Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cordi group asks to free political prisoners

From the Sun Star-Baguio (Jun 14): Cordi group asks to free political prisoners

THE CORDILLERA Peoples Alliance (CPA) is heeding the call to free at least seven political prisoners in the region languishing in jail for crimes they did not commit.

Three political detainees are currently jailed in Kalinga while the other two is in Ifugao and another two in Mt. Province facing trumped up criminal charges ranging from multiple murder, illegal possession of firearms, explosives and ammunitions, among others.

Political prisoners include National Democratic Front of the Philippines regional consultant on indigenous peoples concerns who was arrested on February 2013 and currently detained at the Kalinga Provincial Jail in Tabuk City facing multiple cases.

Bangibang's arrest is a major blow in the conduct of grassroots consultations and dialogues on indigenous peoples concerns in the region to be included to the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) by the NDFP.

In Ifugao, Rene Boy Abiva, an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and an organizer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Cagayan and Virgilio Corpuz, a development worker and at the same time an organizer of Piston in Cagayan Valley were also jailed.

Both were allegedly charged in relation to an ambush staged by the New People's Army in Tinoc, Ifugao. Abiva was arrested in December 2012 while Corpuz was arrested on January 2013.

"CPA firmly believes that no one should be imprisoned because of their political beliefs," the Cordillera Peoples Alliance said in a statement.


President Duterte: A Different Philippine Leader – Analysis

From The Eurasia Review (Jun 15): President Duterte: A Different Philippine Leader – Analysis (By RSIS/Barry Desker)

The Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Keith Kristoffer Bacongco, Wikipedia Commons.

The Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Keith Kristoffer Bacongco, Wikipedia Commons.

The Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte will act differently from his predecessors. There is a need for a more layered understanding of the man and his policies.

Since the election of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the next Philippine President in a landslide victory on 9 May 2016, the regional and international media have highlighted his outrageous remarks on various sensitive topics. For instance he backed the extra-judicial killings of drug dealers, alleged that journalists were killed because they were corrupt and called Philippine bishops critical of him “sons of whores”, among other crude comments. None of these remarks have dented his domestic support. But they have attracted international attention and provided a negative one-dimensional view of the 71-year old new leader.

While his main opponents, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe, conceded defeat even before all votes were counted, the vice-presidential race was closer. Congresswoman Leni Robredo, with a reputation for fiscal probity and a simple lifestyle, narrowly defeated Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Duterte has indicated that Robredo will not be given any role in the new Administration as he had favoured the election of Marcos.

How Duterte Will Be Different

Duterte will act differently from his Philippine predecessors. But there is a need for a more layered understanding of the man and his policies. He is the first Philippine President who is not from the traditional land-owning elite, which has dominated the critical centres of power in the capital Manila since independence. His base is in Davao City in the traditionally neglected Southern Philippines and he claimed that he will continue to stay in Davao, commuting daily by commercial aircraft, until he is comfortable in Manila. To stress this point, he was in Davao when he was officially proclaimed by a joint session of the Philippine Congress on 30 May as the winner of the election and the next President.

His election signals a shift away from Manila-centred politics and an effort to reach out to hitherto marginalised sectors of Philippine society. His speeches and public comments are in English rather than Tagalog, the lingua franca of Greater Manila, which has been promoted throughout the archipelago as the national language. He has emphasised his links with Mindanao and several of his cabinet appointments hail from the region.

Duterte also draws support from the Philippine left wing and has close ties with the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Jose Sison, under whose leadership the CPP waged a Maoist-influenced guerrilla insurgency and who has been in exile in the Netherlands since 1987. Duterte has welcomed Sison’s plans to return home. Although government negotiations with the CPP since 2011 are currently at an impasse, Duterte is more likely to reach an agreement with the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

This opening to the left is seen in two of Duterte’s cabinet appointments who were nominated by the National Democratic Front, an NPA ally. Judy Taguiwalo, a University of the Philippines professor and women’s rights advocate, is the secretary of social welfare and development while Rafael Mariano is secretary of agrarian reform. Incoming Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jnr, a former NPA rebel and ex-priest, served as Duterte’s campaign manager and has enjoyed close ties with Duterte since the 1990s.

Pro-business Technocrats

These appointments are balanced by pro-business technocratic appointments to key economic portfolios including secretary of finance Carlos Dominguez, who served in the cabinets of Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos and is a close friend of Duterte from Davao City. Alfonso Cusi, secretary of energy, served in the Administration of President Cory Aquino.

The secretary of economic planning, Ernesto Pernia, was lead economist at the Asian Development Bank. Based on Duterte’s effective economic management in Davao City, economic policy is likely to follow the growth-oriented policies of outgoing President Benigno Aquino with greater emphasis on decentralisation, poverty alleviation and land reform.

Former President Fidel Ramos, who served from 1992 to 1998, was an early supporter of Duterte and has been influential in pushing pragmatic policy choices. Ramos’ influence is positive as his tenure was marked by an economic transformation in the Philippines as well as a significant outreach to the NPA and Muslim rebel movements. Ramos appointees now holding Cabinet posts include peace process adviser Jesus Dureza, who held this post under Ramos.

Because of Duterte’s unwillingness to accommodate the preference of the Manila political elite for business as usual, his Cabinet includes more nominees with close personal ties to the President and who hail from Davao and the surrounding Cotabato region. Other friends or former classmates of the President include secretary of transportation and communications Arthur Tugade, secretary of justice Vitaliano Aguirre, executive secretary Salvador Medialdea and chief of police Ronald Dela Rosa, the former police chief of Davao City.

Domestic Priorities

Duterte’s priorities are domestic. Law and order, anti-corruption and crushing the drug problem are at the top of his agenda. He aims to devolve power from the central government to the provinces. By working out of Davao so far, Duterte is symbolically reminding Manila politicians that a political revolution is underway. He intends to shift to a federal-parliamentary system and the constitution will have to be revised.

His appointment of Major General Delfin Lorenzana as the secretary of defence reflects a desire to maintain ties with the United States even as the Philippines moves to restore its relationship with China. Lorenzana has spent most of the past two decades in Washington as defence attache and, after his retirement in 2004, as presidential representative at the Embassy from 2004 to 2009 and again since 2013.

Duterte’s foreign policy is still unclear. Perfecto Yasay, former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission whose roots are in Davao City, is the new Foreign Secretary. As Yasay is not linked to the pro-American policies of the outgoing Administration, a tilt away from the US towards a more even-handed approach is possible.

Managing China Relations

Yasay’s first challenge will be the management of the bilateral relationship with China. So far, mixed signals have been sent by the new Administration. During his election campaign, Duterte called for bilateral talks on South China Sea claims. Post-election, he proposed a multilateral dialogue involving claimant states as well as other states including the US, Japan and Australia.

He has also said that he would not surrender the Philippines’ right to Chinese-occupied Scarborough Shoal. Yasay has said that relations with China should improve as long as China “adheres to the rule of law, respects our territorial integrity and sovereignty”.

