Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AFP denounces NPA for using minors in armed struggle

From the Manila Bulletin (May 25): AFP denounces NPA for using minors in armed struggle

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 10th Infantry Division, yesterday denounced the New People’s Army (NPA) for exploiting minors in their armed struggle against the government.

In a press conference at the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) here, Captain Rhyan Batchar said they were “saddened” to learn that three of those who were killed in series of clashes between the government troops and communist rebels in San Isidro, Davao del Norte and Laak, Compostela Valley last May 18 were all teenagers.”

He said the NPAs has no regard for the rights of children and the Indigenous Peoples because those were killed in the encounter ages from 14 to 18 and were children of lumads in the hinterlands.

“This clearly shows that the NPAs violated humanitarian law that prohibits using minors and Indigenous People in war,” Batchar said.

Batchar identified those slain as Mar June Gunay, 14 and his cousin Rodel Gunnay, 18 and Romel Perez 17.

He said their names and ages of victims were revealed after their relatives claimed the dead bodies last May 20.

Release of political prisoners 'won't go unreciprocated' - CPP to Digong

From InterAksyon (May 26): Release of political prisoners 'won't go unreciprocated' - CPP to Digong

Communist rebels welcomed presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to free political prisoners and drop charges against them to boost chances for the resumption of peace negotiations and said the act “shall not go unreciprocated by the revolutionary forces.”

The Communist Party of the Philippines said Duterte’s plan “will certainly be a cordial act that will surely help invigorate peace negotiations.”

At the same time, it suggested that Duterte “can also take the option of ordering the release of key peace consultants of the (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) prior to formal resumption of talks, especially those who will be playing a critical role in preparations and actual negotiations.”

Among the more than 500 political prisoners are 18 alleged ranking leaders the NDFP maintains are consultants of its peace panel who are, thus, protected from arrest and prosecution for the duration of the negotiations under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

Among the consultants are alleged CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma, the alleged finance officer, and Alan Jazmines.

The CPP said the release of the NDFP consultants and the other political prisoners would be “an act of justice” since most of them were “detained unjustly” through “trumped up charges,” most of these unbailable, such as illegal firearms possession and murder.

"Even as incoming president Duterte plans to release political prisoners, the CPP urges him to revoke the (military and police’s) legal offensive of filing trumped up charges against activists in the legal arena that makes a mockery of the (government’s) justice system," it urged, noting that over the years, many legal activists “have chosen to go underground and join the revolutionary armed struggle or seek refuge in areas under the sway of the New People's Army" after being harassed by state security  forces.

Joint naval patrols bode well for Asean anti-terror fight

From the Straits Times (May 26): Joint naval patrols bode well for Asean anti-terror fight (By Johannes Feige)

Three Asean countries - Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines - agreed this month on joint maritime patrols to ward off potential terrorist threats. The move was sparked by the kidnapping of 14 Indonesian and four Malaysian seamen by thugs with connections to the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, as well as by its beheading of a Canadian citizen.

The trilateral initiative is also an important step towards restricting international crime, and ridding the waters in the region of pirates, some of whom are thought to have ties with Abu Sayyaf.

Asean members Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore are all considered primary targets because of extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Jemaah Islamiyah that have been operating within the region for years.

According to a recent report published by Mr Patrick Skinner of the New York-based security consulting firm The Soufan Group, "the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has yet to establish a South-east Asian wiliyah (state), but it is likely that it will do so this year, as its grip on Syria and Iraq weakens".

What are the implications of the joint patrol move by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and what does it signal for Asean inter-member cooperation?

Malaysia has long emphasised the need for international cooperation if global terrorism is to be reined in. Significantly, in September last year, Kuala Lumpur became the second Asean country after Singapore to join the US-led anti-ISIS global coalition and has plans to set up a regional centre to counter ISIS propaganda.
However, while cooperating within the anti-terror alliance is mostly unproblematic, conducting counter-terrorist naval patrols with other Asean members is trickier.

First, Malaysia is locked in bilateral territorial disputes with Indonesia and the Philippines, making patrols in adjacent areas problematic. The Philippines lays claim to part of Malaysian Borneo, and after a southern Philippines-based incursion in 2013, Malaysia could now be tempted to utilise the new joint patrols to preclude other such incursions.

Indonesia, on the other hand, has used the territorial conflict over the Ambalat region as a means to ramp up its military modernisation.

Second, South-east Asian states have been building up their military power in reaction to assertiveness by China. With Asean members intensifying their military cooperation and improving their respective military capabilities, China may feel suspicious of their intentions regarding its maritime claims.

China is clearly nervous about recent developments in that regard, as shown by a recent proposal for a new joint statement with Asean calling for restraint of all parties with maritime claims.

Third, it is unclear to what extent the joint patrol plans will come into conflict with Asean's neutrality and its principle of non-intervention.

The three countries are also wary of a possible loss of sovereignty resulting from these patrols, as expressed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. She stated that any cooperation "must be agreed on without any of them sacrificing their sovereignty", adding that "negotiations will go on until we find a common understanding and are able to conduct joint operations".

Furthermore, Mr Agus R. Barnas, a spokesman for Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry for Politics, Law and Security, stressed that each country "will patrol in their own territories in the border areas of the three nations, but the patrol will be integrated".

The bottom line: As long as Asean states set aside petty divisions and competing territorial claims, the joint maritime patrols could be a quantum leap in the collective fight against ISIS, and aid in making up for Asean's shortfalls in the realm of maritime security and safety.

Asean has shown weakness in the Abu Sayyaf abductions, because the organisation has no coordinated regional security policies, forcing individual members to deal with particular threats entirely by themselves. In the long run, improved coordination among all Asean members in the fight against extremism could raise Asean's credibility and effectiveness as a leader in counter-terrorism.

The likelihood of Malaysia turning into a major ISIS stronghold in the near future, meanwhile, remains the subject of much debate, but there is no doubt the Malaysian government is taking the threat very seriously.

Law enforcement authorities have been proactive in efforts to prevent attacks. In March this year, 15 people believed to have been planning large-scale attacks in the country on orders of a Malaysian ISIS recruiter were apprehended, bringing the number of suspected militants arrested to 157 since 2013.

Counter-terrorism experts say that law enforcement officers have also kept a close eye on flight manifests, and stepped up border controls to prevent the return of battle-hardened fighters to Malaysia, and new recruits from reaching Iraq and Syria.

Experience in counter-terrorism operations has led to the establishment of various anti-terrorist units within the armed forces and the police, which may explain why Malaysia has so far been spared extremist assaults of the sort Indonesia has suffered.

