Thursday, May 26, 2016

Duterte to meet with Nur in Jolo

From the Philippine Star (May 26): Duterte to meet with Nur in Jolo                           

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he would fly to Jolo in Sulu to talk to members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who claimed to have been snubbed when they tried to meet with him after the elections.
Duterte said he would also try to meet with fugitive MNLF founder Nur Misuari, who is facing rebellion charges in connection with the 2013 Zamboanga siege.
“They (MNLF) said they were snubbed. I am very sorry but we did not really do that. Just to prove a point that I’m really interested…I’ll fly to Jolo and talk to Nur,” he said in a press conference here.
Duterte was reacting to the claim of MNLF officials that they were ignored by Duterte’s camp when they tried to visit him and to hear his plans for Mindanao.
“To be ignored is a great insult," MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said in a previous interview.
Duterte, however, insisted that there was no deliberate effort to snub the group.
“Believe me, I don’t do that,” the next Philippine leader said.
When asked for details about his planned meeting with Misuari, Duterte said: “I’ll find time. Misuari does not want to travel. He is facing charges. He is a fugitive.”
Misuari and about 60 of his followers are facing criminal charges over the Zamboanga crisis, which claimed the lives more than 200 people and damaged about P200 million worth of properties.
The 20-day crisis started after Misuari’s followers attempted to raise their flag at the Zamboanga City Hall and held hostage several civilians.
An arrest warrant was issued against Misuari and his followers in October 2013 but until now, government forces have yet to capture the MNLF leader.

Duterte, Reds meet in Davao

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 27): Duterte, Reds meet in Davao

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte chats with NDFP peace panel spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili and wife Chit in Davao City on Wednesday evening. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DUTERTE WITH NDFP EMISSARIES Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte meets in Davao City with National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) emissaries, including peace panel spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili, who submitted a list of candidates for Cabinet positions. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said as he entered a pink-curtained room in a hotel here on Tuesday evening.

In the room was the delegation from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), led by its peace panel spokesperson, Fidel Agcaoili, and a consultant, Vicente Ladlad.

Over bibingka, suman and boiled banana paired with ginamos (fish paste), the NDFP delegation submitted a list of nominees for possible Cabinet appointees and discussed with Duterte details of the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations.

The three-hour meeting was very candid, with Duterte and the NDFP officials swapping jokes.

Duterte earlier announced he had reserved the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Environment and Natural Resources for progressive groups.

The NDFP chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison, earlier said that the Communist Party of the Philippines was grateful for the offer but it would politely beg off and would instead allow other groups and personalities to fill in the positions.
List of nominees

Asked who were on the short list, Agcaoili requested to maintain  its confidentiality until Duterte makes his final decision.

“We will wait for Duterte to make his decision and his final announcement,” Agcaoili said.

Duterte said he would disclose the final list of his Cabinet officials after taking his oath on June 30.

“At the very least, when I take my oath of office. I have to submit it to the screening committee,” Duterte told the Inquirer.

But both Duterte and the NDFP hinted to the Inquirer that the list included people from the academe, former lawmakers and progressive leaders, who have worked with workers and farmers.


Like his other appointees, Duterte said he would personally do the vetting, but the screening committee would help prepare the credentials of the nominees.

“The people, who were recommended, will be considered for the positions that they have applied for. It’s OK with me,” Duterte commented.

Showing good faith in his efforts for peace, the tough-talking official said he would also open other positions for progressive groups and even communist leaders.

“And I am open for many more, as we are driven by one thing,” Duterte said, referring to his passion to solve poverty,  corruption and other forms of social injustices.

Honesty, competence

Duterte added that he would continue to look for people who were honest and competent, regardless of their political beliefs and economic status.

“The sole consideration is—Are you competent? Well, of course, honesty or competence. Whether you belong to the right or the left, or wherever you came up or down I really don’t care if you are there to serve the country, as I have also committed,” he  said.

Duterte disclosed that aside from the appointments to the Cabinet, he also discussed with the NDFP delegation the prospects of not just resuming but also accelerating the peace negotiations.

Political prisoners

He also vowed to release hundreds of political prisoners, including NDFP consultants either, through pardon or general amnesty.

“I have no problem with that. It is about time that we succeed. It’s time to forget the left or right. It will be a process of reconciliation and healing just like my decision if ever I will allow the burial of (the late dictator Ferdinand) Marcos,” Duterte told the Inquirer.

He said he knew that many Ilocanos were still hurting because of this issue, and that allowing the dictator to have a soldier’s burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani was a step toward healing.

He encouraged the victims of the Marcos regime to help in the healing process and start working on getting their claims after winning a class suit against the Marcoses.

Duterte added that cases could still be pursued by the victims. Earlier, he said that he would launch a massive cleansing of the Department of Justice to ensure a working justice system in the country.

“It’s time to start thinking about the Filipino. The love of country. It would be good for us to learn to forget what is right and left,” he said.


For Ladlad, Duterte offering his hand of peace is a unique one and that the NDFP believes in his sincerity.

“We are confident that Duterte is sincere the same way the NDFP is sincere in the negotiations,” Ladlad said.

Ladlad said he was one of those released when then President Corazon Aquino granted amnesty to all political prisoners, but there was no offer that time to explore ways of working together in addressing the problems of the country.

Both Ladlad and Agcaoili refused to divulge the details of their  discussions about the negotiations, but said that they were making good progress.

