Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Peace group hails incoming OPAPP chief's vow of transparency in peace process

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Peace group hails incoming OPAPP chief's vow of transparency in peace process

Advocates of the Yes for Peace–Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan, a nationwide campaign to get the Filipino people involved and to actively participate in the comprehensive peace process, hailed incoming Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza for vowing transparency in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, lead organizer of the peace movement, said Dureza earlier said that, "usually, when you talk behind closed doors, you don’t announce what happened. Now, it has to be very transparent. We will keep the public abreast, always.”

Alcanzare said they are grateful because “Secretary Dureza’s vow is a complete turn-around from the unmovable stand of his predecessor of keeping the peace negotiations secret and exclusive despite President Aquino's commitment to make it transparent and participative. We now have very fertile ground for the serious consideration of peace negotiators to the calls of the 12,290,847 Filipinos.”

A report submitted by Alcanzare and Lawyer Domingo B. Alidon, president of the Department of Education National Employees’ Union (DepEd NEU) to Education Secretary Armin A. Luistro and top DepEd officials last week shows that based on summaries forwarded thru email earlier this year, 98.62 percent of Yes for Peace KaBayanihans agree that armed conflicts between the government and armed groups must stop; 98.22 percent agree that peace talks should be held anywhere here in the Philippines instead of abroad; and 99.34 percent agree that all Filipinos must get involved and participate in working for peace, progress and prosperity.

To follow through Dureza’s commitment to ensure transparency in the peace negotiations, Alcanzare suggested in a recent online open letter to Professor Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the CPP and adviser of the NDF, “you may want to live-stream and post in real-time the formal proceedings of the peace talks and/or joint statements to openly show the Filipino people that, indeed, you represent our interests and not only your own.”

It can be recalled that during the exhaustive deliberations on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) submitted by Malacanang for congressional review and approval, Yes for Peace adviser and 1-BAP party list Representative Silvestre H. Bello III, incoming Labor Secretary and chief negotiator, took a firm principled stand: “It must pass through the tests of constitutionality and acceptability. Ideally, the Filipino people should get involved and participate in the process."

The 19,000-strong DepEd NEU actively supports Yes for Peace and provides secretariat support and facilities for its education and advocacy phase which was primarily implemented as an unfunded project through the Bayanihan or collective involvement and participation of postal workers, private and public school teachers, the scouting movement and other government and non-government organizations. 

Aside from PHLPOst and DepEd, the government agencies behind Yes for Peace are the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the National Printing Office (NPO), Philippine Broadcast System (PBS) and Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM) that provided media support to chronicle campaign highlights as far back as the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

Hataman opposes martial law to neutralize ASG in Sulu

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Hataman opposes martial law to neutralize ASG in Sulu

Fearing human rights abuses, Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said putting the entire province of Sulu under martial law will do more harm than good.

Hataman said the plan was unpopular and could trigger massive human rights violations, similar to the 1970s when then President Marcos put the country under military rule.

He said there were other options the government might consider and could be effective in neutralizing the extremist Abu Sayyaf who beheaded a second Canadian national after his family failed to raise the Php 600 million ransom demand.

The regional executive said he had been supportive to all government efforts in putting down the ASG except declaring martial law.

One of the options, he said, was a joint military, police and navy offensives while the local government units took charge of the residents.

"Local officials down to the barangay level must participate, they will be held accountable and responsible if they do not act," Hataman said, adding he could issue an Executive Order ordering civilians in areas where the military operation is taking place to temporarily relocate.

"The local government takes care of their needs," he said.

Explaining why he opposed martial law, Hataman said the Moro people have suffered so much under martial law. The experience they had in the 70 remain traumatic to many Bangsamoro people.

He was particularly afraid of human rights abuses as in the past.

Earlier, he condemned the beheading of Canadian kidnap victim Robert Hall, describing the act as barbaric and un-Islamic.

He said the Abu Sayyaf Group is composed of people “who tread the path of violence and claim to do it in the name of Islam are, without question, merely men of sin who distort a faith that stands for peace.”