With the eclectic rainbow coalition of cabinet appointees, no clear foreign policy and national security policy outlook can be discerned at this time. ASEAN is not a focus of his attention. But Duterte is likely to be persuaded by his advisers to make the usual round of courtesy visits to his ASEAN counterparts. ASEAN leaders at the next ASEAN Summit in Vientiane in November will have to deal with a disengaged leader unless issues directly concerning the Philippines are on the agenda.

One worrying possibility is the revival of the Philippines claim to Sabah, reflecting the influence of Duterte’s power base in Mindanao. Nevertheless, while his priorities may be domestic, international developments may intrude and shape the priorities of his administration.

[Barry Desker is Distinguished Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This appeared earlier in The Straits Times.]

[RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the author/s are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), NTU, which produces the Commentaries]


FEATURE: Islamic State's Expansion into Asia Worries Experts

From the NewsLens (Jun 14): FEATURE: Islamic State's Expansion into Asia Worries Experts

Why you need to know

A day after the execution of a Canadian in the Philippines, Southeast Asia terrorism experts warn that international efforts must be ramped up to counter the spread of Islamic State throughout the region.

The Abu Sayyaf extremist organization in Sulu, southern Philippines, reportedly executed Robert Hall yesterday after a ransom deadline expired. This was the second execution in recent months and two more people remain in captivity.

Rohan Gunaratna is the head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

He warns that while Abu Sayyaf is a “hybrid” organization — part criminal, part terrorist — a breakaway group with close ties with Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq; Islamic State Philippines is attracting new members throughout the region.

“IS is expanding eastward, they are very determined now to create a base of operations in Asia and Asian governments must work together to prevent that,” Gunaratna says.

He notes IS has already established “provinces” in Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, southwestern Russia, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It now wants to establish a “satellite” in southern Philippines as an operations and training base for Southeast Asian fighters.

“This is going to threaten not only Southeast Asia it is going to threaten Northeast Asia too,” he told The News Lens International (TNLI) from Beijing this morning.

Gaining traction

Gunaratna says IS Philippines is estimated to have only “a few hundred” members, but because of its link to the central IS command in the Middle East, it has “huge potential to grow.” Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has appointed Isnilon Hapilon as the IS representative in the Philippines. Hapilon was the former deputy leader of Abu Sayyaf and now leads IS Philippines.

“Any local group that uses the word ‘IS’ has more traction,” he says. “We have information that the youth of Abu Sayyaf, at night they are all on mobile devices watching IS videos. Our assessment is IS Philippines will supplant the Abu Sayyaf group and other groups.”

He says IS Philippines intends to launch IS-style attacks and implement Islamic law according to the IS vision.

“If IS succeeds [in creating a satellite] in the Philippines, then the threat grows very sharply.”

While noting that Abu Sayyaf has weakened and it is a much smaller group than it was in the past — it is thought to have less than 1,000 members — Gunaratna says the Philippine government has for a long time not been decisive in the fight against terrorism.

Andrin Raj is the Southeast Asia regional director for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals-Centre for Security Studies. The Washington-headquartered organization has offices throughout Southeast Asia.

Raj likewise says the spread of IS ideology is already taking place. He believes there is “growing” sympathizer sentiment towards the conflict areas in the Middle East and says sectarian disputes in SEA is becoming a reality.

Sulu Sea

Raj told TNLI from Kalua Lumpur that a lack of international control over the Sulu Sea, which connects Malaysia, eastern Indonesia and the southern Philippines, has enabled terrorist activity in the region.

The ongoing territorial dispute between countries in the Sulu region has made it “much easier” for the groups to maneuver throughout the region, he says. Moreover, intelligence sharing between the countries has been “lacking.”

“Egyptian terrorist membership cards have been found on dead Sulu operatives in the Sulu region according to intelligence sources,” he says.

Gunaratna agrees that international cooperation across the Sulu archipelago is crucial in responding to terrorism.

“This region has been infested with terrorists and criminals, so it is high time for governments to work together to fight these groups and eliminate these groups.”

He suggests there is already a move toward regional patrolling but says collaboration needs to take place at a “higher level.”

“There must be greater political will.”

Following the recent election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Gunaratna says Manila should now work to eliminate Abu Sayyaf and the breakaway IS-linked group, as well as the numerous other smaller terrorist groups operating in the Philippines.

“For too long the Philippines have tolerated these groups,” Gunaratna says. “I believe this is a turning point, because there is a new president and there is a renewed political will. There is a willingness on the part of the armed forces to work with the new administration to eliminate these groups.”

The extent of the threat

Joseph Chinyong Liow holds the Lee Kuan Yew Chair in Southeast Asia Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He recently testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on the Islamic State's reach in Southeast Asia.

He says the January attack in Jakarta and the April attack against the Philippine security forces in the southern island of Basilan were conducted by groups claiming allegiance to IS. Those events and the recent spate of kidnappings in southern Philippines, “serve as a timely reminder of the persistent threat that terrorism continues to pose to Southeast Asian societies.”

Liow says the “threat posed by ISIS in Southeast Asia is real, and it has been growing since mid-2014,” but “the extent of the threat should also not be exaggerated.”

“On present evidence, no ISIS-aligned group has developed the capability to mount catastrophic, mass casualty attacks in the region. Four civilians were killed in the Jakarta attacks,” he told the committee. “By comparison, 130 were killed in the Paris attacks, on which the Jakarta attacks were purportedly modeled. Because of improved legislation and operational capabilities that have gradually developed over the years since the October 2002 Bali bombings, Southeast Asian governments have managed for the most part to contain the threat posed by terrorist and jihadi groups.”

While 700-800 Southeast Asians are estimated to be currently in Iraq and Syria, about 40% are women and children below the age of 15.

"In both real and proportionate terms, these figures are a mere fraction of the recruits coming from Europe and Australia.”

Still, Liow says given the emergence ISIS in Southeast Asia and the traction it appears to have garnered, “regional governments must remain vigilant to ISIS-related developments, particularly in terms monitoring both returnees as well as communications between militants in Syria and their counterparts and followers back home.”

Despite anxiety that ISIS causes, people should not “miss the forest for the trees,” he says.

“There are multiple groups operating in Southeast Asia that are intent on using some form of political violence to further their ends. Many are at odds with each other; not all are seeking affiliation to, or enamored of, ISIS.”


WATCH: ISIS in Philippines Beheads Canadian Robert Hall

From Heavy (Jun 14): WATCH: ISIS in Philippines Beheads Canadian Robert Hall

[I have not attached the video to this report. Go to the URL below to view the graphic video and still photo.]

In a new video purportedly released by Islamic State affiliate Abu Sayyaf, Canadian hostage Robert Hall is beheaded after Canada’s refusal to pay the terrorists his ransom. The brutal video was released on ISIS terrorist channels on June 14.

The video comes a day after the Canadian government refused to meet a ransom deadline made by Abu Sayyaf. On June 12, Abu Sayyaf made one final demand for the ransom, claiming they were going to torture Hall prior to his beheading.