Some of these policies have come under fire from human rights activists for being passed too quickly and for being too heavy-handed. However, Malaysia appears to be on its way to establishing itself as a major force in the fight against terrorism.

The joint maritime patrols are a welcome step forward that shows that Asean nations are able to put behind their political differences and fight against a common enemy.

Kuala Lumpur's approach to the issue - reaching out to other affected states, and joining the US-led alliance - indicates an increasingly organised resistance to ISIS.

[The writer is an independent researcher on Asian military and international affairs based in Taiwan.]

DVIDS: Multinational partners tested during convoy training, improve skills for peacekeeping missions at Khaan Quest 2016

From DVIDS (May 25): : Multinational partners tested during convoy training, improve skills for peacekeeping missions at Khaan Quest 2016

Multinational partners tested during convoy training, improve skills for peacekeeping missions at Khaan Quest 2016

160524-N-WI365-194 ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (May 24, 2016) - Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Peacekeeping Operations Interim pose for a photo with Mongolian Armed Forces and civilian instructors after completion of a convoy escort simulation. The convoy escort is one of 11 simulations designed to enhance tactical and combat capabilities of participating uniformed services during Khaan Quest 2016. Khaan Quest 2016 is an annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise hosted by the Mongolian Armed Forces, co-sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command, and supported by U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Khaan Quest, in its 14th iteration, is the capstone exercise for this year’s Global Peace Operations Initiative program. The exercise focuses on training activities to enhance international interoperability, develop peacekeeping capabilities, build to mil-to-mil relationships, and enhance military readiness. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Markus Castaneda/RELEASED)

More than 40 members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Peacekeeping Operations Interim participated in a convoy escort simulation May 24, as part of the annual, multinational peacekeeping exercise, Khaan Quest 2016 in Mongolia.

The course was designed to reshape the protocol of how armed forces deal with locals while on deployment or participating in U.N. missions. It also introduces new tactics, tailored to achieve the Global Peace Operations Initiative program’s goal through peacekeeping.

“It is a challenge in a peacekeeping mission when you have platoons that have done missions that are very different,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Murphy, a convoy escort instructor from the Alaska National Guard. “It’s quite the balancing act, between being tactical and peacekeeping. They almost have to unlearn everything that they have learned in the past.”

Six different scenarios were set in place in front of the Philippine platoon: meeting Non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives requesting assistance, an ambush, negotiating with Mongolian locals to pass through a checkpoint, delivering the NGO’s package, navigating through civil unrest, and what protocols to take when encountering an improvised explosive device. Each scenario tested the soldiers’ ability to apply the skills they learned in the classroom to execution in a field simulation.
“I think the training went okay, however there are some points to learn,” said Maj. Pablo Masa-ad, the platoon leader for the Armed Forces of the Philippines Peacekeeping Operations Interim. “We thought we knew everything but when you actually simulate and execute new tactics, unexpected events happen. We learned how to adapt to the situation and complete the mission.”

Convoy escort is one of 11 simulations designed to enhance tactical and combat capabilities of participating uniformed services during Khaan Quest 2016.

“The goal for each course is to increase interoperability between our partners and allies,” said Capt. B. Munkhbayar, of the Mongolian Armed Forces and senior instructor of the convoy escort course. “Our training will benefit us when we deploy and when we have to work together during U.N. missions.”

Khaan Quest 2016 is an annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise hosted by the Mongolian Armed Forces, co-sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command, and supported by U.S. Army Pacific and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Khaan Quest, in its 14th iteration, is the capstone exercise for this year’s Global Peace Operations Initiative program. The exercise focuses on training activities to enhance international interoperability, develop peacekeeping capabilities, build to mil-to-mil relationships, and enhance military readiness.

Filipino Armed Forces participates in multinational peacekeeping exercise

From Update.Ph (May 25): Filipino Armed Forces participates in multinational peacekeeping exercise  

US PACOM photo

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has participated in the Khaan Quest 2016, an annual, multinational peacekeeping operations exercise hosted by the Mongolian Armed Forces, co-sponsored by United States (US) Pacific Command (PACOM), and supported by US Army Pacific and US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. The exercise commenced May 22.

Among the drills the AFP participated is a convoy escort simulation. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Peacekeeping Operations Interim planned their strategy prior to a convoy escort simulation.

“The convoy escort is one of 11 simulations designed to enhance tactical and combat capabilities of participating uniformed services during Khaan Quest 2016,” US PACOM said.

Khaan Quest 2016 is the capstone exercise for this year’s United Nations Global Peace Operations Initiative program. The exercise focuses on training activities to enhance international interoperability, develop peacekeeping capabilities, build to mil-to-mil relationships, and enhance military readiness.

“This year’s training will take us to the next level,” said US PACOM commander Admiral Harry Harris Jr. during the opening of the execise. “The Five Hills Training Facility [in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia] will be home to militaries from around the world – about 2,000 soldiers from more than 40 countries. This facility will provide them with a specialized setting to learn and train together and will work to enhance interoperability and develop common tactics. All of this will ultimately enhance our collective effectiveness to support global peacekeeping operations.”

Duterte: No problem with EDCA-sanctioned US use of PH bases

From Update.Ph (May 25): Duterte: No problem with EDCA-sanctioned US use of PH bases

Soon-to-be seated president Rodrigo Duterte said he does not have a problem with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), specifically on use of Philippine military bases by the United States military. “I have no problem with EDCA-sanctioned use of Philippine military bases by US troops because we don’t have good external defense capabilities,” he said in a press conference as quoted in a report.

Duterte earlier said “EDCA must follow the guidelines prescribed by our Armed Forces. They could not use any other place without the knowledge or until there is advice from the Armed Forces.”

EDCA is a ten-year accord signed April 28, 2014 by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg in Manila.
The Agreement is a 10-year deal that will allow increased US military rotation and storing of US military equipment in agreed locations in the Philippines. The US military can build facilities in the mentioned locations where disaster relief and humanitarian assistance equipment, and defense materiel can be stored and deployed when need arises.

Last March 18, during the Sixth Annual U.S.-Philippines Strategic Dialogue in US, the initial agreed locations were announced which include Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu.

Philippines will have ownership of buildings and infrastructures to be constructed by US military in Agreed Locations.

DWDD: NO ROOM FOR COUP | Esperon will not allow coup de’tat on Duterte’s administration

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 25): NO ROOM FOR COUP | Esperon will not allow coup de’tat on Duterte’s administration

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, DWDD — Incoming National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said that there’s no room for coup de’tat on Duterte administration.

In an interview, Esperon was asked about Trillanes’ plan of coup de’tat in Duterte’s term,  he mentioned, “tignan naten kung meron nga baka naman he is just talking through air”. He also added Trillanes’ plan of coup de’tat is not the solution to the problem.

