Friday, June 3, 2016

Maute Group, ASG share terrorism objective – military

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): Maute Group, ASG share terrorism objective – military

Military officers from various units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday shared just about the same observation and conclusion that the Maute Group operating in Lanao del Sur and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan and Sulu are both Islamic extremists advocating terrorism.

"They are one and the same," said the chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Major Gen. Arnold Quiapo.

However, while they share the same Islamic objectives, Philippine 1st Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Gerardo Barrientos pointed out, "there was no 'interchanges' or 'touring' of members from one group to another between the two.

"Each group operates independently in a very distinct environment, even though both the Maute group and ASG are known to harbor foreign terrorists," Barrientos said.

Barrientos' command is at the forefront dealing with the two terror groups.

The military is back on the battlefront in the town of Butig, Lanao del Sur after the Maute group, led by Abdullah Maute, brother of the slain co-leader Omar, re-occupied territory there that used to be their lair before the military pounced and flushed them out in several days of battle in February this year.

Barrientos has ordered the augmentation of more troops in Butig to conduct pursuit operations. Dozens of fighters from the terror group had been killed, while two soldiers so far have died on the government side in fresh clashes.

"The two groups subscribe to the ideals of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, even though each of them has unique characteristics," Quiapo said, pointing out that the Maute group members are mostly "remnants" of defunct units of the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with a string of criminal cases filed against them at various local courts.

"Some of the members are just sympathizers forced to join the group because of their involvement in the February clashes with government troops. They are not that many in numbers. In fact, a good number of them have already deserted, for obvious reasons," Quiapo elaborated.

Quiapo declined to explain how the group sustains it operations and logistics, except to say that, like the ASG, the Maute group has also been engaged in "mass work" to obtain support from the local populace, especially from relatives.

The incoming AFP chief of staff, Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya has hinted that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte wants the Abu Sayyaf terminated before he steps down from the presidency.

US designates CPP-NPA, Abu Sayyaf as terror groups anew

From the Philippine Star (Jun 3): US designates CPP-NPA, Abu Sayyaf as terror groups anew

The Communist Party of the Philippines's armed wing, the New People's Army, as well as the Abu Sayyaf group return to the United States's list of foreign terrorist organizations, according to a report released Friday (Manila time).

The US Department of State's Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, released usually every June, named 58 foreign militant organizations linked to terror activities the past year. These groups are also seen to be threats to the security of US nationals, defense, foreign relations and economy.

First put on the list by the State department in 2002, the CPP-NPA was seen to be behind at least four incidents that led to the deaths of Philippine security personnel the past year.

The group was also said to be behind an attack on a Dole plantation in Bukidnon in January last year, burning down the facility and chopped down more than 700 banana trees. Dole is a multinational food company that started in Hawaii.

"Over the past few years, CPP-NPA has continued to carry out killings, raids, kidnappings, acts of extortion, and other forms of violence primarily directed against security forces," the report stated.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also attributes to the communist guerillas the deaths of 383 people, including 158 civilians, in encounters with government forces, the report noted.

The US State department said the CPP-NPA has had a "long history of attacking US interests in the Philippines," citing four separate operations in Angeles City that killed three American soldiers.

Communist rebel negotiator Fidel Agcaoili gestures during a rare news conference Thursday, June 2, 2016 in Quezon City, Philippines. Agcaoili said communist guerrillas will demand an end to US military presence in the Philippines as the insurgents and the government of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte brace to resume long-stalled peace talks. AP/Bullit Marquez

Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed interest in reviving long-stalled peace talks with the CPP, even offering them positions in his Cabinet. The left-leaning organization said Thursday, however, that it will demand an end to US military presence in the country if it were to forge a pact with the government.

The Philippines government estimates CPP-NPA membership to be about 4,000. The State department, meanwhile, also said that the CPP-NPA raises funds through extortion and theft.

'Most violent' in the Philippines

The State department's report, similarly tagging the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf as terrorists, dubbed it the "most violent terrorist group operating in the Philippines."

"[The Abu Sayyaf] claims to promote an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago," the report said.

Remaining active since it was first placed on the list in 1997, the Abu Sayyaf was found to be behind road ambush incidents, abduction of locals and foreigners, extortion, public beheadings and assassinations.

In September 2015, the Abu Sayyaf was blamed for the armed abduction of two Canadians, a Norwegian, and a Filipino woman from the Holiday Oceanview Samal Resort on Samal Island. Earlier this year, the group released a video showing its beheading of Canadian national John Ridsdel, earning the condemnation of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It also beheaded a Malaysian hostage in November last year after demands for ransom were not met.

The report said the Abu Sayyaf poses a continuous threat to US interests, citing an oath of allegiance made by its leader, FBI-wanted terrorist Isnilon Hapilon, to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Besides the CPP-NPA and the Abu Sayyaf, another terror organization identified to be partly operating in the Philippines is the Jemaah Islamiyah, tagged in an attempt to carry out attacks during the visit of Pope Francis to Manila and Tacloban in January 2015. The group is also found to operate in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Trillanes is nothing, Joma says as talks readied

From The Standard (Jun 3): Trillanes is nothing, Joma says as talks readied

COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison dismissed critics of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front even as he announced that negotiators are scheduled to meet in Oslo, Norway on June 15 for preliminary discussions.

Singling out coup plotter Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Sison warned against people out to sabotage the talks, especially because of the high prospect of concluding a final peace agreement with the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

“The preliminary talks will start mid-June in Oslo and we’re confident it will be a good start as part of confidence building in preparation for a formal peace talks,” Sison told reporters in a tele-conference held at the headquarters of the Ibon Foundation in Quezon City.

“The Duterte government and NDF should watch any coup plot. Trillanes is nothing,” Sison said. “When Duterte and the NDF get together for the country, we will be able to quash such plots. Do not be afraid to fight. Let us trod the right path to change.”

Criticizing the administration of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III for its “hypocrisy” in pursuing talks with the Reds, Sison said he is confident negotiators will smoothly agree on a substantive agenda without delay.

Duterte has designated incoming presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza and incoming labor secretary Silvestre Bello III as government negotiators while NDF leaders Luis Jalandoni and Fidel Agcaoili will represent the communist movement.

Sison also revealed that he will come home as soon as a peace agreement is hammered out between the government and the NDF.

He took note of supposed plots to assassinate him but he said he trusted Duterte to keep him safe while he is in the country.

“Assassination? I will not just rush home without sufficient security guarantees. If I come home and get killed, Duterte will be responsible for that,” Sison said, adding that such security guarantees will be included in the “technicalities” of the peace agreement.

He said he will seek appropriate arrangements with the Philippine and Dutch government.