They also said that a meeting between Duterte and Sison was being pursued and that it would help accelerate the peace negotiations.

“We are having our talks. We hope to arrive at a very good solution,”  Duterte said.

MCC conducts ceremonial closing of SNRDP in Eastern Samar

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 27): MCC conducts ceremonial closing of SNRDP in Eastern Samar

BOORONGAN CITY, Eastern Samar --- The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States of America (USA) through — Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) — conducted a “Ceremonial Closing Event” of the Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP) on May 20, 2016 at the Eastern Samar Provincial Capitol Gymnasium, Capitol, this City.

The said event was graced by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg as guest of honor.

In his message, Ambassador Goldberg praised the   MCA-P for the successful implementation of the road rehabilitation — through the compact’s Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP) of the American Government in the Philippines.

Goldberg disclosed that the primary objective of the project is to help improve the living condition of the people of Samar and Eastern Samar.  With more accessible and safer roads, people will have more socio-economic opportunities because of reduced transport time and cost.

Among the MCC Compact-funded project are the US $ 222.49-M widening, rehabilitation, and improvement of the 222.23-kilometer Paranas-Taft-Borongan-Guiuan Road; the construction or rehabilitation of 61 bridges; and slope protection, drainage, and road safety projects in Samar Island.

The compact’s community-driven development project — which is the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Lingking Arms Against Poverty)-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) — has funded 3,984 sub-projects, namely: community water systems, sanitation projects, new school buildings, health stations, and access roads.

Another MCC Compact project is the Department of Finance’s Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP).  The compact has helped to launch the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) campaign such as the “Register, File, and Pay” and the “Angat Pa, Pinas” to heighten the public awareness of their civic duty.

There is also the Electronic Tax Information System (ETIS) which will help the BIR to collect, track, and analyze data — making more efficient, transparent, and reliable audits.

Goldberg further disclosed a good news: the second batch of MCC compact projects. As of now, they are still studying as to what particular project it is and where it will be implemented.

Meanwhile, with the incoming President, Goldberg said that the USA and the Philippines will continue to have bilateral ties and this will be manifested through the implementation of projects in the Philippines.

He also gave the assurance that the USA will support in solving the problem on the West Philippine Sea.

The Ambassador challenged the provincial leaders, the different agencies of the government, and the people of Eastern Samar to support and help maintain the road condition  of the SNRDP projects for it to last long as well as to serve the people for the continued development of the province.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joselito Mutya read the message of the Provincial Governor of Eastern Samar

In his message, Governor Conrado Nicart Jr, wholeheartedly thanked the USA government for this project which gave a big impact to the economic growth in the province. With this, he reiterated Goldberg’s call to the Local Government Units in Eastern Samar to help, sustain, and maintain this road project.

President Aquino meets with security cluster

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 27): President Aquino meets with security cluster

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 P300 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.

US ambassador to visit Leyte today

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 27): US ambassador to visit Leyte today

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg is set to visit Leyte today, May 27, 2016 to lead the inauguration of ten classrooms at Palo National High School, Palo Leyte.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US official will turn over the classrooms to the Department of Education(DEPED) and the local government unit of Palo in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and unveiling of the project marker.

Said project is part of the $143-million US government’s commitment to provide post-Yolanda assistance to restore access to education in Yolanda affected communities.

Out of the targeted 310 classrooms to be built by December 2016, 199 were completed while 111 is still on-going.

Deped regional director Luisa Bautista-Yu and Leyte officials including Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico L. Petilla and Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla are expected to grace the event.

Goldberg will also open the Training of Trainers (ToT) Program at Bethel International School, Pawing, Palo. Leyte.

AFP, PNP gear up for “Brigada Eskwela” in SurSur

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 26): AFP, PNP gear up for “Brigada Eskwela” in SurSur

Both army and police here have assured to be sending their respective contingents during the conduct of Brigada Eskwela to be spearheaded by the Department of Education (DepEd) on May 30 to June 4.

Capt. Regie Go, civil military operations (CMO) officer of the 402nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) under Col. Isidro Purisima, said that an instruction in this regard had already been received from higher headquarters, adding that coordination with concerned officials of DepEd had likewise been made at their level.

The CMO officer pointed out that DepEd had likewise been requested to provide specifics in order for them to know how to go about their task, citing limited resources.

He particularly underscored the schedule of the kick-off ceremony apart from the “specific service” the army could render.

Capt. Go indicated that their partnership with DepEd in the annual conduct of Brigada Eskwela had started a long time, linking this to their Bayanihan Team Activity (BTA).

In a separate interview, P/Chief Insp. Noel Naranjo, Police Community Relations branch head at the Police Provincial Office (PPO) confirmed sending a message regarding “Operational Guidelines and Procedures” on “Ligtas Balik Eskwela” to all lower units.

He said that P/SSupt. Romaldo Bayting, acting PNP provincial director, had taken the cue of his action from the earlier memorandum coming from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 13.

Compliance included the submission of the respective implementation plans (IMPLANS), it was stressed.

MEDCAP benefits over 100 residents in Tukuran town

From the Philippine Information Agency (May 26): MEDCAP benefits over 100 residents in Tukuran town

About 145 poor  residents have availed of free health services during the medical and dental civic action program (MEDCAP) conducted by the  1st Field Artillery (Squadron), Army Artillery Regiment, 1st  Cavalry (Tagapanguna) Squadron, Mechanized Infantry Division, Philippine Army and Rural Health Unit in barangay Man-ilan here.