When asked about the role he played in quelling coup de’tat during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Esperon said that he learned his lesson.

Furthermore, Esperon said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has learned a lot from the past experiences.

DWDD: DETERMINED EFFORTS | Security cluster gives updates on situation in Mindanao

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (May 26): DETERMINED EFFORTS | Security cluster gives updates on situation in Mindanao

Malacañang on Wednesday assured that the government is exerting “determined efforts” for the rescue of kidnap-for-ransom hostages.

“Government continues to exert determined efforts to bring about the safe release of the kidnap-for-ransom hostages through a combination of law enforcement and military operations,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

President Aquino met with the security cluster at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“The President and members of the Security Cluster were given updates by the AFP and the PNP on the security situation in Mindanao,” Coloma said.

Last month, the Chief Executive vowed that the government will not stop until the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is ended.

“The full resources of the State are being brought down on the ASG. Our primary objective is to rescue the hostages and ensure the safety of our civilian population. We will leave no stone unturned and are studying every instrument, both military and legal, to ensure success in our areas of operations and wherever else required,” he said in a statement released following the beheading of Canadian mining executive John Ridsdel after the government failed to pay the Php 300 million ransom demanded by the bandits

President Aquino said the government wants “to seriously erode any ability of the ASG to continue to function” by conducting continuing operations in Basilan against Hapilon and his sub-leader, Furuji Indama

MILF: Editorial -- A non-starter statement

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (May 24): Editorial -- A non-starter statement

Without doubt, the statement of Davao Del Norte representative-elect and presumptive speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez, if he indeed made those sweeping statements, that the "there’s no more need for a BBL" and that the "Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) had been rendered moot by the new government and its plan to federalize the political system" is a non-starter. It does not build confidence that the Duterte administration understands the Bangsamoro Problem.

So we asked ourselves who are shocked by such sweeping statements: Did Congressman Alvarez ever think deeply of the consequence of his statement? Did he confer with presumptive president-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte before making those statements?

These statements are baffling because they are completely contrary to the statements of then candidate Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to the MILF’s administrative base in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on February 27 and also during the third and last presidential debate in Pangasinan on April 24. On both occasions, Duterte assured the implementation of the CAB and the passage of the BBL. He even said that he will consider the BBL as a template for federalizing the whole country.

There are three ways to consider the statements of Congressman Alvarez. One, he is already telegraphing the policy of the next administration under Duterte which is the setting aside all the agreements, including the CAB and the BBL as moot and academic. This is going to be a cause of grave concern. Two, he is completely unaware of the nuances and realities of the GPH-MILF peace process wherein both parties have their respective obligations to comply with. This mindset will be problematic especially once Alvarez sits as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Three, he is expressing his own thinking and did not mean the setting aside of peace agreements but only expressed his belief that federalism is symmetrical in all its forms and applications. It is good to note that Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have governors, although symbolic, while the rest of the 11 states have state sultans. We choose to treat Congressman Alvarez's statements under the third reading. Thus, we hope to see him come with a more definitive clarification of his statements.

Federalising the Philippines, contrary to Alvarez’s belief, will not solve the Bangsamoro Question. There are peculiarities that are unique to the Bangsamoro but are not present in the other possible federal states, which are predominantly Christians, such as the issues of Shariah, madrasah systems, need for Bangsamoro police (which is still part of the Philippine National Police), etc. Even in terms of narrative, the Moros have their distinct history. In particular, how would he address the issue of MILF’s weapons and combatants and the need to normalize the situation? The CAB has all the answers to these concerns. All that is needed is for the Duterte administration is to implement the signed agreements, including the passage of the BBL.

As incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congressman Alvarez's voice will be an important voice in the next administration. We hope to engage him more constructively for peace in Mindanao. We hope that he will come up with a more definitive articulation of his ideas on the GPH-MILF peace process.

MILF: ‘This multipurpose hall quick impact project is a reflection of our struggle’: BTC Commissioner Ulama

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 22): ‘This multipurpose hall quick impact project is a reflection of our struggle’: BTC Commissioner Ulama

In a turned-over ceremony of a BTC-JICA Quick Impact (QIP) project held on Thursday, May 19, at Barangay Lupoken, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat Province about 155 kilometers from the City of General Santos, Hon. Timuay Melanio Ulama of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) said: “Your community is far but you are all near to our hearts.”

“This building symbolizes hope and our eagerness for peace and development and this multipurpose hall quick impact project is a reflection of our struggle,” he said before the community residents.

Ulama said that the project shows that the leadership of Bangsamoro and the government are sincere in their signed agreement, the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
He asked the community to utilize the project properly.

“Dear brothers and sisters, use these blessings that you have now. This is one of the outputs of our struggle and hard work of our Bangsamoro leaders in order to achieve peace and developments in our homeland,” he said.

About the BBL, he said that some are saying BBL is dead in Congress but we from BTC are responding; “Until we are here Bangsamoro, until we’re breathing, the BBL is continuously alive,” Ulama lamented.

He added that BBL in Congress was only parked just like a vehicle and rested in motion in the lower and upper house and is not dead.

Ulama said that the non-passage of BBL is really a blessing because there is a new president and we see little light in Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Engineer Mohajirin Ali said that the quick impact project is a special project agreed between former JICA President Dr Akihiko Tanaka and MILF Chairman Al Hadj Murad Ebrahim to feel the dividend of peace.

“We wish that this project will bring us unity here, we must take care of it because the people of Japan who are our donors will monitor this project whether it is utilize rightly or wrongly,” said Ali.

However, Ali said that it doesn’t mean that if a Moro community receives development, it will solve problem. “No it is not. The nature of our problem is not just development, it is political, it is rooted on historical injustices as described by presumptive president Duterte in his campaign statements before the May 2009 elections.

“What are those historical injustices?” Ali asked the residents. “We have governed ourselves even before the coming of the aggressors but it is very unfortunate that they assimilated us into the Philippine republic”, he said.

Ali believed that the peace process between the government and the MILF and the signing of peace agreements is what he sees ‘the solution to the Bangsamoro question’.

He also told the residents of Palimbang to be patient. “The MILF will always think of what is good for your community as evidenced by this project even though you’re not part of the core territory,” Ali said further citing the inclusivity of the would-be Bangsamoro government.

The JICA Project Coordinator Mr. Shu Nishimaru in his statement said that he is very happy to see the community of Palimbang. He also recalled the time when this project was launched in 2014.