“I want to make sure of this because I don’t want to be left hanging without a parachute in case something unpleasant again happens in the peace process,” Sison said.

Padilla: Release of political prisoners should be an outcome of peace deal

From CNN Philippines (Jun 2): Padilla: Release of political prisoners should be an outcome of peace deal

[Video report--Excerpts of interview with Alex Padilla]

With the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, there is renewed hope that the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) will return to the peace table. CNN Philippines sat down with government peace negotiator Alex Padilla on what should be done to make sure that this time, an agreement for true and lasting peace will be signed.

35 New Warrior Diplomats Finish Strong!

From the Armed Forces of the Philippines Civil Military Operations School  (AFPCMOS) (Jun 3): 35 New Warrior Diplomats Finish Strong!


Students of Strategic CMO NCO Class 15-16 received their diplomas this morning at the Multi-Purpose Hall, CRS AFP, Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
A1C Jeson C Dumas PAF top the class with a General Average of 92.3% and received a Certificate of Merit and 3 other awards including Leadership Award, Best in Aptitude Award and an award from the 7th Civil Relations Group, for garnering the highest number of likes in his developed product.
Both Sgt Greta B Orendain PAF and SSg Felipe Q Caoile Jr PAF also received a Certificate of Merit respectively. SSg Margarito J Angana Jr PAF received Physical Proficiency Award for obtaining the highest overall grade of 100% in Physical Fitness Test. A1C Jeson C Dumas PAF, SSgt Randulf D Obinque PAF, Sgt Gerardo Ma. B Santiago PAF, Sgt Wildredo J Salvacion PAF, Sgt Dennis Jesus V Somera PAF, Sgt Mervi Aldous A Diaz PAF, Sgt Jecimarie O Hadjala, A1C Melvin L Foliente PAF, and POII Rodeline G Lagsac PNP-SAF were all given Special Studies Award for attaining the highest grade in the Product Development (Strategic Communications Snapshots).
All graduates also received Military Commendation Medal and Letter of Commendation for their valuable service rendered in their Immersion Phase during the 2016 National Elections.
Chief of Staff CRS, Col Gerardo M Zamudio Jr congratulates A1C Jeson C Dumas PAF for receiving a total of 4 awards during the graduation of Strategic CMO NCO Course CN 15-16



Chief of Staff CRS, Col Gerardo M Zamudio Jr congratulates A1C Jeson C Dumas PAF for receiving a total of 4 awards during the graduation of Strategic CMO NCO Course CN 15-16

The ceremony was graced by CRS Commander, BGen Rhoderick M Parayno AFP(GSC) who was represented by CRS Chief of Staff, Col Gerardo M Zamudio Jr PAF(GSC). AFP CMO School Commandant, Ltc Edgardo V Talaroc Jr (INF) PA and Assistant Commandant, Maj Ricarte A Dayata (INF) PA.
Overwhelmed that most of the students are from the Philippine Air Force, Col Zamudio, who is from the same service, expressed his appreciation that more personnel from this branch of service are becoming interested to CMO. However, with the upcoming administration, Col Zamudio conveyed an important piece of advice to the graduates “Let the change be your channel for the good…Change yourself and the future will change you.”
The AFPCMO School will open the next Strategic CMO NCO Course to all enlisted personnel and even to non-AFP personnel within the third quarter of the year.

MILF: Editorial -- Duterte-Misuari meeting

Editorial posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Jun 1): Editorial -- Duterte-Misuari meeting

There is no better way to start the healing process with the best of intention, followed by concrete and positive steps. The crucial part, in fact the defining moment, is, however, in the fulfilment of obligations. This is where the government from Marcos to the Aquino administrations, nay Congress, is faulted.

The purported meeting between President-elect Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chair Nurulaji Misuari is in the right direction. The MILF interposes no objection to it; after all, that was what the incumbent and soon outgoing President Benigno Aquino III did when he met MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo on April 4, 2011. If there are serious matters to consider are the facts that Misuari has a pending warrant of arrest and the security of Duterte.

To recall, of the five presidential candidates during the last presidential elections, Duterte had the clear edge in terms of policy statements on the Moros, Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), and the peace process in Mindanao. His is not only the commitment to solve the Bangsamoro Question but the unequivocal conviction that "nothing will satisfy the Muslims, nay Moros, except to give them the BBL". This statement was made during the third and last presidential debate in Pangasinan last April 24. Earlier on February 27, during a meeting with MILF leaders led by First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao he was categorical in stating his position that he would pass the BBL as a template to make the Philippines shift to federal system of government. Again, the same promise was re-echoed in Cotabato City during a campaign.

We believe in him and his commitment to proceed with the BBL. We asked people closed to him about the attitude of Duterte, they told us that once he commits he fulfils it, and once a friend, he is a friend forever. Except for a major or serious breach of friendship or trust, he stands by his friends or associates.

Frankly speaking, there is little problem that blocks the immediate healing with Misuari by government. It is only the cases filed against him and more than 200 followers that stand on the way. It is the moral responsibility of government is to give justice to the innocent victims.

Why we are saying the healing is not as difficult as one may imagine. The GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement of 1996 has already been practically implemented or fulfilled. The Tripartite Review involving the MNLF, Government of the Philippines (GPH), and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had been terminated in February this year. All the remaining unimplemented aspects of the Agreement namely, provisional government, socio-economic intervention, and strategic minerals, were settled or are being addressed. For the first, the MNLF will take part in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) once the BBL is enacted and ratified; for the second, a development fund called Bangsamoro Development Assistance Fund (BDAF) with an initial P100 million start-up capital was created; and for the third, they agreed on the concept of co-management of strategic minerals.

The truth is that in both MNLF and MILF peace processes,  STRICTLY SPEAKING, there is no more negotiations. Both are in implementations modes.

MILF: ol Khadamat Al-Ijtimaiyyah and bawordo hold summer Youth Camp 2016

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front website (May 30): Lujnatol Khadamat Al-Ijtimaiyyah and bawordo hold summer Youth Camp 2016

The Lujnatol Khadamat Al-ijtimaiyyah in partnership with Bangsamoro Women Organization of Davao Oriental (BAWORDO) held the 2nd Summer Youth Camp 2016 on May 24-28, with a theme: "CHANGE: A PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT, IT IS NOT A DESTINATION, BUT A JOURNEY". The 5-day activities provided significant impact to the lives of the 126 participants from various municipalities of Davao Oriental.

About 20 youth participants from each group registered with SYC Oversight Committee Chair Ustaza Jamela Tiana Sugaran with the assistance of other group members.

The SYC also showcased the different skills and talents of the participants and as they also mingled with other youth participants. The SYC facilitators challenged the participant to become holistically prepared as they may become future leaders of the Bangsamoro community.