The video comes a little over a month after fellow Canadian John Ridsdel’s beheading video.

Hall appeared in a ransom video released in November 2015 by Abu Sayyaf, the second time he was forced on camera following his kidnapping in September. He appeared along with John Risdel and Kjartan Sekkingstad of Norway. Marites Flor, a Filipino, is the woman in the video and is the girlfriend of Hall. Watch that video here.

Abu Sayyaf means “father of the swordsmith” in Arabic. According to The International Business Times, senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and other masked men pledged their allegiance to ISIS in a summer of 2014 video.


CPP/NPA-Panay: The Armed Revolutionary Movement of the CPP-NPA Rises in Panay to Contribute (to) the Nationwide People's War as the US-Aquino Regime Weakens and Ends!

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)/New People's Army (NPA)-Panay propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front (NDF) Website (May 31):  The Armed Revolutionary Movement of the CPP-NPA Rises in Panay to Contribute (to) the Nationwide People's War as the US-Aquino Regime Weakens and Ends!   
NDFP International Information Office
The US-Aquino regime, its anointed successor and allies have tried to build Panay as a solid bailiwick of the Liberal Party in the last six years. Aquino has put his henchmen in most of the local positions and other Panayanon in national posts. He took as allies most of the local opposition figures by bribing them with hundreds of millions of pork barrel.

To boost its economic and political stock, the ruling reactionary regime pushed through its tourism, BPO, privatization and labor export programs in the island for the profit of big foreign and domestic bureaucrat comprador-landlord investors. Billions of pork-barrel funds were channeled to build superhighways and the overpriced Iloilo Convention Center. It allotted billions of pesos more to start the prolandlord Jalaur Dam but inutile (or useless) due to inadequate water-source and to be erected near an earthquake fault. This dam project will submerge and dispossess a huge part of the ancestral land of the Tumandok (tribe or minority people).

The Aquino regime encourages the importation of rice, and other agricultural products, even condoning the smuggling of these products. Admitting to the failure of its food sufficiency program since 2014, it has caused the stagnant and even decrease in the production of rice, fish, sugar, coconut and others in an erstwhile food-exporting Panay and in the whole country due to its espousal of the imperialist trade liberalization policy.

OFWs especially in the oil producing countries are now returning home due to lack of jobs or nonpayment of wages, and their remittance earnings have gone down as oil revenues decline. On top of this, Panay has not yet recovered from the devastation wrought by Super typhoon Yolanda that affected half of Panay’s more than 5 million population including the destruction of 500,000 houses and 2/3 of its farmlands. The livelihood and income of most survivors have yet to fully recover, as these are weighed down by heavy loans incurred in rebuilding their lives and for their daily cost of living. The Aquino regime’s criminal neglect was again demonstrated by its delayed distribution of the measly Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA) .- This could not even cover the indebtedness incurred by these families for the past two years just to have a decent roof above their heads; many other survivors are not assisted at all.

The destruction of crops, fisheries and even water supply to bring about by the current El Nino is bound to worsen in the months to come. But many local government candidates are already diverting their calamity funds for electioneering. For its part, all that the regime could dish out is the monthly/quarterly Pantawid Pamilya Program to poor families for counter-insurgency deception. While it has doubled this dole out in Panay, it has imposed so many requirements including the undeclared prohibition on joining anti-government protest actions.

Such an abominable situation coupled with the regime’s blatant criminal neglect would generate an explosive social unrest that could only be contained by the reactionary state through outright fascist repression. In the past six years, the Aquino regime has more than doubled the state’s armed force deployed in the region. From three battalions of infantry mobile forces, the regime has added two Philippine National Police (PNP) mobile battalions and several other detached companies of soldiers. During the half-year series of ministerial conferences of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), holding of a component of US BALIKATAN and two presidential visits in Panay, several thousands of PNP officers from other regions were deployed here fully militarizing Metro-Iloilo, Boracay and airports, ports and highways leading to these places.

Panay has become the priority region for the counterinsurgency operations of the 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) of the reactionary Philippine Army. Since the start of the US Aquino regime and its Oplan Bayanihan, the mobile forces of the 301st Brigade (Bde) and its PNP reinforcements launched a sustained campaign, with 2 battalion- and a brigade-led operations every month against the NPA and its mass base in the guerilla fronts. “Keyhole” military operations were carried out that involved two company sized units broken down into sections/platoons of soldiers in every barangay, in the suspected long-time consolidated areas of the NPA. The enemy forces intensified their triad operations (combat, intelligence and civil-military) to engage the NPA, dismantle its mass base and suppress its mass movement, and drive the guerilla forces to passivity. They instilled white terror by actual killings and torture, indiscriminate strafing of people’s homes, sowing bloody intrigue and harassment, arrests and filing of trumped-up cases against suspected rebels and civilians. All the while, the regime would flaunt its ‘human rights’ banner soaked in its victims’ blood. As early as the end of 2014, Panay was declared by the 3rd ID as a “conflict-manageable area” ready for investment and development.

The US-Aquino regime committed its first extrajudicial killing on the very first week of its term in office by assassinating Lezo, Aklan Municipal Councilor Fernando Baldomero, who is also Bayan Muna Provincial Chairman. In March 2014, it assassinated Romeo Capalla, the manager of a people’s moscovado-sugar export enterprise, the Panay Fair Trade Center. A national Intelligence Security Group (ISG) team directly utilized elements of its paramilitary group, the RPA-ABB (Nilo DelaCruz wing), to commit these crimes to ensure deniability and cover up for the “Daang Matuwid” regime.

Hundreds of mass leaders and members of people’s organizations were harassed or killed to sow White terror and break the people’s resistance to an exploitative and oppressive regime. This terror tactic grew more brutal as the people’s resistance and protest increased especially after the outrage on the regime’s utter neglect in the Yolanda calamity and up to today.

The coordinated tactical offensives (TOs) by the New People’s Army (NPA) initially broke the White terror instilled by the state security forces and inspired the people to fight back. Thus the US-Aquino regime reaped the wrath of the massive popular rising and protest actions that have drawn the broadest sympathy from the people and their allies both local and worldwide.

The NPA and the revolutionary forces countered the regime’s unrelenting attacks with a sustained coordinated tactical offensive campaign. The NPA launched tactical offensives more than twice its previous rate seizing (several) high powered firearms and incurring casualties to the enemy.] From the previous tactic of mainly luring the enemy to an ambush, the New People’s Army now also reemploys the tactic of tracking and wiping out a portion of the weakest enemy column of highly alerted and Ranger trained in a multi-column enemy operation for days before reinforcements could come to their rescue. This is how it happened in Barangay San Antonio, Cuartero town, Capiz in July 2015 wherein five enemy soldiers were killed and several others wounded, as well as in upper Miag-ao town in Iloilo in October 2013 with nine casualties from an oversize enemy platoon.

