrators last Friday in Kidapawan City should focus on the presence of NPA members in the rally.

“Claims made by media handlers, defense and security officials of the Aquino regime that there were members of the New People’s Army (NPA) among the demonstrators is part of the idiotic coverup that seek to obscure the responsibility of armed police personnel over the killing of at least four demonstrators and the wounding of more than a hundred others,” said the CPP.

“The CPP declares that there were no armed NPA fighters among the Kidapawan City peasant demonstrators.”

Last Friday, the Aquino regime’s police personnel armed with M16 automatic rifles opened fire at peasant demonstrators as the protest action was violently dispersed. The peasants have been demonstrating since March 30 seeking the release of calamity funds and rice and food supplies amid the seven month drought that has hit large areas of North Cotabato and other Mindanao provinces.

“Aquino’s media managers are promoting the view that the demonstrators were provoked citing supposed reports about the ‘presence’ of mass-based organizations as Anakpawis, KMP and others, as if these organizations ‘infiltrated’ the demonstrations when in fact these groups were at the lead,” said the CPP.

“By insinuating the demonstrators were ‘provoked by the Left’, Aquino’s spinmeisters desperately want to downplay its failure to address the urgent demand for food and relief funds in the face of the drought calamity, as well as the long-standing clamor for genuine land reform amid relentless landgrabbing by expanding plantations,” added the CPP.

“It is the gnawing hunger and poverty and oppression of the peasant masses which has provoked them to rise up and march from the countryside in order to seek relief from their dire situation and express their indignation over the Aquino regime’s callous refusal to address the urgent and desperate needs,” said the CPP.

CPP/NDF: US Balikatan forces to speed up construction of military bases

Posted to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Website (Apr 4): US Balikatan forces to speed up construction of military bases

Communist Party of the Philippines | April 4, 2016

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) denounces the Balikatan 2016 exercises through which the US military is deploying large numbers of troops and equipment to speed-up the construction of US military bases and facilities agreed upon under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

The US military has deployed almost 5,000 US soldiers for the Balikatan 2016 exercises scheduled for April 4-16. Besides bringing along modern US weapons of mass destruction for exhibition, promotion and forward deployment, it has also deployed an army of backhoes and bulldozers that will help speed up the construction of five US military facilities.

The presence of thousands of US soldiers with their warships, jetfighters and weapons systems in the Philippines constitute a gross violation of Philippine sovereignty and is a slap in the face of freedom-loving Filipinos.

The US government carries out with impunity such gross violation of Philippine sovereignty through such unequal treaties as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the EDCA and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).

The Balikatan 2016 exercises are being held a few weeks after security and defense officials of the US and Aquino regime agreed to have the US military setup military bases initially inside five Philippine military camps.

US bases are set to be built inside Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; Basa Air Base in Floridablanca, Pampanga; Fort Magsaysay in Palayan, Nueva Ecija; Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro; and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu. The US military is eyeing at least three more bases.

US officials claim that the large number of construction equipment brought along by the US military will be used in humanitarian and civil works. Surely, these equipment will be used beyond the publicity-stunt construction and repair of three elementary school buildings in certain towns of Capiz and Iloilo.

The CPP further condemns the US and Aquino regime for using disaster-response and humanitarian aid as pretext to heighten US military intervention and further entrench the US military in the country.

The US government is militarizing humanitarian work wherein interventionist troops with large-scale weapons systems are put at the front line of rescue and relief operations, subjecting such operations to military conflict, thus, further endangering the lives of people.

By deploying its military in disaster response, the US is virtually hindering other countries which it may be in conflict with to deploy their own agencies and resources for humanitarian assistance.

The US government wishes to strenghten its military foothold in the Philippines in order to continue using the country as a large base for the forward deployment of its military forces and assets in line with its hegemonic “Asia pivot” to secure for itself the trade routes, sources of cheap labor and areas for investments in the Asia-Pacific countries.

With the Aquino regime, the US has been provoking China to become more aggressive by deploying its war machinery around the South China Sea.

By having its military forces permanently stationed in the Philippines, the US seeks to suppress the national liberation movement being carried forward by the CPP and other revolutionary forces. American military advisers have been directing the local armed forces in waging counter-guerrilla warfare arming soldiers with its surplus weaponry, deploying surveillance drones and other tactical equipment, providing logistical support and having its forces engage in actual combat operations.

With the planned five US military bases and increased deployment of US troops in the Philippines, anti-imperialist forces must amplify the Filipino people’s demand for the immediate abrogation of the VFA , EDCA and MDT and for an end to construction by US forces inside the military camps. Direct increasingly large demonstrations against US bases in these camps of the AFP.

The New People’s Army must contribute to the struggle against US military intervention and US military bases by, among others, directing tactical offensives against the host camps and the treacherous armed forces that provide perimeter security to the interventionist troops.

DWDD: BK 2016 II High Mobility Artillery Rocket System firing highlights this year’s BK exercise

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 5): BK 2016 II High Mobility Artillery Rocket System firing highlights this year’s BK exercise


American military units will be demonstrating the capabilities of their HIMARS platforms during the live-fire phase of this year’s “Balikatan” exercise.

This will be held at the Crow Valley Range Complex in Tarlac this coming April 14, Philippine “Balikatan” public affairs office chief Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson.
HIMARS is short for “M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System”.

It is a US light multiple rocket launcher mounted on a standard Army medium tactical vehicle truck frame.

Two HIMARS platforms are present in this year’s “Balikatan” exercises.

US field testing of the platform began in 1998 and actual deployment in 2005.

HIMARS can carry six rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS missile on the US Army’s new family of medium tactical vehicles five-ton truck, and can launch the entire multiple launch rocket system family of munitions.