Incoming peace negotiators start ‘exploratory’ talks with CPP-NDF-NPA in Norway

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Incoming peace negotiators start ‘exploratory’ talks with CPP-NDF-NPA in Norway

The government peace panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) started “exploratory” talks Tuesday in Oslo, Norway, an incoming peace negotiator said Wednesday.

Jesus Dureza, in-coming peace negotiator of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, reported in his Facebook account from Oslo that his team sat down with CPP officials, headed by exiled CPP Chair Jose Maria Sison, Tuesday afternoon.

The CPP officials also include representatives from the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s military arm.

Dureza said that both parties conducted an exploratory and informal talk about the possible resumption of peace negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP.

He said that the peace negotiations between the GRP and the CPP gained headway during the incumbency of President Benigno Aquino, but “stalled” in midstream due to some technical issues.

Dureza did not elaborate about the initial meeting with the CPP-NDF-NPA panel in Oslo, but said that both panels “shared the optimism on the declaration of President-elect Rody Duterte to seek an early sustainable peace for the nation.”

Dureza, together with fellow negotiators Silvestre Bello III and Hernani Braganza, flew to Oslo on June 10.

Sokol helicopter engines up for maintenance

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Sokol helicopter engines up for maintenance

In line with efforts to ensure the airworthiness and mission capability of all its available aircraft, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is looking for service providers capable of repairing and overhauling the PZL engine (series 3) of its W-3A "Sokol" helicopters.

Budget for the project is placed at PHP38.9 million.

PAF bids and awards committee chair Brig. Gen. Nicolas Parilla said the bid opening and submission is on July 8, at 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

The PAF has around seven W-3A helicopters in its inventory. They were acquired during 2011-2012 period as part of the Air Force's ongoing modernization program.

The "Sokol" can fly at more than 140 knots while the older UH-1 "Hueys" can only do 120 knots.

It also has a 14,100 pound payload compared to the UH-1's 9,500 pound lifting capability. It is manufactured by Augusta PZL Swidnik of Poland.

It has enough space for two pilots, two crewmen, three medical attendants and six passengers.

Main rotor hub of 'Defender' attack helicopter up for overhaul

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Main rotor hub of 'Defender' attack helicopter up for overhaul

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) has allocated the sum of PHP8,300,901.17 for the acquisition of services and spares needed for the overhaul and calibration of the main rotor hub assembly of one of its McDonnell Douglas MD-520MG "Defender" attack helicopters.

The sum includes the acquisition of seven other line items needed for the repairs of the aircraft, said PAF bids and awards chair Brig. Gen. Nicolas Parilla.

Submission and opening of bids is on July 8, 9:00 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

The PAF is known to operate between 12-16 models of the MG-520, according to military sources.

The PAF affair with the MG-520 started in the early 90's when 25 units of these excellent aircraft were delivered to country.

It was used with great effect against New People's Army (NPA) rebels and lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf Group for the past few years.

The MG-520 is derived from the MG-500 light utility helicopter.

It can be armed with .50 caliber heavy machines and air-to-ground rockets.

The aircraft carries a crew of two and is capable of flying to speeds up to 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour), making it ideal for close air support work.

PA activates leadership training center

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): PA activates leadership training center

In line with efforts to enhance the leadership skills of its field officers, the Philippine Army (PA) activated the Army Leadership Development and Education Center (ALDEC) at Luna Hall, Training and Doctrine Command in Capas, Tarlac last Monday.

Col. Benjamin Hao, PA spokesperson, said ALDEC was activated to focus on leadership development of the Army which is in line with the strategic objective of the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR) of continuously building and developing the character and competence of all its personnel.

"The most important and the most dynamic element of combat power is leadership," Training and Doctrine Command head Major Gen. Ivan F Samarita said.

ALDEC originated from the Army's Staff Officer School which was deactivated on the same day.

Its personnel and equipment were all transferred to ALDEC.

"Our new institution should be able to become, not only a laboratory for understanding what leadership is, but it should also be a factory of leaders," Samarita added.

"We will continue to produce leaders that must possess exceptional command and leadership skills," he pointed out.

