Friday, May 27, 2016

Duterte, NDFP agree on framework for peace talks

From the Philippine Star (May 26): Duterte, NDFP agree on framework for peace talks

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiator Fidel Agcaoili have agreed on a framework on how to resume the peace talks, which has been stalled due to disagreements over jailed rebels with criminal cases.
Duterte said the resumption of the negotiations between the government and the communists was discussed during his three-hour meeting with Agcaoili Tuesday night at the Hotel Elena here.
“We agreed on a framework on how to proceed with the peace talks,” Duterte said in a midnight press conference here.
"Maybe, in God's good time, I told Fidel that there would be a time when we’ll have to stop talking about being left or being right," he added.
Duterte also plans to invite Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison to return to the country once he assumes office.
“(According to) the news, Joma is coming home. I told him I cannot give you the invitation now because I am not the president. I cannot guarantee anything about the safety pass," Duterte said.
"Maybe you can wait until the 30th of June, I will, by that time, I said, I am already the president. I can give you the letter to come over," he added.
Duterte said it possible that Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, would be home by July.
Talks between the government and the NDFP, the panel that represents the communist rebels in the peace negotiations, was stalled after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on jailed rebel leaders.
NDFP negotiators said the government has the obligation to release the rebels who are working as peace consultants as a signatory to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). The 1995 agreement prohibits the arrest and detention of peace consultants.
Government negotiators, however, refused to yield to the demand, claiming that the identity of those who are supposed to be covered by the JASIG cannot be verified.
Duterte said in an earlier interview that the granting of a general amnesty to communist rebels would hinge on the results of the peace negotiations. He said he is ready to free political prisoners even before the end of the talks if both sides “deal in good faith.”

Cabinet posts

Meanwhile, Duterte revealed that Agcaoili had submitted to him a list containing the names of the NDFP’s nominees to the Cabinet.
“The Left gave me a very impressive list of people who have the talent," he said.
“I’m inclined to give in if we can talk smoothly and Jose Maria Sison comes home in July.”
Duterte, however, said he is not sure if the nominees are willing to perform the tasks of Cabinet officials.
“The resumes are there. You have to be careful in naming names,” he said.
Duterte could not recall the number of nominees submitted by the NDFP but estimated it to be “less than 10.” He said about four of the nominees are women.
Earlier, Duterte said he is willing to give four Cabinet posts to people identified with the left. He said progressives may handle the labor, agrarian reform, environment, and social welfare departments.
The incoming president also clarified that he would not appoint communist hardliners in his Cabinet.
“If you are a cadre in the mountains, I will not accept you. You will kill members of the military. I have to balance it, I have to give to the progressive, not to the communist party hardcore,” Duterte said in an earlier press conference.

Armed Lawless Group attacks Philippine Army's Peace and Development Teams

Posted to the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division Facebook page (May 27): Armed Lawless Group attacks Philippine Army's Peace and Development Teams

Columbio, Sultan Kudarat – An Armed Lawless Group (ALG) under criminal leader Dave BERANA Alias BORJACK, attacked two (2) Peace and Development Teams (PDT) performing Bayanihan activities in Sitio Lam-alis, Brgy Data-Blao, Columbio, Sultan Kudarat at around 10:00PM on May 23, 2016.

The incident resulted to a two-hour of firefight between the ALG and government troops, leaving behind five (5) slightly wounded personnel on the government side and undetermined number on the ALG. Subsequently, the 39IB conducted pursuit operation on the fleeing ALG towards the mountainous area who were carrying their casualties as reported by concerned civilians in the barangay.

“These ALG clearly violated the Republic Act Number 9851, known as the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes against Humanity. As stated in Chapter 3, Section 4, Sub-section 2, for intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects. Such act is considered as a war crime against International Humanitarian Law. Furthermore, your troops from the 39th Infantry Battalion will remain focused and strengthen our efforts to drive away these ALG in the municipality of Columbio to attain peace and development.”, Lt Colonel Harold Argamosa, Battalion Commander of 39th Infantry Battalion said. The community was threatened by the ALG to drive away the Peace Development Teams of 39th Infantry Battalion in the barangay but the community did not follow their demands and still supported the peace and development effort of the unit.

“The attack of the Peace and Development Teams is a desperate move of these Armed Lawless Group and a clear manifestation that they do not want progress and prosperity for the people of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat. They wanted to project strength but their actions are counter-productive to the hearts and minds of the populace that they pretend to protect”, Colonel Ronald C Villanueva, Commander of 1002nd Infantry Brigade said.

PAF unit to celebrate 69th anniversary

From the Sun Star-Pampanga (May 26): PAF unit to celebrate 69th anniversary

The 600th Air Base Wing (600th ABW) of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has lined up several activities, including tree planting and bloodletting, in line with the Air Force’s 69th anniversary celebration on July 5.

Lieutenant Julimar Romero, public information officer of the 600th ABW, said they have also scheduled an orphanage and school outreach programs as part of the pre-anniversary celebration

The bloodletting will be conducted at the Officers’ Club in Clark Air Base on May 27, 2016 while the outreach program for orphans will be held at the Send the Light orphanage in Mabalacat City on June 3, 2016.

The PAF unit is also set to help in the preparation and repair of classrooms at the EPZA Resettlement Elementary School on June 8, 2016.

Romero said that they have set their tree-planting at the Paradise Ranch on June 15.

Major General Raul Del Rosario, PAF First Air Division Commander and Brigadier General Werner Elpedes, 600th air base wing commander, will lead the activities, according to Romero.

Aside from the 600th ABW, the other six major PAF units in Clark Freeport which are also situated inside what is called Air Force City, include the First Air Division, the 410th Maintenance Wing, the 420th Supply Wing, the 710th Special Operations Wing, the Air Force Logistics Command, and the Air Force Reserve Command.

Other Air Force units in Clark will also simultaneously conduct similar activities in line with the anniversary celebration, according to Romero.