At least 16 children were circumcised, 34 availed of tooth extraction, and 50 patients benefitted free medical check-up and medicines. Some 45 school children were given educational supplies.

Punong Barangay Ellen Pepito said the MEDCAP has greatly helped local folks since they live in a far-flung barangay. Medical services have now been brought to their doorstep.

Man-ilan is an interior barangay which is approximately 6 kilometers from the national highway and can be reached by “habal-habal” (motorbike). Nearly 95 percent of the people living in the village predominantly engage in agricultural activities.

Pepito said she is very grateful to the 1FAB and 1CAV because it was the second time that the MEDCAP was held in her barangay, benefitting the poor residents who could not afford to pay for medical services. 

“It has been a long time that we wanted to have dental services such as tooth extraction but it was not realized because it entails time and money in going to the Rural Health Unit. When we learned that the MEDCAP will be held in our place, we did not hesitate to avail of the program because it was offered for free,” said Vicky Tariman, mother of 8-year old Christine who had her tooth extracted.   

Lolito Tagalog, Sr., accompanied his 9 yr old son and arrived in the barangay hall early to avail of the MEDCAP. Tagalog said the MEDCAP is very timely because it is still a vacation time and his son could avail of the free circumcision. “My sons will no longer experience bullying from their classmates,” he said.

Pedro Rabe, a 72-year old farmer who complained of pain on his knee and blurred vision have availed of free medical check-up and medicines.

PAF in the market for F-27 spares

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): PAF in the market for F-27 spares

In line with its efforts to ensure that all of its aircraft are mission-ready at all times, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has allocated the sum of Php4,650,000 for the acquisition of spare parts needed for the repair and maintenance of one of its three Fokker F-27 "Friendship" transport planes.

Pre-bid conference is scheduled for June 2, 2 p.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

On the other hand, bid submission and opening is on June 14, 9 a.m. at the same venue, said PAF Bids and Awards Committee chair Brig. Gen. Nicolas C. Parilla.

The F-27 is a turboprop airliner designed and built by the defunct Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker.

Design of the aircraft started in the 1950s as a replacement to the successful Douglas DC-3 airliner.

NPA rebels seized 18 guns in raid

From the Visayan Daily Star (May 26): NPA rebels seized 18 guns in raid

The Roselyn Pelle Command of the New People's Army has disputed military and police claims that what they had raided and overran were bunkhouses of agrarian reform beneficiaries in Sitio Buntod Aliwanay, Brgy. General Luna, Sagay City, and maintained that it was a “detachment “ of the Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary of the Philippine Army.

In a statement furnished to the Visayan DAILY STAR, rebel spokesperson Cecil Estrella, said the raid against the “SCAA detachment” on May 22 led to the killing of Jose Pios and Dionesio Ybanez, who, she claimed, were SCAA members, and injuries to Jovito Lutrago and Boboy Respundo.

Estrella said they also burned several bunk houses and recovered 18 firearms, including M-16 and M-14 rifles, a M-79 grenade launcher, Ingram sub-machine gun, .45 caliber pistols, 357 revolver and several homemade guns, as well as assorted ammunition, military uniforms, personal belongings, among others.

She claimed that they received numerous complaints from the populace against the presence of SCAA detachment, with personnel allegedly being used as armed goons, and guards of a private property owner in the place.

Senior Supt. William Señoron, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, yesterday maintained that Pios and Ybanez are agrarian reform beneficiaries, who used to be SCAA members.

Contrary to the rebel claims, Señoron said only four firearms, including an M-16 rifle, a carbine rifle and two .45 caliber pistols, were taken by the NPA, based on the investigations of the Sagay City Police Station.

Investigations by the Sagay police also showed that SCAA members Sonny Respondo and Alex Garcia, who were off-duty, and members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion 18, had responded to the incident and engaged the suspected NPA rebels in a brief firefight.

Respondo, 38, was injured, while Garcia was taken by the rebels. Also injured during the raid was Jodito Lutrago, an agrarian reform beneficiary and a member of the ronda patrol, Chief Inspector Eduardo Corpuz, Sagay City police chief said.

Estrella said they successfully overran the detachment, being occupied by 10 SCAA members, after five minutes of firefight. Two were killed, while others surrendered, she added.

Señoron said the three firearms taken from Pios and Ybanez may have been acquired by the victims, after their military services were terminated several years ago, to protect themselves from death threats of the NPA.

Police investigation showed that agrarian reform beneficiaries in the barangay have formed the Aliwanay Farmers Association to protect themselves, as the property awarded to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform is slowly being encroached on by members of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers, who are also claiming to be agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Estrella said the raid at the SCAA detachment was meant to punish the Marañon family for allegedly maintaining armed goons.

She identified Pios, Jovito and Jonathan Lutrago, Rechie Robles Sr. Raco Pedrano and Mario Jusayan as among those listed in the NPA order of battle.

Estrella meanwhile said they released Garcia and SCAA Joemar Mahilum, whom they had arrested during the raid, because they have no criminal records.

Duterte: Military is supposed to shut up, specially on peace efforts with communists

From Update.Ph (May 26): Duterte: Military is supposed to shut up, specially on peace efforts with communists

Soon-to-be seated president Rodrigo Duterte said, during an interview with media Thursday around 1:20 am, the military is supposed to shut up specially if he, as the incoming commander-in-chief, is trying hard to find peace for the country amid the communists insurgency.