ALDEC is mandated to conduct staff officer course to prepare field grade officers for various staff positions in the PA and the area command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Army designated Col. Reynaldo Celso A. Lanuzo, the former Inspector General of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division based in Tanay, Rizal as the first director of ALDEC.

Lanuzo is a member of PMA Class 1985 and a former faculty member of the AFP's Command and General Staff College.

Youth group expresses optimism as preliminary GPH-NDF talks begin in Oslo

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Youth group expresses optimism as preliminary GPH-NDF talks begin in Oslo

The Kabataan Partylist expressed high hopes on Wednesday as the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) begin preliminary talks in Oslo, Norway and lauded the incoming Duterte administration for its sincerity in pursuing peace.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said they are optimistic for the outcome of the Oslo meeting between officials of the incoming administration and the NDF.

“We laud the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for showing sincerity in its bid to pursue peace. This goodwill gesture marks the beginning of what we hope will be a conclusive and exhaustive negotiation that will finally usher in peace and healing in our country,” she said.

The incoming lawmaker said they are also hoping that the ongoing peace negotiation will pave the way for the release of all political detainees, including 136 youth political prisoners, languishing in various jails across the country.

Earlier, the NDF stated that three agreements are set to be discussed in the preliminary talks: the reiteration of previous agreements signed by the Philippine government and the NDF; the release of political prisoners; and the possibility of a mutual ceasefire in the duration of the formal peace negotiations.

However, Elago said that in order to ensure the success of the negotiations, the Filipino people must stand guard against forces that want the peace talks to fail.

“Peace can only be attained if the root causes of the raging armed struggle in the country are addressed. To achieve such, it is necessary for both sides of the negotiating table to agree on fundamental socioeconomic and political changes which aim to not only cease hostilities but also uplift the lives and welfare of every Filipino,” she said.

EMC holds 3-day HADR planning exercise

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): EMC holds 3-day HADR planning exercise

Units of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) conducted a three-day humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) planning exercise at its Naval Station Felix Apolinario headquarters in Panacan, Davao City last June 13 to 15.

Major Ezra Balagtey, EMC public affairs office chief, said planners and disaster management implementers from the Command attended the three-day planning session.

He added EMC head Lt. Gen. Leonardo B. Guerrero ordered this HADR planning session.

The goal is to alert all units under its control and review their respective disaster plans as part of the preparation with the onset of the rainy season.

Aside from reviewing existing plans, the activity also aimed to update different planners and disaster response implementers on the basics of Incident Management in accordance to the standards of Incident Command System.

Being the lead agency in Search Rescue and Retrieval, which falls under the thematic Area Disaster Response, the exercise also allows EMC to inventory and identify different search and rescue organizations in its area-of-responsibility.

The exercise also includes inter-operability and inter-connectivity review with different stakeholders and organizations, being one of the lessons learned during past disasters.

Incoming PNP Chief mulls lifestyle check among police force

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): Incoming PNP Chief mulls lifestyle check among police force

Incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa is eyeing the conduct of a lifestyle check among the police force in a bid to identify and remove officials involved in illegal activities.

This is part of Dela Rosa's effort to fulfill the three to six months anti-crime campaign vowed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

"We will do every approach -- legal or illegal -- to stop these officials from doing just the same act over again," he insisted.

However, Dela Rosa said there is no need to conduct a lifestyle check among generals allegedly involved in illegal drug trade.

"We do not need to conduct a lifestyle check. We already know these officials involved in illegal acts. It's an open secret," Dela Rosa said.

He assured that he will talk to the officials involved, stressing that he will give them due process to prove their innocence.

”I will talk to them. I will give them a chance to prove that they are innocent,” he said adding that he will speak to the officers involved once he assumes the position as the new PNP Chief.

Dela Rosa, however, admitted that he was not surprised when he saw the names of the generals in the list of officials involved in illegal drugs.

”I was not surprised to see the list because I already have initial reports about their involvement in illegal drugs,” Dela Rosa stated.