China aircraft intercept violated 2015 agreement - US

From InterAksyon (May 27): China aircraft intercept violated 2015 agreement - US

The Pentagon has concluded that an intercept of a US military aircraft by Chinese fighter jets last week over the South China Sea violated an agreement the two governments signed last year, a US defense official said on Thursday.

The Pentagon findings contradict what the Chinese Defense Ministry said earlier in the day.

Last year, the United States and China announced an agreement establishing rules of behavior to govern air-to-air encounters and creating a military hotline.

"The review of the Chinese intercept of one of our reconnaissance aircraft has assessed the intercept to have been unsafe based upon the Memorandum of Understanding with China and International Civil Aviation Organization standards," US Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban told Reuters.

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

Two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet of the US EP-3 aircraft, a US defense official said at the time. The official said the incident took place east of Hainan Island.

The incident came at a time of heightened Sino-American tensions in the South China Sea. China claims most of the area, 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.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news briefing on Thursday that 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 could only provide a "technical standard", and the best way of resolving the problem was for the US to stop such flights.

Urban said the two governments discussed the intercept at this week’s Military Maritime Consultative Agreement talks in Hawaii. "The United States has expressed our concern to China," he said.

The agreement on rules of behavior for air-to-air encounters signed last year was broad in scope, addressing everything from the correct radio frequencies to use during distress calls to the wrong physical behaviors to use during crises.

Last week, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters that it was unclear if China violated the agreement but that their actions were "unsafe."

China eyes war games with Asean members

From the Business Mirror (May 26): China eyes war games with Asean members

THE People’s Republic of China is eyeing to hold military exercises with its neighbors in a move aimed at rivaling the US’s regular war games with Southeast Asian countries.

The move was pushed by Beijing at the sidelines of the ongoing 10th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Lao PDR, which is also being attended by Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin. The meeting ends on May 27.

Asean defense ministers are meeting in Laos, dubbed as China’s surrogate state, to discuss regional security challenges that include terrorism, instability in the Korean Peninsula and disputes in the South and East China Seas. The latter puts China at the center of the discussion.

Gazmin said during the meeting, China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquang proposed that cooperation between Beijing and Southeast Asian states should pursue cooperation, especially in the areas of defense and security, wherein they should join China in a military exercise in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea (SCS/WPS).
Chang’s statement comes at a time when China continues to aggressively pursue claims in the SCS/WPS against smaller claimant states.

According to Gazmin, Chang said Beijing and Southeast Asian countries have a “shared destiny.” He reportedly said China is willing and ready to support Asean’s role in the regional security architecture.

In proposing for the holding of war games with the Asean in the SCS/WPS, China wanted to compete or even challenge the regular military exercises that the US is holding with Asean-member states, one of which is with the Philippines.

The US has been regularly holding war games–called “Balikatan”—with the armed forces of the Philippines forces and of fellow Asean-member countries (acting as observers). Australia, Japan and Singapore have also their respective troops participating in the recent Balikatan.

Japan, to note, is also involved in a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea. The US also conducts military exercises with Malaysia and Singapore.

During the informal meeting, Gazmin reiterated the position of the Philippines that actions of countries, especially in the SCS/WPS, should be guided by the spirit and in conformity with international law.

Gazmin was quoted in a statement as saying the Philippines’s decision to seek arbitration over its maritime territory in the South China Sea “is a clear manifestation of having international law being the anchor of a state’s actions.”

Apparently aiming at China, the defense secretary also stressed that actions of states should be consistent with their policy pronouncements that they are for promoting regional peace and stability.

‘Sabah will continue to be part of Malaysia’

Posted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 27): ‘Sabah will continue to be part of Malaysia’
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman
Sabah does not acknowledge any claim by the Philippines on the state and will maintain the stand, said Chief Minister Musa Aman.

He said Sabah has never recognized or acknowledged any such claim and will continue to be a part of the Malaysian federation.

“Let me clearly state that Sabah is in Malaysia and has chosen to be and will continue to be a part of this sovereign nation since its formation,” he said in a statement Friday in response to Philippine incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to pursue the Sabah claim.

Musa added that the people of Sabah are enjoying peace, stability and economic prosperity within Malaysia.

“Our allegiance is to the Malaysian flag. The claim is irrelevant,” he added.

Earlier, Duterte was quoted by the Philippine Star as saying that he will pursue the Philippines’ claim on Sabah.

He also said he will recognize the claim of the Sulu sultanate as “what has been the policy will always be the policy of the government, especially those for the interests of the country”.

Philippine claim to Sabah to be pursued

From the Philippine Star (May 27): Philippine claim to Sabah to be pursued

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to pursue the Philippine claim to Sabah.

“I’ll stick to our claim,” he said yesterday when asked for his stand on Sabah.

Pressed if he would recognize the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu, Duterte replied: “Yes. What has been the policy will always be the policy of the government, especially those for the interest of the country. We have to stake our claim.”

The Sultanate of Sulu ruled Sabah until it came under the administration of British North Borneo Co. in the late 19th century.

In 1963, the British government made Sabah, then a colony of Britain, part of the newly created Federation of Malaysia.

The Philippines claims that Sabah was only leased, not ceded, to the British North Borneo Co., the administrator of the territory before Britain annexed it.

The heirs of the sultan of Sulu continue to receive lease payments for Sabah.

Malaysia, however, maintains that the international community has been recognizing Sabah as part of its territory since the formation of the federation in 1963.

The dispute over Sabah made headlines again in 2013 after followers of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram entered Lahad Datu in Sabah to assert their rights over the territory.

A series of armed encounters ensued after Kiram’s followers refused to leave despite warnings given by Malaysian government forces.

Dozens of Malaysian security personnel and sultanate followers died during the clashes, which spilled over to other parts of Sabah.

President Aquino has clarified to Malaysia that the Philippine government did not sanction the actions of Kiram’s followers.