“The BTC and JICA team came to this place and asked community residents to choose one of the three types of infrastructure projects such as Multipurpose hall building, School building and Warehouse with Solar dryer. “And you decided and chose Multi-purpose hall. All of you here decided that this kind of project be built in your community as your needs,” Nishimaru said.

“Today we completed the projects and handed-over to you. This is the end of construction but it is the beginning of utilizing this building as you can use this for Madrasah and or other occasions,” he added.

He stressed that the budget used for building the project was from the people of Japan which he believes they (Japanese people) are also happy as what he felt in the turned-over ceremony.

Meantime, Ms. Yuko Tanaka, JICA Senior Representative said that JICA’s assistance in Mindanao is focused on the three pillars namely: Economic Development, Poverty alleviation and Peace and Development in Mindanao.

“This project is very important for us, to deliver the tangible and visible peace dividend to the community,” Tanaka pointed out.

The municipal Mayor of Palimbang Abubakar Pendatun Maulana was represented by PNP-Palimbang Chief of Police who also affirmed his support.

The head of the MILF Municipal Political Committee of Palimbang reminded the community residents to strengthen their faith in Allah. He explained that development will come if Muslims have strong faith and they do their obligations to Almighty faithfully.

The BTC Socio-Economic Office team was led by Engr. Ali accompanied by his staff Prof. Alih Sakaluran Aiyub and Mr. Tu Alid Alfonso, Project Coordinators for Building Foundation of Governance, and Nomaire Mustapha, Project Coordinator on Public Service Delivery. Ms. Maan Bakisan, Ms. Cristina Santiago, Mr. Hernan Pineda of JICA Philippine Office, Mr. Hiroaki Nakatsubo of the International Development Journal and Engineer Mohammad Saud Alon of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) were also in attendance.

The International Monitoring Team-Mindanao (IMT) Mission 11 was also part of the program.

Meanwhile, a day before the turn-over ceremony in Palimbang, similar activity was also held in Barangay Burias, Glan, Sarangani Province where JICA-Cotabato Project Officer Head and Chief Leader Mr. Naoyuki Ochia graced the occasion.

The quick impact project is a sub-component of Public Service Delivery under the Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B). QIP was implemented in 20 sites in Mindanao with support from Japanese government.

JICA is widely known of providing assistance in Mindanao even before the signing of FAB and CAB and will continue to give assistance to the Bangsamoro with or without the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

MILF: ‘We hope Quick Impact Project will usher community socio-economic dev’t”: JICA

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 26): ‘We hope Quick Impact Project will usher community socio-economic dev’t”: JICA

An official of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expressed optimism that the Quick Impact Project (QIP) will usher socio-economic development of the community during the turn-over of a multi-purpose hall in a remote village of Sarangani Province last Wednesday (May 18).

”We hope that through this facility, opportunities will come your way to contribute to the development of this community,” said Naoyuki Ochiai, Head and Chief Leader of JICA Cotabato Project Office, in his message addressed to the People’s Organization (PO), constituents and local officials of Barangay Burias, Glan, Sarangani Province.

Burias is one of the 20 conflict affected communities in Mindanao which received the QIP, a development initiative implemented by JICA and Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in cooperation with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).

Ochiai urged the QIP beneficiaries to support the Bangsamoro peace process and assured them that JICA and the Japanese Government remain steadfast in its commitment to support the peaceful resolve to the Bangsamoro problem.

Engr. Mohajirin T. Ali, Project Director of Comprehensive Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro (CCDP-B) of the BTC also urged the beneficiaries to give extra care to the project to assure its sustainability.

He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has its own development arm, the BDA, which manifests the Front’s consideration to the situation of the Bangsamoro people.

“With the project that will benefit the community,” Ali explained that the people will now feel the dividends of peace even the Bangsamoro government is not yet established.

Ali related that it was MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and JICA President Akihiro Tanaka who agreed on the quick impact projects in their meeting following the signing of the GPH - MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) last March 27, 2014 in Malacanang Palace.

Commissioner Ibrahim Ali of the BTC said the fruit of the peace agreement is not only for the communities inside the Bangsamoro territory but also for those from outside.

The Commissioner reiterated to the PO to take care of the project citing that management is their responsibility.

Yuko Tanaka, Senior Representative of JICA, said in order to ensure that the facility is well-maintained, the PO has vital role to play. She added the project also brought capacity-building training to the organization.

BDA Regional Manager for Southern Mindanao Alimuddin Hadjinor thanked JICA for the facility and also asked the PO to do their best to sustain the project where the people can hold affairs and trainings.

Osmeña Salisipan, Provincial Vice-Chair of MILF Political Committee in Sarangani, also thanked JICA, BTC and BDA and assured the stakeholders of the local MILF’s commitment of support to development interventions in Southern Mindanao.

Burias Barangay Chairman Victor Siao Sr. was also thankful for the project and hoped the multi-purpose hall will strengthen unity of its constituents. Burias is comprised of Moro, Christians and Indigenous People.

There are 18 Multi-Purpose Halls, one school building and warehouse with solar drier all over Mindanao and island provinces under the QIP.

MILF:BLMI, BDA conduct Values Transformation Training

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 26): BLMI, BDA conduct Values Transformation Training

The Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI) in partnership with Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) conducted a three-day Seminar-Workshop on “Values Transformation Training (VTT) Roll-out on Reproductive Health in Islamic Perspective” on May 20-22, 2016 at BLMI Training Center, Crossing Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

The program is part of capacity strengthening on Reproductive Health (RH) Services Delivery and Advocacy in the Bangsmoro. 

The thirty (30) participants comprised Islamic Scholars, Medical Practitioners and Arabic students from Lanao region, North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Cotabato City.

Sheikh Abdulsalam Alabat, BLMI Officer and Program Coordinator presented the program overview. He said that among the program’s core objectives is to harmonize the integration of Reproductive Health issues in both secular and Islamic perspective which is deemed necessary in the course of building an ideal and prosperous Bangsamoro Family and Society.

Mr. Emran G. Mohammad lectured on “The Concept of society” by emphasizing its essential concepts and elements based on Islamic principles and practices that may feasibly lead to an emergent of an Ideal and prosperous Bangsamoro society if is internalized and implemented consistently.

Topics on pre-marriage counseling were discussed by Ustadza Jihan L. Batiting in the afternoon. She accentuated its advantages in the course of building-up an ideal family. The participants also engaged in pre-marriage counseling workshop simulation.