President Aquino admits he considered declaring martial law in Sulu to save ASG hostages

From the Philippine News Agency (Jun 15): President Aquino admits he considered declaring martial law in Sulu to save ASG hostages

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday admitted that three weeks ago, he considered placing the entire province of Sulu under martial law to neutralize the Abu Sayyaf bandits holding two foreign and a Filipina hostages.

”Yes, in Sulu in particular,” the President replied when asked if he ever considered declaring martial law in ASG areas in a news briefing at Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu.

President Aquino said he considered martial law when the Abu Sayyaf Group gave deadline that they will kill another Canadian hostage Robert Hall if ransom will not be given for the hostage’s release.

However, President Aquino said he did not push through his plan for fear that it might draw sympathizers for the Abu Sayyaf Group in the area.

”Parang walang guarantee ng magkakaroon ng positive results. Baka magkaroon pa ng negative results at dagdag na simpatya doon sa mga kalaban,” he explained.

The President also said this would require the government to send huge number of reinforcement in Sulu just to implement the martial law.

The ASG eventually beheaded Hall and dumped the severed head of the victim near the Jolo Cathedral two days ago, prompting President Aquino to travel to Sulu to lead a high-level meeting with government security forces.

”We agreed this afternoon how to refine our operations for successful operations to rescue the remaining hostages,” President Aquino said.

The President was referring to Norweigan hostage Kjartan Sekkingstad and Hall’s Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor.

Last April, the ASG also beheaded their first Canadian hostage John Ridsel after ransom was not also paid.

”We hope we are more focused and therefore increase the chances of resolving this situation successfully,” the President said.

The President said he was able to talk with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Tradeau and Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

”Humingi ako ng paumanhin sa Prime Minister ng Canada dahil nga hindi lang isa, dalawa na sa kanilang mga kababayan ang namatay. Nagpasalamat din tayo na nanindigan sila doon sa no-ransom policy,” President Aquino said.

President Aquino said the Norway leader asked for updates and asked the probability of successful resolution of the problem.

”I explained the problem. Naintindihan nya. I think he said something to the effect that ‘we understand the Philippines how complex this problem is,” the President said.

”Nagsalita rin siya that their government sabi nila ‘no ransom.’ Sabi nila, ‘but we do not have control over the private individual,” he added.

President Aquino, meanwhile, said he received reports from the military that the movement of the the ASG under Isnilon Hapilon has been limited to only two barangays in Basilan.

The outgoing leader also said he is willing to give advice to his successor President-elect Rodrigo Duterte if the Davao City mayor would seek Aquino’s unsolicited advice on the problem of ASG in Mindanao.

Duterte team, NDF ‘optimistic’ after Day 1 of peace talks in Norway

From CNN Philippines (Jun 15): Duterte team, NDF ‘optimistic’ after Day 1 of peace talks in Norway

Peace negotiators sent by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to Norway open preliminary talks with the National Democratic Front.

Peace negotiators from the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte have opened preliminary talks with communist rebels in Norway and both sides were optimistic the stalled negotiations will be resumed, the head of the Duterte peace delegation said Wednesday.

Incoming presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said their first meeting with representatives of the National Democratic Front (NDF) lasted about six hours before ending close to midnight on Tuesday in a hotel on the outskirts of Oslo. They will resume the informal talks on Wednesday, he said.

“There is evident shared optimism on both sides due to the declaration of President-Elect Rody Duterte to seek an early sustainable peace for the nation,” Dureza said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

Among the topics discussed on the first day of informal talks was the resumption of peace negotiations and how this will be done, Dureza said. The talks have been stalled for four years.

He said both sides agreed that “the consensus points, if any, will be initialed for authentication purposes at the close of the informal talks” and will be formalized only after Duterte formally assumes office.

He was accompanied by incoming labor secretary Silvestre Bello, the chief government negotiator, and former Pangasinan congressman Hernani Braganza. They left for Oslo on June 10.

