Monday, June 6, 2016

Duterte told: No fair trial in NPA people's courts

From ABS-CBN (Jun 6): Duterte told: No fair trial in NPA people's courts

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte facilitates the release of policemen and soldiers. File

Centerlaw, a non-government organization promoting the rule of law, expressed alarm over President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's statement that he is leaving the fate of a captured police chief in the hands of the New People's Army (NPA).

In a statement released Monday, Centerlaw said it is ironic that Duterte refers to NPA's justice system as "kangaroo courts," yet he leaves the fate of General Generoso, Davao Oriental police Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen in their hands.
"It is doubly ironic that Mr. Duterte himself refers to the NPA’s justice system as 'kangaroo courts,' because that is exactly what they are – tribunals that make a mockery of even just a modicum of justice," the group said.

The group also believes Duterte should know about Republic Act 9184, the International Humanitarian Law Act, which considers executions without judgement as a war crime.

For Centerlaw, Duterte is bound to ensure the rights of all Filipinos once he takes his oath of office as president.

"Once he takes his oath of office, Mr. Duterte is legally bound to ensure that every one within the Philippine sovereignty is accorded due process of law," the group said.

The group added that Duterte's plan to pursue peace process with the Communist party should not be done at the expense of people's rights.

"We applaud Mr. Duterte’s intended policy to pursue the peace process with the CPP/NPA/NDF to its logical conclusion. That, however, should not be done at the expense of the rights to fair trial of everyone," the group said.
Last week, Duterte said he would not negotiate for the release of Ongachen, who was accused by the NPA of being involved in the illegal drugs trade.

Duterte also said he would leave the fate of Ongachen to the NPA.

"You have a kangaroo court there, you try him and sentence him to 20 years of hard labor," Duterte said. "I’m sorry for that guy. I leave his fate to the NPAs."

MILF: Bangsamoro agencies’ female staffs undergo educational tour at Turkey

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 5): Bangsamoro agencies’ female staffs undergo educational tour at Turkey

(In line) with the continuing capacity-building efforts for the Bangsamoro people, fourteen female staffs from three Bangsamoro agencies underwent a Training on Local Administration at Konya, Turkey on May 9-21, 2016.

The participants came from Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (BLMI).

Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a Turkish humanitarian organization, and the local government and business and private sectors in Konya sponsored the educational tour.

In the first three day of the educational undertaking there, was a series of lectures and visitation to mosques where the participants performed their Dhuhor prayers. It was followed by visits to various government offices, meeting with local officials and visit to historical sites.

“Those mosques weren’t just ordinary and some of those were built during the Ottoman Empire,” Hafsa Taha Arab from BLMI related in an interview.

She was impressed on the efforts of the local government to preserve and promote Islamic treasures.

“We saw the good and strong relationship between the Central Government and the Local Government and how they see to it that all the needs of their people are provided,” said Amirah Gayak, delegate from the BTC.

“That could be one of the reasons why they have a very low crime rate,” she said.
The participants also learned the active involvement of the local foundations of Konya in serving their people.

“Both their government and the NGOs help one another to provide services to their people especially to the poor,” Gayak said. “For them, their utmost goal is to give services to their people,” she pointed out.

Among the government agencies the delegates visited were the National Education Directorate, Tourism and Culture Department, Youth and Sports Department and Police Department and they met with mayors of the municipalities of Meram, Selcuklu and Konya.

“One of their officials told us that us that for them public service is ‘charity’,” Arab related and said they do not brag their accomplishment because for them as Muslims they obey Islamic teaching that “whatever is given by the right hand shouldn’t be known by the left hand.”

“So the success of the metropolitan municipality of Konya lies not only on the good programs and projects but mostly on the beautiful mind sets if its leaders,” she said.

“Since I am from the BLMI and we deal with the capacity building of the leaders and managers of Bangsamoro, I believe that this kind of prerogatives should be shared to them,” Arab added.

The BLMI delegate expressed, “We are thankful for the experience because it has shown us a vision of an ideal community where the people and its leaders adhere to Islamic principles, something that the Bangsamoro should aim for.”

The Bangsamoro staffs also noted that the flag of Turkey is displayed in the buildings and even in the cars which suggests of patriotism and love of the Turkish people to their government.

“Maybe they are very patriotic because they can feel that their government spares no expense in making sure that the people are living a happy life,” Arab said.

Turkey is one of the countries supportive to the Bangsamoro peace process. It has established partnership with BDA in providing scholarship and short training programs, support to orphans and provision of Iftar and Qurbani meat to Bangsamoro people.

MILF: GPH, MILF sign TOR for MTF Project Board for 6 acknowledged MILF camps

From the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Jun 5): GPH, MILF sign TOR for MTF Project Board for 6 acknowledged MILF camps

In an initiative to mobilize resources for the implementation of the Normalization process in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panels signed the Term of Reference for the Project Board of the Mindanao Trust Fund (MTF) for the six previously acknowledged MILF camps at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 30 during the culmination of the two-day special meeting between the two Parties.