It is interchangeable with the MLRS M270A1, carrying half the rocket load. The launcher is C-130 transportable.

Each HIMARS platform is worth over USD5 million.

Inert rocket rounds will be fired from the United States’ HIMARS mobile artillery platform for the live-fire phase of this year’s “Balikatan” exercises.

Major Gen. Rodolfo Santiago, Philippine “Balikatan” assistant exercise director, earlier said inert rocket rounds will be used in the live-fire exercises.

“(American units) will not be firing live rockets (during the April 14 live-fire exercise in Crow Valley, Tarlac) as it is expensive and we do not need to see the actual effects (of the rocket when it hits its target) Inert rockets will be use demonstrate on HIMARS is fired in the field,” Santiago said in Filipino.

Rockets are said to be inert when stripped of all explosives and other active materials.
He also stressed that the HIMARS is not addressing any specific threat during “Balikatan” and merely being utilized to give Filipino forces a first-hand look on a modern artillery rocket system and its capabilities.

“‘Balikatan’ is an opportunity to test, to experiment on systems that may be utilized to develop our capabilities. I am not saying that there are plans to acquire it but this looks good (for the Armed Forces of the Philippines) as (HIMARS) is relative cheap,” Santiago pointed out.

“Balikatan 2016” formally opened on Monday and will end on April 15.

An estimated 3, 773 Filipino soldiers and 4, 904 US troops will take part in the two-week military maneuvers.

DWDD: IN PURSUIT II Gov’t troops pursuing NPA remnants in OccMin

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 6): IN PURSUIT II Gov’t troops pursuing NPA remnants in OccMin


CAMP GUILLERMO NAKAR, Lucena City – A soldier was killed while another was wounded when troops of the 76th Infantry Battalion encountered an undetermined number of NPAs in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro around 7:15 am today, April 6.

203rd Infantry Brigade Commander Colonel Gavin D. Edjawan said the encounter was the result of an operation launched by the brigade after reports of NPA presence from the the communities that continue to sow fear to the people.

The identities of the victims are withheld for the moment prior notification of their families.

“Pursuit operations are ongoing. Blocking operations are being set-up in probable NPA withdrawal areas. The PNP has also established checkpoints in strategic areas,” said Colonel Edjawan.

SOLCOM has utilized its air and naval assets to support the operations. Naval gunboats are conducting naval blockade on probable NPA coastal exfiltration while PAF helicopters are conducting close air support to the troops.

Earlier, Southern Luzon Command Chief Lieutenant General Ricardo R. Visaya has ordered the troops to go deep into NPA lairs and neutralize the rebels.

SOLCOM is doing its best to clear Occidental Mindoro of NPA presence and pave way for a peaceful province ready for development.

DWDD: BEST BATTALION II First Scout Ranger Battalion – Joint Task Group Sulu

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 6): BEST BATTALION II First Scout Ranger Battalion – Joint Task Group Sulu


 JOLO, Sulu (DWDD) – The First Scout Ranger Battalion, First Scout Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Command, Philippine Army has been adjudged as the best performer of the Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS) in terms of focused military operations covering the period 01 October 2014 to 05 April 2016.

It has had nine (9) major encounters against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) resulting in the neutralization/death of seventy-three (73) ASG members as validated by the Joint Intelligence Task Unit of the JTGS, the recovery of six (6) high-powered firearms, and the rescue of three (3) kidnap victims—Swiss national Lorenzo Vinciguerra, and Philippine Coast Guard personnel SN2 Gringo Villaruz and SN1 Rod Pagaling.

For this achievement, the First Scout Ranger Battalion was awarded the JTGS Commander’s Unit Award as the Best Battalion in the JTGS’s Joint Area of Operations during the stint of Brigadier General Alan R Arrojado AFP as Commander from 01 October 2014 to 05 April 2016. Josephine Jaron Codilla / MCAG

DWDD: FREAK ACCIDENT II Airman Dies in Parachuting Exercise

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 7): FREAK ACCIDENT II Airman Dies in Parachuting Exercise
BK 2016 Logo

SUBIC BAY, Zambales (DWDD)  – A Filipino participant in the joint Philippine-US Balikatan exercises died following a “freak” accident during one of the event’s exercises in Subic.

According to Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson, Public Affairs Officer of the Joint Balikatan Media Bureau, soldier landed at the nearby sea of Subic airport, it was more or less 30 feet deep, due to “wind drag” while conducting proficiency parachute jump exercise.
File Photo
File Photo
“We call it a freak accident. He was supposed to land in a landing zone [at the airport] but he was carried by the wind packet and landed at the sea,” Sayson added.

In a separate inquiry, the airman was identified as A2C Jover Dumansi of the 710th Special Operations Wing (SPOW) of the Philippine Air Force, who graduated from his Basic Military Training in 2011.

A pre-positioned force-protection team at the drop zone took 15 minutes to rescue the soldier, who was among the first 10 of 20 paratroopers to jump in the exercise.

Responders conducted “first aid treatment to revived him [and] after five minutes he was brought to Unihealth Baypoint Hospital for medical treatment.” He was confirmed dead 05:25 p.m..

DWDD: RESORTING TO CRIMINALITY II NPA Robs Establishment and Workers in Bukidnon

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Apr 7): RESORTING TO CRIMINALITY II NPA Robs Establishment and Workers in Bukidnon

CAMP EVANGELISTA, Cagayan de Oro City (DWDD) – The New People’s Army (NPA) extortionists ransacked a small business establishment in Brgy Kulasi, Sumilao, Bukidnon, took the money of its workers, establishment’s important belongings and two firearms early today, April 6, 2016.