The NDF panel was headed by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder, Jose Ma. Sison, NDF Spokesman Fidel Agcaoili and its negotiating panel chairman Luis Jalandoni. The NDF, the political arm of the CPP, represents the rebels in peace negotiations to end the 47-year-old insurgency waged by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Shortly after the May 9 elections, Duterte announced he will send a team of negotiators to discuss the possible resumption of talks with Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987. Norway is facilitating the talks.

“I have commissioned them to go to Oslo … to hold the preliminary talks there. For the broader framework to talk about, and to accompany maybe, Jose Maria Sison in coming home,” Duterte said then.

To move the talks forward, the rebels have asked Duterte to free all political prisoners and detainees, particularly those they have identified as consultants in the negotiations.

Watch: Duterte seeks general amnesty for political prisoners

The NDF also sent a delegation led by Agcaoili in May to Davao City to talk to Duterte and lay the ground for a dialogue with his incoming administration.

Related: Duterte readies for Philippine peace talks restart as rebel team arrives

Sison has said he plans to return to the Philippines in July or August – nearly 30 years since he left the country after the collapse of the first round of peace negotiations with the government under then President Corazon Aquino.

He also offered four Cabinet posts to the CPP. The NDF has submitted nominees.

Related: National Democratic Front submits list of Cabinet nominees

Ceasefire agreement

Agcaoili told reporters early this month that before formal talks can begin, emissaries of both panels will hold an informal meeting to iron out details, referring to the ongoing Oslo talks.

He said one of the top items on their agenda would be the drafting of an interim ceasefire agreement.

Siyempre tigil putukan [Of course there will be a ceasefire]. No offensive operations by both sides … and then maybe [there will be a] mechanism … in case of violations," Agcaoili said.

The NPA traditionally declares a ceasefire during the Christmas holidays, or limited cessation of hostilities during negotiations for the release of their captives.

The rebels have previously rejected a ceasefire before a comprehensive peace agreement has been signed. The change in tact indicates the rebels are responding positively to Duterte’s peace overtures.

NPA releases video of police chief in Davao Oriental

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Jun 15): NPA releases video of police chief in Davao Oriental


(Video released by the New People’s Army on Tuesday, June 14)

DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army on Tuesday night, June 13, released a video of its captive police chief from Governor Generoso town in Davao Oriental.

In a 32-second video, the man wearing a black shirt identified himself as Police Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen. He said that he is doing okay and that he is not harmed by the NPAs.  He also said that he hopes the NPAs would release him.

“Ako si PCI Arnold Olgachen, COP sa Gov Gen Municipal Police Station, nga gi-atake niadtong May 29, 2016. Isa ko karon ka POW sa mga NPA. Ang akong kahimtang karon okay man, wala man ko nila pasakiti. Maayo man ang ilang pagtratar sa akoa, gipakaon man ko nila. Hinaot nga ila pud kong i-release, mao na akong hangyo sa ila (I am PCI Arnold Olgachen, chief of police of Govenor Generoso Municipal Police Station, which was attacked last May 29, 2016. I am currently a Prisoner of War of the NPA. I am doing okay, they did not harm me. They treat me humanely, they provide food for me. I am  hoping they will release, that is my request to them.),” Ongachen said.

Ongachen was taken as a prisoner of war by the NPAs during a raid in the municipal police station in Governor Generoso on May 29. The NPA said their attack meant to “punish the protectors of rampant drug trafficking in the area.”

It also said Gov. Generoso town is a gateway of illegal drug trade in the province.
The NPA also said they found a sachet of shabu from Ongachen’s possession when he was taken. The rebels also carted away a total of 11 firearms during the attack.

The NPA said Ongachen is currently being investigated “for his involvement in the unbridled illegal drug trade in Governor Generoso town and  in Davao Oriental.”
However, Rigoberto Sanchez, NPA spokesman  said that police officers like Ongachen “are mere pawns, scapegoats and sacrificial lambs of the ruling class to smokescreen their patent complicity in this criminality.”

Sanchez said that cases are already being filed in the People’s Revolutionary Court against several members of Davao Oriental’s ruling class, including reactionary politicians, PNP and AFP officers and local bourgeoisie.

Not guilty

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11 claimed Ongachen is not involved in drug-related activities in the area as alleged by the NPA.