“Ang military supposed to shut up, pagka sundalo ka shut up. Lalo na kung pag I’m, the incoming commander-in-chief, trying hard… to find peace for my country, tapos andiyan ka,” Duterte said after he was asked to comment by media on 10th Infantry Division deputy commander Colonel Casiano Monilla’s statement that release of all communist prisoners is an ’emotional issue’ for the armed forces.

Duterte said Colonel Monilla can be designated to find a solution to communist insurgency. He said that warriors should not be emotional. Duterte said the NPA side also has deaths, “if you cannot accept that, then you are not a warrior, then you are not suppose to be their.”

“Ang warrior, you go to a fight you do not carry hate, kasi mamatay ka talaga kasi magwala ka. It’s very important for a warrior and a soldier na he goes around just doing his duty without the hate,” he said.

“Matagal na itong gera na ito, tanungin ko siya, 1972, matagal na itong away, bakit hindi nila natapos hanggang ngayon,” he said.

Colonel Monilla told the Inquirer that a possible peace pact with the communists will benefit the military. “There will be a significant drop on the casualties among our soldiers. There will also be a decrease in the number of families who are deprived of their fathers,” he said.

However, Monilla said releasing all political prisoners is an emotional issue for the military. “This is as a very emotional issue for the armed forces especially that the cost of bringing them to justice is not just about money, but also countless lives of our soldiers,” he said.

Five wounded in separate clashes

From the Mindanao Tines (May 26): Five wounded in separate clashes

FOUR soldiers and a civilian were wounded in a series of NPA attacks in Pantukan ,Compostela Valley province and Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday afternoon
Troops recovered several explosive devices during the conduct of the clearing operation.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar,spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division ,said the army troops  were conducting  Peace and Development activity  when they were attacked by members of the New People’s Army in Sitio Diat ,Palo ,Barangay Napnapan   at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Batchar said the attack resulted to the wounding of a civilian identified as Jose Alin Jr., 23, a resident of Purok 4 of the same barangay.
Alin sustained a gunshot wound on his back and was brought to Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum for  medical treatment.
A clearing operation conducted by the reinforcement troops of the 39th IB recovered several materials from the rebels at around 5 p.m.
Troops recovered 14 unexploded ordnance,  three  UXO hand grenades; seven improvised explosive devices and four 40 mm rounds.
Last Monday, four soldiers were also wounded when they were attacked by NPAs at Barangay Datal Blao, Columbio,Sultan Kudarat  at 10 p.m.
Batchar said Peace and Development troops of the 39th IB were  attacked  by members of Guerilla Front 72  of Far South Mindanao Region .
The soldiers were able to return fire and a gun battle ensued for about two hours and thirty minutes.
Four soldiers, whose  name are withheld,  were wounded during the clash.
A pursuit operation against the fleeing rebels is ongoing.

Left submits Cabinet nominees to Duterte, 4 out of 10 women

From Rappler (May 26): Left submits Cabinet nominees to Duterte, 4 out of 10 women

'The Left has submitted a very impressive list of nominees. I am inclined to give in,' says Duterte

FORMING HIS CABINET. Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine president-elect, discusses Cabinet appointments during a press conference on May 26, 2016 in Davao City. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

FORMING HIS CABINET. Rodrigo Duterte, Philippine president-elect, discusses Cabinet appointments during a press conference on May 26, 2016 in Davao City. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday, May 25, that the Left has submitted its "impressive" Cabinet nominees to him, 4 out of the 10 contenders women.
Duterte said in a news briefing on Wednesday night that National Democratic Front spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili handed the Left's Cabinet nominees to him when they met on Tuesday.
Duterte was all praises for the nominees but refused to divulge their names to save them from humiliation should their proposed appointments fall through.
"The Left gave me a very impressive list of people who have the talent," he said, but added, "I really do not know if they'd be willing to [work for government]."
Women empowerment advocates are closely watching how gender-balanced Duterte's Cabinet will be.
His transition team had earlier announced that the Cabinet would be patterned after the Cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which has an equal number of men and women.
The team also tapped Senator Pia Cayetano to advise them on women appointees. But Duterte's incoming Cabinet so far has only one woman, former immigration chief Andrea Domingo who is set to head the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). (READ: Duterte presidency to have more women leaders)
'Inclined to give in'
Because of the quality of the Left's nominees, Duterte said, "I am inclined to give in. If we can talk smoothly and Jo Maria Sison would come home in July, I'm ready to give more of them positions in government."
He emphasized, however, that he will not offer positions to "hardcore" Leftists or communists.
"I cannot give a position to a combatant," he said.
Duterte has offered the Left the chance to recommend heads for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform, and Department of Labor and Employment.
The Left's top choice for environment chief is Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate.
The president-elect, however, has already tapped former justice secretary Silvestre Bello III as his labor chief. (READ: Who's who in the incoming Duterte Cabinet)

10 Chinese arrested for alleged poaching off Camiguin

From Rappler (May 26): 10 Chinese arrested for alleged poaching off Camiguin

The Philippine Coast Guard also says the Chinese ship hit a Philippine monitoring vessel   

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) arrested 10 Chinese nationals on board a ship in waters off Camiguin Island in Mindanao, following a chase Wednesday night, May 25.

The monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) vessels of the PCG went after the Chinese vessel, which allegedly hit the rear of MCS 3010 and tried to escape.