Based from the investigating PNP personnel of Sumilao Municipal Police Station, more or less 20 fully armed NPAs entered into Chen and Yap Agri Development Incorporated (CYADI) Farm owned by Mr Cecel Chen at around 4am.

Accordingly, the NPAs took important belongings and money from the establishment and two shotguns of their security guards. The Culprits then mustered all its workers and discussed to them about wage increase then eventually took their money amounting to P3,700.00.

Mr. Jenry Emong, one of the workers but requested not to publish his true name said, “Grabe ang among kakulba kay abi namo’g patyon nami nila. morag wala naman silay laing ikatabang sa katawhan. Kana nga kwarta nga ilang gikuha igo-igo ra na sa among pamilya. Pagkataod taod, amo silang gihangyo nga dili sunugon ang kumpanya kay mawad-an mi og trabaho. Unsa nalang ang mahitabo sa among pamilya kung sunugon nila.”

(We were so nervous that we thought they will kill us. These NPAs are not really concerned about our welfare. The money they took from us is just enough for our family. We even begged them not to burn the establishment because that’s where we get our source of living. We don’t know what will happen to our family if they destroy it.)

Based from the statement of the owner, the NPAs have longed demanded to pay extortion money but he refused to give.

Lt. Col. Peter Edwin R. Navarro, Commanding Officer of 1st Special Forces Battalion said, “This is a clear evidence that the NPAs are so desperate that they even shifted to doing criminalities. They even demanded the establishment to increase the wage of its workers but eventually the NPA robbed the workers. The workers thought that the NPA are helping them but it turns out that the culprits are not really concerned of their situation. This is actually how a professional criminal behave. Through violence and deception just to gain personal interest.”

“We will help the PNP in bringing these culprits to justice. We will not let them threaten the people who are living peacefully in our area.” He added. Support to Law Enforcement Operation has been launched immediately after the incident. 4DPAO / MCAG

Militants vandalize PNP HQ gate

From Malaya Business Insight (Apr ): Militants vandalize PNP HQ gate

MORE than 50 members of militant groups yesterday vandalized the EDSA gate of Camp Crame in protest of the violent dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan City who were seeking relief from the effects of the El Nino. 

Led by Kilusang Mayo Uno, the militants picketed the EDSA gate of the PNP headquarters and held a short program where they dramatized the arrest of President Aquino, Agriculture

Secretary Proceso Alcala, and North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza in connection with the dispersal of the farmers.

Not contented, they vandalized the camp’s gate with red paint.

They also condemned the filing of charges against protesting farmers, calling the government “insensitive.”

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said charges are being prepared by the Quezon City Police District against those who vandalized Camp Crame’s gate.

“In expressing or invoking your rights as a citizen it is also expected that you respect others rights. Your rights should not jeopardize others’ rights and others’ properties,” Mayor said.

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan, said her group’s investigation pegged the number of fatalities to two, namely, Enrico Fabligar and Darwin Sulang, who both died from gunshot wounds.

Palabay said their investigation also showed that at least 44 individuals sustained injuries.

She said Sulang’s family belied that he died from cardio respiratory arrest, secondary to head injury due to mauling.

She said a death certificate submitted by Sulang’s family issued by a Dr. Edgar Gantuangco from the Kidapawan Doctor’s Hospital, showed that  Sulang had a wound at the back of his head and a puncture wound in the frontal area secondary to mauling.

However, the certificate had no signature of Gantuangco.

Palabay said the victims were both civilians who only happened to be in the barricade site at the time of the dispersal.

She said 10 persons suffered severe gunshot injuries, 22 sustained gunshot wounds but with less serious injuries, while others were hurt from truncheon blows.

She said two eyewitnesses saw some policemen on top of a fire truck firing their guns at the protesters.

Palabay said at least 70 individuals, including Richard Emboc and Eric Santos, who were merely bystanders, were illegally arrested for charges of direct assault. Among those arrested were 25 women, including three who are pregnant and three elderly.

She said the arrested individuals are detained at the Kidapawan City Gym and Kidapawan Convention Center.

She claimed there were documented attempts of the police and some local officials to destroy evidence and to clear the crime scene through burning of personal effects confiscated from the protesters.

She added that government was also liable for the violence for its failure to provide relief to thousands of farmers in North Cotabato who are affected by the drought.

Palabay demanded an investigation of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza, President Aquino, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and police and military officials in Central Mindanao.

She said she will submit the full findings of the investigation and recommendations before the Senate today, when it conducts its hearing on the violent dispersal, and the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations and the lawyers of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Sen. Francis Escudero condemned the filing of charges against the protesting farmers, saying government has not even addressed their concerns.

The Senate committee on justice and human rights, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, flew to Davao City yesterday to conduct a public hearing and consultation on the dispersal last week.

Fate of Abu Sayyaf captives known today

From Malaya Business Insight (Apr 8): Fate of Abu Sayyaf captives known today

TODAY is the deadline set by the Abu Sayyaf for the payment of ransom for two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipina it abducted from a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September last year.

The bandit group, which is asking P1 billion ransom for each of the hostages, has threatened to kill the captives.

“We are looking at it seriously and we continue to conduct our FMO (focused military operation) to address the situation and hopefully resolve the matter,” said Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri.

The captives – Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marites Flor – were seized from the Oceanview Resort in Samal and brought to the island-province of Sulu.

Last month, a video of the hostages uploaded on the internet showed the foreigners appealing to authorities to heed the ransom demand or they will end up dead.

In the same video, one of the captors – whose face was covered – said authorities have until April 8 to negotiate and meet their demand.

Iriberri gave the assurance that operations are underway to secure the freedom of the hostages.

The Abu Sayyaf is keeping several other foreign and Filipino hostages in Sulu, a bailiwick of the bandit group.