During the previous year, enemy operations were countered with multiple harassment and actual ambush as a counter offensive tactic or a defensive maneuver. The enemy now expects multiple attacks anytime from our guerilla units. In a twelve hour tactical offensive in early December 2015, the NPA launched three military actions – an ambush against a PNP mobile company team in Tuburan, Maayon town in Capiz from the Northeast to the Southwest foothills of Madiaas Mountains in Tiolas, San Joaquin Town in Iloilo wherein six were killed and six others wounded in the enemy side. Simultaneously, punitive action was carried out by the NPA against the Century Peak Company in Igbaras Town Iloilo, a Chinese-owned mining firm known to be financing the military. The NPA’s widespread employment of explosives anywhere in Panay made the enemy’s forces thinly spread out. Again on December 23, 2015, an RPA-ABB chief operative, Jessie Capilastique, was punished right inside their armed enclave in Lanag, Leon town, similar to the punishment meted out to RPA-ABB National vice Commander Hugo right at his heavily-guarded hideout in Badiangan Town, Iloilo last December 2013. They were punished for being the executioners in the ISG-led abduction and killing of mass leaders Romeo Capalla, Luisa Posa and Nilo Arado among other crimes.

All these military operations by the NPA inflicted some 46 casualties (including 20 KIA) in 30 tactical offensives in the year 2015. The level of intensity in the guerilla warfare was dictated by the need to frustrate the redoubled strength and intensity of the enemy attacks in the NPA’s fighting fronts and the urban areas. This was necessary to combat the enemy and defend the revolutionary mass base. It is also aimed particularly to strengthen the struggle of the peasants and Tumandok minority to defend their land. These land are being seized by the reactionary government and military to carry out such onerous projects as the Jalaur Dam, 3rd ID and PNP training camps, US Balikatan military exercises and various other exploitative and oppressive impositions by the reactionary ruling classes.

Not only have these tactical offensives by the NPA maintained the consolidated areas occupied by the keyhole tactic of the 301st Bde, but new and wider areas have been added for wider maneuver and basing of the NPA. Guerilla fronts are being developed in a comprehensive and contiguous manner while the enemy forces are tied down and overstretched to their keyhole tactic of concentration, prolonged and exhausting operations and to the defense of their major projects, centers of power and lines of communications.

Alongside the armed struggle, sustained and vigorous open mass struggles all over the island frustrated the regime’s all-out attempt to snuff out the revolutionary movement in Panay. Instead, the increased resistance and mass actions by Panayanons reaching up to 10s of thousands in the major cities and capitol towns contributed to the nationwide movement for the ouster of the Aquino regime. Hundreds of thousands have mobilized for the relief and rehabilitation of typhoon survivors and the electoral campaigns. Starting with the anti-pork barrel campaign, the mass movement attained its massive island wide character in protest to the regime’s criminal neglect of the immense calamity brought about by Super typhoon Yolanda. This combined with the anti-fascist mass movement as the regime resorted to harassment of the mass rallies and other protest activities, as well as actual killings. The mass movement grew in strength to include protests against the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) ministerial meetings, US-RP Balikatan exercises, privatization of public markets, and low state budget for education that intensified in almost weekly mass actions and conjoined in several coordinated island wide mass campaigns.

Truly, such military and political campaigns invigorated the people’s revolutionary movement, frustrated the enemy attacks, further isolated the Aquino regime in Panay and contributed to the nationwide advancement of the people’s war. It also laid the basis for the following task of the NPA and the revolutionary armed struggle for the next year:

1. Sustain the intensity of the armed struggle in Panay to roundly frustrate the US Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan in its last desperate attacks before its abject failure. Continue to counter with greater resolve and strength the new counterinsurgency campaign plan of the next regime abetted by further US military assistance.
Develop further the capacity of all guerilla forces of the NPA to maintain the level of armed struggle attained in 2015. Other NPA units which are lagging behind should develop their offensive capacity to the level of the leading ones. All units should develop the capacity not only to annihilate enemy units in combat but also to seize their firearms in increasing number. The regionally coordinated TOs should destroy the enemy focus on their priority areas and missions, tie down the enemy to guarding their centers of power, communication and valued projects, and compel them to spread thinly.

The NPA should expand its full-time ranks and build additional units from the increasing local militias, mass organizations of impoverished peasants and Tumandok people, the angry educated and out of school youth and other democratic sectors seeking national and social emancipation.

2. Effectively exercise the functions of the people’s armed political power in the NPA guerilla fronts, as a way to demonstrate that armed revolution is the only alternative to solve the basic problems afflicting the broad masses of the people. It is not the farcical reactionary elections to replace one oppressive and exploitative ruling clique with another, but the people’s revolutionary movement that is the only path for fundamental social change to achieve genuine national independence, democracy, economic development, social justice and enduring peace from the chronic and worsening crisis caused by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

In Panay and elsewhere in the country, Red political power can be strengthened by expanding and consolidating the people’s mass organizations, carrying out agrarian revolution and other mass campaigns and intensifying the NPA’s tactical offensives at present and in the years to come. By doing so, the people’s revolutionary forces can frustrate the unjust and oppressive policies and impositions of the reactionary ruling regime and continue to gain and enjoy the abundant support of the broad masses of the oppressed and exploited people.

In Panay, perseverance in armed struggle not only encompass the taking up of arms and developing the tactical offensive campaign. It includes consolidating the organized forces of the people in the fighting fronts into higher levels of organization, expanding the organized forces of the peasantry and other sectors, developing the governmental functions at the local level in place of a reactionary government more represented by its anti-people armed forces and anti-people projects imposed. The strengthening of the people’s Red political power should manifest itself in more popular support for the people’s war and rising against the imposition of the old and the new regime. Red political power should develop further the rehabilitation of the fronts from the devastation by calamities and the hunger now stalking the countryside.

3. Continue to take the lead in solving the current problem brought about by the calamities particularly El Nino and the unresolved damage of Typhoon Yolanda especially the scarcity of food and other material needs. Lay the groundwork for the further push for anti-usury, lowering of interest rates and increase in prices for farm products.

Even as widespread hunger and general want stalk the land in food-producer Panay, even more should the revolutionary movement take the lead in organizing the effort towards the production of food and the general rehabilitation of the areas where we have political power and influence. Continue to lead in organizing and assisting the people overcome the disasters brought about by the current El Nino calamity and the remaining damages from super typhoon Yolanda, especially the scarcity of food and other material needs.

Advance the minimum program for revolutionary land reform in reducing and eliminating usury and increasing the farm gate prices of the peasants’ produce, to alleviate the widespread hunger and want in a supposed food-producing island. The armed revolutionary movement should engage in food production and rehabilitation work in the areas where it exercises political power and influence. Mass struggles to demand food subsidies from the reactionary government should be carried out, even as we continue to expose and oppose its criminal neglect and ineptness. The state’s budget priorities for infrastructure, unproductive military spending and debt servicing and wasteful electoral spending should be counter posed against the minimal outlay for much-need calamity alleviation and other social services.

The revolutionary forces must initiate struggles against usury, lowering of interest rates especially in times of calamities, and wage campaigns to increase the prices of farm products.