The six previously acknowledged MILF camps are to undertake activities transforming the surrounding areas into peaceful and productive communities and in order to achieve this, both national and international assistance is required.

The Parties agreed that the World Bank-managed MTF Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a multi-donor facility will provide the assistance.

“MTF-RDP support is to be implemented this January to December 2016 in accordance with the rules and regulation of the World Bank and with technical assistance of Project Implementation Unit (PIU)- Community and Family Services International (CFSI)-the MTF RDP Camps Project will support confidence-building and the socio-economic recovery of conflict-affected communities in Mindanao,” stated in the TOR.

According to the TOR, the MTF-RDP Camps Project shall be guided by the GPH-MILF Panels and Joint Task Force on Camp Transformation (JTFCT), and its implementation shall have governing body, the Project Board.

The Project Board, which shall have two Co-chairs, one each from the GPH and the MILF, plus two members from the MILF and one secretary, will be supported by the MTF-RDP in its operations through the PIU.

The governing body, specifically, shall perform the following tasks: Set policies relevant to the successful implementation of the MTF-RDP Camps Project; Review and approval of the Work and Financial Plan; Review and approval of the Operations Manual;

Hold coordination meetings monthly, and/or as necessary; Provide guidance to the coordinators of the JTFCT in the six camps to ensure effective project implementation on the ground, including, among others, the identification of needs, project types and project sites;

Provide guidance and, where appropriate, support to CFSI as the PIUU to ensure timely and proper implementation of the MTF-RDP Camps Project, including appropriate coordination with other assistance provided in the camps (either from Government or other development partners; and Submit to the GPH-MILF Peace Panels regular updates on the project progress and completion.

Last January 6, the Department of Agriculture turned-over more than 25 million pesos worth of farm equipment and agricultural inputs to start the transformation of the six MILF acknowledged camps.

In the said occasion, DA Secretary Proceso Alcala pledged for capability-building support to Bangsamoro farmers to increase agricultural production in the said MILF camps and communities.

The GPH and MILF Peace Panels signed the CAB on Mach 27, 2014, as a negotiated political solution aimed at ending the armed hostilities between the state forces and Bangsamoro combatants.

An integral part of the CAB, the Annex on Normalization was signed by the same Parties on January 25, 2014.

Duterte-Misuari meet might not push through, source says

From the Philippine Star (Jun 6): Duterte-Misuari meet might not push through, source says

A planned meeting between President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and fugitive Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari in Sulu province might not push through after all, a security official said.

The source, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said Duterte has been advised about the possible repercussions of the meeting.
It is not clear whether the concern raised was the pending cases that Misuari faces for his alleged involvement in the 2013 siege of Zamboanga City or the ongoing security operations against the Abu Sayyaf group.

“Baka the incoming [president] also has his own reservations,” the source said.

Duterte earlier planned to see Misuari right in his enclave in Sulu after a team that Misuari sent to relay his congratulations to the president-elect failed to get a meeting with the Davao City mayor.

Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and the local government here earlier said they respects Duterte's decision to meet with Misuari. They said, however, they are were wary over the reported meeting because of a standing case against Misuari and neraly 200 of his suspected followers over the siege.

The military, for its part, said it is prepared to provide security to Duterte as the incoming president and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“In our case, kahit sino ang magpunta doon, mas lalo na ang president talagang we’ll do our best to secure him,” said Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, which also secured President Benigno Aquino III when he visited Sumisip, Basilan in March.

The Westmincom commander said it is also the president's duty to see as many of his constituents as possible.

“So we will provide all the necessary security to make him safe,” Dela Cruz said.

The Westmincom has been reinforcing troops in Sulu and will be deploying another battalion there from Lanao del Sur.

Classes in Talaingod, Surigao 'face threat of militarization'

Sun Star-Davao (Jun 6): Classes in Talaingod, Surigao 'face threat of militarization'

Classes for Lumad children back in their communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, are under threat of being disrupted by soldiers and paramilitary groups encamped in their communities.

The Save Our Schools (SOS) Network Southern Mindanao said there were reports coming from teachers of Salugpongan Community Learning Center that they were warned by the community not to proceed to Sitio Piroy, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, as soldiers from 68th Infantry Battalion together with members of Lumad militia group Alamara are currently staying and encamping within the community, which is within close perimeter of the school.

"Two teachers from Salugpongan are still staying in Sitio Tibucag, Barangay Dagohoy since Lumad leaders told them not to proceed due to the presence of the military and Alamara in Sitio Piroy," said Valle.

Valle added that soldiers and Lumad militias have been there for about a week now.

Valle said this school year, about 1,000 Lumad students in Mindanao will begin classes in evacuation centers, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines implements its last leg of the counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bayanihan that has been disrupting the lives of the Lumads, including children.

SOS said some 100 Lumad children still remain in the sanctuary of UCCP Haran in Davao City with their parents and will have their classes handled by the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI).

Valle noted the injustice against Manobo Lumads in Surigao del Sur who were unable to return home as five teachers from Alcadev and TRIFPSS were being charged with trumped-up human trafficking cases. Some 842 students of these schools will begin this school year in makeshift classes in Tandag Sports Complex.