Iriberri declined to give details “because it might even further endanger the kidnap victims.”

Iriberri reiterated the government’s no-ransom policy. “Our policy is very clear. We have a no-ransom policy. We are strictly abiding by it,” the AFP chief said.

Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said government forces have intensified operations in Sulu to get the hostages. He also declined to provide details “for force protection.”

Told the Abu Sayyaf may harm the hostages, Detoyato said: “Whatever will happen to the hostages, it is their responsibility and we will hold them responsible, the kidnappers.”

Photo: Brave Souls

From The Standard (Apr 8): Photo: Brave Souls

Operatives from the Philippine Navy Special Operation Group successfully rescue a woman from her captors during a mock rescue operation on the beach of Corregidor Island in Cavite on Thursday, April 7, ahead of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Bravery) in honor of Filipino soldiers. DANNY PATA

Senator Miriam: PH should abandon dependence on US for national security

From Update.Ph (Apr 7): Senator Miriam: PH should abandon dependence on US for national security

The Philippines should end its dependence on United States for its national security needs, this was stated by Presidential aspirant Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Thursday, April 7. “The Philippines will have to once and for all abandon its full-spectrum dependence on America as a guarantor of its national security,” the lady senator said in a statement.

The statement from Senator Santiago came days after US-PH joint wargames Balikatan 2016 started in where the US brought in for the first time its M142 High Mobility Rocket Artillery System (HIMARS).

She noted that VFA and the EDCA are silent on the extent of American commitments to the Philippines, while imperiling the country’s sovereignty and welfare, and it is also unclear whether the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 covers the West Philippine Sea disputes.

“Obviously, the Philippines or any regional state can never match Chinese defense spending, but we will have to have to develop minimum deterrence capabilities that allow us to resist and inflict sufficient retaliation if China continues to undermine Philippine territorial integrity,” Santiago said.

She added that instead of relying on the US military might, or acquiescing to China, the Philippines will have to augment its surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering capabilities in order to effectively monitor developments in its surrounding waters, preferably at least within its 200- nautical-miles exclusive economic zone.

She also believes that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be developed only second to the Coast Guard when it comes to territorial integrity. However, she said it is crucial for the AFP to adopt a more outward, maritime-centered security doctrine, instead of focusing on domestic security.

Senator Miriam said that if she wins the presidency she will strengthen the Philippine Coast Guard and maintain a strong presence in Philippine-held territories in West Philippine Sea. “So long as we don’t permanently alter the nature of disputed features, we will not be violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” she said.

“The Philippines must ensure that it adopts, as much as possible, an equi-balancing strategy towards both China and America. To push back against Chinese adventurism by deepening Philippine dependence on another power runs counter to the very logic of protecting its national sovereignty,” she noted.

Air Force 3rd Division celebrates founding anniversary

From Update.Ph (Apr 7): Air Force 3rd Division celebrates founding anniversary  

Philippine Air Force’s 3rd Air Division (3AD) with headquarters at Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City celebrated its 32nd Founding Anniversary April 5. The celebration was themed with “Air Vanguards of the Southern Frontier at 32: Fulfilling the Promise of Mindanao Through a Jointly Engaged Transforming Force For Greater Peace and Security.”

Air Force Commanding General Lieutenant General Edgar R Fallorina graced the occasion as the Guest of Honor. He was accompanied by his wife, Erica Juliana Fallorina, who was invited as the event’s Special Guest, the Air Force said.

During the event, medals, plaques and streamers where awarded to personnel and unit that performed well in their jobs and missions during the past year. 3AD Commander Major General Conrado Parra assisted the Air Force commander in distributing awards.

“The 3AD also gave Plaques of Appreciation to its civilian partners for their various contributions to and participation in the attainment of its mission. Recipient of these awards includes CENRO-WEST and the Zamboanga Daily Times,” Air Force said.

The visit coincided with Air Force commander’s visit to Edwin Andrews Air Base. He convened all PAF personnel stationed in the base to meet him for the first time as Air Force commander.

Japan sending helicopter destroyer to Philippines

From Update.Ph (Apr 8): Japan sending helicopter destroyer to Philippines 

Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH-182) is reportedly visiting the Philippines. The Japanese warship is also set to participate to Multilateral Naval Exercise Komodo (MNEK) 2016 in Indonesia, a Japanese news outlet reports.

This was reported after 2 destroyers and one submarine of JMSDF Destroyer Escort Division 15 and Training Submarine Division 1 made a three-day port visit in Philippines that ended April 6.

“The visit is a manifestation of a sustained promotion of regional peace and stability and enhancement of maritime cooperation between neighboring navies,” Navy spokesman Captain Lued Lincuna said of the recent visit.

Meanwhile, Komodo Exercise 2016 – 2nd iteration since maiden 2014 edition – is a joint naval exercise of between navies of ASEAN and partner countries.

The theme for this year’s Komodo Exercise is “Readiness and Cooperation for Peace”. It will focus on maritime peacekeeping operations scenarios. The biennial exercise will be very special since it will be organized in conjunction with the 15th Western Pacific Naval Symposium and the 2016 International Fleet Review.

Exercise and other supporting events will take place in the city of Padang and the islands of Mentawai, located in West Sumatera on April 12 to 16.

Army Commanding General Año, nagbigay hamon sa bagong kumander ng Artillery Regiment

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 6): Army Commanding General Año, nagbigay hamon sa bagong kumander ng Artillery Regiment

Binigyang hamon ni Army Commanding General Lieutenant General Eduardo Año ang bagong hepe ng Army Artillery Regiment o AAR matapos dumalo bilang panauhing pandangal sa nakaraang Change of Command ceremony.