G7 leaders agree on sending strong message on South China Sea

From the Philippine Star (May 27): G7 leaders agree on sending strong message on South China Sea 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second left, shares a laugh with other leaders of Group of Seven industrial nations, from left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, left top behind Merkel, Abe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, U.S. President Barack Obama, European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron as they walk out to the family photo session on the first day of the G-7 summit meetings in Shima, Japan, Thursday, May 26, 2016. Japan Pool via AP

The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies have agreed that there is a need to send a strong message on China's maritime claims in the South China Sea.

China is locked in territorial disputes with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines and Vietnam.

"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," Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said.

According to reports, this agreement prompted a sharp rejoinder from China, which is not a member of the G7.

China warned the G7 that it should not meddle with the South China Sea issue and suggested that the group should focus on itself and "not poke its nose into other countries or matters beyond its remit."

"I have made it very clear that the South China Sea issue has nothing to do with the G7 and its members. We believe that the G7 should focus its time and energy on coping with issues within it, and not poke its nose into other countries or matters beyond its remit. This is also good for the G7 itself," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Hua said that come countries are only taking advantage of the G7 and stressed that China is against certain countries hyping up the issue on the sea dispute.

"The South China Sea issue is none of the business of the G7 and its members," Hua said.

The G7 — composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — recently wrapped up their two-day .

AFP budget to be spent on modernization for external defense - military official

From the Philippine Star (May 27): AFP budget to be spent on modernization for external defense - military official 

Navy personnel acting as ushers, carry umbrellas to escort guests as BRP Tarlac, the first ever SSV (Strategic Sealift Vessel) of the Philippine Navy, is docked upon arrival following a two-week voyage from Indonesia Monday, May 16, 2016 at the South Harbor in Manila, Philippines. The BRP Tarlac will have a crew of not less than 500 and will be used in various military and non-military operations including humanitarian assistance and disaster and relief operations. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

A military official said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is bent on allocating its budget on modernization rather than spending it to wage war against fellow Filipinos.
Col. Casiano Monilla, 10th Infantry Division (10th ID) deputy commander, said the budget will instead be used to buy more firearms and other military equipment that will be used for the country's external defense. 
His statement came as the framework for the resumption of peace talks between the communists and incoming president Rodrigo Duterte's administration is still being laid out
"The national budget will then be utilized to modernize the AFP and to train [and] orient personnel for external defense," Monilla told reporters during the AFP-PNP (Philippine National Police) press conference held at the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) last Wednesday morning.
Monilla, who served in Mindanao's rebel-controlled areas for decades, lauded Duterte's intention to have lasting peace in the country. 
He also expressed his support to Duterte's plan to release "political prisoners." He said it is necessary to address the AFP's competency by improving its military's capability.
"I have longed for a form of government that will embrace all ideas basta iisa lang ang Armed Forces," he said.
He added that the AFP will be among the firsts to express their gratitude once the peace talks with the communist groups resume.
"Napakaganda kung ang left groups na ating kausap ay magiging well-meaning din sa kanilang sasabihin with the government," he said.
He added, "Sana mangyari na (peace) so we could as well live with the mandate of the country: to serve and protect its people, all Filipinos."
Monilla assured that the AFP will continue to abide by their commands.
"Our soldiers were taught to really follow the duly-constituted authorities, the law, and even the decision of the people entrusted to govern us," he concluded.

Police intel officer slain; 3 suspects nabbed

From ABS-CBN (May 27): Police intel officer slain; 3 suspects nabbed

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna - Authorities arrested Thursday three suspects in the killing of a police intelligence officer in Lumban, Laguna.

Senior Inspector Vicente Jarque Jr., Pagsanjan police chief, identified the suspects as Moises Bagabaldo, Nino Flores and Brenn Collin Almario.

Jarque said the three were tagged in the killing of PO3 Dustin Gomez who was gunned down along the National Highway in Barangay San Isidro, Pagsanjan, Laguna on Thursday evening.
Police said the suspects were positively identified by Gomez's wife who was riding with her husband when the victim was waylaid.

A bus conductor, who witnessed the shooting, led the police to an alley where the gunmen escaped after the shooting.

Police recovered a caliber 45 pistol, carbine rifle, and a hand grenade from the three suspects.

Probers have yet to determine the motive of the killing while cases of murder and illegal possession of firearms are being readied for filing against the suspects.

Spratly Islands, Scarborough, Sabah are ours – Duterte

From Update.Ph (Mar 27): Spratly Islands, Scarborough, Sabah are ours – Duterte  

Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte said, during a press conference Wednesday midnight that lasted until the first hours of Thursday, that the Philippines owns Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal which are well inside the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in West Philippine Sea, and Sabah in southern Philippines.

“Whether you want to believe it or not, that is beside the point. The point is, that is ours,” Duterte said referring to Spratly Islands, as quoted by Manila Bulletin.

“We are allowing proprietary heirs to talk (with Malaysia). Since it is part of our claim, it will be there as our land,” the soon-to-be seated president said pertaining to Sabah.

He also told the media what he told Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during their meeting when the Chinese envoy visited to congratulate him for winning the presidential election.

“I told [the Chinese envoy], whether you like it or not, that’s ours. The least you can do since it is in the arbitration stage, you might want to allow our brother-fishermen [to operate fishing],” Duterte said.

“You put something there (Philippines EEZ) that would obstruct or impede our movement in the exercise of that right, it’s a violation of our rights and the law of the seas,” he said.

Outgoing President Noynoy Aquino said Thursday that the are no Chinese reclamation works in Scarborough Shoal.

Aquino said the Philippine government is taking two-track approach to prevent possible attempt by China to extend its massive reclamation in the disputed West Philippine Sea up to the Scarborough Shoal which is clearly within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone” of the Philippines.

“One, is to work with ASEAN, and, of course, is arbitration and we are awaiting the decision,” he said.