Valle said a new spate of military harassment against 82 families or 211 individuals from Gigaquit, Surigao del Sur, has forced them to evacuate last May.

But instead of feeling threatened, Valle said the Lumads learned to struggle for their right to education.

"The government's counter-insurgency have targeted and wrecked Lumad's lives and communities, but their children have shown resistance by continuing their education. The Aquino government is afraid of Lumad children learning about their rights and how to defend it," said Valle.

But the SOS hopes the new Duterte administration can change the situation for the Lumads by pulling out military and paramilitary troops from their communities.

"With the new incoming administration, hopes are high that the concern of the IPs (indigenous peoples) will be finally attended to, especially the Lumad children's education. This includes seeking justice and accountability for Lumad victims of state violence perpetrated by the Aquino Administration," Valle said.

"We are hopeful that the new administration will be able to help Lumad children continue their education not in evacuation sites anymore but right within their community, where they would be able to return safe and sound," he said.

10th ID disputes NPA claim of collusion with drug syndicates

From the Philippine Star (Jun 6): 10th ID disputes NPA claim of collusion with drug syndicates                           

Capt. Ryan Batchar, spokesperson of the Army's 10th Infantry Division.

The Compostela Valley-based 10th Infantry Division has denied an allegation by the New People's Army that it is protecting drug syndicates in its area of operations.

In a statement to media, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, division spokesman disputed a claim made by Rigoberto Sanchez of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command that the Army disrupted a planned raid by the communist rebels on a shabu lab in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental.

The NPA attacked the police station in Governor Generoso on the evening of May 29 and took station commander Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen captive.

Sanchez said the attack was done “based on the people’s popular demand to punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area.”

Batchar said that the 10th ID, "as member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, supports the anti-criminality and anti-drugs campaign of the duly-instituted authorities like the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency among others."

He said that "[t]he NPA, an illegal armed organization, has no authority to institute law enforcement operations, therefore putting their invalid claim to the trash bin."

The regional police office has also dismissed the NPA's claim as propaganda.

"We appeal to the public to bring to our attention any relative information about soldiers engaging in any illegal activities so we could [investigate] and subsequently file appropriate case against them.

We also encourage other local or national authorities to conduct investigation and litigate any AFP personnel found committing offenses against our existing laws," Batchar also said.

He said the 10th Infantry has been conducting "no-letup operations" against the NPA since the attack on Governor Generoso town.

Bali bomber claims he helped hostages

From the Herald Sun (Jun 6): Bali bomber claims he helped hostages

One of the men behind the fatal 2002 Bali bombings claims he helped the Indonesian government secure the release of hostages from the militant group Abu Sayyaf but denies he asked for a sentence reduction in return.

Bomb maker Umar Patek was sentenced to 20 years in 2012 over the coordinated attacks in Kuta which killed 202 people including 88 Australians and injured scores more.

Speaking from Porong prison in East Java, the 49-year-old told Tempo Magazine he had given advice to officials on the "character and nature" of the Abu Sayyaf group after they took 14 Indonesians hostage in two separate kidnappings in the Philippines earlier this year and demanded ransoms.

"I want to try to lobby them so that the hostages would be freed ... Several times the government envoys came to ask about the factions of Abu Sayyaf," Patek said in an interview published in the magazine on Monday.

Patek said he knew the leader of the faction that took the first group of 10 Indonesian men hostage while they were transporting coal on their way from South Kalimantan to Batangas in the southern Philippines in March.

Leader, Al-Habsyi Misaya joined Abu Sayyaf the year after he did, Patek said, adding that he also knew Jim Dragon "one of the most senior and the eldest in that faction".

"When several envoys came here, I told them how to approach them (Al-Habsyi and Dragon)," Patek claimed, adding it was through the third wife of the leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) - a group Al-Habsyi was previously affiliated with.

It is understood the group has called for a ransom of 50 million Philippine peso ($A1.42 million) for the group.
The foreign ministry has denied any money was handed over in their release last month, or in the rescue of another four Indonesian men shortly after.

Instead, they say they harnessed "formal and informal" avenues to secure the men's return.

Patek denied he asked for a sentence reduction in return for this help.

"Not at all. That's a lie. I want to help because of my concern as fellow Indonesian brothers," the bomb maker claimed.

He said the Abu Sayyaf faction which took the men were "masters" at kidnapping people from the sea but were not "sadistic" unless a hostage tried to escape.

During the interview from prison, Patek also took aim at the national counter-terrorism agency BNPT, saying the de-radicalisation programs being run within the prison is not effective.

"They (BNPT staff) don't know us personally. The ones who know us are the prison staff ...If I'm sick, they're the ones who know. When talking about what I feel, I also speak to them (prison staff).

"What changed me the most is talking with other inmates who are not terrorist inmates. I know more stories about life and not thinking that my opinion is always the most right one," he added.