On day-two session, Mohammad touched on the ‘Concept of Family” He underlined its crucial concepts and requisites in attaining an ideal family that anchors on Islamic faith. Another topic on Pregnancy and Delivery was also lectured by Ms. Oswalda J. Usman, a Registered Nurse and Arabic literate. She emphasized the significant concept of pregnancy and delivery in medical perspective in conjunction with Islamic point of view, while the concept of Family planning in Islamic perspective was lectured by Sheikh Alabat

“Child care and protection” as well as “Gender and Health education for youth” were presented by Ustadza Batiting where she emphasized vividly its principles and practices as inscribed in the Noble Qur’an and Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

The Resource persons thanked the participants for their steadfast and responsiveness in the pursuit of knowledge and urged the participants to internalize and share the acquired knowledge to their fellowmen.

The participants expressed their profound gratitude to BLMI, BDA and to resource persons for the viable initiatives and the knowledge imparted to them, and also to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for its unwavering assistance extended to the Bangsamoro people.

Both BLMI and BDA through the assistance of (UNFPA) and other donors agencies have been unceasingly undertaking various programs and activities that basically aim to enhance and aspire to produce a Bangsamoro ideal family and prosperous Bangsamoro society in response to current societal phenomenon that have been lingering in the Bangsamoro communities.

Mr. Tirso Tahir, BLMI Research Officer together with other BLMI staff facilitated the program.

MILF: “Introducing and disseminating the TJRC Report are preparatory steps towards constituency building”: INGO’s, Local CSO’s say

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 26): “Introducing and disseminating the TJRC Report are preparatory steps towards constituency building”: INGO’s, Local CSO’s say

In a presentation by Atty. Raissa Jajurie of the report by the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) on May 21, 2016 at Em Manaor Hotel, Cotabato City, the participants were one in saying that introducing and disseminating the TJRC report are preparatory steps towards constituency building in Mindanao as it also categorically mentioned the historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro people.

“Although this report was known to us before but definitely we all experienced discrimination, prejudices and biases from the hands of the Philippine government but what really matters is that the TJRC is an international and independent body recognized by the GPH and MILF”, said a participant.

This body (TJRC) could be of big help to the Bangsamoro people as it is very credible and impartial and recognized by the international community.

“We really thank the Swiss government for introducing to us the dealing with past framework against impunity as new methods in tracking the past as basis in addressing the Bangsamoro issue such as historical injustices, legitimate grievances, human rights violations and marginalization through land dispossession”, said Jajurie.

Based on the analysis of the report, legitimate grievances, historical injustices, human rights violations and marginalization through land dispossession are consequences of the three mutually reinforcing phenomena such as the systemic violence by the state expressed in terms of political, socio-economic and cultural exclusion and direct violence against the Moro people.

A pervasive culture of impunity that undermines the practice of the rule of law and the deep neglect by the state combined with the lack of vision in common good and it concluded imposition of a monolithic Filipino identity and the Philippine state by force on multiple ethnics groups in Mindanao and Sulu that saw themselves as already pre-existing nations and nations states.

In the TJRC recommendations, the implementation of CAB is a unique and extra ordinary opportunity not only in the Bangsamoro but also for the whole Filipino nation. The TJRC perceives a Bangsamoro opportunity rather than a Bangsamoro problem.

On the question about MILF’s dealings with the presumptive-President Rody Duterte, the participants are really hopeful that the TJRC’s report would serve as additional guide to the next administration in addressing historical injustices per Duterte’s promises during the campaign period.

The CSO appealed to the people and supporters of presidential candidates to unite and support Duterte’s administration instead of making unnecessary reactions categorize as premature as this point in time, “be calm, patient, wait and see the wisdom of new elect president and disregard any bad memories of the past election and no winners of being disunite instead all are losers’, a participant said.

The CSOs and INGOs express their willingness to helps disseminate the TJRC report nationally and in grassroots level in order to get just and positive responses from the people who still have an optimism for peace in the country.

CPP/NDF: Aquino preempting Duterte for inviting US military intervention over Scarborough — CPP

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Website (May 21): Aquino preempting Duterte for inviting US military intervention over Scarborough — CPP  

Information Bureau | Communist Party of the Philippines
Press Release May 21, 2016

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today denounced the Aquino regime for war mongering and inviting US military intervention in disputes between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal.

Speaking before foreign reporters yesterday, Aquino sought US military action as a response to a possible scenario of China building a military outpost at the area claiming such will maintain US ascendancy and confidence of “one of its allies”.

“Aquino’s combative statements made just a few weeks before leaving office is a foolhardy attempt to preempt the incoming Duterte government from approaching the South China Sea disputes with more diplomatic circumspect,” said the CPP.

“Aquino’s statements were obviously made under the advice of the US which has started to become concerned over the possibility of more amicable negotiations between the incoming Duterte regime and the Chinese government concerning disputes over the Scarborough Shoal and other parts of the South China Sea,” added the CPP.

The Scarborough Shoal is an area of rocks and corals which has served as a rich
fishing area less than 200 kilometers west of Subic Bay. It is currently effectively controlled by China since 2012 after a standoff with the Philippines.

Backchannelling talks to arrange for the withdrawal of Chinese sea vessels from the reefs were torpedoed by the Aquino regime upon the goading of the US. China’s amenability to withdraw the last three of its Chinese Marine Surveillance (CMS) ships from 90 vessels at the start of the standoff was undermined when Aquino brought the matter before the US-influenced ASEAN ending then quiet but fruitful backchanneling.

“Aquino’s six years of US-instigated jingoism in combination with US military muscle-flexing has only escalated tension and heightened militarization in the South China Sea,” said the CPP.

“The CPP advises the incoming Duterte government to assert Philippine sovereignty over the country’s territorial seas principally by calling for the demilitarization of the area, by generating international pressure to urge both the US and China to withdraw their militaries from the area,” said the CPP.

“To assert Philippine sovereignty, the Duterte government can urge China to reduce its military presence in the South China Sea by working for the reciprocal withdrawal or planned reduction of US troops, US naval ships, jetfighters, surveillance planes and drones, long-range artillery and other war materiél from Philippine soil and seas,” said the CPP.

“US military presence in the Philippines and in the South China Sea has aggravated China and instigated it to become more aggressive in defending its national sovereignty to the point of escalating and militarizing disputes with the Philippines,” said the CPP.

“Withdrawal of US and China military forces in the South China Sea will pave the way for developing economic relations with China in parallel with that of the US and other countries,” added the CPP.

PAF to acquire personnel safety equipment for FA-50PH pilots

From the Philippine News Agency (May 26): PAF to acquire personnel safety equipment for FA-50PH pilots

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating PHP12.8 million for the acquisition of personnel safety equipment (PSE) for the pilots of the newly acquired South Korean-made FA-50PH "Fighting Eagle" light-interim jet aircraft.

Submission and opening of bids is on June 3, 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

PSE refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection.