MCS 3010 then sought assistance from MCS 3007 at around 8 pm.

"At first, we thought it was a local vessel because it was marked with Subic and was flying a Philippine flag, but it was found to be manned by Chinese crew," said Captain Allen Toribio, commanding officer of MCS 3007. "They pretended that they were aboard a locally registered vessel to avoid suspicion."

The two Philippine vessels were able to corner the Chinese ship, where PCG personnel found endangered black corals.

The PCG will sue the arrested Chinese nationals for poaching.

Lieutenant Jeffrey Collado, who was on board MCS 3010, also said there were two other Chinese ships in the area, but they managed to escape.

Chinese state media warn G7 against 'meddling' in South China Sea

From InterAksyon (May 26): Chinese state media warn G7 against 'meddling' in South China Sea


Chinese state media warned the Group of Seven nations on Thursday not to "meddle" in South China Sea disputes, as leaders from the bloc gathered for talks in Japan.

The commentary came as European Council President Donald Tusk said on the sidelines of a summit in Ise-Shima that the bloc should take a "clear and tough stance" on China's contested maritime claims.

Beijing has angered several Southeast Asian neighbours by claiming almost all of the South China Sea and rapidly building reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

China's official Xinhua news agency published an article saying the G7 -- which excludes Beijing -- "should mind its own business rather than pointing fingers at others."

Xinhua writer Chang Yuan accused Japan of "attempting to take advantage of its G7 summit host status and draw more 'allies and sympathizers' to isolate China."

Both Washington and Tokyo -- which is locked in a separate dispute with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea -- have warned against Beijing stoking tensions in the contested waters.

Chang wrote that such remarks showed "Japan's hidden agenda: to meddle in the South China Sea issue."

Weighing in on the South China Sea "exceeds the G7's current influence and capability. What's more, it reflects a lingering Cold War mindset," Chang added.

The commentary came ahead of a ruling expected within weeks on China's claims brought to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague by the Philippines.

China has warned outside parties not to meddle in the South China Sea, but has also attempted to draw nations as far away as Niger, Togo and Burundi into the dispute, insisting that they support its rejection of the tribunal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron warned China that it must abide by the outcome of the international arbitration as he arrived in Japan for the G7 summit, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Beijing summoned top diplomatic representatives from the Group of Seven nations including France and Britain in April to express anger at a joint statement on the South China Sea.

The G7 said at the time: "We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes."

China says it followed rules in US aircraft intercept incident

From InterAksyon (May 26): China says it followed rules in US aircraft intercept incident

File photo of a Chinese J-11 fighter jet seen flying near a US Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of China's Hainan Island in this US Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. REUTERS/US Navy/Handout

China's Defense Ministry said on Thursday its aircraft followed the rules after two Chinese fighter jets carried out what the United States said was an "unsafe" intercept of a US military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.

The incident took place in international airspace last week as the plane carried out "a routine US patrol", the Pentagon said.

A US defense official said two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet (15 meters) of the US EP-3 aircraft. The official said the incident took place east of Hainan island.

[Read related story: 2 Chinese jets conduct 'unsafe' intercept of US spy plane over South China Sea: Pentagon]

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing China's aircraft acted completely professionally and in line with an agreement reached between the countries on rules governing such encounters.

However, he said the agreement, called the Rules of Behaviour for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters, could only provide a "technical standard", and the best way of resolving the problem was for the US to stop such flights.

[Read related story: SOUTH CHINA SEA | China demands end to US surveillance after spy plane intercept]

"That's the real source of danger for Sino-US military safety at sea and in the air," he said.

The encounter came shortly after China scrambled fighter jets as a US Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

Another Chinese intercept took place in 2014 when a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers around a US spy plane.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea after creating artificial islands, while Beijing, in turn, has criticized increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

G7 agrees need strong message on South China Sea; China says don't 'hype'

From InterAksyon (May 26): G7 agrees need strong message on South China Sea; China says don't 'hype'

Participants of the G7 summit meetings (from front in clockwise) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, French President Francois Hollande, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama attend session 1 working lunch meeting at the Shima Kanko Hotel in Shima, Mie Prefecture, Japan May 26, 2016. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan/Handout via Reuters)

Group of Seven (G7) leaders agreed on Thursday on the need to send a strong message on maritime claims in the western Pacific, where an increasingly assertive China is locked in territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations.

The agreement prompted a sharp rejoinder from China, which is not in the G7 club but whose rise as a power has put it at the heart of some discussions at the advanced nations' summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan.

"Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe led discussion on the current situation in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Other G7 leaders said it is necessary for G7 to issue a clear signal," Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko told reporters after a session on foreign policy affairs.

At a news conference late on Wednesday, Abe said Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force and urging respect of the rule of law - principles expected to be mentioned in a statement after the summit.

The United States is also increasingly concerned about China's action in the region.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying retorted in Beijing that the South China Sea issue had "nothing to do" with the G7 or any of its members.

"China is resolutely opposed to individual countries hyping up the South China Sea for personal gain," she said.

US President Barack Obama called on China on Wednesday to resolve maritime disputes peacefully and he reiterated that the United States was simply concerned about freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

Obama on Thursday pointed to the risks from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, saying the isolated state was "hell bent" on getting atomic weapons.

But he said there had been improved responses from countries in the region like China that could reduce the risk of North Korea selling weapons or nuclear material.