NPA rebels urged anew to give up armed struggle

From the Manila Bulletin (Jun 5): NPA rebels urged anew to give up armed struggle

Butuan City – The regional command of the Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) and Northeastern and Northern Mindanao 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) yesterday called on  fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), to return to the fold of the law  and avail the government’s peace and development program.

In a separate statement, the command group of PRO 13 and 4th ID assured that the NPAs who also wanted to  yield their firearms will be given immediate cash assistance in exchange of their surrendered firearms in line with the government’s “Balik Baril Bayad Agad” program, aside from the livelihood support coming from the national and local government units.

Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix, regional director of PRO 13 and Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal, commanding general of the 4th ID, made the assurance after three alleged high-profile NPA commanders were captured at mountainside village of Tungao in this city last Friday.

The joint operations of the government security forces from PRO 13 and 4th ID also lead to the seizure of two M16 Armalite rifles, one AK 47 rifle, one caliber .22 sniper rifle with scope, two caliber .22 rifles, three pistols, two revolvers, improvised explosive devices, blasting caps, detonating cords, two hand grenades, ammunitions and documents with high intelligence value.

Chief Supt. Felix said the arrest of Roldan Bungolto, alias Aka Itom or Loloy, commanding officer of guerrilla-Front Committee  4-A SPARU Unit and Militia ng Bayan of the CPP-NPA Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee; Danilo Acania, alleged former 1st Deputy Secretary of guerrilla-Front Committee 4-A and commanding officer of Policard NPA Platoon and Jake Borja of GFC 4-A, boosted the peace and development efforts of the government.

Free legal aid for soldiers, cops gets nod at Lower House

From Update.Ph (Jun 6): Free legal aid for soldiers, cops gets nod at Lower House

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill providing for free legal assistance to any officer or enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

House Bill 6413 authored by Rep. Felix William B. Fuentebella (4th District, Camarines Sur) aims to help military and law enforcers facing any charge arising from an event related to their official duty.

“Those officers and modest enlisted personnel of the AFP and PNP cannot afford to engage the services of a lawyer due to the prohibitive cost of legal services to defend themselves,” said Fuentebella.

The bill specifically requires the AFP Chief of Staff, PNP Chief or the Chairperson of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to authorize any lawyer with the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to provide free legal assistance to any AFP and AFP personnel within 24 hours after charges have been filed.

The funds needed to implement the Act shall come from the appropriation of the Department of Justice (DOJ), AFP, Napolcom and PNP in the year following its enactment into law.

Further, they shall also issue the necessary rules and regulations to implement the Act.
Other authors of the bill include Reps. Niel C. Tupas Jr. (5th District, Iloilo), Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), George P. Arnaiz (2nd District, Negros Oriental), Silvestre H. Bello III (Party list, 1BAP), Lino S. Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City).

Tour inside BRP Tarlac (Photos)

From Update.Ph (Jun 6): Tour inside BRP Tarlac (Photos)

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

President Benigno S. Aquino III toured and inspected the facilities of Philippine Navy’s largest vessel BRP Tarlac (LD-601) during the Philippine Navy 118th anniversary celebration at Pier 13, South Harbour, Manila City on Wednesday, June 01.

Philippine Navy officials and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin showed President Aquino what is inside BRP Tarlac.

Among the equipment and hardware shown to Aquino were two landing crafts, land vehicles, and an armed AW-109E naval helicopter.

BRP Tarlac formally entered Navy service the same day.

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Malacañang Photo Bureau

Army offers free dental services, preserves smiles of tomorrow

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 6): Army offers free dental services, preserves smiles of tomorrow

Soldiers of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Army's 4th Infantry Division recently extended free dental services availed by the residents and scores of students from Impasugong National High School.

Lt. Col. Lennon G. Babilonia, 8th Infantry Battalion commander, said this activity ensures that the students would start the school right with a smile.

“In coordination with the local government unit (LGU), Department of Education (DepEd), and other stakeholders, the Philippine Army is also actively participating in ‘Brigada Eskwela’ project to help education sector in preparing facilities as schools open next week; hence, making schools a place for conducive learning,” he said.

Likewise, Mayor Anthony Uy of Impasugong, who is also an alumnus of Impasugong National High School, together with the teachers, health workers, and civilian volunteers shared their time, effort and resources to make this free dental services successful.

“We, the LGU, Philippine Army and DepEd are sharing one goal of ensuring the welfare of our country’s future leaders,” the mayor said.Most of the students, as well as youths in the community benefitted from the dental services.

Babilonia, meanwhile, commends his soldiers for their efforts in making this activity part of the army’s “Bayanihan” program contributing to the DepEd’s “Brigada Eskwela.”

Development-geared activities such as this is deemed one of the unit’s great accomplishments, rather than waging war against civilians who are victims of deceitful groups trying to manipulate people against our government, Babilonia said.

Feature: China’s allowing access of fishermen in Bajo De Masinloc: a publicity stunt?

From the Philippine Information Agency (Jun 6): Feature: China’s allowing access of fishermen in Bajo De Masinloc: a publicity stunt?

Newspapers recently welcomed reports that China has allowed access of Filipino fishermen in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.