The PAF's first two FA-50PH jet aircraft arrived in the Philippines in Nov. 28, 2015. The rest remaining 10 aircraft, out of a 12-plane order from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) worth PHP18.9 billion, will be delivered between 2016 to 2017.

The FA-50PHs has a top speed of Mach 1.5 or one and a half times the speed of sound and is capable of being fitted air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9 "Sidewinder" air-to-air and heat-seeking missiles aside from light automatic cannons.

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

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

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

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. Its altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

Abu Sayyaf member tasked to kidnap Kris or Manny arrested in Taguig

From Coconuts Manila (May 25): Abu Sayyaf member tasked to kidnap Kris or Manny arrested in Taguig

So, it seems that the Abu Sayyaf plot to kidnap Kris Aquino or Manny Pacquiao was real.

READ: PNoy: Abu Sayyaf planned to kidnap Pacman or Kris

An Abu Sayyaf member identified as Sakur Mustakin, 44 — with aliases "Junior Mustakim" and "Junior Asarani Sawadjaan" — was nabbed along Bayani Road in Taguig on May 10, though the Philippine National Police's  Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) only made the announcement on Tue, May 24.

"The CIDG said that Mustakin, who has a PHP900,000 bounty on his head, and other Abu Sayyaf bandits, were supposedly deployed to Metro Manila early this year to sow terror and chaos during the election period by bombing malls.

"They were also alleged tasked to to kidnap Aquino and Pacquiao supposedly to raise funds for the terrorist group," report Cecille Suerte Felipe and Non Alquitran in The Philippine Star.

Mustakin is said to have participated in the kidnappings on Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia in 2000.

He was also tagged in the kidnapping of six members of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Patikul, Sulu in 2002. He is believed to be reporting directly to Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, alias Putol.

According to Senior Superintendent Ronald Lee, chief of the CIDG-National Capital Region, Mustakin was nabbed "by virtue of arrest warrants for kidnapping issued by the Taguig Regional Trial Court Branch 266 and Isabela, Basilan RTC Branch 1."

The report noted: "Amid reports of the Abu Sayyaf presence in Metro Manila, the CIDG activated Operation Plan Black Guardian to conduct surveillance in Maharlika Village, Taguig."

Guv calls for full alert vs. rebel attacks

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 24): Guv calls for full alert vs. rebel attacks

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday called on the Army and police not to be “over confident” and to stay on alert at all times to prevent a repeat of recent New People' Army attacks that have, so far caused the death of three soldiers and two farmers in Negros Occidental.

The governor said the NPA have been staging attacks, not only in Negros but all over the Philippines, citing Samar and Davao. They appear to have an agenda for these activities, which the military and police intelligence community will have to figure out, he said.

We condemn these killings, and call on the rebels to put an end to this, and opt for dialog to resolve their concerns, Marañon said.

“We have called on them to come down so their lives can improve, their children can go to school, and they can be given livelihoods,” he pointed out.

A week after the ambush-slay of three Army soldiers in Toboso, suspected New People's Army rebels struck again Sunday, by attacking the bunk houses of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Sitio Buntod Aliwanay, Brgy. General Luna in Sagay.

Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, Sagay City police chief, identified those agrarian reform beneficiaries killed in the rebel attack Sunday in Sagay City as Dionesio Ebañez, 44, and Jose Pios,51, members of the Aliwanay Farm Workers Association Beneficiaries under the Tupaz Foundation.

Senior Supt. William Señoron, Negros Occidental police director, said they have so far identified three suspects in the attack on the bunk houses of the agrarian reform beneficiaries, and are in the process of identifying the rest so that charges can be filed against them.

Señoron said he agrees with the governor on the need for the police not to be over confident and to be on alert against rebels attacks.

The police and military will review their operational strategy for better coordination, he said.

Marañon said there appeared to be a conflict among CARP beneficiaries in Sitio Buntod Aliwanay, Brgy. General Luna in Sagay.

But he said it is hard to prove that a private army was the target of the rebel attack in the area.

Joma: I’ll be home in July

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 25): Joma: I’ll be home in July

Barring a major setback, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison will be back home in July, in time for the release of political prisoners in the general amnesty promised by presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

“I will probably go to Manila in July to celebrate the release of the political prisoners and the approval by the principals of the formal agreement or declaration earlier forged by the negotiating panels to resume the peace negotiations,” Sison said in an online interview from his base in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on Tuesday.

He said representatives of the incoming Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may consult with each other and prepare drafts that may be finalized at the resumption of formal talks in July.

Last week, NDFP representative Fidel Agcaoili met with Duterte and discussed initial steps for reopening the peace talks.

The NDFP, the political arm of the CPP, and the national government have been engaged in on-and-off negotiations the past 27 years but peace has remained elusive.

On Monday, Duterte reiterated to reporters that he would grant amnesty and pardons to political detainees as part of confidence-building measures to bring the communist rebels back to the negotiating table and end over four decades of armed conflict.

“This is a highly significant and noble act of goodwill. It promotes the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

He said the NDFP peace panel members were “inspired” by the promised release  of all political prisoners.

“They are ready to meet in Oslo as early as June with the negotiators of President-elect Duterte,” Sison said. The Norwegian government is brokering the peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP.

Zamboanga City firm on pursuing cases over 2013 siege

From the Philippine Star (May 24): Zamboanga City firm on pursuing cases over 2013 siege                           

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines - The city government is firm in pursuing cases against fugitive Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari and more than 200 other followers believed involved in the bloody siege here more than two years ago.

The city government announced its stand in response to statements by incoming president and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte during the campaign period that he was going to grant Misuari immunity from suit.

“At this point in time, it’s too premature to react on the matter. We will wait until the (incoming) president officially assumes office and make such [a] declaration,” caretaker Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde said in statement provided by the public information office (PIO) here.

However, Iturralde said the city government will stand by it position “for justice to take its course.”

More than 30 people, including police officers, soldiers and civilians were killed in the September 2013 siege, where 200 rebels also died.

The attack displaced more than 120,000 people and close to 4,000 families have yet to return to their homes after destruction in four barangays there.

“We will fight until justice is served to the people of Zamboanga,” Iturralde said.

The city government filed rebellion and violation of humanitarian law against Misuari, who remains at large, and about 200 others who have been captured and are now detained in Taguig, Manila.

The city government turned down plea bargaining to a lesser crime.

NDF submits Cabinet nominees to Duterte

From InterAksyon (May 25): NDF submits Cabinet nominees to Duterte

NDF peace negotiator and spokesman Fidel Agcaoili, in file photo by Raymund Villanueva of Kodao Productions.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines submitted late Wednesday its nominees to three of the four Cabinet positions that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte had earlier offered to the Left.