A first time participant from Mati, Davao Oriental gladly said that after the activity she gained many friends, wisdom and makes her faith in Allah stronger.

BTC Commissioner Hussein Munoz said during the last day of the program that, "The Youth is said to be the catalyst of change. It is the hope of changing and bringing progress and this is your role as youth. Those who cannot change themselves cannot change anything for change starts from our own selves, from bad to good and from good to the best. So you must help, cooperate in all programs in the communities for the transformative changes of the Bangsamoro and our struggle to ensure bright future of the people as a whole.

Other guests were the Provincial SubCom Head of Da'wah and Trabiyyah,  Ustadz Athar Piligrin a Municipal Imam , Usadz Mahad Sasang, President of GUIOMIYYAH-LUPON, Mohammer Lomoos, Hon. Mayor Adalia Lopez Tambuang of Municipality of Banay-banay, Davao Oriental.

Each participant went home filled with joy and learnings, looking forward to the next summer camp.

MILF: GPH, MILF Peace Panels signed declaration of continuity of the partnership in Bangsamoro peace process

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (May 31): GPH, MILF Peace Panels signed declaration of continuity of the partnership in Bangsamoro peace process

A month before the end of President Aquino’s stint, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panels signed the “Declaration of Continuity of Partnership of GPH and MILF in the Bangsamoro Peace Process” during the two-day special meeting at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 29-30, 2016.

The declaration seeks to ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in the next administration.

“The Parties affirm the CAB as providing a clear and reasonable roadmap towards the permanent cessation of armed hostilities between two Parties and towards the Bangsamoro people’s exercise of meaningful self-governance as a peaceful, progressive, and productive region in the country,” the Declaration stated.

“As such, the Parties commit to honor and respect the CAB, and to take steps to fully implement it notwithstanding any changes in the leadership of either party in the years to come,” said the Declaration.

The Declaration further stated that on the account of non-enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the 16th Congress, the Parties shall seek to establish specific target dates with regard to the implementation of the CAB and the Parties shall pursue the implementation of the commitments under the CAB, building upon all the gains and achievements that the Parties have secured in the peace process through the years of negotiations.

“The Parties likewise affirm the agreed peace mechanisms and their crucial roles in fully implementing the CAB and in helping secure a just, lasting and durable peace,” the Declaration said.

President Aquino will step down from office this coming June 30 after serving the country for six years.

President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, will succeed Aquino for a six years term of office.

Duterte once said during a presidential debate that the Bangsamoro issue rooted from historical injustice. Peace advocates are hopeful that he can bring the realization of Bangsamoro people’s long quest for self-determination.

The next president has named his former classmate lawyer Jesus Dureza to be the next Adviser on the Peace Process.

The two Parties also expressed gratitude to President Aquino, under whose leadership, peace agreements were signed and MILF Central Committee and Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim for their commitment to continue the path to peace. Further, the two Panels expressed gratitude to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Malaysia acted as the facilitator in the GPH-MILF peace negotiation.

Present in the meeting were members of the Third Party Monitoring Team, International Contact Group, Independent Decommissioning Body, and other members of peace mechanisms.

CAB provides the establishment of autonomous Bangsamoro entity with more fiscal and political powers through the passage of the BBL which the Philippine Congress failed to pass.

MILF: Multi-stakeholders hold Forum on Participatory Governance in the Bangsamoro

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

The Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) sponsored Multi-stakeholders Forum on Participatory Governance in the Bangsamoro in Isabela City, Basilan on May 26, 2016.

The participants came from different municipalities of Basilan such as Albarka, Tipo-Tipo, Ungkaya Pukan, Sumisip, Maluso and from the City of Lamitan.

The forum was an information campaign for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and to scout or identify a lawmaker that would initiate the refiling of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives in the incoming administration.

Mr. Candido Aparece Jr. Project Officer of Mindanao CSO Platform for Peace (MCSOPP) discussed "Participatory Governance in the Bangsamoro".  He mentioned some provisions in the BBL particularly the provisions on parliamentary form of government which is the proposed form of government for the Bangsamoro Region.

Former Provincial Board Member Jubaira Said posed a question. "Narinig natin sa mga balita na isinusulong ni incoming President Rodrigo Duterte ang Federalism, ano na ang mangyayari sa BBL?

 said "Mauna pa rin ang BBL bago ang Federalismo para naman masundan ang normalization kasi dyan mangyayari ang mga decomissioning ng mga armas otherwise walang continuity and peace process".

A lot of participants were happy hearing that the CAB-compliant BBL would be refiled in the new administration.

Another speaker is Prof. Noel Tarrazona, a Professor of Western Mindanao State University talked about "Political parties as instruments of participatory governance".

He said, “It's time for the country to establish a genuine political party as in reality no genuine political parties exist in the Philippines as defined by international standard. The Bangsamoro government is a wake-up call for establishing genuine political parties”.

The said forum was sponsored by the IAG in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and funded by the European Union (EU).

MILF:GPH, MILF Peace Panels signed TOR on the establishment of Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front website (Jun 2): GPH, MILF Peace Panels signed TOR on the establishment of Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panels signed on Monday (May 30) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the Term of Reference (TOR) on the Establishment of Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF), a facility that will support the normalization process that will include the assistance to MILF combatants and their communities and develop the six previously recognized MILF camps.

The TOR states,  “The BNTF is the multi-donor trust fund envisioned by the Parties in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annex on Normalization through which urgent support, recurrent and investment budget will be released with efficiency, transparency and accountability in support of the process of normalization, whereby former combatant, their communities, and other vulnerable sectors can achieve their desired quality of life, including the pursuit of sustainable livelihood and political participation within peaceful deliberative society.”

The Fund expresses the commitment of the GPH and MILF and the international community to the full implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

BNTF aims to finance, coordinate and oversee delivery of assistance from international partners and other partners in the implementation of normalization process.

The TOR says the facility shall attract and mobilize international resources and may also accept contributions from domestic private sectors.

BNTF, which will be administered by a Fund Manager, will promote transparency, efficiency and accountability in the utilization of funds and implementation of programs and projects.

The Fund Manager shall implement measures to ensure transparency and efficiency in the mobilization and utilization of resources.

The two Peace Panels will constitute and serve as the oversight body for the BTNF and will provide strategic direction and guidance for the said facility.

According to the TOR, a Steering Committee will be created that shall provide policy guidance. Members of the Steering Committee will include two representatives each from the GPH and MILF, representatives from donor agencies and one from the Fund Manager.

BNTF shall continue to exist until the signing of the Exit Agreement, which will be inked by the Two Parties only if all the provisions of the GPH-MILF peace agreements would be fully implemented.