This was seen as a positive gesture by Beijing and a reflection of its goodwill towards the incoming political leadership.

However good this news sounds, a reckoning of realities on the ground is in order before we embrace such a development - if true - as a game-changer.

The truth is China has not significantly changed its policy on the South China Sea and it is foolhardy to believe that it will shift its gears soon.

One only needs to look at how China - against calls from the region and outside for self-restraint and respect for international law – has dramatically altered the situation on the ground even as it spoke of its commitment to honor the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and work on a Code of Conduct.

Early this year, China’s expansionist agenda for the South China Sea has become clear when it embarked on the militarization of the disputed features, while maintaining the narrative that facilities were intended to provide “public goods” that will benefit the region.  The artificial islands were built since 2014 – an “ecocide” carried out at the expense of the intricate and diverse coral reefs of the Spratlys, a precious ecosystem which have henceforth become lost forever.

Seen against this big picture, the reported “goodwill gesture” of China in Bajo de Masinloc appears as a publicity stunt, to present itself as the good guy, with the hope that the new administration will reverse Philippine policy on the West Philippine Sea and be “friendly to China” in contrast to the Aquino administration.

The fact is China remains in control of the shoal, which it forcibly took over in 2012, after preventing Philippine authorities from enforcing national laws within its Exclusive Economic Zone.  The shoal is part of Zambales Province and located about 900 kilometers from China’s southernmost island of Hainan.

China’s forcible takeover of this shoal on account of a flimsy claim of “historic rights” over the entire South China Sea violated international law. It has deprived the fishing communities of Zambales and neighboring provinces their legitimate rights in their traditional fishing grounds. It was the last straw in a series of China’s aggressive actions on the ground vis-à-vis the Philippines that prompted the arbitration proceedings.

Taken against this context, the reports about China’s act of allowing Filipino fishermen to fish in Bajo De Masinloc beg the question: does China have the right to be giving Filipinos what belongs to the Filipinos?  

On 16 May 2016, China announced a unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea in areas north of 12 degrees latitude, which, if China follows its spurious nine-dash line claim, covers Bajo De Masinloc.  This ban is in force until 16 August 2016, a concrete proof of China’s blatant disregard of the rights of its neighbors, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Moreover, let not Panganiban Shoal be forgotten. In 1995, China occupied this feature within the Kalayaan Island Group. At that time, Beijing said it was building “fishermen’s facilities” that will be open “when the time is right” to use by fishermen other than the Chinese fishermen. Panganiban Shoal has since been transformed into a Chinese military outpost; so much for the promise of joint use and access at the time that never came.

These, and China’s continuing and progressive actions beyond Bajo De Masinloc in the South China Sea, should make us circumspect in assessing the intention of certain one-off gestures of China, especially as we await the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal that should clarify what is rightfully ours.

Soldiers get replica of 1734 map debunking China's claims

From Rappler (Jun 6): Soldiers get replica of 1734 map debunking China's claims

The Northern Luzon Command says the 1734 Murillo Map will always remind them 'that Scarborough Shoal is ours'

'SCARBOROUGH IS OURS.' The Northern Luzon Command on June 6, 2016, receives a framed replica of the 1734 Murillo Map that shows the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) as part of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Northern Luzon Command

'SCARBOROUGH IS OURS.' The Northern Luzon Command on June 6, 2016, receives a framed replica of the 1734 Murillo Map that shows the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) as part of the Philippines. Photo courtesy of Northern Luzon Command

Soldiers in the northern part of the Philippines received on Monday, June 6, a framed replica of a 280-year-old map often used to debunk China's claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The replica of the 1734 Murillo Map of the Philippines was donated by businessman Mel Velarde, president of Now Corporation and chairperson of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.

Velarde gave the replica to the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The 1734 Murillo Map shows that the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), also known as Bajo de Masinloc, has been part of the Philippines from as far back as nearly 3 centuries ago.

Panatag Shoal is found in the contested West Philippine Sea. (READ: Duterte: We will never surrender Scarborough)

A standoff between the Philippines and China in Panatag Shoal in April 2012 prompted Manila to file a historic case against Beijing.

The case is pending before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands. The tribunal is expected to issue a ruling any time soon. (READ: PH urged to build 'int'l consensus' amid China defiance)

'Scarborough Shoal is ours'

Velarde said on Monday: "Why is the replica of the Murillo Map being donated to the Northern Luzon Command? The Northern Luzon Command is the protector, watcher, caretaker, defender of Bajo de Masinloc under Northern Luzon Command's direct jurisdiction."

The map was drawn by a Spanish Jesuit priest, Father Pedro Murillo Velarde. Published in Manila, it is the first "internationally recognized scientific map of the Philippines," Nolcom said in a statement.

Nolcom commander Lieutenant General Romeo Tanalgo, for his part, praised Velarde for donating a replica of the map to them.

Tanalgo said it is a "unique and unmatched" act of patriotism to make sure that the map "landed in the hands of Filipino people."