Ending internal conflict means more budget for AFP modernization – Army Colonel

From Update.Ph (May 27): Ending internal conflict means more budget for AFP modernization – Army Colonel  

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines will have more budget for modernization if peace negotiation under Duterte administration with the communists becomes successful, this was expressed by 10th Infantry ‘Agila’ Division (10ID) deputy commander Colonel Casiano Monilla during a press conference Wednesday in Davao City.

This will also shift the focus of AFP from internal conflict to external defense.

The 10ID of the Philippine Army is responsible for Davao Region (Region 11), parts of Region 12 (Sarangani, South Cotabato, 2nd District of North Cotabato and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat), Trento, Agusan del Sur and Lingig Surigao del Sur. It conducts support operations in order to assist stakeholders create a just and peaceful environment conducive to sustainable development in the area of responsibility.

“The national budget will then be utilized to modernize the AFP and to train/orient personnel for external defense,” Colonel Monilla said.

“I have longed for a form of government that will embrace all ideas basta iisa lang ang Armed Forces,” he said.

Colonel Monilla said, in a report by Inquirer, that 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.

Malaysia to punish naval personnel who mauled Filipino fishermen

From Update.Ph (May 27): Malaysia to punish naval personnel who mauled Filipino fishermen  

The Malaysian government said it will punish the perpetrators in the mauling of three Filipino fishermen, May 9, who were apprehended by Malaysian naval authority 18 nautical miles southwest off Rizal Reef. The Malaysian government added that compensation for mauled Filipinos is currently being discussed.

“The Malaysian government regrets the incident. They have informed us they are already in the process of the punishment for the people who did it. In any form, whether agitated or not, beating up is not acceptable,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Rene Almendras said Thursday.

“We have been assured we are monitoring the actions on the naval personnel involved on this. Discussions on compensation and for the fishermen is also in advanced stages,” Almendras added.

The three Filipino fishermen, all from Subic, Zambales, were nabbed on grounds that they were allegedly fishing illegally in Malaysian waters.

“The fact that they were released the same day and they were returned immediately and there was no cover-up as far as the Malaysian navy is concerned. The people who did it were immediately taken into consideration,” Almendras said. “It proves we have very good relationship.”

The Philippine Navy has a detachment at Rizal Reef.

“Upon arrival at the Rizal Reef Detachment, our troops stationed thereat, received the three Filipino fishermen from Malaysian nationals, and immediately provided the necessary assistance, support, means of transportation and medical attention. We also made the necessary report, and communicated same to the cognizant agencies that would immediately address the situation,” Western Command (WESCOM) Captain Cheryl Tindog said.

NDF nominates Rafael Mariano for DAR post

From Rappler (May 27): NDF nominates Rafael Mariano for DAR post

Also known as Ka Paeng, the former Anakpawis party list representative chairs the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

DAR CHIEF? KMP chairman Rafael 'Ka Paeng' Mariano attends the KMP Peasant's Agenda forum also attended by then presidential candidate Rody Duterte in February 2016. Photo from

DAR CHIEF? KMP chairman Rafael 'Ka Paeng' Mariano attends the KMP Peasant's Agenda forum also attended by then presidential candidate Rody Duterte in February 2016. Photo from 

National Democratic Front has nominated former Anakpawis party list representative Rafael Mariano as agrarian reform secretary, NDF spokesman Fidel Agcaoili confirmed on Friday, May 27.

Agcaoili said Mariano is among the list of NDF nominees for Cabinet positions submitted to president-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
"Yes, Ka Paeng was nominated for DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform]," Agcaoili told Rappler on Friday.
Mariano, also known as Ka Paeng, is the chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), a militant farmers’ group that has led many protests against the Aquino administration’s implementation of agrarian reform and agriculture programs.
The NDF refused to divulge other names on its list.
“The list cannot be made public unless Duterte makes it public,” said a staff of the NDF joint monitoring committee.
But Agcaoili confirmed the names of Mariano and University of the Philippines professor and women’s rights advocate Judy Taguiwalo, the NDF nominee for social welfare secretary.
KMP welcomed the news of Mariano’s nomination.
“Incoming president Duterte should seriously consider the NDFP’s nomination of Ka Paeng to effect significant policy changes in the agrarian front,” said KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores in a May 27 statement.
On Wednesday, Duterte announced that he had received a “very impressive” list of nominees from NDF. He said 4 of the nominees are women.
Duterte has offered the Left the chance to nominate secretaries for 4 departments: Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of Labor and Employment.
Duterte, however, has chosen former justice secretary Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III to lead DOLE, an appointment which NDF has accepted.
“We raised no objections to Bello's appointment considering his track record of being a patriot and a progressive,” Agcaoili said on Friday.
The Left also considered Bayan Muna party list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate as a possible nominee for environment secretary.
Duterte is yet to decide if he will go with these nominees. But on Wednesday, he said he was “inclined to give in.”

Who can be buried at Heroes' Cemetery? AFP explains rules

From Rappler (May 27): Who can be buried at Heroes' Cemetery? AFP explains rules

In the 103-hectare Heroes' Cemetery – the designated resting place for Filipino soldiers, war veterans, and citizens considered as heroes and martyrs – around 49,000 are buried

HEROES' CEMETERY. The Libingan ng mga Bayani is the final resting place for Filipino military personnel, Filipino heroes and martyrs. Photo by Aissa Richards on Wikipedia

HEROES' CEMETERY. The Libingan ng mga Bayani is the final resting place for Filipino military personnel, Filipino heroes and martyrs. Photo by Aissa Richards on Wikipedia

Given the continuing controversy over the proposed burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday, May 27, explained the guidelines on who may be interred at the cemetery.

The Heroes' Cemetery, a property of the AFP, is the designated resting place for Filipino soldiers, war veterans, and citizens considered as heroes and martyrs.

In the 103-hectare cemetery, around 49,000 are buried. This includes late Philippine presidents, national artists, scientists, dignitaries, and AFP chiefs of staff.