"It's something that we've put at the center of discussions and negotiations with China," Obama told reporters.

Global health check

The global economy topped the agenda earlier in the day, when G7 leaders voiced concern about emerging economies and Abe made a pointed comparison to the 2008 global financial crisis. Not all his G7 partners appeared to agree.

The G7 leaders did agree on the need for flexible spending to spur world growth but the timing and amount depended on each country, Seko told reporters, adding some countries saw no need for such spending. Britain and Germany have been resisting calls for fiscal stimulus.

"G7 leaders voiced the view that emerging economies are in a severe situation, although there were views that the current economic situation is not a crisis," Seko said .

Abe presented data showing global commodities prices fell 55 percent from June 2014 to January 2016, the same margin as from July 2008 to February 2009, after the Lehman collapse.

Lehman had been Wall Street's fourth-largest investment bank when it filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 15, 2008, making its bankruptcy by far the biggest in US history. Its failure triggered the global financial crisis.

Abe hopes, some political insiders say, to use a G7 statement on the global economy as cover for a domestic fiscal package including the possible delay of a rise in the nation's sales tax to 10 percent from 8 percent planned for next April.

Obama ripped into Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying the billionaire had rattled other G7 leaders and that his statements were aimed at getting headlines, not what was needed to keep America safe and the world on an even keel.

Trump has been accused of racism, misogyny and bigotry for saying he would build a giant wall to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants, would temporarily ban Muslims from the United States and after he made a series of comments considered demeaning to women.

Summit pageantry began when Abe escorted G7 leaders to the Shinto religion's holiest site, the Ise Grand Shrine in central Japan, dedicated to sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, mythical ancestress of the emperor.

On Wednesday night, Abe met Obama for talks dominated by the arrest of a US military base civilian worker in connection with the killing of a young woman on Japan's southern Okinawa island, reluctant host to the bulk of the US military in Japan.

The attack has marred Obama's hopes of keeping his Japan trip strictly focused on his visit on Friday to Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing, to highlight reconciliation between the two former World War Two foes and his nuclear anti-proliferation agenda.

The G7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Duterte warns of massive reshuffling in PNP

From MindaNews (May 26): Duterte warns of massive reshuffling in PNP

Police authorities in Metro Manila were the subject of the tirade of an irate incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte that he warned of massive reshuffling in the agency when he assumes post by June 30.

This after reports that a “deadly mix” of illegal drugs allegedly penetrated the Closeup Forever Summer concert in Pasay City last May 21 where five people died.

Duterte suspected that there was a failure of intelligence.

“Maraming tao ang gobyerno sa Manila. I am addressing myself to the police and law enforcement as a mayor and citizen of this republic. How come nakalusot? It’s a failure of intelligence. Alam nila na ang concert na yan, marami talagang pasahan ng droga,” he said.

The tough-talking mayor, who is known for his hardline stance against criminality and drugs, said that it was unacceptable for the authorities securing the concert area to not notice the drugs going around among the crowd.

“I am at a loss kung sa ganun karami pinagpapasahan. It was reported that there was one corner of the place where the drug was distributed, apparently sold, and escaped the attention of the law enforcement agency. It is an unacceptable,” he said.

Duterte asked where the government funds for intelligence and operations went when they failed on cracking down illegal drugs.

“Saan ang pera ng tao para sa intelligence and operations? At yung nagtatrabaho, exactly you are paid to do or prevent those incidents to happen,” he said.

“This time, every government worker must prove to the people that they deserve the salary. Kaya kung ako presidente ipa-kita ko talaga na tama yung bayad ninyo sa akin,” he said.

He added that authorities should have kept an eye out on drugs knowing that crowded gatherings draw groups selling illegal drugs, making the concert-goers vulnerable.

“Illegal drugs are flooding in the country because government’s stance against it is not so tight,” he said.

Duterte said he is planning to sit down with police authorities in Metro Manila after he takes over the presidency.

“But maybe kayong lahat Inshalla, God willing, kung aabot ako ng June 30 noontime. Siguro pagka gabi nyan mag-usap tayong lahat,” he said.

Massive reshuffling

Duterte said he will consult with would-be Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa of his plan to implement a massive movement of police officers from the top rank to the lowest rank.

“Palit na lang kayo. Kayong mga taga-ComVal, Surigao ilagay ko kayo, kung ako ang presidente, tapos kayong mga taga-Manila dito kayo (Mindanao),” he said.

He said no one is exempted from this, not even the police generals. The same order will be issued to members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“You can ask anybody from the City Government. When I reshuffle, lahat even down to janitor. Kayong mga gwardya ng Muntinlupa maraming assignment dito sa Iwahig (Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm), dito sa Davao Penal Colony. There will be a massive reshuffling so I am putting notice to everybody. Lahat kayong taga Muntinlupa you ship out. Be ready, magbalot na kayo,” he said.

Duterte said he might ask the Philippine Army to take charge of the prisons while the reshuffling is being undertaken.

Suspect in 2008 Digos bus bombing nabbed

From MindaNews (May 26): Suspect in 2008 Digos bus bombing nabbed

DATU PAGLAS, Maguindanao – After a long and tedious surveillance operation, joint police, Army and military intelligence agents arrested in this municipality dawn on Thursday a suspect believed to have participated in the 2008 Digos City bus terminal bombing.

Also arrested during the 4 a.m. joint police-military operation was barangay captain of a village in this municipality for illegal possession of firearms.