Nolcom said the 1734 Murillo Map will always remind them "that Scarborough Shoal is ours."

In his lectures, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Philippine Supreme Court has used ancient maps to debunk China's claim over the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio has said even China's ancient maps dating back to 960 AD show that its territory "never included" the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

Taiwan 'won't recognize' any Chinese air defense zone over South China Sea

From InterAksyon (Jun 6): Taiwan 'won't recognize' any Chinese air defense zone over South China Sea

Taiwan's new defense minister said on Monday the island would not recognize any air defense zone declared by China over the South China Sea, as the island's top security agency warned such a move could usher in a wave of regional tension.

US officials have expressed concern that an international court ruling expected in coming weeks on a case brought by the Philippines against China over its South China Sea claims could prompt Beijing to declare an air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, as it did over the East China Sea in 2013.

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

"We will not recognize any ADIZ by China," Taiwan Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan told lawmakers in parliament.

The comments came after Taiwan's new government of President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was sworn in last month. Tsai's election victory overturned eight-years of China-friendly Nationalist rule on the self-ruled island.

China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, drew condemnation from Japan and the United States when it imposed its ADIZ, in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities, above the East China Sea.

China has neither confirmed nor denied it plans such a zone for the South China Sea, saying that a decision would be based on the threat level and that it had every right to set one up.

"In the future, we don't rule out China designating an ADIZ. If China is on track to announce this, it could usher in a new wave of tension in the region," Taiwan's National Security Bureau said in a report presented to parliament.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, asked whether China would set up an ADIZ for the South China Sea, said many factors needed consideration, especially the level of threat faced in the air.

"Many countries have set up ADIZs. This has nothing to do with various countries' territorial or maritime rights issues," he told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.

'International standards'

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday the United States would consider a Chinese air defense zone over the South China Sea "provocative and destabilizing".

Speaking at the beginning of a high-level strategic dialogue in Beijing on Monday, Kerry said he would make it clear the United States was looking for a peaceful resolution to disputes in the South China Sea.

"The only position we've taken is, let's not resolve this by unilateral action, let's resolve this through rule of law, through diplomacy, through negotiation, and we urge all nations to find a diplomatic solution rooted in international standards and rule of law," he said.

China's top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, said China "resolutely makes it own contribution to peace, stability and development".

China has been angered by what it views as provocative US military patrols close to islands China controls in the South China Sea. The United States says the patrols are to protect freedom of navigation.

Taiwan's defense ministry said in its own report it would strengthen its defenses on Pratas Island, in the north of the South China Sea, and on Itu Aba in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Feng told lawmakers Taiwan would send additional ammunition to Itu Aba for its anti-aircraft guns in the next month. The move is largely symbolic as the guns are not considered advanced weaponry.

The ministry said China was building up its military presence in the South China Sea with deployments of anti-missile systems, drones and fast missile ships in the area.

Army intensifies ops vs. Governor Generoso raiders

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Army intensifies ops vs. Governor Generoso raiders

Intensified pursuit operations will continue against the armed lawless group (ALG) New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who raided the police station of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental last May 29, the army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division said on Monday.

10th ID chief information officer Captain Rhyan Batchar said the army’s leadership in the area had already ordered the “no let up operations” against the said lawless group. Since the evening of May 29, right after the attack, troopers belonging to 28th Infantry Battalion were already dispatched in the area to clear the national highway leading to Governor Generoso town, Batchar added.

“Presence of said ALG was reported at the vicinity of SitioTagamot, Barangay Dawan in Mati City. The troops conducted clearing operation along the national highway and were able to recover forty (40) pieces of iron spikes along the road. This is part of the NPA ploy to ambush any reinforcing government troops,” the statement pointed out.

The continuing pursuit operations of the army also resulted to series of armed confrontations against the fleeing NPAs specifically in Barangay Cambaleon, San Isidro, Davao Oriental last May 30.

Batchar also belied the claims made Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA, that the army suffered casualties during the conduct of pursuit operations.

“Contrary to this statement, the army did not incur casualties in three consecutive encounters that took place in San Isidro town,” he emphasized.

Batchar further disputed the allegations made by Sanchez saying that the army had sabotaged the planned raid of the NPAs to an alleged shabu laboratory in Governor Generoso.

“We as member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) supports the anti-criminality and anti-drugs campaign of the duly instituted authorities like the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) among others. The NPA, an illegal armed organization, has no authority to institute law enforcement operation therefore putting their invalid claim to the trash bin.”

Batchar added that the 10th ID also gave its full support to the AFP-PNP's thrust of not condoning any of its members in engaging illegal activities such as drugs, gambling and others.

He appealed to the public “to bring into our attention any relative information about soldiers engaging in any illegal activities so we could accord them of investigations and subsequently file appropriate case against them,” and encouraged the local government units (LGUs) and concerned authorities in Davao region to conduct investigation and litigate any AFP personnel found committing offenses against the existing laws of the land.

“The 10th ID remains committed in providing security and protection to the people and the state. We shall be loyal to our sworn duty and shall only take legal orders from duly instituted authorities,” Batchar said.