Ayon kay Año, malaki ang gampanin ng mga artillery units sa pagsugpo ng insurgency at pagpapatibay ng kapayapaan lalo sa bahagi ng Mindanao.

Kaya naman hinihiling niya kay AAR Commander Colonel Erwin De Asis ang mas pinaigting na pagpapalakas sa kapabilidad ng AAR at pagpapabuti ng war fighting competency ng mga artilyero.

Aniya, kinakailangang pag-isahin ang pwersa ng hukbong katihan gayundin ang pagkakaroon ng matibay na ugnayan sa mga nasasakupang stakeholder na mahalagang sangkap sa patuloy na pagtamo ng pangkalahatan at pangmatagalang pangkapayapaan sa bansa.

Ipinaunawa din ni Año ang nararapat na katayuan ng hukbong katihan sa nalalapit na pambansang halalan na dapat ay manatiling neutral at impartial, maging maingat at mapagbantay sa anumang uri ng panganib na maaaring magdulot ng kapahamakan sa komunidad.

Sa pagtatapos ng kanyang talumpati ay nabanggit ni Año na bagamat hindi madali ang mga inisyatibong  inihanay ay lubos ang kaniyang pagtitiwala sa pamunuan ni Colonel De Asis at sa bumubuo ng AAR na maipagpapatuloy at madadagdagan pa ang mga napagtagumpayan ng rehimen.

Samantala, tumatayong pang-anim na kumander ng AAR si Colonel De Asis na humalili kay Acting Commander Colonel Agane Adriatico na siya namang uupo bilang kanyang Assistant Commander.

Kinaray-A News: Masaksihan ang PH-US ‘Balikatan’ exercises Abril 11 sa San Jose

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): Kinaray-A News: Masaksihan ang PH-US ‘Balikatan’ exercises Abril 11 sa San Jose

Masaksihan kang mga  Antiqueño sa nahauna nga kahigyunan ang pagpatigayun kang joint military exercises sa tunga kang Pilipinas kag  United States Armed Forces sa pag-umpisa kang  “Balikatan” Exercises rudya sa San Jose sa Abril 11, 2016.

Suno  kay Division Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Ray C. Tiongson kang 3RD Infantry (Spearhead) Division, Philippine Army  ang coastal area sa  Barangay Funda, Dalipe, ang pagadungkaan kang mga amphibious vehicles.

“Ginalauman naton nga makit-an ang mga Sakayan Pangdagat (Naval ships), kag mga sakayan pangkahanginan (aircrafts) kang Estados Unidos parehas kang  CH47 ukon ginatawag nga Chinook, C130 kag  MV22 Osprey,” pabutyag ni Tiongson sa panahon nga ginahiwat ang Provincial Peace and Order Council Meeting nga ginpatawag ni Gov. Exequiel B. Javier.

Ang Balikatan Exercise pagahiwaton sa tatlo ka mga probinsya sa Isla Kang Panay- Antique, Capiz kaag Iloilo,  April 4 hasta  16, 2016 kag magatutuk sa nanuhaytuhay nga mga hirkuton lakip ang humanitarian assistance, maritime law enforcement kag environmental protection.

Ang katuyuan kang dya nga mga hirikuton sun okay Tiongson amo ang pagpamayad may katuyuan sa pag paluntad kang mutual defense relationships kag pagpabaskug kang kapacidad kang military kag kang mga sibilyan para sa humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, kag iban pa nga nabase sa Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement.

Ang ginatawag interoperability operational events ang pagapatigayunon sa Antique, dya pagalikipan kang mga activities parehas kang pag-transport kang mga  personnel kag logistics; pagpatigayun kang  amphibious landing, ship to shore movement nga magahana kang kapabilidad sa patag kang rapid response nga makabulig pabaskug kang kahandaan kag mayad nga pag deliver kang relief kag mga bulig sa lokal nga mga kumunidad kon magluntad ang mga kalamidad kag iban pa nga mga krisis.

Ang tanan dya nga mga  civic military operations and projects sa idalom kang Humanitarian Civic Assistance events, activities kag training exercises sa Antique pagaplanuhon ka mayad agud nga masiguro nga mapaluntad ang  maximum safety, care and respect sa kumunidad, suno  kay Tiongson.

Pagapatigayunon man ang mga structural assessment sa mga  airports kag seaports sa mga probinsya kang Capiz, Aklan, Antique kag  Iloilo sa panahon nga ginahiwat ang  Balikatan exercise.

Ang  Balikatan 2016 Exercise ginbuksan kang nagligad nga Abril 4 rudto sa Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz kag ang closing ceremony paghiwaton rudto sa Matangharon Elementary School, Dingle, Iloilo  sa Abril 16, 2016,

PMA welcomes 396 new cadets

From the Philippine Information Agency (Apr 7): PMA welcomes 396 new cadets

The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) welcomed 396 Filipino youth as incoming cadets to the premiere military institution.

Composed of 35 females and 361 males, they were received at the PMA during the traditional reception rites on April 1 at the Fort Del Pilar here.

PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Donato San Juan welcomed the incoming plebes to the PMA followed by the traditional reception ceremonies by the upper class men.

During the reception ceremonies, the plebes were given a taste of the military training that they will undergo in the military academy and witnessed by their parents.

The reception ceremonies mark the beginning of the cadets’ military career, a journey in selfless service to God, country and people.

Their upper classmen composed of the members of the Class of 2018 will also serve as their squad leaders and mentors during the Cadet Training which is the first two months of initial training or the summer training in PMA.

Trainings courses include the Basic Cadet Training, Basic Military Training and the Physical Training which are necessary in preparing them to be members of Class of 2020 for their incorporation and integration to the Cadet Corp Armed Forces of the Philippines as its bona fide members.