Police Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, regional director of PRO 11 said based on the investigation of the police, Ongachen is not involved in any drug-related activity.

“He is not using illegal drugs, I’m sure about that. And he is not also selling drugs and protecting anybody,” Gaerlan said.

Mindanao splinter group declares ceasefire with CPP-NPA

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Jun 15): Mindanao splinter group declares ceasefire with CPP-NPA

Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
A Mindanao splinter group of the Communist Party of the Philippines has declared a unilateral ceasefire with its former comrades in the CPP and its armed force, the New People’s Army.

The Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Mindanao (RPM-M), through a statement issued by its Central Committee, expressed its appreciation over the public statement of CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison that they were opening their doors to talk with the leaders and members who had left the group.

“We welcome the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ political consultant Jose Maria Sison‘s opening for reconciliation with the “Rejectionist” factions and revolutionary movements in the Philippines,” the RPM-M in a statement said.

The group broke away from the CPP after serious debates on ideological, political and organizational correctness in the early 1990s and merged with the other “rejectionists” forming the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas (RPMP).

The Central Mindanao Group, however, splintered again and created the RPMM after disagreements with the RPMP, particularly on the peace negotiations with the administration of Joseph Estrada that assumed power in 1998.

“We have had an antagonistic relationship (sacrificing lives on both sides) with you and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) since you considered the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Mindanao (RPM-M) and the Revolutionary Peoples’ Army (RPA) as counterrevolutionary, pseudo-progressive and traitor to the masses,” the RPM-M said.

The RPMM said they have never let their guards down fearing attacks from the NPA.

“Even with the negative experiences, RPM-M and RPA have still considered the CPP and NPA members as comrades in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed. We have never considered the Party and its members as enemy of the working class, but we are always in a situation to defend our ranks from the antagonistic threats and actions coming from your side,” the RPM-M added.

The RPM-M said several armed hostilities occurred in the past between the two groups and they knew these were ultimately counterproductive for the people and the communities.

With the public statements of Sison for possible “reaffirmist” and “rejectionist” healing, the RPM-M declared a unilateral ceasefire, hinting a hope for a cooperation among revolutionary groups despite their differences.

“We declare a unilateral ceasefire to CPP-NPA as an organization and to its members, if this development means victory for the democratic forces in the country and a push for a more dynamic and renewed revolutionary movement in the Philippines,” the RPM-M announced.

“We may differ in our methods but this reconciliation process must lead us to a unified framework because we aim the same – advance democratic reforms without losing the sight to the substantial elimination of oppression against the masses, working class and minority nationalities,” the group added.

The RPM-M started its formal talks with the government in 2003 with the Cagayan de Oro-based organization Balay Mindanaw as the independent secretariat of the peace process.

The incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to review and improve all existing peace negotiations and the signed agreements including the talks with the RPM-M.

Cop wounded in Masbate NPA attack

From InterAksyon (Jun 15): Cop wounded in Masbate NPA attack

Suspected New People’s Army fighters attacked five motorcycle-riding policemen in Pio V. Corpuz town, Masbate Wednesday morning, wounding one of them.

An initial report reaching the Bicol regional police office said the policemen were heading back to the town center after providing security at the village feast of Barangay Bunducan when they were attacked in Barangay Casabangan around 6:15 a.m.

Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, regional police spokesperson, said the policemen managed to fight back.

She said Police Officer 2 Rodolfo Tayong Jr. was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The police and military were pursuing the rebels as of this posting.

NPA releases proof of life of captured police chief in Mindanao

From the Mindanao Examiner (Jun 15): NPA releases proof of life of captured police chief in Mindanao

Chief Inspector Arnold Olgachen and shabu allegedly seized by rebels from him.

Chief Inspector Arnold Olgachen and shabu allegedly seized by rebels from him.

Olgachen 2

Communist rebels have released a video clip of a police officer they captured during a raid last month in Davao Oriental province in southern Philippines as proof of life and said the prisoner is currently being investigated for his alleged involvement in illegal drug trades.