“We did not interpose any objections to the appointment (to the Department of Labor and Employment) of Secretary (Silvestre III) Bello since he is a proven patriot and progressive,” said Fidel Agcaoili, member and spokesman of the NDF peace panel, who met with Duterte in Davao.

This leaves the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Social Welfare and Development, and Agrarian Reform to the left.  However, Agcaoili declined to identify the nominees.

Bello is also said to be named the head of the government panel to the planned resumption of negotiations with the NDF, which represents the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines.

During the meeting with Duterte, Agcaoili told, “we discussed the need to prepare for the resumption of the peace negotiations towards the attainment of a just and lasting peace” and “to resume the talks as soon as possible after his proclamation as rresident.”

At the same time, asked if they were concerned about Duterte’s human rights record, including allegations of extrajudicial killings, Agcaoili replied: “Of course, the issue of respect for human rights will continue to be of major concern for the NDFP.”

He added that Duterte himself “is concerned about this issue as manifested in his position on the killings and forced evacuation oflumad, the Kidapawan incident and others.”

“He has himself expressed concern over the violation of the human rights of children and young adults brought about by the intake of synthetic drugs peddled by pushers and criminal syndicates,” he said even as he stressed that “the NDFP will continue to uphold the right to due process for suspected offenders.”

Vietnam PM says country not pursuing military buildup in South China Sea

From InterAksyon (May 25): Vietnam PM says country not pursuing military buildup in South China Sea

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is seen during an interview at the Government Office in Hanoi, Vietnam May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Wednesday his country was not pursuing a military buildup over the South China Sea and would seek only peaceful means to solve disputes, with no use of force.

Speaking in an interview with several foreign journalists, Phuc said the situation in the South China Sea had recently grown in complexity and Vietnam needed regional friends and strategic partners to ensure peace and no disruption of maritime trade.

Phuc, who took office last month, said a key priority for Vietnam was managing its spiraling public debt and keeping the ratio below 65 percent of gross domestic product, and maintaining annual growth of 6.5-7 percent.

SOUTH CHINA SEA | Beijing lines up diplomatic allies vs PH's arbitration case

From InterAksyon (May 25): SOUTH CHINA SEA | Beijing lines up diplomatic allies vs PH's arbitration case

The disputed rocks and reefs of the South China Sea are more than an ocean away from the landlocked African nation of Niger.

But that has not stopped the strife-ridden, largely desert country of 17 million people adding its voice to a growing diplomatic chorus that Beijing says supports its rejection of an international tribunal hearing on the waters.

Others apparently singing from the same hymn sheet include Togo, Afghanistan and Burundi.

They are among the latest foot soldiers in "a public relations war" by China aimed at questioning international maritime rules, said Ashley Townshend, a research fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

The tribunal case, brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague by the Philippines, is highly technical and hinges on such issues as how international law defines "islands."

Niger joined the ranks of "over 40 countries that have officially endorsed China's position" that the issues should be settled through direct negotiations, not international courts, said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

That, she added, was just the start: "There will be more and more countries and organizations supporting China."

Similar announcements have become an almost daily ritual at China's foreign ministry media briefings, as it steels itself for what is widely expected to be an unfavorable ruling by the tribunal that could come within weeks.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the whole of the South China Sea, on the basis of a segmented line that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s, pitting it against several neighbors.

But it is also a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Manila accuses Beijing of flouting the convention and has called for the tribunal, set up in 1899, to rule on the row.

Beijing insists that the court does not have jurisdiction, arguing that any claims to the contrary are politically motivated, and has boycotted the proceedings.

"By cobbling together a group of nations that share its views, Beijing's aim is to show that there is a genuine debate over the legality of the Philippines' legal challenge," Townshend said.

"It is trying to build a counter-narrative to push back against the mainstream international consensus on maritime law."

Not very successful

Despite requests by AFP the foreign ministry in Beijing did not provide a full list of China's backers on the issue.

But other than its main diplomatic partner Russia, few heavy hitters have come out in support, with Beijing's neighbors -- many of them unnerved by its increasingly assertive behavior -- notably absent.

Many of those disclosed so far are poor African countries, and Bonnie Glaser, a senior Asia advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, described the names as "mostly composed of smaller, inconsequential nations."

In some cases the claimed support has been short-lived. The South Pacific island nation of Fiji and EU member Slovenia both quickly denied Chinese foreign ministry statements that they were backing Beijing, with Ljubljana saying: "We do not take sides on the issue."

Zhu Feng, an international relations expert at Peking University, told AFP: "I don't really feel that China's recent public diplomacy activities have been very successful."

Beijing, he said, "needs to develop its diplomatic activities and fight for more supporting voices."

But China's options are limited.

"While China has built odd coalition partners stretching from Russia to Mauritania and Venezuela to Gambia, the Philippines counts on support from the US, Japan, Australia, Britain and others, including respected global bodies like the EU and G7," Townshend said.

The ruling will be determined by the judges, he pointed out: "Neither side's supporters have any bearing on the outcome."

Even so Beijing is still turning to countries like uranium-rich Niger, for whom the benefits of taking China's side probably outweigh the costs.

China's state-owned oil giant CNPC has poured billions of dollars into Niger's oil industry, which is almost entirely dependent on Chinese enterprises.

It is one of many relationships Beijing has cultivated for such situations, said Deborah Brautigam, of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

"The Chinese provide official development assistance mainly for diplomatic reasons," she said, adding "when they need diplomatic support for something ... the foreign ministry requests it."

"Something like this has little cost to an African country."

100 people evacuate as fighting rages in Misamis Oriental

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25): 100 people evacuate as fighting rages in Misamis Oriental

About 100 people have evacuated to safer ground as fighting rages in the hinterlands of Salay, a coastal town east of Misamis Oriental since Tuesday.

The military has not issued an official statement. The local government, however, reported two army soldiers and an unidentified rebel of the New People’s Army (NPA) were killed.

Francisco Dy, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO), said that the provincial government has readied relief goods for the displaced families.

“Our relief team that includes doctors and medical workers have been dispatched to Salay to assist the evacuees,” Dy said.

He said that each family would be provided two food packs and a hygiene kit.

The fighting between the government troopers and the NPA rebels took place in the hinterland village of Bunal in Salay on Tuesday.

Until Wednesday, the running gun battle continues prompting village residents, mostly farmers, to evacuate to safer grounds in the town proper of Salay for fear of being caught in the crossfire, the local government reported.

Dy said that the PDRRMO is concerned on the health of the children and the villagers who have been reportedly affected by the “traumatic” experience.