The incoming cadets will follow a strict schedule that would give them an idea or feel of how to regiment their life in the Academy will be for the next four years.

Out of the 396 who compose the  future Class of 2020,  23 of them were fresh high school graduates,  114 were first year college, 145- second year college, 62- third years, 31 -fourth years and four-  fifth years while 17 have college degrees.

7 Leyte cities, towns await rebel-free declaration

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): 7 Leyte cities, towns await rebel-free declaration

Five towns and two cities in Leyte province will be declared as areas completely free of insurgency before the year ends, an army official said.

Lt. Col. Roberto Sarmiento, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion said they are targeting to place Tacloban City, Ormoc City, Villaba, Isabel, Capoocan, Jaro, and Tanauan in the insurgency-free list within the year.

Although the town have been free from threats of rebels for years, the army needs city and town council resolution for the formal declaration.

“It’s already in the process. This just takes time because of the election period,” Sarmiento said.

Ormoc and Tacloban mayors committed to send the resolution to the military after the May 9 elections, according to the army official.

“The declaration of insurgency-free will ensure economic growth,” he added.

Latest to be declared as stable internal peace and security town through a joint declaration of the military and Philippine National Police is San Isidro town.

A platoon of the New People’s Army in Leyte used to influence the town until the military dismantled them in 2000.

In collaboration with the 19th Infantry Battalion and the Philippine National Police, the local government of San Isidro was able to maintain and peace and security situation in the town.

San Isidro Mayor Susan Ang, 802nd Army Brigade commander Col. Francisco Mendoza, Jr. and Police Supt. Ramil Amodia of the Leyte Provincial Public Safety Company signed the declaration.

Other signatories are Vice-Mayor Isidro Balmoria, Sarmiento and Sr. Insp. Jimmy Boy Balasanos, the town’s chief of police.

Ang signed the declaration by virtue of Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 049-2015 which was adopted after 19th Infantry Battalion's periodic assessment on the peace and security situation in the said town last year.

2 top N. Cotabato cops sacked over Kidapawan dispersal incident

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): 2 top N. Cotabato cops sacked over Kidapawan dispersal incident

The Philippine National Police Region 12 (PNP–12) has relieved two of its top police officers in North Cotabato province concomitant to the controversial April 1 dispersal of thousands of protesting farmers who blockaded the segment of the Cotabato – Davao highway here to stage their plight on the harsh effects of the drought-spawned El Niño phenomenon.

The protesting peasants withheld traffic flow along the highway for four days prior to the chaotic dispersal that claimed the lives of two farmers and wounding of over a hundred peasants and anti-riot cops alike.

P/Sr. Supt. Danilo Peralta, administrative head of PNP – 12, confirmed Friday the relief of P/Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum as the provincial director and P/Supt. John Calinga as Kidapawan police director.

The relief order stemmed from the law enforcement operation currently being investigated by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Peralta stressed that such directive is a standard operating procedure to any officer that will undergo investigation.

The same order stipulated that P/Supt. Jose Briones, concurrent provincial police operations chief, would seat as North Cotabato police officer-in-charge while P/Supt Noel Kinazo, provincial police office deputy chief for administration, acts as Calinga’s replacement.

Both Tagum and Calinga are mandated to submit themselves to the ongoing investigation, Peralta said.

This developed as the remaining 1,114 farmers staying at the compound of a local church returned home on Thursday to their respective communities in the province.

The last batch of farmers was part of a much bigger 6,000 - strong peasant group that clashed with 200 anti-riot cops during the disputed police dispersal operation.

Jerry Alborme, provincial chair of Kilusang Magbubukid Ng Pilipinas, said each peasant went home with 25 kilos of rice over donations that reached 1,223 bags following the dispersal incident.

He said that out of the total rice donation, 245 bags were consumed during the rally while the residual 978 bags had been divided among the persistent colleagues, which include 1,024 at the United Methodist Church compound, 79 who are currently detained and 11 others confined at the hospital.

Alborme said upcoming rice donations would be coursed through the Philippine National Red Cross and partners due to existing Commission on Election regulations that prohibits government entities on releasing funds in context to the May 9, 2016 national and local polls.

Youth urged to be proactive peacebuilders

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): Youth urged to be proactive peacebuilders

The youth is the key to achieving just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

This was the message imparted to the participants of the recently held MasterPEACE boot camp in Tagaytay City and Cotabato City on 4-7 April 2016.

The training program is a classroom- and experience-based workshop aimed at enriching and deepening the youth’s understanding of the Mindanao peace process through lectures and interactive activities. There were a total of 70 participants, ages 18-25, from across the country.

“In proactive peacebuilding, we have to deeply understand ourselves and others. In reality, conflict is a natural thing. Conflicts can definitely be managed and resolved constructively,” said Teach Peace Build Peace founder Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, who was one of the lecturers.

“We have to teach peace so we can build a culture of peace because it is in that culture that we can see a future generation of peace builders. Peace is like a tree. It can grow if we choose to nurture it. Not just advocate for it but let us have a concrete action plan when we get back to our schools and communities,” she added.

Rohaniza pointed out that misunderstanding and misinformation breed conflicts in beliefs, biases and prejudices.

“These may trigger violent views that require a culture of peace as a counter narrative instilled in the hearts and minds of those at risk. [There is a] kind of culture of peace that teaches about all values, attitudes and forms of behaviors that reflect respect for life, for human dignity and for all human rights. It is also about imparting why violence should be rejected,” she said.

Muslim antipathy, discrimination are roots of Mindanao armed conflict

Meanwhile, Miriam College Center for Peace Education Executive Director Jasmin Nario–Galace encouraged the youth to break the cycle of Muslim antipathy as this would feed unnecessary direct violence and abuse to the society.