Senior Insp. Allan Uy, chief of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said government agents headed by their regional chief, Supt. Jimmy Daza, conducted the operation.

On April 2, 2008, six persons were killed and about 30 others were hurt when an improvised bomb packed with nails was planted by the suspects in the overhead bin of a Metro Shuttle bus from Davao City on its way to Malita, Davao del Sur.

Uy identified the bombing suspect as Kamad Makauyag, alias “Madz,” who was named in a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Digos City and allegedly a member of the Al Khobar Group, which is notorious for its extortion, bombings and kidnap-for-ransom activities.

The arresting agents also nabbed Datu Mahal Matalam, chair of Barangay Penfarm here. He is the son of former Maguindanao Gov. Jimmy Matalam.

Makauyag and the younger Matalam were in the same farm and residential compound owned by the latter during the raid.

Makauyag vehemently denied any participation in any bombing in Mindanao. He said he is just an ordinary farmer working as caretaker in Matalam’s house. “I’m not aware of any crime I’ve committed. I am just an ordinary farm worker,” he said.

Government forces recovered from the village official one German-made caliber .22 rifle, a 9mm submachine gun and a caliber .40 pistol with ammunition.

Uy said the arrest was part of the PNP’s “Oplan Pagtugis” and “Oplan Paglalansag” targeting wanted persons and loose firearms.

“Our priority was Makauyag because he was a member of Al Khobar extortion group. We searched the vicinity and found firearms in the house of Matalam,” Uy said.

Army man killed in attack in Philippines

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 26): Army man killed in attack in Philippines
A government soldier was fatally shot and his companion wounded in an attack Thursday by motorcycle gunmen in the town of Patikul in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the volatile Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Police said the soldiers, members of the 35th Infantry Battalion, just came from Zamboanga City and were heading to their barracks on a motorcycle when the assailants tailed them attacked the duo.

The attackers sped off after the shooting, leaving the bloodied soldiers behind. The identities of the victims were not immediately known and the Western Mindanao Command did not issue any statement in connection with the attack.

Just recently, a suspected Abu Sayyaf member also lobbed a grenade on a military truck transporting troops in Jolo town and injured 7 special rangers. The soldiers just arrived by boat in Jolo from Zamboanga City and were heading to their camp when the attack occurred at the port area, just several blocks from the police headquarters.

The soldiers were sent to the province to augment ground forces battling the Abu Sayyaf which pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There was no arrest made, but suspicion fell heavily on Abu Sayyaf which is holding several foreigners in Sulu’s hinterlands and has threatened to execute one of them.

On Wednesday, the military claimed to have seized an Abu Sayyaf encampment following nearly an hour of fighting at a remote village of Gulangan in Maimbung town. There were no reports of casualties from both sides, but the military said the camp can accommodate as much as 200 people. It said the encampment was being used by Abu Sayyaf leader Idang Susukan.

Soldiers also recovered gun parts, a motorcycle and personal belongings left behind by fleeing gunmen.

China to send nuclear-armed submarines into Pacific amid tensions with US – The Guardian

From the Mindanao Examiner (May 26): China to send nuclear-armed submarines into Pacific amid tensions with US – The Guardian

The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.

Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable.

They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after launch, as huge threats to the effectiveness of its land-based deterrent force.

A recent Pentagon report to Congress predicted that “China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016”, though top US officers have made such predictions before.

China has been working on ballistic missile submarine technology for more than three decades, but actual deployment has been put off by technical failures, institutional rivalry and policy decisions.

Until now, Beijing has pursued a cautious deterrence policy, declaring it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict and storing its warheads and its missiles separately, both strictly under the control of the top leadership.

Deploying nuclear-armed submarines would have far-reaching implications.

Warheads and missiles would be put together and handed over to the navy, allowing a nuclear weapon to be launched much faster if such a decision was taken. The start of Chinese missile patrols could further destabilise the already tense strategic standoff with the US in the South China Sea.

Last Tuesday, a US spy plane and two Chinese fighter jets came close to colliding 50 miles of Hainan island, where China’s four Jin-Class ballistic missile submarines are based. A fifth is under construction.

The two countries’ navies have also come uncomfortably close around disputed islands in the same region, and the chance of a clash will be heightened by cat-and-mouse submarine operations, according to Wu Riqiang, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at the Renmin University in Beijing.

“Because China’s SSBNs [nuclear missile submarines] are in the South China Sea, the US navy will try to send spy ships in there and get close to the SSBNs. China’s navy hates that and will try to push them away,” Wu said.

The primary reason Chinese military officials give for the move towards a sea-based deterrent is the expansion of US missile defence, which Moscow also claims is disturbing the global strategic balance and potentially stoking a new arms race.

The decision to deploy Thaad anti-ballistic interceptors in South Korea was taken after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, and the stated mission of the truck-launched interceptors is to shield the south from missile attack.

But Beijing says the Thaad system’s range extends across much of China and contributes to the undermining of its nuclear deterrent. It has warned Seoul that relations between the two countries could be “destroyed in an instant” if the Thaad deployment goes ahead.

“No harm shall be done to China’s strategic security interests,” the foreign ministry declared.

Behind the ominous warnings is growing concern in the People’s Liberation army that China’s relatively small nuclear arsenal (estimated at 260 warheads compared with 7,000 each for the US and Russia), made up mostly of land-based missiles, is increasingly vulnerable to a devastating first strike, by either nuclear or conventional weapons.