PNP, AFP set up security contingency plan for Duterte Thanksgiving Party

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25): PNP, AFP set up security contingency plan for Duterte Thanksgiving Party

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are preparing for the thanksgiving party of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte on June 4 dubbed “One Love One Nation Thanksgiving Party #DU31” which is expected to draw over 100,000 supporters here and neighboring cities and provinces.

With 2,000 police and multipliers from the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) excluding additional police contingent from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11, security forces from Task Force Davao and the 10th Infantry Division, DCPO spokesperson Milgrace Driz said the city will be fully secured for the party.

Even if they are not yet sure if Duterte will show up at the event, Driz said strict security measures normally implemented during big events in the city will also be in place.

This means the public is prohibited from carrying backpacks inside the venue; no drinks in canisters; no deadly weapons; other drinks and water must be in clear/transparent containers.

Speaking at the AFP-PNP forum Wednesday, Driz also reminded the public on the ban on smoking, selling of liquors beyond 12 midnight and selling of liquors to minors. The party starts from 1 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m.

Following the incident in Pasay where five persons died allegedly due to drug overdose, Driz said police and park security will also closely monitor the activities of the people inside the venue.

Taking into consideration that Duterte might attend, Driz said presidential security procedures are also added. A landing area for chopper is also prepared.

The organizers of the thanksgiving party thrown for Duterte by the “Dutertards” – a word coined for Duterte supporters, are targeting 100,000 participants on June 4. The number could grow because people from other provinces are also expected to travel to the city for the party.

PRO-11 spokesperson Andrea dela Cerna said they have also coordinated with police in the boundary municipalities to conduct checkpoints for cars coming to Davao City.

Dela Cerna said all police units were given directives to conduct inspections on all people going inside.

The Task Force Davao and Army units take charge for the periphery areas. 10th ID Deputy Commander BGen. Casiano Monilla said they will deploy people along river lines to prevent entry of people in non-designated entry points.

It may be recalled that during the simultaneous singing of the Philippine National Anthem on May 7, some participants took motorized boats to cross to the Crocodile Park.

So far, Monilla said they have not received any security threats that will derail the event.

Meanwhile, Rhodelio Poliquit, chief of the City Traffic and Transport Management Office, said they will only implement a “stop and Go” system along the Carlos P. Garcia Highway near the Crocodile Park to prevent parking along the national highway that impedes movement of vehicles.

According to Poliquit, they cannot impose a truck ban on national highway during the day. Motorcycles are not also allowed to enter the park area.

ASG lair captured in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25): ASG lair captured in Sulu

An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) camp, capable of housing an estimated 200 bandits, were seized by troopers from the 14th Special Ranger Company during operations in Maimbung, Sulu Tuesday morning.

Major Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the camp was captured after a 45-minute firefight with ASG bandits headed by Idang Susukan in Barangay Gulangan.

The encounter started 8:00 a.m., he added.

The operation is part of ongoing efforts to rid Sulu of the ASG menace.

The captured bandit lair in Barangay Gulangan is equipped with a water source.

Also recovered were gun parts, personal belongings and a Honda motorcycle.
Tan said no casualties were incurred by government forces in the clash.

He added that they are still determining whether any bandits were killed and wounded in the encounter.

Western Mindanao Command, 4th Civil Relations Service Group to conduct football meet

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25): Western Mindanao Command, 4th Civil Relations Service Group to conduct football meet

In line with its community engagement efforts, the Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) and the 4th Civil Relations Service Group will conduct its "Foot for Peace 2016" on Saturday.

The sporting event will be held at Edwin Andrews Air Base, Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City.

Expected to attend are football fanatics coming from the provinces being secured by the WESMINCOM which include Zamboanga Provinces, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi.

"An event like this provides opportunities for children and the youth to engage in valuable and positive relationship with adults, which is especially important when such benefits are not available at home," WESMINCOM spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said.

"As they learn to interact with peers and adults, kids learn to safely navigate and negotiate right and wrong providing constructive experience, creating peaceful and productive relations with players," he added.

BRP Gregorio Velasquez to arrive in Guam on Saturday

From the Philippine News Agency (May 25): BRP Gregorio Velasquez to arrive in Guam on Saturday

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702), the Philippine Navy (PN)'s first survey ship, is expected to arrive in Guam on Saturday before resuming her voyage home.

This was disclosed by PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the PNA Wednesday.

"BRP Gregorio Velasquez is now enroute to Guam. She is expected to arrive there May 28. After a short stop, she will then proceed to the Philippines. Her estimated time of arrival in the country is third week of June," he added.

The ship, after being transferred and commissioned to the PN, left San Diego, California last April 26 and arrived in Hawaii early this month.

Aside from helping map the country's vast maritime domains, the BRP Gregorio Velasquez (formerly the US research vessel Melville) will also help develop the PN's anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.

"Aside from its primary mission, AGR-702 would also be a valuable platform in reviewing our anti-submarine warfare capability," he said.

Lincuna did not give specifics on this but the PN is in the process of developing its ASW capability after signing a contract to acquire two AW-159 "Wildcat" anti-submarine helicopters with AgustaWestland last March.

The contract is worth Php5.360 billion, lower than the stated Php5.4 billion.

These helicopters are expected to be deployed among the PN's large ships which include the two Gregorio Del Pilar-class frigates and incoming two strategic sealift vessels, of which one is expected to be delivered this month, and the BRP Gregorio Velasquez.

Lincuna said the acquisition of the latter ship also aims to address the issues in terms of marine scientific researches/surveys and to gather marine scientific data beneficial to naval operations.

"Also, said vessel will enhance capacity and build capability to support the environmental protection efforts and exploration of the country for economic purpose," he added.

She is the country's first oceanographic research vessel.

The BRP Gregorio Velasquez is being manned by a crew of 50 Filipino officers and enlisted personnel who have undergone familiarization and orientation training on various systems of the ship since last March.

"Said vessel is one of the two ships pledged by the President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama to donate to the Philippines during his visit in APEC Leader’s Summit last November 2015," Lincuna stressed.

He said the research vessel will not only provide the PN capability for hydrographic survey but platform for inter-agency collaboration for partners in the academe and thus improve awareness of the Philippine sub-surface environment.

Per policy, auxiliary research vessels are to be named after national scientists, hence her namesake, Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, a pioneer in Philippine physiology.

Velasquez was elected as academician on 1978 and conferred as National Scientist on 1982.

He was conferred with a Distinguished Science Medal and Diploma of Honor from the Republic of the Philippines (1956), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1956-57), Men of Science, Division of Biological Sciences in1969, World's Who's Who in Sciences in 1970 and the Republic of the Philippines Cultural Heritage award in 1972.