“Peace is in your hands. Each day, throughout the world, people are killed or hurt because of hate as they differ from the rest in terms of ethnicity, religion, sex, ideology, gender, and class, among others,” Galace said.

“Conflicts have given rise to violence, terrorism and discrimination within societies. It is an ethical imperative that major religious traditions teach their flock the values of respect, love, nonviolence, justice and oneness of the human family,” she added.

In one of the activities during the workshop, participants identified the different causes of conflict in Mindanao. They pointed to misconception, stereotyping, and poverty as the roots of the Moro armed insurgency and underdevelopment of the region.

“Many people don't know yet the root of the conflicts. Many people don't know yet who the Bangsamoro people are. Because of the lack of education or the lack of awareness, there is stereotyping,” Jamil Adiong, a student from the University of San Carlos and one of the participants of the MasterPEACE Boot Camp, explained during the discussion.

“There is a notion that Moro people are dangerous. Because of the ethnocentrism, stereotyping, and lack of education, there is conflict and discrimination. From the conflict, there are internal wars and there is displacement,” he added.

Support for the Bangsamoro peace process

The 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) contains a roadmap not only for the legislative track concerning the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) but also a socio-economic track that involved normalization processes such as the decommissioning of MILF combatants and weapons and transformation of their camps into peaceful, productive communities.

Maj. Gen. Leo Cresente Ferrer of the Joint Normalization Committee (JNC) called on the youth to become agents of peace and support the current actions of the government in sustaining the gains of Bangsamoro peace process.

“Becoming a peace master, you should develop life-long skills on how to handle conflict,” Ferrer said. “Conflict transformation is a process leading to a transformation in the relationship between parties of a conflict. This also means the fundamental social and political changes to correct inequities and injustices.”

National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Commissioner and former Government of the Philippines (GPH) legal panel member Atty. Al-Amin Julkipli maintained that the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) prevailed despite the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the 16th Congress.

“The implementation of the roadmap has been stalled but it doesn't mean that the peace process stops there. We should focus on initiatives to sustain the gains of the Bangsamoro peace process,” he said.

In one of the learning sessions, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Undersecretary Atty. Jose Lorena said that the passage of the BBL is important for the peace process to continue and end the decades-long negotiations.

“We are hoping that the BBL will be passed. There is only one Bangsamoro area, one Bangsamoro region, so there is a need to have a convergence of the MILF and the MNLF through the BBL. Currently, the [draft] law is the only [proposed] legislation [that seeks to address] the aspirations of the Bangsamoro,” said Lorena.

Former Naval commander leads tribute to all Filipino heroes

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 7): Former Naval commander leads tribute to all Filipino heroes

Jesus C. Millan, Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans, and Retirees Affairs, led the veterans and the youth in a “Tribute to all Filipino Heroes” ceremony on Thursday in the historic Corregidor Island in Cavite.

The ceremony aims to honor all Filipino heroes, patriots and defenders who fought and died for country’s freedom and liberty.

Millan was introduced by Corregidor Foundation Executive Director Artemio Matibag as a “gentleman who faithfully adheres to the mantra ‘to succeed the right and honorable way’”.

In his speech, Millan extolled the three posthumous awardees of the event. “The fight for the ideals of freedom and this sad memory shall be forever etched in our history. Those who survived continued their struggle and joined other resistance movement just like what our three awardees courageously demonstrated — Lt Heracleo Alano earned a Silver Star Award for his gallantry against superior Japanese dive bombers, Lt Federico Martir after his release from prison aided in mapping enemy locations and Lt Eliseo Rio demonstrated gallantry in the battle of the pockets against attacking the enemy forces,” he said.

The program proper featured a “Tolling of Bell” by Veteran Leandro T. Pacio, with Maria Lilibeth S. Lapena, student of Florentino Joya Elementary School, reciting a pledge extolling those who sacrificed their lives for their love for the Philippines, and vowing to keep the flame of patriotism ever burning in the hearts of Filipinos of all generations.

The event was attended by veterans and other guests who were ferried by the vessels of the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and Sun Cruises. The luxury cruise of the veterans via MV Sun Cruiser was made possible through the sponsorship of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), a member of the Technical Working Committee for the conduct of 2016 Philippine Veterans Week.

After the program, a capability demonstration was presented by the Philippine Navy and the guests were given a tour around the historic place.

Navy’s first Strategic Sealift Vessel declared complete

From Update.Ph (Apr 5): Navy’s first Strategic Sealift Vessel declared complete

Manufacturing of Philippine Navy’s first Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), designated as LD-601 with prospective name of BRP Tarlac, was completed April 4, Indonesian news providers report. Delivery of said vessel is expected before the 118th founding anniversary of Philippine Navy on May 20.

The vessel was launched at the PT PAL (Persero) shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia in January 2016.

It has a crew of 17 officers and 98 enlisted personnel a total of 115.

Navy spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo earlier said full-fledged sea trials of the ship will start when the sailing crew arrives in March 2016. “It’s akin to a car doing road test. The facilities and other navigational instruments are being tested to ensure seaworthiness, especially before its embarks on its voyage to the Philippines.”

The Philippines has a two-SSV order with PT PAL (Persero) for Php3,870,000,000 which is sourced from the AFP Modernization Fund. SSVs are programmed to be the Navy’s floating command center carrying out their main purpose as military sealift and transport vessels and also for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Finmeccanica receive €100m order from Philippine Navy for two AW159 helicopters

From (Apr 6): Finmeccanica receive €100m order from Philippine Navy for two AW159 helicopters


The Philippine Navy has placed an order worth more than €100m with Finmeccanica to procure two AgustaWestland AW159 helicopters.