The New People’s Army rebels have declared Chief Inspector Arnold Olgachen, commander of police forces in Generoso town, as a prisoner of war. He is currently being investigated by a kangaroo court after a packet of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu was seized from him by rebels.

“POW Olgachen is currently being investigated for his involvement in the unbridled illegal drug trade in Governor Generoso town and in Davao Oriental,” Rigoberto Sanchez, a rebel spokesman said.

In the video, Olgachen, wearing a pair of red short pants and black t-shirt and sitting inside a thatched hut, introduced himself as the police chief of Generoso town and went on to say that he is being treated fairly and being fed by his captors. He also appealed to the rebels to free him soon.

“I am PCI Arnold Olgachen, Chief of Police of Governor Generoso Municipal Police Station, which was attacked last May 29, 2016. I am currently a prisoner of war of the NPA. I am doing okay, they did not harm me. They treat me humanely, they provide food for me. I am hoping they will release, that is my request to them,” he said.

The rebels also released a photo of the drugs seized from Olgachen.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has given up efforts to secure the safe release of Olgachen after learning from the NPA that rebels confiscated drugs from the police officer.

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

Duterte earlier appealed to the rebels to immediately free Ongachen.

Sanchez said the town have been identified as a gateway of illegal drug trade in the province and that government officials have ignored the existence of the nefarious activities there. He also accused the 28th Infantry Battalion of sabotaging the NPA’s planned raid on a laboratory of being run by drug syndicates in the village of Tibanban.

He also accused politicians and other military and police officials as involved in the nefarious trade and warned that they are now target of the NPA’s war on illegal drugs.

“It is in the class interest of feudal lords, bourgeois compradors and bureaucrat capitalists that illegal drugs should proliferate in the country. The detestable US-Aquino regime has allowed this menace to take root and spread. This is yet another crime that the outgoing reactionary regime and its Oplan Bayanihan have to be held accountable for,” he said.

Oplan Bayanihan refers to the government’s anti-insurgency campaign which the NPA said violated the rights of innocent people and resulted in extrajudicial killings in the countryside.

Sanchez said the release of the clip by the NPA affirmed its continuing campaign against illegal drug syndicates in the country. He said the daring raid on May 29 in Generoso town is a blow against the unholy alliance of reactionaries and armed forces that continues to peddle illegal drugs in the province.

“The successful tactical offensive, which netted for the NPA a total of 11 firearms, was part of the Red army’s heightened military actions to dismantle the proliferation and punish the purveyors of illegal drug trade,” he said.

“NPA units in the province have already gathered information from the ground regarding the festering illegal drug trade that bridges criminality, fascist abuse, corruption in the reactionary bureaucracy and armed forces and feudal exploitation,” he added.

Sanchez said they will strike hard against drug lords and their protectors. “The only solution to this menace is to strike hard against big drug lords and their protectors who have links to international drug syndicates,” he said.

The NPA has been fighting the democratic government for decades now in an effort to put up a communist state in the country and Duterte is currently talking peace with the rebel group.

Dureza says ‘shared optimism’ as informal talks with CPP-NDF start

From GMA News (Jun 15): Dureza says ‘shared optimism’ as informal talks with CPP-NDF start

Incoming presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza reiterated Wednesday the shared optimism between peace negotiators of the incoming Duterte administration and representatives of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front as they start informal talks.

“There is evident shared optimism on both sides due to the declaration of President-Elect Rody Duterte to seek an early sustainable peace for the nation,” Dureza wrote on his Facebook page

In his update to answer “numerous queries and calls,” he said the six-hour talks between the CPP-NDF-New People’s Army and peace negotiations started at 5 p.m. at the Leysebu Hotel in Oslo, Norway.

Discussions will resume June 15, he said.

“Topic discussed was resumption of peace negotiations that was stalled for 4 years and its mechanics,” said Dureza.

Formal talks between the government and the NDF were last held in 2004, but backchannel discussions went on until 2014.

Among those involved in the informal talks on the side of the communists were Jose Ma. Sison, Louie Jalandoni and Fidel Agcaoili. They are accompanied by five other people.