Burial at the cemetery – considered sacred ground for Filipino heroes – has been a topic of controversy in recent days, after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said he would allow Marcos' burial at the cemetery.

The proposal is opposed by various sectors, including some relatives of those buried there. (READ: Relatives mull move out of Heroes' Cemetery to protest Marcos burial)

In a press release, the AFP said that under its regulations, the following persons are qualified to be interred at the cemetery:
  • Medal of Valor awardees
  • Presidents or commander-in-chief, AFP
  • Secretaries of national defense
  • AFP chiefs of staff
  • Generals/flag officers of the AFP
  • Active and retired military personnel of the AFP (including active draftees and trainees who died in line of duty, and active reservists and CAFGU Active Auxiliary who died in combat-related activities)
  • Former members of the AFP who laterally entered or joined the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police
  • Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1890, World War I, World War II, and recognized guerrillas
  • Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artist and other deceased persons whose interment and re-interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress or the secretary of national defense
  • Former presidents, secretaries of defense, dignitaries, statesmen, national artists, widows of former presidents, secretaries of national defense and chief of staff
However, those who have been dishonorably discharged from service, or personnel convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, do not qualify for interment at the cemetery.

The AFP said there are 46 allocated grave sites for presidents; 94 plots for secretaries of national defense, government dignitaries and statesmen; 133 for the AFP chiefs of staff; 118 for Medal of Valor awardees; 183 for other generals and flag officers; 5,334 for World War II veterans; and 1,375 for national artists and scientists.

The rest of the grave sites are designated for retired AFP personnel and veterans.

MCC positive of anti-poverty project sustainability

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): MCC positive of anti-poverty project sustainability

Top officials of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is optimistic of the sustainability of USD434 million US-funded projects in the country as they celebrate the end of five-year compact.

MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana Hyde said building the capacities of beneficiaries has raised their confidence that these projects will have lasting impacts in poor communities.

Hyde and MCC Board member and President of the International Republican Institute Mark Green was in Leyte on Thursday to check a footbridge project in Barugo town and talk with project recipients.

On Wednesday, the two officials met with President Benigno Aquino III and some cabinet members to highlight compact accomplishments.

“Sustainability is always in the forefront of our discussions. We are happy that there are legislations in placed and local government organize maintenance groups. What’s interesting here is organizing beneficiaries to maintain a project. That is very innovative,” Hyde said.

The first compact was signed in 2010 and has ended on May 25, 2016. The Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) implemented the projects, focusing on three areas - improvement of tax revenue collection and administration, rehabilitation of secondary road network in Samar provinces, and funded about 4,000 small-scale community development projects in rural poor communities.

With the revenue reform, the MCC reported more than USD300 million in additional taxes have been generated since 2013, and these figures continue to grow.

Road rehabilitation covers 222 kilometers of coastal and mountainous roads and 61 bridges connecting Samar and Eastern Samar provinces. It reduced transportation costs, expanded commerce, and helped raise incomes of locals.

The compact’s community-driven development project, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Linking Arms Against Poverty) Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – known as Kalahi-CIDSS – has funded thousands of projects in basic infrastructure and social services based on needs identified and prioritized by residents across Filipino communities.

"Kalahi-CIDSS here is an international model of Community-Driven Development (CDD) and its impact. I thank the Filipinos for being the teaching instrument for MCC. We are strong believers now in CDD," Hyde added.

MCC eyes transpo, power as focus on second deal

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): MCC eyes transpo, power as focus on second deal
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is looking at transportation and energy as priority areas in the development of second compact or agreement to further poverty-reducing support in the Philippines.

MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana Hyde said it is too early to pronounce, but based on initial analysis, the two sectors need more support from the US government to improve the living condition of poor families.

“We’re taking a look at cost of transportation, cost of energy, and certainly the world economy in the Philippines and how to create value and opportunity,” Hyde told reporters in a press briefing at the Tacloban Airport late Thursday afternoon.

Hyde said that an economic team from the US is now working with their counterparts in the country to analyze economic indicators and identify priority sectors.

“We’re making a good progress on compact 2, but we are still on early stages of analysis,” the official said.

In December 2014, the MCC has selected the Philippines as eligible to develop a second compact or agreement- with MCC to continue its fight against poverty.

“This is the first time ever that a country still working on compact 1, which is doing so well, that the board decided to give green light to go ahead and begin developing compact 2,” said MCC Board member and President of the International Republican Institute Mark Green.

“I think many of us in the board thought it was a good idea, but we had a doubt because that’s the first time ever. But what everything I see tells that it was a wise choice,” Green added.

The Philippines compact project was signed on Sept. 23, 2010 by President Benigno S. Aquino III and then US Secretary of State and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Chair Hillary Clinton.

MCC’s compact with the Philippines has ended on May, 26, 2016. It implemented poverty-reduction projects, focusing on three areas - improvement of tax revenue collection and administration, rehabilitation of secondary road network in Samar provinces, and funded about 4,000 small-scale community development projects in poor rural communities.

Hyde is optimistic that partnership will be sustained even with the change of administration in the country.

“People of the United States and the Philippines have strong and deep partnership. We have reasons to believe that this will continue. We’re very much looking forward to working with the new administration as we shape the second investment,” she added.

DND chief's proposal to establish cyber security working group gets okay from ADMM

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): DND chief's proposal to establish cyber security working group gets okay from ADMM

The Department of National Defense (DND) has announced that the Philippine proposal to establish a cyber security working group in the ADMM-Plus was given the green light by the group.

Approval of this proposal took place last May 25 when the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) took place in Vientiane, Laos.

By leveraging individual ASEAN-Plus capabilities, DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the working group will promote practical cooperation in addressing cyber security challenges.

The proposal was made by the DND chief during the ADMM Retreat in Malaysia last November. It was thoroughly processed within the ASEAN, culminating in the adoption of the concept paper.

The Philippines and New Zealand will co-chair the working group from 2017 to 2020.