The aircraft will be built at Finmeccanica helicopter division's Yeovil plant, in the UK, and is scheduled to be delivered in 2018.

The order also includes training and multi-year support and adds to the orders in progress placed by the UK and the Republic of Korea.

“We will deliver to the Philippine Navy a state-of-the-art product, unmatched in the modern operational scenarios.”
Finmeccanica has supported the Philippine Armed Forces in their previous aeronautics and helicopter programmes.

Finmeccanica CEO and general manager Mauro Moretti said: "We will deliver to the Philippine Navy a state-of-the-art product, unmatched in the modern operational scenarios, and customised to meet their specific needs.

"Also, we will provide the customer with support and training solutions that will enable them to take full advantage of the capabilities of its new helicopters."

The AW159 naval helicopters are the new-generation multi-role, multi-mission maritime and utility helicopter suited to operate in harsh maritime climate comprising rough seas and associated deck motion conditions.

The six tonne helicopter will be equipped with an array of features, including communications, navigation systems, advanced sensors and a range of weapons.

Powered by two turboshaft engines with full authority digital engine control (FADEC), the helicopter is said to provide 'hot and high' performance and engine out capability.

It is suited to engage in missions like intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), maritime interdiction operations (MIO), anti surface warfare (ASuW), anti submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue (SAR) capabilities.

Last year, Finmeccanica, along with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, was awarded a €1.1bn contract by the Italian Navy for the construction and equipment of one multipurpose amphibious unit (LHD).

PH Army Dragon Warriors cop gold in Adelaide meet

From the Manila Times (Apr 7): PH Army Dragon Warriors cop gold in Adelaide meet

Philippine Army Dragon Warriors made their presence felt in the prestigious 2016 IDBF World Club Crew Dragon Boat Championships as they ruled the 2,000m small boat premier open on Tuesday at the Ramsay Regatta Course in Adelaide, Australia.

The Army Dragon Warriors submitted the fastest time of 10 minutes and 0.570 second to grab the country’s first gold medal in the tournament organized by the International Dragon Boat Federation.

“My team has now proven that it can dominate in the 2,000 meter event after a series of failures in the past world championships. Our rigorous training and the outstanding camaraderie and discipline of our crew members have paid off,” said Philippine Army Dragon Warriors President Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc.

Canada’s Pickering Dragon Boat Club settled for silver with a time of 10:01.970 while United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Diggers earned the bronze in 10:08.590.

Australia-Melbourne Flames placed fourth with 10:22.280 followed by United States-Space Dragons (10:24.990), New Zealand-Lion (10:29.850), Hungary-Black Peark Dragon Boat Team (11:09.520) and China-Top Express J Dragon (11:11.580).

The Army Dragon Warriors will be seeing action next in short distance races as they defend their crowns in the 500m small boat premier open and 200m small boat premier open.

In the 2014 edition held in Ravenna, Italy, the Army Dragon Warriors smashed world records in winning gold medals in those events – and were tagged as “the fastest dragon boat crew in the world.”

“We will do our best to maintain our excellent performance in the sprints (500m and 200m) that will be held in the next two days,” added Cabunoc.

The members of the team are Usman Anterola, Romy John Demonteverde, Joemar Ocquiana, Ronald Tan, Salvador Sumagaysay, Rodrigo Tanuan Jr., Gil Gonzales, Reyjel Paranque, Alvin Sabijon, Rey Rizada, Jayson Dela Cruz, Hardy Pabulayan, Isagani Bayson, Resty Levantino, Ivory Bayson, Meldred Espinas, Riza Canonoy, Katrina Garcia and Glyniz Teodoro.

Army doctors cited for performance in campaign against BIFF

From the Philippine Star (Apr 6): Army doctors cited for performance in campaign against BIFF

The Army's 33rd Infantry Battalion on patrol in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao. The STAR/John Unson, file

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division on Tuesday awarded merit medals to two military doctors for exemplary performance at the height of recent encounters between soldiers and bandits in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.
Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, division commander, pinned medals on the uniforms of Captains Leo Carlo Mayo and Edmundo Bañaga, in the presence of reporters and officers from different 6th ID units.
Pangilinan said the two deserved the medals for their meritorious treatment of soldiers wounded in encounters, from between late January to March, with members of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The hostilities in Datu Salibo were sparked by a BIFF attack on workers engaged in a flood control project in the town after the construction firm they work for declined to shell out “protection money.”
The incident led to a seven-week military operation to clear Datu Salibo of bandits. The clashes left five soldiers dead and more than 30 others wounded, among them Marines.
Officials on Wednesday hoisted the Philippine flag in Barangay Tee in Datu Salibo, a former bastion of the BIFF now controlled by Army units.
Local officials confirmed to reporters that no fewer than 30 BIFF bandits were killed in the military’s clearing operations in Datu Salibo.
Pangilinan said the soldiers hit by bullets and injured by improvised explosives detonated by bandits recovered quickly with the help of the two military doctors.

Mangudadatu survives sniper attack

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 7): Mangudadatu survives sniper attack

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu survived an attack in Datu Salibo town yesterday morning.

Mangudadatu was onboard one of four airboats when the attack happened near Barangay Tee at 11 a.m. yesterday. “There were sniper shots,” Mangudadatu told the Inquirer by phone.

The governor and 40 others, including top military officials in the region, were on their way to Barangay Tee to raise the Philippine flag in a school that was earlier occupied by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) rebels.

Government troops recently recovered the school from rebel occupation.

“We also went there to conduct a medical mission,” Mangudadatu said.

No one was hurt.

Despite the attack, Mangudadatu said they still pushed through with the flag-raising and medical mission. If they did not do so, Mangudadatu said, “they (rebels) might claim we are afraid of them.”