The claims of the NPAs were also disputed by the provincial leadership of Davao Oriental and the PNP in Davao region (PRO-11).

Governor Corazon Malanyaon outlined the strengthened anti-drug campaigns of the province that include anti-illegal drug campaigns and operations, arrest of personalities involved in illegal drugs and the prosecution of suspects in appropriate courts.

Malanyaon also dismissed the accusations of the government’s inactions made by the NPAs, saying that the allegations were unfair, foul and baseless.

“There’s absolutely no truth to insinuations that there was silence and inaction on the alleged rampant drug trafficking in Governor Generoso town which means an unholy alliance with drug syndicates in the province,” Malanyaon said.

Malanyaon pointed out that the insinuation is grossly unfair, baseless and foul.

“You can fault me for anything but not on illegal drugs. Heaven knows how I have passionately spearheaded a campaign against illegal drugs,” she added.

Malanyaon said the allegations against them were not true, in fact series of initiatives and activities were done by the provincial leadership of Davao Oriental to eradicate illegal drugs.

“The provincial government of Davao Oriental has undertaken several initiatives to address the drug menace. These include the strengthening of strategic partnership among anti-drug stakeholders to be effective in the fight against illegal drugs; and the calling of the attention of law enforcement agencies and local government units (LGUs) in the province on a regular basis to strengthen operations against illegal drug activities.”

Police records also showed that a total of 106 anti-drug operations were conducted by authorities in the province from January 2015 to the present.

Malanyaon stressed that the anti-drug operations have resulted to the arrest of 174 persons involved in illegal drug activities and the confiscation of PHP20.2-million worth of illegal drugs.

Drug cases were also filed against 150 persons as a result of the intensified anti-drug operations in Davao Oriental where three of the suspects coming from Governor Generoso town were already convicted.

A high-profile drug personality from Governor Generoso town was also killed in an anti-drug operation conducted early this year, she emphasized.

Malanyaon asserted: “Davao Oriental was recognized by PDEA as the second highest in the region, next to Davao City in illegal drugs seizure. Aside from anti-drug operations, the province gives equal importance to prevention of drug-abuse through advocacy efforts initiated by the Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC) where communities are able to participate and cooperate in the anti-drug campaign and in raising a high level of awareness on the evils of dangerous drugs.”

The involvement of the name of First District Congressman Nelson Dayanghirang into the Governor Generoso controversy is dubious, Malanyaon added.

She said that Dayanghirang represents the first district of the province and Governor Generoso town is part of the second district.

“It seems like there is a political dimension in this case,” the governor suspected.

Police, Army hold simulation exercise on NPA 'attack'

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Police, Army hold simulation exercise on NPA 'attack'

The Philippine National Police (PNP) spearheaded over the weekend a simulation exercise (SIMEX) on a New People’s Army (NPA) attack in Tayasan, Negros Oriental.

At 5:20 a.m. Saturday, Supt. Carlos Lacuesta, deputy provincial police director for operations, conducted a briefing with the personnel of the Tayasan Police Station headed by Insp. Luis Lacandula.

The briefing oriented and reminded the personnel on their movement and SOPs in case of an attack by the “enemy”, a police report said Monday.

Lt. Col. Eugene Badua, commanding officer of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in McKinley, Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental, also gave his briefing on the coordination and contacts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly on the response and reinforcement aspects.

At 6 a.m., the simulation exercise reeled off, with representatives from the QUAD staff, the Crime Laboratory, SWAT/EOD, the Provincial Public Safety Company, police chiefs in the first district of the province, and the local government unit, headed by Mayor Susano Ruperto, Jr. of Tayasan, in attendance.

The SIMEX was realistic as eight personnel from the 11th IB served as “aggressors” and utilized actual gunshots with blank ammunition, Sr. Insp. Ronoel Fungo, the Tayasan police chief, said through the Amigo Cops Negros Oriental PNP Text Blast project.

Personnel from the Tayasan Police Station “responded” along with the Army troopers, with the SWAT team and their EOD and K-9 unit also in tow.

The scenario included a 25-minute firefight, first aid and medical assistance and with a fire truck, an ambulance and a V-150 tank also deployed to the scene.

The simulated exercise ended at 6:48 a.m. and was followed by a debriefing.

Mayor Ruperto commended the PNP, the Army and other law enforcers participating in the simulated exercise for a “job well done” as he called on his constituents to be always vigilant and support the efforts of government towards peace and development.

Army looking for 558,200 rounds of .45 caliber hard ball ammunition

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Army looking for 558,200 rounds of .45 caliber hard ball ammunition

The Philippine Army (PA) is looking for bullet manufacturers capable of supplying it with 558,200 rounds of .45 caliber ball ammunition.

The latter refers to a projectile consisting of a soft core (often lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, such as gilding metal, cupronickel, or less commonly a steel alloy.

The. 45 caliber is one of the official sidearms of the PA along with the 9mm pistol.