Missile defence is not their only worry. They are anxious about a new hypersonic glide missile being developed under the US Prompt Global Strike programme, aimed at getting a precision-guided missile to targets anywhere in the world within an hour.

China is developing a similar missile but officials in Beijing fear that the Chinese nuclear arsenal is so small it could be almost completely wiped out without notice, with the few missiles launched in reprisal being destroyed in mid-air by US missile defences.

Without that capability to respond with a “second strike”, China would have no meaningful deterrent at all. The government of President Xi Jinping insists the country has no plans to abandon its “no first use” principle but military officials argue US weapon developments give it no choice but to upgrade and expand its arsenal in order to maintain a credible deterrent.

There seems to have been some discussion of moving to a “launch on warning” policy, to fire Chinese weapons before incoming missiles land and destroy them. That appears to be a minority view, however.

The dominant approach is to stick with the current deterrent posture, which relies on hitting back in a devastating manner once China has been attacked. The core aim is to have a second strike capacity that is “survivable” and “penetrative”. Submarines, on patrol in the ocean depths, fulfil the first requirement, they say.

It has tested a missile, the Ju Lang (Giant Wave) 2, for that purpose, and each Jin submarine can carry up to 12 of them. Partly to help penetrate US missile defences, China has in recent months also started putting multiple warheads on its largest missile, the DF-5, another development that has set alarm bells ringing in the Pentagon, where some analysts view it as the first step towards a massive nuclear armament drive aimed at obliterating the US arsenal.

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Non Proliferation Programme at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, argues there is a danger of the two sides fatally misunderstanding each other’s intentions.

“Given China’s apparent desire to overwhelm US missile defences, it is not surprising that multiple warheads – whether independently targeted or not – would become a feature of Chinese deterrence. The surprise is that it took so long for them to be fielded,” Lewis writes in a book on multiple warheads (Mirvs) published last week by the Stimson Centre thinktank.

“What western strategic analysts might view with alarm, their Chinese counterparts might view as modest increments necessary to strengthen deterrence … Chinese strategic analysts, unlike their western counterparts, have so far adopted a surprisingly relaxed view of nuclear threats, while some of their US counterparts are inclined toward envisioning worst-case scenarios.”

Evidence for China’s more “relaxed” approach is the length of time it took to deploy multiple warheads, two decades after developing the necessary technology. China has similarly taken decades to deploy nuclear missile submarines.

Part of the reason has been technical: it is a hard technology to master. Wu Riqiang argues China’s Jin submarines (known in the Chinese military as Type 094) are still not ready, as they are too noisy and could easily be located by US attack subs. They would never get past the first island chain off China’s coast and into the mid-Pacific, where they would have to be to hit the continental US.

“My argument is that because of the high noise level of the Type 094 and China’s lack of experience of running a SSBN fleet, China cannot and should not put 094 in deterrent patrol in the near future,” he said.

The slow pace has not just been for practical reasons. China’s guiding principle has been to have a capacity for “minimum means of reprisal” while minimising the chance of accidental or unauthorised launch.

Deploying ballistic missile submarines poses a huge dilemma for Beijing. If it can only launch its weapons on receiving orders from the top, they risk being rendered unusable by a surprise “decapitation” strike on the Chinese leadership.

However, to follow the British Royal Navy model – in which each Trident submarine commander has a signed letter from the prime minister in his safe, to open in the event of a strike on London – would entail a huge leap in the alert status of the Chinese nuclear arsenal, and a similarly huge delegation of responsibility to one of the armed forces.

Wu argues Beijing would be better off sticking to its present policy of hiding its land-based ICBMs in more ingenious ways.

Under Xi’s assertive leadership, China seems determined that the Chinese nuclear deterrent will take finally to the ocean, and it has already taken thestep of putting multiple warheads on its missiles. Those steps are mostly in response to US measures, which in turn were triggered by unrelated actions by the North Koreans.

The law of unintended consequences is in danger of taking the upper hand. “The two sides may thus be stumbling blindly into severe crisis instability and growing competition by China with respect to strategic forces,” Lewis argues. “A competition between unevenly matched forces is inherently unstable.”

States' actions should be guided by int'l law -- Gazmin

From the Philippine News Agency (May 26): States' actions should be guided by int'l law -- Gazmin

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin stressed necessity of having actions of states guided by and in accordance with international law.

He made this comment during the sidelines of the 10th ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic on Tuesday.

Gazmin was referring to the Philippines decision to seek arbitration regarding its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea which is also being claimed by China.

He said this is a clear manifestation of having international law being the anchor of a state's actions.

The DND chief also stressed that actions of states should be consistent with their policy pronouncements that they are for promoting regional peace and stability.

"While the Philippines stressed that parties signatory to the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) are bound to abide by ruling of the arbitral tribunal, China conveyed that it will not abide by the court's decision," Gazmin pointed out.

As this develops China's Defense Minister Chang Wanquang alluded to China and ASEAN having shared destiny and conveyed that his country is ready and would support the bloc's development including the central role that it plays in the regional security architecture.

He proposed that practical cooperation should be pursued, suggesting the conduct of military exercises among ASEAN members and China's armed forces in the South China Sea.

At the ADMM sidelines, attending defense ministers all acknowledged the progress on practical cooperation that has been undertaken within the ambit of the group, there was a shared sense that security issues continue to pose challenges to the region's stability. These include maritime security, violent extremism and natural disasters.