Three NPA rebels arrested in Butuan City for murder, frustrated murder raps

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 3): Three NPA rebels arrested in Butuan City for murder, frustrated murder raps

Three suspected rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) with pending warrants of arrest involving frustrated murder and murder were collared in a raid in a remote village in Butuan City Friday morning.

Capt. Patrick Martinez, the spokesperson of the army’s 4th Infantry Division, said that joint law enforcer operatives also recovered high powered firearms, explosive devices, and subversive documents of high intelligence value during the surprise raid in Lamusig, an outskirt community in the village of Tungao in Butuan City around 5 a.m. Friday.

Martinez identified the suspects as Roldan Bunggolto, alleged head of the NPA’s Militia Ng Bayan; Danilo Acania, Deputy Secretary, and Jake Borja, all facing frustrated murder and murder cases in a local court in Agusan Del Norte.

Recovered from the suspects were two M16 rifles, two sniper rifles, one AK 47 rifle, two caliber 45, two caliber 38, one caliber 22 pistol, two hand grenades, one improvised explosive device with detonating cord and blasting caps and subversive documents.

Insp. Andrev G. Bautista and Insp. Julius Caesar Alamani, the two police investigators who led the police team, said that a case of illegal possession of explosive, firearms and ammunition would also be filed against the suspects.

Martinez said that the three suspects were detained at the Butuan City Jail.
From Rappler (Jun 4): Duterte: We will never surrender Scarborough

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte says the Philippines' approach toward the West Philippine Sea dispute 'has to be multilateral' in the first 3 to 4 years   

COURTESY CALL. Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte (right) meets Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during a courtesy call in Davao City on May 16, 2016. Photo by AFP/Pool

COURTESY CALL. Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte (right) meets Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during a courtesy call in Davao City on May 16, 2016. Photo by AFP/Pool

"There will never be an instance where we will surrender our rights over the Scarborough Shoal."

Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte made this assurance in a press conference on Thursday, June 2, as he asserted the Philippines’ claim over the disputed Scarborough or Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Duterte, the outgoing Davao City mayor, was responding to a question about his two meetings with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua in less than a month.
Duterte explained that in their first meeting, Zhao delivered to him a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, congratulating him for winning the presidency.
In their second meeting, Zhao came "in his capacity as ambassador."
Asked about key issues with Zhao, Duterte said he refuses to discuss the issue of the West Philippine Sea.
"It’s something which is also dependent on the development of the arbitration case we filed," he said, referring to the historic case filed by the Philippines against China over the disputed waters.
Waiting for Hague verdict
The case is pending before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which is expected to issue a ruling in the next few weeks.
While waiting for this ruling, China has exercised de facto control over parts of the West Philippine Sea, preventing Filipinos from fishing in the disputed waters.
Referring to the Chinese, Duterte said on Thursday, "I cannot talk to them about anything until I get hold of that verdict, whether it’s favorable or it’s not."
Duterte earlier said he is open to bilateral or one-on-one talks with China – which Beijing prefers over joining arbitration proceedings.
Incoming Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr also said talking with China remains "necessary" to resolve the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Duterte, however, clarified on Thursday that the Philippines’ approach toward the dispute "has to be multilateral," which means it should involve third parties. After all, he said, "we are allied with the Americans."
The president-elect said he will give a try to the multilateral approach. If there is "no movement" in 3 to 4 years, he said, "we have to talk to China: 'What do you want?'"

Japan pitches multilateral talks in West Philippine Sea row

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): Japan pitches multilateral talks in West Philippine Sea row

Katsuyuki Kawai, a top aide and special adviser of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Friday paid a courtesy call on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City, where he had the opportunity to articulate Japan's inclination toward multilateral negotiations as the preferred means, over bilateral talks, to address the territorial tensions with China in the West Philippine Sea, also known as South China Sea.

Mr. Kawai told journalists in Manila, after his 30-minute one-on-one meeting with Duterte, that he conveyed Prime Minister Abe's congratulations and felicitations, as well as Japan's eagerness to deepen its ties with the Philippines as well as the broader Indo-Pacific region.

On the issue of South China Sea/ West Philippine Sea dispute, Japan reiterated its support to the Philippines' bringing the maritime row before the United Nations arbitral tribunal for a decision based on the rule of law.

In the recent G7 Summit in Isishima, Japan, the G7 leaders' declaration affirmed the essentiality of settling the tension in a peaceful manner through the legal arena.

During the meeting with Duterte, said Mr. Kawai, both sides reached a three-point consensus:

Reaction to the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal is very important

Maintain Freedom of Navigation

Japan-Philippines security cooperation
Kawai expressed the desirability of going multilateral in trying to resolve any impasse, because "it will be very important and very beneficial for all the countries that are involved in that issue."

Before facing the media, Mr. Kawai had a brief meeting, as well, with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs-designate Perfecto Yasay, but he declined to elaborate on the details of the meeting.

For his part, Yasay said that the incoming Duterte administration will be quite flexible and willing to go "both" multilateral and bilateral in order to ease the tension in the region: "Negotiations is the way to go. There is no reason for anyone to think or suggest, or fear, that, if we go multilateral or bilateral, there will be certain negative repercussions. Besides, the arbitral court has no absolute enforcement capability, so, whether or not it will be in favor of the Philippines, we will be depending on our friends and allies for support as far as helping us persuade China to come to the negotiating table."

When asked if Japan was wary about the stance of Duterte regarding his intention to have direct talks with China, Mr. Kawai politely gave a "no comment" reply.

He said Japan is looking forward to the day when Prime Minister Abe and Duterte can formally meet, as both leaders will have "good chemistry. Mr. Duterte is a very frank and sincere, very decisive new leader, similarly to our Prime Minister. If they meet in the future, they will be very good friends."

Joma sees no NPA normalization after end of armed hostilities

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): Joma sees no NPA normalization after end of armed hostilities

NPA fighting force in Agusan del Sur. File photograph by Erwin Mascarinas, InterAksyon.

Communist leader Jose Maria Sison see no integration of New People's Army (NPA) fighters into the military or police force in the event that armed hostilities come to an end as the result of a final peace agreement with the government.

"That's easy," Sison said after reading the question on screen with his laptop during a press conference via Skype Messaging Thursday at Ibon Foundation in Timog, Quezon City.

Sison responded, in Filipino: "If there is authentic, credible agrarian and industrial reforms, there will be no need for fighting anymore. With meaningful livelihood opportunities, our armed force will become forces for economic good, as workers and farmers wherever they want to apply themselves."

He said the decommissioning of the NPA will happen depending on the outcome of the peace negotiations, the preliminaries of which have been scheduled for mid-June in Oslo, Norway.