Meanwhile, the Philippines forwarded another proposal which hopefully would once more be positively considered by the ADMM: the inclusion of coast guards and other maritime forces in the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) which currently covers only naval forces.

In a related development, the ministers agreed as indicated in their issued Joint Declaration that they will commence work on crafting protocols of interaction to avoid misunderstanding and prevent undesirable incidents in the West Philippine Sea.

The ministers also reiterated the importance of expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Gazmin thanked his fellow defense ministers for welcoming him into the ADMM process when he assumed his post as secretary of National Defense in 2010.

He requested his fellow defense ministers to extend the same warm welcome to the next DND chief.

Gazmin is confident that the same professional interaction and personal ties will likewise be developed with the next defense secretary.

Include coast guards, other maritime forces in CUES --Gazmin

From the Philippine News Agency (May 27): Include coast guards, other maritime forces in CUES --Gazmin

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is hoping the ASEAN Defense Ministers will consider the Philippine proposal to include coast guards and other maritime forces in the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

At the moment, CUES only covers naval forces.

Gazmin raised this issue during the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Vientaine, Laos last May 25.

The DND chief is hoping the ADMM will "positively consider" his proposal.

CUES is an agreement reached at the 2014 Western Pacific Naval Symposium to reduce the chance of an incident at sea between the countries in the agreement, and - in the event that one occurs - to prevent it from escalating.

Twenty-one countries have joined the agreement, namely: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, the United States and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the ministers agreed as indicated in their issued Joint Declaration that they will commence work on crafting protocols of interaction to avoid misunderstanding and prevent undesirable incidents in the West Philippine Sea.

The ministers also reiterated the importance of expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Treason? Aquino explains decisions during Scarborough standoff

From Rappler (May 27): Treason? Aquino explains decisions during Scarborough standoff

President Benigno Aquino III stands by his decision to take the battle to the international arena while restraining the Philippine Navy from aggressively challenging China

ALLIES. President Benigno S. Aquino III (second from left) and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (rightmost) with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japan Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa. Photo by Lauro Montellano Jr/Malacanang Photo Bureau

ALLIES. President Benigno S. Aquino III (second from left) and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (rightmost) with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japan Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa. Photo by Lauro Montellano Jr/Malacanang Photo Bureau

In the twilight of his administration, President Benigno Aquino III looked back at the 2012 standoff in Scarborough Shoal to explain his decisions on the incident that sparked the high-profile conflict between Manila and Beijing.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who will inherit the conflict, vowed during the campaign to investigate how the country lost effective control of the shoal located 120 nautical miles off Zambales province, declaring that "treason" might have been committed.
Asked about the allegation, Aquino shrugged off the claim in a news briefing on Thursday, May 26. He quoted theologist and philosopher St Thomas Aquinas in standing by his decision to take the battle to the international arena while restraining the Philippine Navy from aggressively challenging China.
"Treason? I’d like to hear the specific charge para (so that) I can respond appropriately. Pero simpleng-simple lang naman ito (But ihis is very simple)," Aquino said.
China reclaimed at least 7 maritime features in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), building artificial islands that now host its runways and missiles. Chinese Coast Guard vessels have practically occupied Scarborough Shoal, but Aquino said no construction has been done in the shoal near Zambales province.
It was an issue Duterte raised against his critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who did backchanneling talks between the Philippines and China, during the campaign. It was in response to Trillanes' ill-gotten weatlh accusations against him days before the May 9 elections.
Don't give up territorial sovereignty
The outspoken Davao mayor said during the campaign that he will jestki to a Chinese-occupied maritime feature in the Spratly Islands and hoist the Philippine flag on it to proclaim the country's ownership of the disputed territory.
These remarks suggested that the president-elect would depart from the strategy of the Aquino administration and engage China more aggressively.
But Duterte has since flip-flopped. He said he wants friendly relations with China, and prefers bilateral or one-on-one talks with the Asian giant – the latter's preferrred mode of negotiations over multilateral talks.
This has prompted a reminder from Aquino that no Philippine president "can afford to give up any portion of territorial sovereignty." Former President Gloria Arroyo had been accused of treason for allowing joint exploration in the disputed seas – the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking among the Philippines, China, and Vietnam. (READ: Why China prefers Arroyo over Aquino)
But Aquino said sending the navy to counter China is also morally wrong considering the state of the Philippine military – one of the weakest in Asia. China is a military superpower determined to challenge US military dominance in the West Philippine Sea.
International support
In finding the appropriate response, the Aquino administration instead brought the dispute to the international arena and asked the global community to pressure China to adhere to international law. (READ: G7 says 'concerned' by situation in East, South China Sea)
"Ano ba dapat ang ginawa natin diyan (What should we do in that situation)? Engage in hostilities? If we engage in hostilities there, can we win? O ‘di obviously hindi (Obviously, we won't). Pero (But) even in that aspect, are we endangering lives unnecessarily?," Aquino said.
"Iyong maski papasukan natin ‘yung (Even if we consider the) moral dimension, I think it was St Thomas Aquinas who talked about 'just war.' And part of his treatise was: if you engage in war, there has to be that possibility of winning. Kapag guaranteed na hindi (If it is a guaranteed defeat), ‘di ba, that was one of the tenets, tapos may (then there is) exhaustion of all means," he added.
Military actions will not help the Philippine case, Aquino said. "The opinions of some of our legal experts were if we go back to a confrontational attitude in terms of sending, for example, a BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) vessel again to the area, that might not help our case."
But the Philippines also signed a new agreement with the US to allow its treaty ally to construct facilities and preposition assets in the Philippines, and agreed to initiate talks with Japan to allow its troops in the country.
US brokered to end standoff
The standoff in Scarborough happened after the Philippine Navy warship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar arrested Chinese fishing vessels poaching in traditional fishing grounds for Filipino fishermen from Pangasinan and neighboring provinces.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels stopped the arrest, fueling the standoff that Aquino said eventually involved the Philippines' treaty ally, the US.