The US-Aquino regime is about to end as it would manipulate and ensure the election of its chosen successor in the coming fraudulent reactionary election. This would allow the outgoing regime to benefit from its ill-gotten wealth and avoid prosecution of its gross corruption, grave human rights violations and other serious crimes against the Filipino people and nation. Let the further growth and advance of the people’s revolutionary struggles in Panay and throughout the country force out the Aquino regime and confront the succeeding regime with a bigger and formidable revolutionary challenge.

Regional Party Committee
Communist Party of the Philippines
Panay Region

Coronacion ‘Waling-Waling’ Chiva Command
NPA Panay Region

May 2016


CPP/NDF: Promote anti-US imperialist nationalism and struggles under the Duterte regime

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front (NDF) Website (Jun 12): Promote anti-US imperialist nationalism and struggles under the Duterte regime

NDFP International Information Office
Communist Party of the Philippines
June 12, 2016

We mark today the 118th anniversary of the June 12 declaration of false independence by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who presented himself a traitor and US stooge when he proclaimed the nascent Philippine Republic to be under the protection of the US government.

Aquinaldo’s declaration marked the end of 300 years of Spanish colonialism but merely presaged what would be another era of colonial subjugation, this time under the US imperialists.

The superior military might of the US will ultimately conquer the relatively poorly-armed revolutionary forces of the Katipunan in the Filipino-American war of 1900-1913. The US will establish more than four decades of US colonial rule until 1946 and subsequently perpetuate a plunderous neocolonial rule of the Philippines through a chain of US puppets from Manuel Roxas to Benigno Aquino III.

In marking this year’s June 12, the Filipino people are keenly aware of the favorable conditions and broad possibilities for promoting anti-US imperialist Philippine nationalism and advancing the struggle for national freedom with the non-US puppet incoming Duterte regime.

An avowed “Leftist”, Duterte is set to be the first president of the Philippine client-state who is not beholden to US imperialism.

His rise to the presidency is starkly significant after six years of all-out puppetry by the outgoing Aquino regime which allowed the US imperialists to fortify its military foothold in the country by expanding military presence on the pretext of defending against China encroachments and by re-establishing US military bases through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

As a Mindanaoan, Duterte has called for rewriting the history of Mindanao from the point-of-view of the people’s resistance against their subjugators and colonizers. The Filipino people can support Duterte in such an endeavor in order to highlight the courage and heroism of the Moro people and Lumads of Mindanao in their resistance against Spanish and US colonizers.

As president, Duterte can also initiate a rewriting of all history books in order to expose and erase all the lies promoted by the US imperialists through their miseducation of the Filipinos from the early days of US colonialism to the present.
History books written under the auspices and funding of US agencies have invariably downplayed the brutality of the US war to subjugate and ravage the country where 1.4 million Filipinos were killed in massacres, tortures and widespread impoverishment and disease.

The Filipino people must revisit their history and promote nationalism on the basis of their united resistance against colonialism and neocolonialism. They must vigorously oppose efforts by certain academics and bourgeois historians who seek to redefine Filipino nationalism as a product of colonialism and not as a tool in their struggle against colonialism.

These historians serve the interests of the US imperialists by justifying colonialism as a mere component of “globalization” conveniently omitting the grave injustice, oppression, exploitation and plunder, violence and abuses suffered by the Filipino people. They also seek to obscure the historical continuum between the present backward, agrarian and non-industrial system and the past history of colonial rule which shaped the social and economic system in accordance with monopoly capitalist interests.

The burgeoning alliance with the Duterte regime can also see cooperation in the field of promoting nationalism with a clear anti-imperialist content, not the shallow “national pride” being promoted by the corporate media. Duterte can work with the national democratic forces to develop anti-imperialist nationalism which in turn will help strengthen and consolidate his regime in its declared plan to pursue an independent foreign policy and as a country free from foreign bases, foreign military troops and their nuclear weapons.

The Filipino people must urge the Duterte regime to pursue the policy disallowing the presence and stationing of foreign military troops by calling for the abrogation of unequal military treaties such as the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the EDCA.

The objective conditions of worsening crisis brought about by imperialist neo-liberal policies are pushing the Filipino people to develop a deep sense of anti-imperialism. For more than three decades now, the US imperialists have blunted the people’s anti-imperialism through control and manipulation of commercial media to project the US as a champion of “anti-terror” and “freedom” and justify US terrorism, acts of aggression, intervention, occupation and colonization.

The patriotic and revolutionary forces can further encourage the incoming Duterte regime to support efforts for a renaissance of nationalism through a rewriting of history from the point-of-view of the Filipino people’s resistance against colonialism and imperialism. Such an effort must be directed primarily at the Filipino youth who must be reconnected with the past in order to become effective motive forces in the pursuit to change the course of the people’s history.


Video: Military continues operations vs Abu Sayyaf

From ABS-CBN (Jun 15): Video: Military continues operations vs Abu Sayyaf

Hindi matitinag ang operasyon ng militar sa kabila ng pagkamatay ng isa pang banyagang bihag sa kamay ng Abu Sayyaf sa Sulu. Nilinaw naman ng kampo ni President-elect Rodrigo Duterte na may plano na ang papasok na administrasyon sa kung papaano susupilin ang bandidong grupo. Bandila, June 14, 2016, Martes.


Jaafar: Duterte promised BBL approval

From ABS-CBN (Jun 14): Jaafar: Duterte promised BBL approval
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) wants the next administration to prioritize the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) before it pushes for a government shift to federalism.

MILF Vice-chairman for Political Affairs Ghazali Jaafar told ANC's Dateline Philippines on Tuesday that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte himself has vowed to implement the Bangsamoro government through the enactment of the BBL.
"Ang commitment ng Pangulong Duterte ay una niya itong, una siyang nag-commit sa implementation ng Bangsamoro government sa pamamagitan ng pagiging batas ng Bangsamoro law nung siya ay nagpunta sa Darapanan during the campaign period," he said.

"Nangako siya sa mga Moro sa pamamagitan ng MILF na kanyang sisikapin na maipatupad ito at muli itong binanggit sa akin noong ako’y nakipagkita sa kanya on my label, capacity as a private citizen, at bilang kaibigan niya at matagal na kakilala, at bilang isa sa mga lider ng mga Bangsamoro," he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Moro people, Jaafar said, it is "logical and reasonable" for them to have their separate government and establish peace in Mindanao.

He said they would prefer that the BBL be prioritized over the shift to federalism because the latter would entail a longer process.

"As far as we are concerned, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, gusto naming na mas mauuna ang pagpapatupad sa Bangsamoro government kaysa Philippine federalism kung sakaling ito’y aprubahan ng Congress of the Philippines...Isa sa pangunahing dahilan namin ay pagkat nakikita namin medyo may katagalan ng kaunti ang pagpapatupad sa Federal Philippines," he said.

Jaafar is also eyeing a roadmap from the Duterte administration for the passage of the BBL, saying the Moro people want the law passed as soon as possible, but they understand that there is a process of legislation it must go through.
It is no secret that the MILF was frustrated that the BBL did not pass during the term of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.