In a follow-up interview after the press conference, Fidel Agcaoili, a panel member of the National Democratic Front (NDF), declined to give an exact number of the present strength of the NPA when asked by this reporter.

"Ayaw ng military na magbanggit kami niyan e (The military does not like us mentioning numbers)," Agcaoili said, even as he disputed claims by the military that NPA "remnants" are now down to only about 4,000.

"Hindi totoo 'yang figure nila, hindi totoo (Their figure is not true. Not true)," he said.

According to Agcaoili, the preliminary talks will tackle substantive agenda on socio-economic and political settlements, end of armed hostilities, release of political prisoners that is anchored on the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), among others.

"Well, a cease fire is doable immediately, depending on the mutual understanding. When we say cease fire it should be mutual and operational as to the disposition of forces, no conduct of offensive operations, duration of the cease fire, and other points, that should be all guided by a cease fire mechanism," Agcaoili said.

"We will see this in a draft proposal. On our part, we will be having only one cease fire committee, which will go around for monitoring and inspections. We've learned our lessons in 1986, where many from our rank and file were eliminated because we created so many committees involving so many cadres, which enabled the military to identify them. We will not do that again this time," he added.

Agcaoili said the NDF is also open to suggestion of third party observers. "The church can be harnessed for this purpose," he suggested.

US, Philippine navies to participate in CARAT 2016 from June 6-10

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): US, Philippine navies to participate in CARAT 2016 from June 6-10

Units from the United States Navy and Marine Corps will participate with various units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in this year's CARAT Philippines 2016 in multiple locations across the Philippines and in waters near Subic Bay and Palawan from June 6 to 10.

CARAT is short for "Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training" exercises.

This year's CARAT Philippines will focus on combined operations at sea, amphibious landings, diving and salvage, maritime domain awareness, and community service events.

American sailors and marines will train with their AFP counterparts in a host of military engagements, professional exchanges and training seminars.

Civil action projects, community service events and combined military band concerts are also planned to foster relationships and bonds with the Filipino people.

“CARAT enables us to develop strong relationships with our Philippine Navy and Marine partners,” said Task Force 73 commander Rear Admiral Charles Williams.

“Through 22 years of engagement in CARAT, we continue to make steady progress in increasing the complexity of our training and enhancing cooperation between our navies.”

CARAT Philippines is part of a broader exercise series the US Navy conducts with nine partner nations in South and Southeast Asia to address shared maritime security priorities, strengthen maritime partnerships and enhance interoperability among participating forces.

The Philippines has participated since the series began in 1995.

"CARAT strengthens the strong and enduring relationships between the US and Philippine navies," said Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph S. Mercado. "We are looking forward to working alongside our US Navy and Marine partners during CARAT 2016."

US sailors and marines participating in CARAT Philippines 2016 represent a host of ships, squadrons, and units from across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s exercise features the guided missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63), the landing dock ship USS Ashland (LSD-48), and the diving and salvage ship USNS Salvor (T-ARS-52), along with a P-8 Poseidon aircraft, Navy expeditionary forces,
Marines assigned to the III Marine Expeditionary Force-3rd Marine Division, a platoon from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, staff from Commander, Task Force 73 (CTF 73) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, and the 7th Fleet Band Orient Express.

The Philippine Navy assets and units will include the minesweeper frigate BRP Rizal (PS-74), the Del Pilar Class Frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), a landing craft heavy, an AW-109 helicopter, an EOD team, diving team, construction platoon, a marine company and the Philippine Fleet band.

“CARAT provides a great opportunity for our navies to operate together at sea and train during realistic scenarios that better prepare our forces for real-world operations,” said Destroyer Squadron 7 commander Capt. H. B. Le.

"With more than two decades of experience working together we are able to execute complex exercises that address shared maritime security priorities and improve inter-operability between our navies,” Le added.

CARAT 2016 will be the most complex series to date. Its continuing relevance for more than two decades speaks of the high quality of exercise events and the enduring value of regional cooperation among allies and partners in South and Southeast Asia.

As US 7th Fleet's executive agent for theater security cooperation in South and Southeast Asia Commander, Task Force 73 conducts advanced planning, organizes resources and directly supports the execution of maritime exercises, such as the bilateral CARAT series, the Naval Engagement Activity (NEA) with Vietnam, and the multi-lateral Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

WATCH | Lt. Col. Marcelino posts bail in illegal drugs case

From InterAksyon (Jun 4): WATCH | Lt. Col. Marcelino posts bail in illegal drugs case

Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, a former director of the Special Enforcement Service of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), has been granted bail on Friday in connection with the drug case filed against him.

A Quezon City court set the bail at P93,000 for Marcelino’s temporary liberty.

Marcelino has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City after he and his co-accused, Chinese national Yan Yi Shou, were apprehended last January 21 in an abandoned shabu laboratory in Sta. Cruz, Manila where authorities recovered more than P380 million worth of shabu.

The two were charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act particularly for manufacture, conspiracy to manufacture and possession of illegal drugs.

Marcelino was temprarily released from the PNP Custodial Center at about 7:30 p.m.

The Department of Justice is currently hearing the case against Marcelino.

But according to the court, the evidence against him was weak.

Watch the News5 video report.

Fate of POW up to rebels: Duterte

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 3): Fate of POW up to rebels: Duterte

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has given up efforts to free a police officer captured by the New People’s Army in Davao Oriental province after the rebel group claimed to have confiscated illegal drugs from their hostage.

Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman, said the NPA is holding Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen following the May 29 raid in Governor Generoso town. He said rebels confiscated a packet of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as shabu from Ongachen, who is currently being interrogated by the NPA.

He said the attack targeted the municipal police force “based on the people’s popular demand to punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area.”

“In fact, Red fighters confiscated a sachet of shabu from Ongachen following the raid. Furthermore, poor peasants and Lumads have complained that policemen have long protected the land-grabbing activities of prominent families in the province,” Sanchez said.

Duterte, who publicly declared war on illegal drugs, said the fate of Ongachen is now up to the NPA’s so-called kangaroo court. “You have a kangaroo court. Sentence him to 20 years of hard labor,” Duterte said. “I said I’d be harsh (on illegal drugs). I’m sorry for that guy.” He earlier appealed to the rebels to immediately free Ongachen.

Sanchez said the town have been identified as a gateway of illegal drug trade in the province and that government officials have ignored the existence of the nefarious activities there. He also accused the 28th Infantry Battalion of sabotaging the NPA’s planned raid on a laboratory of being run by drug syndicates in the village of Tibanban.
He said rebel forces seized 11 automatic rifles and pistols from the police armory. The next day, he said, rebels also killed several government troops sent to rescue Ongachen.

The rebels have been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country. Duterte said he would reopen stalled peace talks with the communist group and has even appointed leftist leaders in his Cabinet.