The US brokered and there was an agreement for all parties to depart the shoal. There was even a concept of “saving face” by everybody," said Aquino. The Philippines withdrew, but China did not.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels have since practically occupied the shoal, preventing Filipino fishermen access to their traditional fishing grounds.

"Their continued presence is something that we have continuously objected to," said Aquino.
The Philippines was criticized for sending a war ship instead of a civilian BFAR vessel, which sent an aggressive signal to China. But Aquino said the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar – a hand-me-down from the US Coast Guard – was on its way to monitor North Korea's nuclear missile test launch when it spotted the Chinese poachers. It was later replaced by BFAR vessels.

China's refusal to withdraw its ships eventually prompted the Philippines to file a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands. Citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Philippines asked the international body to decide which country has the right over the disputed maritime features.

Adherence to international law

The international court is expected to issue its ruling before Aquino steps down on June 30.

The Philippines is also actively urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to assert itself in the resolution. ASEAN has signed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) with China which the latter has not adhered to.
Section 5 of the DOC states: “The parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including among others refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”
"We want to stress the difference between the Philippines’ and China’s behavior in that we are religiously adhering to the DOC, which is the only agreement entered into that is supposed to provide the principles but binding on all of the signatories," Aquino said at news briefing on Thursday.
"And I think we have demonstrated our complete adherence to international law, number one. Number two, all the agreements that this country has entered into, even before my time, we have been scrupulously observing the same. It underpins that we all believe that the great equalizer among nations big and small – these international laws that should be binding on everybody," he added.
The Scarborough incident, Aquino noted, happened after China harassed a Philippine company exploring Reed Bank, an area believed to be rich in oil. Some camps have claimed that Reed Bank is the real target of China, a consequence of the JMSU.

Duterte urged to review defense pacts with US on VFA 17th anniversary

From InterAksyon (May 27): Duterte urged to review defense pacts with US on VFA 17th anniversary

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan urged incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to “take a long, hard look” at the Visiting Forces Agreement and other defense pacts with the US.

Friday marked the 17th anniversary of the VFA’s signing. The defense agreement allows the “rotational” presence of American forces in the country, but nationalists say it is tantamount to letting foreign troops stay permanently.

In 2014, the two countries signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, described as an adjunct of the VFA but which critics describe as a de facto basing agreement since it allows the Americans to use local military facilities. Recently, the government bared five locations around the country, including former American military bases, which will be opened to US use under the EDCA.

“We urge the incoming Duterte administration to conduct a review of the 17 years that we've had a VFA with the US, taking note of the violations of national sovereignty as well as ascertaining the supposed benefits that we are supposed to get from the agreement,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

“We also urge the new administration to suspend the implementation of the five agreed locations offered by the Philippines under EDCA to the US for the setting up of new bases,” he added.

“The review and termination of these defense agreements are well within the power of the next president,” Reyes stressed. 

The Bayan officer said that aside from violating the country’s sovereignty, the VFA has led to the actual involvement by US forces in local military operations, citing the January 2015 Mamasapano incident, in which 44 police commandos, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters and three civilians were killed in the disastrous covert mission to get the Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.

American operatives were confirmed to have provided intelligence during the operation and helped evacuate casualties. A finger taken from the body of the slain Malaysian was also handed directly to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Through the VFA, Reyes said, “the US has also undermined and disrespected our own legal system when it insists on custody of American soldiers facing trial in our courts.”

He also dismissed what he called “the biggest and most laughable myth” to justify the VFA and EDCA – “that the US, by stationing troops and setting up bases in the Philippines, will defend our sovereignty versus China.”

“The US does not take sides in the dispute with China. The US is merely looking after its own interest in the region,” he said. “Our strategic dependence on the US has made us weak. It is time to break free from the neo-colonial relations with the US and start strengthening our own economy and capacity for external defense.”

Duterte plans to visit Jolo to talk to Misuari

From MindaNews (May 26): Duterte plans to visit Jolo to talk to Misuari

When he takes over the presidency, incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte will visit in Jolo, Sulu Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari, who was reportedly disappointed after some of his leaders were not accommodated in Duterte’s three-day schedule for well wishers last week.

In a press conference early morning Thursday, Duterte said he will talk to Misuari to personally apologize when MNLF leaders failed to see him last week when several diplomats, businessmen, celebrities, and politicians visited the mayor here.

“I will find the time but I have to talk to him whether he is available or not. I do not think Misuari wants to travel [because] he is facing charges, which means to say he is a fugitive. This is one of the fronts that we have to talk about,” he said.

Duterte again apologized, saying that they did not intend to “snub” the MILF leaders at the Matina Enclaves, the venue where Duterte received his guests where he stayed for more than 20 hours on the first day.

He said that they were not notified that some MNLF leaders were coming.

He added that he will also do the same for the New Peoples’ Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) whose leader Jose Maria Sison, Duterte’s former professor on Political Thought at the Lyceum of the Philippines, will come home to talk peace with the new administration.

“Magpunta ako sa bukid just to chika chika (I will go to the mountains to talk with them). There are still troops of the government na nandyan sa inyo. Can I go to you again and ask for their freedom?” he said.

But talks between him and Sison will still have to wait until he assumes his post as president in order to facilitate his former professor’s return to the Philippines. He assured he would send an invitation to Sison.

“I cannot give you the invitation now because I am not yet the president, and I cannot guarantee anything about the conduct, the safety. Maybe you can wait until the 30th of June. By the time, inshalla (God willing), I will give you letter inviting you to come home,” a hopeful Duterte said.

Duterte also wishes to unite all tribes and religions of Mindanao by stopping the practice of labeling its people as Moros, Christians, and Lumads.

“Yan lang naman ang gusto ko sa buhay before I make my exit. And also we have to stop talking about the Moro, the Christians and the Lumads. We can simply call ourselves Mindawon,” he said.

He said there is a need to end the decades-old armed struggle to prevent losing more lives in the battlefield, including that of the civilians.