Jaafar said they were optimistic at the start of Aquino's presidency that the Bangsamoro issue will finally be resolved, and the MILF along with the other Moro leaders persevered to have the bill passed.

The BBL's non-passage, he said, caused frustration among the Moro people, especially the youth.

"I believe they pinned their hope to the administration of President Aquino that the Bangsamoro issue will be resolved once and for all. Pero hindi nga nangyari at yan ang dahil kung bakit frustrated ang marami sa mga Bangsamoro people," he said.

But with the first President from Mindanao assuming office, a new hope blooms for them.

"I think marami sa mga Bangsamoro people, masaya sapagkat ang President ngayon ay taga-Mindanao at alam nila na alam niya ang situation sa Mindanao. He’s living here in Mindanao, at I think kino-consider niya ang sarili bilang isa rin sa mga Bangsamoro people," he said.
"At naniniwala kami at marami pang mga Bangsamoro leaders at Bangsamoro people, na ito’y pagtuunan niya ng panahon at pansin para once and for all, mabigyan ng solution ang Bangsamoro issue sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatupad sa Bangsamoro government," he added.


Jaafar, meanwhile, condemned the Abu Sayyaf Group's beheading of Canadian Robert Hall.

He claimed that if the BBL been in place, the Bangsamoro government could have intervened and prevented such incidents.

"Naniniwala kami na pag andyan ang Bangsamoro government at pinapatupad ito, ma-address nito ang marami sa mga problema ngayon sa Mindanao, lalong lalo na sa Bangsamoro area," he said.


Moro rebels seek united front for peace talks with Duterte

From ABS-CBN (Jun 14): Moro rebels seek united front for peace talks with Duterte


DAVAO CITY - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country's largest rebel group, said Tuesday it has sought to close ranks with a rival faction to push for a peace deal under President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

The MILF has sent emissaries to Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari to discuss a "common approach" after an accord it agreed with outgoing President Benigno Aquino failed to get congressional approval, MILF vice chairman Ghazali Jaafar said.
The fugitive Misuari was "very hopeful" about the prospects of ending the four-decade-long rebellion under Duterte, who will assume office on June 30, Jaafar told ABS-CBN News.

"It's unity in diversity," Jaafar said, adding there have been separate negotiations with MNLF central committee chairman Muslimin Sema since the start of the year.

Sema said the two groups could “merge” its respective peace deals with the government - the MNLF’s Tripoli Agreement of 1976 and a subsequent agreement in 1996, and the MILF’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014.

“We’re actually making it easy for government,” he told ABS-CBN News. “We are calling on other factions to come on board.”

Misuari has gone into hiding after being charged over the 2013 siege on the southern port city of Zamboanga.

The 2014 agreement between Aquino and the MILF would have granted wider autonomy to the country's Muslim minority, but the peace process ground to a halt after 44 police commandos died in a botched anti-terrorist raid in the remote farming town of Mamasapano last year.
Congressmen also questioned the constitutionality of certain provisions in the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL, which sought to establish a ministerial government in the region.


15th Strike Wing has new commander

From Update.Ph (Jun 14): 15th Strike Wing has new commander  

Air Force photo

Air Force photo

Philippine Air Force 15th Strike Wing has a new Acting Wing Commander in person of Air Force Colonel Pelagio Valenzuela. He took command of the strike wing June 13 from Brigadier General Domingo Palisoc Jr. who was designated as Commander of 3rd Air Division in Zamboanga.

15th Strike Wing is conducting tactical air operations in support of Armed Forces of the Philippines units. It’s main base is at Danilo Atienza Air Base, Sangley Point, Cavite.

“Now that 15th Strike Wing is under a new leadership, the CG, PAF (Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Edgar Fallorina) is sure about Colonel Valenzuela’s ability to continue with flying colors the legacy of his predecessor,” the Air Force said.

Lieutenant General Fallorina stressed, during the Relinquishment of Command Ceremony, to the men and women of Strike Wing to remain unwavering in their commitment particularly in building a Jointly Engaged and Transformed Force or JET Force so that each officer and airman or airwoman will live through it, move through it and act through it.


China warns Philippines after 15 Filipinos sailed to Scarborough Shoal

From Update.Ph (Jun 14): China warns Philippines after 15 Filipinos sailed to Scarborough Shoal  

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has warmed the Philippines after hearing report on voyage of 15 Filipinos to Bajo de Masinloc also known as Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and planted the Philippine flag.

“We have repeatedly stated that Huangyan Dao (Scarborough Shoal) is China’s inherent territory. We urge the Philippines to respect China’s territorial sovereignty and not take any provocative actions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said June 13 in a press conference.

On Philippine Independence Day, June 12, Kalayaan Atin Ito Movement said a group of fifteen Filipino volunteers, one American volunteer, and one Vietnamese volunteer have sailed to Bajo de Masinloc to place the Philippine flag in the territory.

Kalayaan Atin Ito Movement confirmed the group’s arrival at Bajo de Masinloc by posting photos and videos.

The group also showed a photo of Chinese Coast Guard vessel which according to them one of the five Chinese vessels that intercepted them at the entrance of Scarborough Shoal Lagoon.

They also showed a video, sailing in vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc, wherein they are singing the Philippine national anthem and hoisting the Philippine flag and United Nations flag.


ASEAN retracts South China Sea criticism – Malaysia

From Rappler (Jun 15): ASEAN retracts South China Sea criticism – Malaysia

 RECLAMATION. The Philippines releases this photo in May of China's alleged reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, warning it may be building an airstrip. File photo from Department of Foreign Affairs

RECLAMATION. The Philippines releases this photo in May of China's alleged reclamation in Johnson South Reef in the South China Sea, warning it may be building an airstrip. File photo from Department of Foreign Affairs

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (3rd UPDATE) – Southeast Asian countries have reversed course on a statement that expressed deep concern over events in the South China Sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial rows, Malaysia said Tuesday, June 14, adding that "urgent amendments" would be made.

In a strongly-worded statement released to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) by the Malaysian foreign ministry, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had earlier warned that recent actions in the disputed waterway – where Beijing has been building militarised artificial islands – had "the potential to undermine peace".

The statement came after what was characterised as "a candid exchange" – language that hinted at a diplomatic set-to – between the bloc's foreign ministers and their Chinese counterpart in the Chinese city of Kunming.

But just hours later, Malaysia said the ASEAN secretariat had issued a recall.

"We have to retract the media statement by the ASEAN foreign ministers... as there are urgent amendments to be made," a Malaysian foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

She said the Secretariat had approved the release of the statement, then later informed the ministry it was being rescinded.

The Chinese foreign ministry expressed puzzlement over the diplomatic dance, and denied any official document had been issued.

"We have checked with the ASEAN side, and the so-called statement reported by AFP is not an official ASEAN document," spokesman Lu Kang said.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea – a vast tract of water through which a huge chunk of global shipping passes.

It has bolstered its claim by building artificial islands including airstrips in the area, some of which are suitable for military use.

The Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims to parts of the sea, which is believed to harbour significant oil and gas deposits.


The episode comes as the region braces for a ruling by a UN tribunal on a claim brought by the Philippines against China.

China does not recognize the arbitration and has reacted angrily to Manila's legal efforts over the Beijing-controlled Scarborough Shoal, off the main Philippine island of Luzon.

ASEAN has frequently struggled to reach consensus on issues involving China, which prefers to negotiate with individual countries, rather than the bloc.

Critics say this allows it to use its economic leverage on poorer members to water down criticism of its actions.

But the region appeared earlier Tuesday to be rallying around one of its chief democracies.

"We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea," the original statement said, without mentioning China by name.

"We emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation, which may raise tensions in the South China Sea," it said.

"We articulated ASEAN’s commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes," the statement said.

This includes "full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the UN Charter".

Manila's case is being heard at The Hague under the provisions of UNCLOS.
China has been roundly criticised in the international community for its strong-arm tactics in the South China Sea.

Washington has repeatedly cautioned Beijing to exercise restraint in the region, and has sent warships through the waters on designated "Freedom of Navigation" missions.

It has also chided the Asian giant in recent weeks over what it says are "unsafe" intercepts of US spyplanes by Chinese fighter jets.

Beijing, which claims almost all of the South China Sea on the basis of a "Nine Dash Line" found on Chinese maps dating to the 1940s, says it will not budge.

China's stance on the sea is "in line with international law", its top diplomat Yang Jiechi said last month, insisting his country's position "will not change."


Abu Sayyaf 'outsourcing' kidnap operations – police

From Rappler (Jun 14): Abu Sayyaf 'outsourcing' kidnap operations – police

The Abu Sayyaf has reportedly hired other criminal groups and outsiders to do the intelligence gathering and heavy lifting in connection with its kidnap-for-ransom activities

OUTSOURCED CRIME. Police Senior Superintendent Edwin Buenaventura C. Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Police Directcor, fields questions at a press conference in Camp Hamac, Dipolog City, on June 14, 2016.  Photo by Gualberto Laput/Rappler

OUTSOURCED CRIME. Police Senior Superintendent Edwin Buenaventura C. Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Police Directcor, fields questions at a press conference in Camp Hamac, Dipolog City, on June 14, 2016. Photo by Gualberto Laput/Rappler

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf group is reportedly "outsourcing" its kidnap-for-ransom operations, police here said on Tuesday, June 14.

Police Senior Superintendent Edwin Buenaventura C. Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte Police Provincial Director, confirmed this two days after authorities nabbed an alleged accomplice of the Abu Sayyaf in at least two kidnapping cases, Abner Gumandol.

Wagan said the Abu Sayyaf's "outsourcing" operations include hiring local criminal groups to do the "tracing" or identifying and intelligence gathering on potential kidnap victims.

He said the Abu Sayyaf also hires another criminal group to do the actual abduction as well as transporting the victim to Abu Sayyaf's hideout in Jolo or Basilan where they will be held as hostages pending ransom payment.

Another group or person is then tapped to negotiate on behalf of the Abu Sayyaf for ransom payment, Wagan said.

Authorities nabbed Gumandol, also known as "Sehar Mulok" and "Red Eye," in Barangay Kaliantana, Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay at dawn on Monday, June 12. He faces kidnapping charges for his alleged involvement in the 2015 abduction of former Italian missionary Rolando del Torchio and Mayor Jeffrey Lim of Salug, Zamboanga del Norte, in 2012.

Both were released after allegedly paying ransom.

Wagan described Gumandol – who is said to have more than 20 followers in Salug – as the Abu Sayyaf's "spotter" in the case of Del Torchio.

'Businessman, MILF commander'

Gumandol refused to talk to journalists, but his sister, Nur Anna, and wife Shariffa vehemently denied the allegation.

"My brother is a businessman. I know him. All the allegations they made against him are all lies," said Nur Anna as she blocked journalists from asking questions or taking photos of Gumandol in his jail cell.

Shariffa also denied that her husband is maintaining a criminal group in Salug.

"My husband is not connected with Abu Sayyaf, he is an active brigade commander of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) based in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay," she said.

On Tuesday, the Abu Sayyaf confirmed that it had killed another Canadian hostage after the deadline on its ransom payment demand lapsed. Robert Hall was part of the group of 4 who were abducted in a resort in Samal Island in Davao del Norte in September 2015.

In April, the Abu Sayyaf killed John Ridsdel, a Canadian hostage who was part of the Samal group, after no ransom payment was made.

The Philippine government has condemned both incidents, as it vowed to end the Abu Sayyaf's “reign of terror and banditry.”


Trudeau slams ASG execution of Canadian; villagers hinder AFP pursuit

From InterAksyon (Jun 14): Trudeau slams ASG execution of Canadian; villagers hinder AFP pursuit

The Philippine government confirmed on Tuesday the execution of a Canadian who had been held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group in Jolo island with three other people since September 2015. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it appeared the second execution of a Canadian hostage by Abu Sayyaf in recent months had taken place, and denounced the ASG.

Meanwhile, the Philippine military operations to pursue the Abu Sayyaf were being hindered by a reported moves of local villagers to cover up for the kidnappers, many of whom are related to them in extended clans. Nonetheless, the operations continue unabated, according to a News5 report (VIDEO BELOW).

"We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall, a Canadian national, after being held captive by the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu for the past nine months," outgoing Philippines President Benigno Aquino had said in a statement.

A Philippine military spokesman said earlier a severed head had been found near a Catholic cathedral on a remote southern island late on Monday. No identification had been made yet.

Hall was taken captive by the militants with three others from an upscale resort on Samal island, hundreds of miles east of Jolo.

Another Canadian who was held captive, former mining executive John Ridsdel, was executed by the group in April.

A Norwegian man and a Filipina are still being held.

Trudeau told reporters that "Canada holds the terrorist group who took Mr. Hall hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder".

He said Sunday's attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the killing of Hall "serve as devastating reminders for all of us, the vicious acts of hatred and violence cannot be tolerated in any form".

Abu Sayyaf, based in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic Philippines, is known for kidnapping, beheadings and extortion.

Security is precarious in the southern Philippines despite a 2014 peace pact between the government and the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict.

In Manila, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's national security adviser said Duterte's new government, which takes charge on June 30, would "take a stronger action against lawlessness in the south".

"We cannot allow this situation to continue, this should end once and for all," Duterte's adviser Hermogenes Esperon told Reuters.

Abu Sayyaf had initially demanded one billion pesos ($21.7 million) each for the detainees, but it lowered the ransom to PhP 300 million each early this year.

Preliminary intelligence reports in the Philippines indicated Hall had been beheaded 10 minutes after a 3 p.m. deadline lapsed in the mountains outside the town of Patikul on Jolo Island.

Philippine media had already quoted Abu Raami, a spokesman for Abu Sayyaf, confirming the execution.