The United States has twice designated the NPA as foreign terrorist organization, one in 2002 and the latest in 2015, alongside the local jihadist group Abu Sayyaf.

Security tight in Marawi after foiled bombing

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 3): Security tight in Marawi after foiled bombing

Authorities have tightened security in Marawi City in the troubled province of Lanao del Sur after police forces disarmed a powerful bomb planted on a road frequently used by government troops passing in the area.

The bomb – assembled from an 81mm mortar round – was defused following its discovery on Thursday in Gandongan village. It was not immediately known whether the improvised explosive was planted by members of the jihadist group Islamic State Ranao or other allies.

Security forces were fighting IS Ranao headed by Abdullah Maute, alias Abu Hassan, since last week and at least 4 soldiers had been killed and over a dozen more wounded in sporadic clashes in Butig town.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the foiled bombing, but this coincided with the military’s announcement that it had captured an IS Ranao camp in the town.

The military said troops also recovered improvised explosives, illegal drugs and IS propaganda materials from the camp. The jihadists are fighting for Islamic caliphate and have pledged allegiance with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Lanao is one of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

MILF: Malaysian Facilitator: Constitutional change and normalization are two separate processes

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 3): Malaysian Facilitator: Constitutional change and normalization are two separate processes

The Malaysian Facilitator for the GPH-MILF Peace Process Tengku Dato Ab’ Ghafar Tengku Mohamed said that Federalism and Constitutional Change and decommissioning of forces and implementation of normalization agreement are two separate processes with totally different nature.

During his opening statement during the two-day Special Meeting of the GPH and MILF Peace Panels on May 29 to 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar described how third-party facilitation stands vis-à-vis the two processes.

He said since the process is already into implementation phase, third party is not involved in ALL aspects of the implementation of the peace process. Basic Law drafting and passage were purely national processes where Bangsamoro Transition Commission drafted the BBL and undertook public outreach and information dissemination. Third parties respect and recognized the sovereign right of the Republic and did not interfere into a national process of legislation drafting and subsequent processes at the House of Representatives and Senate. Drafting and passage of BBL, an enabling law, is an integral part of the GPH-MILF Peace Process and once passed, shall serve as foundation for true autonomy, implantation process of FAB / CAB and sustainable peace and security in the Philippines.
He also said constitution changes are purely internal, home-grown and part of democratic evolution of national politics and based on its local political dynamics, added that Third Party actors cannot interfere in such process.

On the other hand, he emphasized that “Decommissioning and Normalization processes are part of international dimension of GPH-MILF Peace Process where third party players have been given specific roles/responsibilities and are connected to the political benchmarks and development of the peace process.”

Normalization is the process through which communities affected by the decades-long armed conflict can return to a peaceful life and pursue sustainable livelihoods free from fear of violence and crime. It involves the transition of the MILF's Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) to a peaceful civilian life, which includes putting their weapons beyond use in a graduated and phased process called decommissioning.

An Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) oversees the process of decommissioning of the MILF forces and weapons which was symbolically started on June 16, 2015 with 145 BIAF combatants and 70 firearms.

However, Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar said that the “15,000 strong MILF force is far from undertaking decommissioning due to non-passage of BBL that was marked as the first and most important political benchmark to begin the process of demilitarization and decommissioning in Bangsamoro.”
Saying that while the MILF welcomed the idea of federalism in the Philippines, Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar noted that it is the “MILF’s position that mere introduction of federalism will not address the root causes of Mindanao question.”

“MILF has been consistent in recognizing that their demand for autonomy is not purely based on devolution of wealth and resources but to protect Moro identity, tradition, culture and Muslim way of life,” Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar stressed.

Federalism was a campaign platform of President-elect Duterte and by all indications the incoming government is already setting the stage for constitutional amendments.

In the meeting that could be the last for the two peace panels under the Aquino administration, Tengku Dato Ab' Ghafar reiterated that negotiations are already over and that both parties have to implement their part of the internationally recognized peace agreements.

The GPH – MILF Peace Process has been hailed as offering a unique model of Third parties engagement in various aspects of negotiations. Third Parties have been invited at the pleasure of two parties after a bilateral agreement had been reached. This has resulted in making the GPH-MILF peace process as a multilateral process. In a multilateral process such as this one, parties cannot make unilateral decision about role of third parties.

DWDD: NEW LEADERSHIP | Mercado named WESCOM commander

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 1): NEW LEADERSHIP | Mercado named WESCOM commander


Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado was appointed the head of the Puerto Princesa, Palawan-based Western Command (WESCOM) during short ceremonies Monday.

He replaced Marine Brig. Gen. Elvin Hermogino was who serving as acting WESCOM commander since last April 29 following the retirement of Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez.

Mercado is the head of the Philippine Fleet which is based in Sangley Point, Cavite.

Acting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda presided over the change-of-command ceremonies which was held at WESCOM Social Hall.

In attendance were local government officials of Palawan, Philippine National Police and other stakeholders and partners of WESCOM.

Also present are members of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983 of which Mercado and Hermogino are members.

As this develops, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Mercado will still command the Philippine Fleet until his replacement is identified and appointed.

“Rear Admiral Mercado has served with distinction and has had a very colorful and progressive military career. He is considered to be among the most seasoned officers in the PN. Prior to his last two significant positions and assignments, Rear Admiral Mercado has had stints in varied command and staff positions in the Navy and the AFP General Headquarters. He has also earned his Command at Sea badge,” Padilla said.

Miranda also took the time to congratulate all WESCOM officers and enlisted personnel for their very successful and effective support to the recent conduct of national & local elections.

The province of Palawan was among the most peaceful election area last May 9 as WESCOM recorded no poll-related violence that day.

DWDD: SERVING THE PEOPLE, SECURING THE LAND | 3ID Reaffirms Commitment 42nd year

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 1): SERVING THE PEOPLE, SECURING THE LAND | 3ID Reaffirms Commitment 42nd year

CAMP PERALTA, Jamindan, Capiz (DWDD) – The Army’s 3rd Infantry “Spearhead” Division reaffirmed its commitment and service to the people as it celebrated its 42nd founding anniversary last Monday (May 30).

3ID Anniversary Ceremony MGen Demosthenes Santillan 3ID

This year’s anniversary theme “3ID at 42: Serving and Securing the People of Central and Western Visayas,” was at the center of the celebration which is anchored on the Army’s core purpose of service, which has been sustained throughout the years, promoting stability and development in this part of the country.

The celebration started with an early morning Thanksgiving Ecumenical Service mass, Inauguration and Blessing of Camp Peralta Day Care Center, the newly constructed 3ID Memorial Monument and the AFPMBAI Early Childhood Care and Development Project.