Budget for the project is set at PHP12.1 million. Pre-bid conference is slated for July 4, 1 p.m. at the Philippine Army Bids and Awards Committee Conference Room, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Receipt and opening of bids is on July 12, 1 p.m. at the same venue.

EDCA impact to be discussed in Tuesday forum

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): EDCA impact to be discussed in Tuesday forum

In line with efforts to explain what the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States, a forum discussing its possible impact will be held Tuesday morning.

The event will be held at National Defense College of the Philippines in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

It will be hosted by independent think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) for International Studies.

Dindo Manhit, the group's president, said former foreign affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario and Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino will attend the event.

The event has a theme “Asia-Pacific Perspectives on Implementing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement” will also feature representatives from the country's Departments of National Defense and Foreign Affairs who will share insight from the bilateral strategic dialogue that took place in Washington early this year.

Manhit said a panel of representatives from the non-government sector in the Philippines, Japan, the US, and Australia will then give their feedback on the agreement.

Their feedback will then serve as a jump-off point for discussions, including the progress in its implementation and its effects on areas of cooperation in the region.

Other speakers are DFA Undersecretary for American Affairs Maria Andrelita S. Austria; Stratbase ADRi convenor Renato De Castro; Ernest Bower and Gregory Poling of US-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies; Lisa Sharland, senior analyst of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Prof. Katsuyuki Yakushiji of Toyo University in Japan.

Other representatives from government agencies, the diplomatic corps, academe and business community are expected to share their insights on the possible scenarios arising from the implementation of the EDCA.

In January, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of EDCA, allowing the increased presence of US forces and their equipment on rotation basis in the Philippines.

PA to purchase 7,440 pieces of .45 caliber pistol magazine assemblies

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): PA to purchase 7,440 pieces of .45 caliber pistol magazine assemblies

The Philippine Army (PA) is looking for manufacturers capable of supplying it with 7,440 pieces of .45 caliber pistol magazine assemblies.

Budget for the project is PHP11,160,000. The. 45 caliber is one of the official sidearms of the PA along with the 9mm pistol.

Pre-bid conference is slated for July 4, 1:00 p.m. at the Philippine Army Bids and Awards Committee Conference Room, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

While receipt and opening of bids is on July 12, 1:00 p.m. at the same venue.

Brigades can be upgraded into full divisions

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): Brigades can be upgraded into full divisions

Should the military require another infantry division to enhance its presence, all the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) needs to do is to "upgrade" an existing brigade from any of its 10 divisions.

This was stressed by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in a message to the PNA Monday.

"One way (to acquire an infantry division in a hurry) is to upgrade an infantry brigade. First you will separate this unit (from its existing parent division) then you equip it with corresponding personnel until it becomes a full-sized division," he said in Filipino.

And to became a full-sized infantry division, other brigades will given to this unit for its operational control, he added.

Combat and support units will be also be assign to this formation to give it the striking power of a full infantry division.

Detoyato said upgrades will be also given to its special, technical and general staff to make it capable of performing division-sized missions. It will also be renamed.

Infantry divisions, subtracted a full infantry brigade, will not be harmed operationally, as a new brigade headquarters can be assembled from scratch.

"A brigade headquarters usually consists of 150 officers and personnel, it can be easily assembled if needed, while a division headquarters need around 500 people," Detoyato said.

A Filipino infantry division usually consist of two to three brigades which has the strength of around 1,000 to 1,500 officers and enlisted personnel, not including its support and logistic units.

250th Presidential Airlift Wing officers, personnel call on President Aquino

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 6): 250th Presidential Airlift Wing officers, personnel call on President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday expressed his gratitude to the officers and personnel of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW) of the Philippine Air Force during their courtesy call in Malacañang Palace.

The PAW is tasked to provide air transportation to the President, his/her immediate family members, visiting dignitaries, and VIPs.

“I would like to compliment everybody, from all your previous Wing commanders to the present Wing commanders, the officers, the men and civilian employees. I’ve never had any cause to complain about the service you provided all of us,” the President said in his speech.

“So reliable, dependable, and hopefully, ‘yung tinanim natin nitong anim na taon na mas may kakayahan na ang gobyernong suportahan naman ang ating Sandatahang Lakas, among others, ay magpatuloy na, you’ll have better platforms, more training, more skills upgrading, more support in the service of the people,” he said.

“From all of us that you have rendered really very, very good service, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart and I really wish you clear skies as you proceed in your career path. So, again, thank you very much from all of us, and hopefully you will continue the splendid service you’ve done, not only to us but also for our country that made the governance more effective.”

The 250th PAW is led by Wing Commander Col. Allen Paredes, a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s 1988 Class “Marangal”.

The 250th PAW also conducts proficiency training of aircrew and support personnel; operates and maintains common aviation assets of Government Financial Institutions; performs organizational, field and limited depot level maintenance of assigned aircraft; performs liaison or coordination of aircraft requirements for presidential flights; coordinates with appropriate agencies for field and depot level maintenance of assigned aircraft; provides command and control and communication in advance base operations for presidential flights; provides presidential security augmentation; and provides flight safety and technical officers for VVIP movement locally and abroad.