[Video report]


Palace 'strongly' condemns beheading of Canadian hostage

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): Palace 'strongly' condemns beheading of Canadian hostage

Malacanang on Tuesday strongly condemned the beheading of the last Canadian hostage Robert Hall held captive by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu for the past nine months.

"We strongly condemn the brutal and senseless murder of Mr. Robert Hall," Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press statement.

The Palace also extended its deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Hall.

The Western Mindanao Command on Tuesday confirmed that the ASG bandits have beheaded Hall after his family reportedly failed to pay the PHP600 million ransom.

Last April 25, the ASG beheaded the first Canadian hostage John Ridsel after the Philippine and Canadian governments refused to pay PHP300 million ransom.

"We thank the Canadian government and people for their steadfast support and understanding which has been extremely helpful in our determined efforts to end this decades-old problem," Coloma said.

Hall and Ridsel along with Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingtad and Filipina companion Marites Flor were snatched by the ASG in an exclusive resort in Samal Island on Sept. 21 last year.

"We truly regret that our people’s cherished tradition of extending gracious hospitality toward foreign nationals has been marred by a small band of criminals whose despicable actions have been abetted by the extortion of ransom from their previous victims," Coloma said.

He said for the past two months, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have waged continuing military and law enforcement operations "that have degraded the capability of our enemies and limited their movements."

"This latest heinous crime serves to strengthen our government’s resolve to put an end to this reign of terror and banditry," Coloma said.


PNP condemns ASG beheading of Canadian captive

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): PNP condemns ASG beheading of Canadian captive

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday condemned the beheading of Canadian national Robert Hall by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands in Sulu.

PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said that Sulu Police Provincial Office confirmed that around 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a decapitated head of a Caucasian-looking person was recovered beside Mt. Carmel Cathedral, Sanchez St., Brgy Walled, Jolo, Sulu placed inside a plastic bag after receiving information from a concerned citizen.

The said decapitated head was turned over to Trauma Station Hospital, Kampo Heneral Teodolo Bautista (KHTB) for proper disposition.

He said that the PNP also expressed condolences to the family of the slain kidnap victim.

”Further, may I appeal to the members of the media to respect the mourning of the family and let us not highlight such kind of unlawful activity that might add to the sorrow of the bereaved family and his countrymen,” said Mayor.

”This type of execution by evil groups on innocent people is very unfortunate and deserves the condemnation of civil society and every peace-loving citizens,” he added.

Mayor also said that the PNP and AFP are exerting all efforts to curb such evil doings through intensive military and law enforcement operations in order to neutralize these lawless elements and thwart further threats to peace and security.


PAF in the market for FA-50PH engine assy service providers

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): PAF in the market for FA-50PH engine assy service providers

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is allocating the sum of PHP37,602,175.63 for service providers capable of repairing and overhauling the engine assy for the use of its brand-new South Korean-made FA-50PH light-interim fighter jet aircraft.

Pre-bid conference is on Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Air Force bids and awards committee chair Brig. Gen. Nicolas Parilla said.

While submission and opening of bids is on July 8, 9:00 a.m. at the same venue.

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

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

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

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)'s FA-50PH design is largely derived from the F-16 "Fighting Falcon", and they have many similarities: use of a single engine, speed, size, cost, and the range of weapons.

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

The aircraft can carry two pilots in tandem seating. The high-mounted canopy developed by Hankuk Fiber is applied with stretched acrylic, providing the pilots with good visibility, and has been tested to offer the canopy with ballistic protection against four-pound objects impacting at 400 knots.

The altitude limit is 14,600 meters (48,000 feet), and airframe is designed to last 8,000 hours of service.

There are seven internal fuel tanks with capacity of 2,655 liters (701 US gallons), five in the fuselage and two in the wings.

An additional 1,710 liters (452 US gallons) of fuel can be carried in the three external fuel tanks.

Trainer variants have a paint scheme of white and red, and aerobatic variants white, black, and yellow.

The FA-50PH uses a single General Electric F404-102 turbofan engine license-produced by Samsung Techwin, upgraded with a full authority digital engine control system jointly developed by General Electric and KAI.

The engine consists of three-staged fans, seven axial stage arrangement, and an afterburner.

Its engine produces a maximum of 78.7 kN (17,700 lbf) of thrust with afterburner.


Intel efforts being intensified to locate ASG lairs, Samal hostages in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): Intel efforts being intensified to locate ASG lairs, Samal hostages in Sulu

The Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) on Tuesday announced that it has intensified efforts to track the exact locations of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits and the two remaining Samal Island hostages in Sulu.

This in wake of the bandit group's brutal beheading of Canadian Robert Hall on Monday and subsequent discovery and recovery of the victim's head in front of the Jolo Cathedral at 8:45 p.m. of the same day.

"What we are strengthening right now is the intelligence collection to detrmine once and for all, where they are hiding and the location of their hostages," WESMINCOM spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said when asked on what counter-actions the military is planning against the ASG.

He added that heavy vegetation, difficulties in making undetected approaches, and the bandits' mastery of the Sulu terrain, ability to blend with the civilian population due to kinship, and refusal of the ASG to fight, are the reasons why the military, despite the deployment of around 10 battalions in the province, is having a difficult time in tracking the brigands.

Aside from Samal Island captives Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingtad and Filipina Marites Flor, Hall's girlfriend, another five hostages are in the hands of the ASG in Sulu.

These include Dutch birdwatcher Ewold Horn and four Filipinos.

Hall was beheaded after both the Philippine and Canadian governments ignored the 3:00 p.m., June 13 deadline of the ASG which stipulated that they will execute one of the hostages if the Php600 million was not paid.

Hall, Sekkingtad and Flor and Canadian John Ridsel were snatched by the ASG at a posh resort in Samal Island last Sept. 21.

The ASG beheaded Ridsel last April 25 after the Philippine and Canadian governments refused to pay his PHP300 million ransom.


Incoming PNP Chief unfazed by PHP1-B bounty from drug lords

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 14): Incoming PNP Chief unfazed by PHP1-B bounty from drug lords

Incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Rosa remains unshaken amid the PHP1-billion bounty on his head imposed by notorious drug lords as he dared to face them in a gun duel.

Dela Rosa challenged the drug lords that funded the PHP1 billion bounty for him and President Rodrigo Duterte into in a gun duel which he proposes to finally settle the score.

"I have a proposal for them. Let's draw our guns. All 20 of them versus me. Man versus man," Dela Rosa told reporters in Camp Crame .

Once he takes the PHP1 billion, Dela Rosa said he would identify the top drug-infested areas in the country for the construction of drug rehabilitation facility.

Dela Rosa said he is ready anytime and anywhere, adding that the drug lords may set the duel at their own convenience.

With this, he assured that these drug lords cannot run and hide.

"The long arm of the law will catch you and will be after you,"he added.

Apparently, Dela Rosa was also pissed off with the intelligence reports he has been receiving stating how the drug lords are spending money to have him killed.

Dela Rosa was known for leading numerous anti-crime efforts in Davao under the orders of President elect Duterte that left kidnappers, robbers and drug traffickers dead.