“I told you I was in college in the 1970s when I heard talk about communism. I am 71 years old now, with eight grandchildren, and two wives, and still there is war going on…. We kill for what? For nothing. You know war by itself is a dirty word,” he said.

Reds name 2 ex-solons, ex-UP prof for Cabinet

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (May 27): Reds name 2 ex-solons, ex-UP prof for Cabinet


Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is considering appointing four women to his Cabinet who will be drawn from what he called an “impressive” list of 10 nominees submitted by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“The Left has given an impressive list of people who have the talent. I am inclined to give in,” Duterte told reporters in a midnight news conference in Davao City on Thursday.

Of the 10 people on the NDFP list, Duterte said four were women. He did not release their names, as “if it does not push through, it might embarrass them.”

A source told the Inquirer that former University of the Philippines professor Judy Taguiwalo was on the list, as well as former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and former Solicitor General Silvestre Bello III.

The source said Zarate backed out, adding he would be replaced on the list by former Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

Casiño served in the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. He advocated the lowering of prices of electricity, oil and water as well as regulation in the price of education, healthcare, mobile communications, tolls and other utilities and services.

He was the principal author of four laws: the Public Attorneys Act of 2007 (Republic Act [RA] No. 9406), which strengthened the Public Attorneys Office and expanded its free legal services to poor litigants; the Tax Relief Act of 2009 (RA 9504), which exempted minimum wage earners from withholding taxes; the Rent Control Act of 2009 (RA 9653), which put a cap on rent for low-income earners, and the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (RA 9745), which penalized torture.

Casiño ran for a Senate seat in 2013 but lost because he could “not overcome the obstacles of traditional, patronage politics.”
Already in

Duterte has already appointed Bello as his labor secretary.

Bello served as solicitor general during the Ramos administration, from September 1996 to February 1998 and again on June 9-30, 1998.

He was also appointed secretary of justice in July 1990. Prior to that, he was ex-officio commissioner of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board and director of the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Bello is a known human rights lawyer in Davao. He was among those who helped defend former priest and rebel Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, who became Duterte’s city administrator.

Farmers’ defender

Mariano is the national chair of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. He previously served as the group’s first secretary general, in 1985-1990, and vice chair, in 1990-1993.

He was elected chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), serving from 1998 to 2004. He served one term as representative of the Anakpawis party-list group in the House, from 2004-2007.

Mariano was part of the “Batasan 5,” which included fellow militant lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Casiño and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna, and Liza Maza of Gabriela.

They were among 16 people charged with plotting to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

In May 2006, the five lawmakers, who claimed to be victims of political persecution, appealed to be placed under the protective custody of the House to evade warrantless arrest following then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of a state of national emergency under Proclamation No. 1017, ostensibly to crush threats from both the extreme Left and the extreme Right.
Political prisoner

Taguiwalo is a retired professor at the Women and Development Studies Department in the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

She heads the Women’s Committee of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, a national organization of teaching and nonteaching staff. She is also an officer of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development.

Taguiwalo was also the founding national president of All-UP Academic Employees Union, the union of rank-and-file faculty and nonteaching academic personnel of UP.

She was a political prisoner during the martial law period and spent over three years in various prisons in the country for resisting the Marcos dictatorship.
Peace talks

“I have submitted the documents to a screening committee. The reason why I am talking to them is, I was once upon a time left of center,” said Duterte, who is offering Cabinet positions in his incoming administration to communist rebels as a confidence-building measure for resuming peace talks with the NDFP.

Peace talks with the NDFP has been largely stalled during the Aquino administration.
Among the positions in Duterte’s Cabinet that remain unfilled are the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Defense.

Mining problem

Duterte earlier said that he was opening the environment post to nominees of the NDFP. On Wednesday, however, he said he was taking back his offer because he now wanted a military man who could use force to regulate the mining industry.

“Initially, I said DENR is for the Left, but I forgot we’ve got a very serious problem in mining,” Duterte said. “The oligarchs are really abusing the land. They will destroy the land, and they will stop only if they get billions.”

He said that if necessary, he would use the military to shut down mining operations.
The Inquirer source said the NDFP had nominated Zarate for the environment post, but replaced him with Casiño after he backed out.

But with Duterte’s preference for a military man for the environment post, Casiño may be considered for another position.

Duterte said he was open to offering more positions not just to progressive groups but also to top communist leaders if the peace process made progress.

“If we can talk smoothly, and Joma (Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison) will come home in July, I am ready to give all (communist) leaders positions,” he said.

At one of the presidential debates during the campaign, Duterte said he might appoint a woman to the tourism portfolio, “or finance if she’s really smart.”

But the finance job went to Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez, who was appointed last week.
One woman, so far

So far, Duterte has selected only one woman, former Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo, to join his Cabinet.  She will head state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Duterte has also appointed his classmates Vitaliano Aguirre as justice secretary and Arthur Tugade as transportation and communication secretary.

He has chosen former Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Perfecto Yasay Jr. as his foreign secretary and former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol as his agriculture secretary.

Duterte has appointed lawyer Salvador Medialdea as his executive secretary and lawyer Salvador Panelo as presidential spokesperson.

He has also appointed Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar as his public works secretary, Jesus Dureza as presidential adviser on the peace process, former Manila International Airport Authority chief Alfonso Cusi as energy secretary and economist Ernesto Pernia as head of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Duterte has tapped Jose Calida, a former justice undersecretary, as his solicitor general, and former military chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. as his national security adviser.
Duterte said he would meet with his Cabinet in Davao next week.

“I’ll be meeting them all as a group for the first time. I want a Cabinet that is not hostile to  each other,” he said.

Duterte said he wanted his Cabinet officials to “work and give the people their money’s worth.”

He said he wanted to make his six years as President a “reconciliatory reign.”
“By the time I step down as President, there will be no Left, no Right, Moro or Christian, so we can build the nation in peace,” he said.