The occasion was graced by Maj. Gen. R. Demosthenes Santillan, Vice Commander of the Philippine Army and 3ID Commander, Brig. Gen. Harold Cabreros who led the Wreath Laying ceremonies for the fallen soldiers of the 3ID to commemorate their sacrifices in the name of peace and development.

The anniversary celebration was shared by the gallant personnel of 3ID together with the various stakeholders, from the local government units, government agencies and other partner individuals and organizations who continue to collaborate and work together in winning the peace through “Bayanihan”.

During the anniversary ceremonies, Brig. Gen. Harold Cabreros graciously congratulated the Spearhead troopers at the headquarters and on the field, for their commitment and enthusiasm in helping the Division accomplish its mission. Cabreros also acknowledged the dedication and exemplary performance of the Spearhead troopers during the May 9 elections which have greatly contributed in making the elections peaceful and credible.

“In commemorating our 42 years of existence, it should give us a renewed strength in our commitment to our oath of serving our country and our people. This should further remind us of what we have already achieved and what we are going to accomplish particularly in securing and sustaining our gains in peace and security.”

Brig. Gen. Cabreros also acknowledged the sacrifices and determined efforts of the 3ID personnel and the civilian society, the Philippine National Police, the religious sector and other organizations who may not have the chance to join the occasion for their invaluable support for the attainment of peace and development in Central and Western Visayas.

Meanwhile, on his message, Maj. Gen. Santillan commended the 3ID and partner individuals and organizations in promoting the genuine spirit of “Bayanihan” who equally share ownership to victories that the 3rd Infantry Division has gained throughout the years in pursuit of peace and development.

Santillan also commended the sustained efforts of 3ID in Internal Peace and Security Operations particularly in focused military operations which resulted to the neutralization of 96 NPA members, and the recovery of 43 firearms and 35 explosive materials. Notable to this accomplishment was the apprehension of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Panay Secretary, Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala alias Concha last August 1, 2015 which greatly diminished the capability of the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) in the region.

The sustained campaign against the local threat groups also led to the normalization of Aklan and Antique and the declaration of Iloilo and Negros Occidental as Peaceful and Ready for Further Development in 2015.

Through its dedication in the furtherance of Army Transformation Roadmap, the 3ID was awarded the “Proficient” Status with Silver Trailblazer award in the Army Governance Pathway last December 4, 2015.

A fitting recognition was also given to the dedicated and meritorious service done by worthy soldiers and civilian employee of the Division.

Personnel who received the individual awards were Colonel Aldwine Almase – Distinguished Service Star; Lt. Col. Ferdinand Geminic Ramirez, Lt. Col. Ariel Reyes and Lt. Col. Jonathan Gayas were awarded with Meritorious Achievement Medal; Sergeant Rodolfo Maido – Bronze Cross Medal; 1LT Jersam Anthony Asistin, Sergeant Rolan Basinang, Private First Class Joebin Rodriguez, Jr. and 2LT Alex Bunagan were awarded with the Military Merit Medal with Bronze Spearhead Device; and Technical Sergeant Joeric Pillora – Military Commendation Medal.

Other awardees were Major Victor Blegaro – Best Field Grade Officer of the Year; Captain Shamon Pamittan – Best Junior Officer of the Year; Technical Sergeant Richie Silva – Best First Sergeant of the Year; Staff Sergeant Jane Para-onda – Best Platoon Sergeant of the Year; Corporal Elarde Duron – Best Squad Leader of the Year; CAA Renan Angana – Best CAFGU Active Auxiliary of the Year; and Ms Gemma Dolor – Best Civilian Employee of the Year.

Units that were awarded under the Army Governance Pathway were 301st Infantry Brigade conferred with “COMPLIANT” Status, while the 82nd Infantry Battalion, 61st Infantry Battalion, 12th Cadre Battalion, 11th Infantry Battalion and 3rd Division Training School were conferred with “INITIATED” Status. 3DPAO / MCAG


From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 1): COORDINATED MILITARY TRAINING | U.S., PHL, and Royal Malaysian Navies Conduct CARAT

CAMP GEN EMILIO AGUINALDO, Quezon City (DWDD) The U.S., Philippine, and Malaysian navies are conducting a coordinated multilateral training activity in the Sulu Sea, June 4.  The training takes place between the bilateral phases of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with Malaysia and the Philippines.

“This engagement is an important milestone as we seek opportunities to increase multilateral cooperation for the CARAT exercise series,” said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Task Force 73.  “The training provides our navies with an opportunity to broaden cooperative maritime security coordination with our partner nations as we would during real world contingencies or operations.”

USS Stethem (DDG 63) USS Ashland (LSD 49)

Ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy will operate with separate surface action groups from Malaysia and the Philippines.  The multilateral training will test the abilities of all three navies to coordinate maritime security operations in a geographically separated environment at sea. The Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) will operate with Royal Malaysian Navy ships during the training, while USS Ashland (LSD 49) will sail alongside ships from the Philippine Navy.

The participating ships will conduct communication drills, maritime security coordination, and maritime domain awareness training.  A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol craft will also operate in the region and rehearse communication drills with ships and aircraft from all three nations.

Capt. H.B.  Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7

“Our ability to coordinate and communicate from various operational locations allows us to enhance regional cooperation at sea,” said Capt. H.B.  Le, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7.  “These activities benefit all nations and prepare us to work together more efficiently during crises and emergencies.”

As the premier naval engagement in South and Southeast Asia, CARAT provides a regional venue to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability among participating forces, and develop key relationships that will serve partner nations for many years to come. PAO AFP / MCAG

DWDD: NEUTRALIZED | Toll among Maute Group members now 37

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 2): NEUTRALIZED | Toll among Maute Group members now 37

COTABATO CITY (DWDD) The Armed Forces of the Philippines is relentless in their operations against the 300-member Maute terror group” in the town of Butig, Lanao del Sur.

The group is responsible for blowing up transmission lines of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, series of attacks on government positions and for kidnapping six sawmill workers in Iligan City, where two of whom were subsequently beheaded.

Casualties during the encounters earlier this year
Casualties during encounters earlier this year
According to Colonel Roseller Murillo, commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade, they have 37 Maute members confirmed neutralized in renewed offensive, which was triggered by the group’s harassment of government forces protecting a village where fighting had broken out earlier this year.

Currently, aside from ground troops and armor, the AFP is using its artillery and air assets to force the surrender of this group believed hiding deep in the forests of Barangay Ragayan, where fighting continues to rage.

Col Murillo added that as long as there are terrorists in the villages of Butig, their operation will continue against the group who have sworn allegiance to the terror group Daesh.