Representing the incoming Duterte administration were Dureza, incoming Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III and former Pangasinan representative Hernani Braganza.

Dureza said both sides agreed that since the government participants have not yet assumed office, “the consensus points, if any, will be initialed for authentication purposes at the close of the informal talks and to be formalized soon after President-elect (Rodrigo) Duterte’s government has assumed office.”

Sison earlier expressed confidence that peace negotiations between their group and the incoming administration will be a success.

“There should never be any problem in the peace process that we cannot discuss and fix promptly, directly or through emissaries,” Sison said in his video message during the forum "When Blue Meets Red” held at the Ateneo de Davao last week.

“We have the necessary degree of rapport to exchange views and come to an agreement quickly in order to bring the peace process to a successful and happy conclusion,” he added.

The government of Norway has been helping the Philippine government in its peace talks with the communist movement.

Aquino visits Sulu amid Abu Sayyaf threat

From the Philippine Star (Jun 15): Aquino visits Sulu amid Abu Sayyaf threat  

President Benigno Aquino III flew straight from Manila to Sulu on Wednesday morning to assess military operations, two days after the radical Abu Sayyaf group beheaded its last Canadian captive against the militant group, security officials confirmed.

The president arrived about 10:50 a.m. and proceeded to Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Barangay Busbus, Jolo to meet with the military ground commanders.

The unscheduled visit was not announced to the media here and in Jolo for security reasons.

Aquino's visit came amid outrage over the beheading of Robert Hall, whose decapitated head was found in front of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in downtown of Jolo earlier this  week.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of Western Mindanao Command, confirmed the visit but provided no details.

Col. Franco Alano, spokesman of the Joint Task Force Sulu, similarly confirmed the presence of the president and prepared to brief him on the security efforts against the Abu Sayyaf.
Alano, however, said no further details can be disclosed on the emergency visit of the outgoing president.

Aquino, who will be stepping down from presidency 15 days from now, had given earlier standing order for the military forces in Sulu to run after the Abu Sayyaf group and safely recover all the hostages.

At least seven remaining hostages are still held captive by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu following beheading of Hall on Monday. The captives have been identified as Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad and Hall's Filipina girlfriend Marites Flor, Dutch Ewold Horn, and locals Joshua Bani, Araji Maani, Antonio Tan and Ronnie Bangcale.

Hall's fellow Canadian, John Ridsdel, was beheaded on April 25 after his family and the Canadian government refused to settle P300 million ransom.

Hall, Ridsdel, Sekkingstad and Flor were taken from Samal Island resort off Davao del Norte on Sept. 21, 2015 and brought to Sulu. Horn was abducted on Feb. 1, 2012 in Tawi-Tawi. The other local captives were separately abducted in Zamboanga peninsula.

RM12 mln raised for Sarawakians held by Abu Sayyaf

From the Borneo Post Online (Jun 15): RM12 mln raised for Sarawakians held by Abu Sayyaf

A total RM12 million raised to seek the release of the hostages were handed over to the relevant parties concerned in Sabah to handle the matter.

Datuk Lau Cheng Kiong, uncle to one of the hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf gunmen for 69 days, announced this at a press conference this morning (June 15) in response to questions on the whereabouts of the money raised to seek the hostages’ release.

Of the amount, he explained that RM1 million were proceeds from the mortgage of their two houses at Pulau Li Hua, RM2 million from the shipping company where the hostages worked and another RM9 million from members of the public.

The contributors included those from China, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Solomon Islands and Malaysia.

“All the money raised was handed over to the relevant parties in Sabah to handle the hostage situation,’ he said at the press conference which saw the four freed hostages kneeling in a gesture of gratefulness to the public for their support in securing their release.

“Hopefully, this will clear the air over the money raised to seek the release of the hostages once and for all,” he added.

Lau is uncle to Johnny Lau Jung Hieng, 21, the youngest of the four hostages.

He was speaking on behalf of Wong Chii Ming, father of brothers Teck Kang, 31 and Teck Chii, 29. The other hostage is Wong Hung Sing, 34.