So far, 2,000 civilians have fled from Barangay Ragayan and nearby villages to escape the fighting, while two soldiers — Privates First Class Danilo Allaga at Mark Ferdinand Ortaliza — have given their lives in the pursuit of peace and security in Lanao Del Sur. AES / MCAG

DWDD: CORPAT PHILINDO XXX-16 | Philippine-Indonesia Border Patrol Exercise

From DWDD AFP Civil Relations Service Radio Website (Jun 2): CORPAT PHILINDO XXX-16 | Philippine-Indonesia Border Patrol Exercise

NSFA, Panacan, Davao City – A coordinated patrol dubbed as “CORPAT PHILINDO XXX-16” between Eastern Mindanao Command, Western Mindanao Command and Indonesian Armed Forces culminated on June 2, 2016  at Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan Davao City.

The activity was graced by Commodore Elson K Aguilar of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao representing Lt General Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero, Commander of Eastern Mindanao Command, Indonesian   Acting Consul General TatianaHandayani and was attended by the delegates from Indonesian Navy and Eastern Mindanao Command.

The 8-day combined force coordinated patrol along the Philippine- Indonesia maritime border areas was aimed to secure the border areas between the Philippines and Indonesia from any illegal activities as well as to enhance the interoperability and foster harmonious working relationship between the two neighbouring countries. The activity is also in pursuance of an RP-RI agreement and was agreed upon during the Chairman’s Conference in Davao City on November 4, 2015.

Prior to its opening on May 25, 2016  at Manado City, Sulawesi, Indonesia which was attended by  Lt General  Guerrero, a send-off ceremony was tendered to the participating elements of the Philippine Navy aboard Philippine Ship 31 (PS31) under Commander Ireneo S. Battung  at Captain Feranil Pier, NSFA, Panacan Davao City on May 21, 2016.

The activity also paves the way for the Department of Foreign Affairs repatriation of 128 Filipino fishermen who were apprehended in the high seas of Indonesia. The first batch composed of 35 repatriates arrived in the early afternoon of May 25, 2016 aboard C295 of the Philippine Airforce under Colonel Alejandro Baclayon at Tactical Operations Group XI, Old Airport, Sasa, Davao City while the second batch composed of 93 repatriates arrived at Makar Wharf General Santos City on the evening of May 29, 2016 via PS31.

The repatriates who are from General Santos City, Sarangani Province and South Cotabato   were handed over to the Bureau of Immigration for legal documentation and subsequently turned over to their respective Provincial Social Welfare Officer for stress debriefing and return to their respective communities. PAO EASTMINCOM / MCAG

Police deny drug link of abducted cop chief

From the Mindanao Times (Jun 3): Police deny drug link of abducted cop chief

AUTHORITIES yesterday rejected the claim of the New People’s Army (NPA) that abducted Chief Insp. Arnold Ongachen was involved in illegal drug trade in the province of Davao Oriental.
The NPA, in owning up the Sunday attack on Gov. Generoso Police Station in which they abducted the police chief, claims they targeted the town police station “based on the people’s popular demand to punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area” and they believed the police and military forces together with the provincial officials “are in unholy alliance with drug syndicates.”
Chief Insp. Andrea dela Cerna, spokesperson of Police Regional Office XI, said the NPA claim is purely propaganda against the law enforcement agency and local government of Governor Generoso.
“We can’t just believe their allegations that our police chief and provincial officials have involvement in the illegal activity,” dela Cerna told TIMES. “This is just a part of their propaganda.”
Dela Cerna was supported by Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the army’s 10th Infantry Division.
“We have no reports on that and we have nothing to do with their claim,” Batchar said.
Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (Merardo Arce Command), said reports they received have “identified the municipality of Gov. Generoso as a gateway of illegal drug trade in the province.”
“In fact, Red fighters confiscated a sachet of shabu (methamphetamine) from Ongachen following the raid,” Sanchez said in a press statement.
The NPA added that Davao Oriental Gov. Cora Malanyaon and Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang “know well of the prevalence of illegal drugs in their province. Their silence and inaction on this widespread problem only confirm the masses’ belief of the reactionary officials’ unholy alliance with drug syndicates.”
Sanchez add that the “NPA’s planned raid of a shabu laboratory in Tibanban, Gov. Generoso was sabotaged by the troops of the 28thIB.”
The rebels assured good health to Ongachen whom they are holding as its prisoner of war, but said the police chief will be investigated for possible violation of human rights and other war crimes.
Sanchez said that “poor peasants and lumads have complained that policemen have long protected the landgrabbing activities of prominent families in the province.”
The NPA commander said they seized 11 firearms — six M16 rifles, one M14 rifle, and five pistols — during the attack.
The statement said that pursuing 28th IB-Philippine Army suffered several casualties when they were hit by the NPA’s command detonated explosives at 6 a.m. of Monday.
Sanchez said the on-going so-called rescue operations will “only endanger the safety of Ongachen and prove that the fascist AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has no qualms for the safety of their own officer. Worse, their continued military operations only sow terror and burden to the peasants and Lumads in the area.”
“At the close of Oplan Bayanihan, the NPA remains committed to its task of serving the poor and marginalized peasant masses and Lumads. It continues to wage war against the enemies of the people, especially AFP and PNP troops who victimize and terrorize the masses.  It is the sole army that conducts punitive actions against drug lords, landgrabbers, abusive big miners and criminal syndicates. It is the People’s army that mete out justice against those who plunder the land, the people, and the youth,” the NPA statement concluded.
No tolerance
While saying that NPA drug link claim on Ongachen is baseless, the police regional office said they are not tolerating officers who are into illegal drugs.
“We are not tolerating the act of policemen in illegal drug activity,” dela Cerna said. “If (there is evidence), then a case will be filed against them and appropriate sanctions or dismissal from service will be imposed.”
Dela Cerna said they have not received any complaint that the Gov. Generoso police personnel are into illegal drugs.
“We have not received complaint from the public regarding police personnel in illegal drugs,” dela Cerna said. “We know incoming Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is strictly against it.”
But the police spokesperson said they have to validate the NPA claim on Ongachen.
Not ours
The military denied the NPA claim that there was a casualty in the government side during the pursuit operation.
“It’s not true that we have casualties,” Batchar said. “Actually they suffered casualties based on the bloodstains found in the vehicles they used.”
Authorities already recovered four vehicles used during the attack. These included a for-hire Toyota Hilux, a Mitsubishi Strada, a Mitsubishi elf and a motorized boat.
On Wednesday’s AFP-PNP press conference, dela Cerna said they are still trying to contact the owner of the Mitsubishi elf.
The owners of the vehicles, apparently stolen, are from Davao Oriental, Davao Del Norte and Barangay Catalunan Pequeño in Davao City.