Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Opinion: Joma’s revolutionary forces would fit in a subcompact European car

Opinion piece in the column written by Rigoberto D. Tiglao in the Manila Times (Aug 2): Joma’s revolutionary forces would fit in a subcompact European car

I hope President Rodrigo Duterte has realized that the megalomaniac septuagenarian Jose Ma. Sison no longer commands, nor has any influence over, the New People’s Army or the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Even his ideological sway over the communist insurgents has weakened to a mere nostalgia since he was captured in 1977.

If Cory Aquino didn’t resuscitate his mythology, Sison would have long joined the ranks of the old leaders of the pro-Soviet Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas like the Lava brothers whom the young communists have not even come to know or heard about.

The entirety of the revolutionary forces Sison now commands would fit in a subcompact European car, consisting of non-Filipino septuagenarians on their way to posh retirement resorts in Europe: Juliet de Lima, Sison’s wife and sister of Senator Leila de Lima, the ex-clerics Luis Jalandoni and Connie Ledesma, both Dutch citizens; and Fidel Agcaoili, son of the former strongman’s top lawyer, Federico Agcaoili, reputedly a Spanish citizen.
Sison’s expertise really has been propaganda, and he has managed to portray himself as having totally led and who still leads the Communist Party. The reality is that there had been several challenges to his megalomania since 1974, when cadres found out with total certainty that he ordered the Plaza Miranda bombing of the Liberal Party’s miting de avance in 1971 and then blamed Marcos for it.

His decline as the communist leader in the Philippines hastened when he fled the country in 1987, especially as the generation of CPP cadres and NPA commanders who had taken command had come from the youth group Samahang Demokratiko ng Pilipinas (SDK), which Sison ordered dismantled in 1972 to give way to his organization Kabataang Makabayan. (In fact, right after Martial Law was imposed, Sison deployed many of the SDK leaders, like Tony Hilario and Ferdie Arceo, to the countryside to organize NPA units. Poorly armed and financed, and without military training of any sort, they were killed in a few months, mostly by barrio militias who thought they were bandits.)

Who will the NPA follow as leader? The Tiamzons who have fought IN the boondocks for 40 years, or Sison, who has been in the Netherlands the past 30 years?

Who will the NPA follow as leader? The Tiamzons who have fought IN the boondocks for 40 years, or Sison, who has been in the Netherlands the past 30 years?
Sison had awed young patriots into the party (including myself) with his revolutionary opus Philippine Society and Revolution (PSR), which in the early 1970s seemed to be a bolt of lightning in the darkness, presenting a previously unheard of but systematic analysis of the Philippines and a program of action.

But that was when there was no worldwide web.

Revolutionary plagiarism

 Now we know that the PSR is a near-total plagiarism — even in its title — of Indonesian Communist Party chairman D.N. Aidit’s Indonesian Society, Indonesian Revolution published in 1949, which in turn was copied from Mao Ze Dong’s 1939 Specific Characteristics of the People’s War in China.

Sison was sent by the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas to Indonesia in 1964 to learn from what was then the biggest communist party in Asia (other than the Chinese party), which seemed at the time to be on the verge of revolution. Instead, Suharto (who would be in power for 31 years) overthrew the left-leaning Sukarno, and massacred nearly all Indonesian communists, including Aidit, together with 500,000 Indonesians of Chinese ethnicity. The Chinese-looking Sison just barely missed the pogrom, and would have, with his Chinese-looks, been executed.

An excellent wordsmith, Sison had managed to portray himself as the undisputed leader of the Philippine revolution, who made it grow to be such a threat to the Philippine bourgeois state. In reality, in the CPP’s 48 years of existence, Sison spent barely seven years leading the revolution on the ground, since he went so deep in the underground right after Martial Law was imposed that he lost touch with the NPA and the communist centers of power for two years. He also got jailed for nine years from 1977 to 1986, and has, for nearly three decades since his 1987 escape, been living in the Netherlands.

The revolution’s growth, starting in the late 1970s after Commander Dante, was due to the work of such commanders as Rodolfo (“Commander Bilog”) Salas, Romulo Kintanar, Benito Tiamzon, Jorge Madlos, Edgar Jopson, and of course, for Metro Manila, Filemon Lagman, When he was chairman, Sison presided over the party’s rout, with him, Commander Dante and several other Politburo members captured in one swoop by the Philippine Constabulary in 1977. By the time Cory released him in 1986, the revolution had already grown by leaps and bounds, led by these CPP and NPA leaders.

Sison doesn’t know, let alone met in person, the present CPP leaders and NPA commandeers. In contrast, the real revolution in the mountains and jungles had been carried out for nearly four decades by communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria, (reportedly the CPP chairman and general secretary, respectively until their capture in 2014), as well as Tiamzon’s alleged successor, Adel Silva, who was captured last year.

The present overall commander of the NPA, who had been in Southern Luzon jungles for almost 40 years, had not met Sison. I was told he was dismissive of Sison and the Utrecht group. The acting Party secretary general had been with Sison in the underground in the early 1970s but has had a falling out with the demagogue, whom he disliked.

In short, I don’t think the CPP and the NPA will follow any agreement signed by Sison, who now hilariously refers to himself as just a National Democratic Front “consultant” but has published a book of his interviews with gullible European leftist writers, entitled “The Philippine Revolution: The Leader’s View.”

Why would anyone follow an agreement signed by Sison, Jalandoni and Agcaoili, who have spent the past three decades in the comfort of imperialist nations’ cities?

Check their credentials

 There has to be a way, as it is required in all negotiations, for the Philippine government to check first the credentials of people they are talking to, to be sure they really represent the revolutionary forces on whose behalf they claim to speak. And this just can’t be based on historical precedent.

The communist party’s real leaders with whom President Duterte must communicate to ask them who their representatives are, would be the following: the current Party secretary general, the NPA overall commander (officially termed as head of the NPA National Operational Command), the head of the Party’s legal struggles group (which supervises the leftist party-lists and unarmed leftist groups), and of course, the Tiamzon couple, who are very much respected by the CPP and NPA commanders as their leader in the past 20 years.

Duterte should also change his entire panel of negotiators. Bebot Bello and Jess Dureza are very good men, passionate to have peace in the country. But they have been so close to Sison and the Utrecht group – with whom they have been talking since former President Fidel Ramos’ administration – that they seem to be bosom friends with the Utrecht residents, so that Sison knows how they think. Change, in the case of our peace panel, hasn’t come.

This is a big no-no in negotiations, as this undercuts their negotiating power. Other countries that are engaged in peace talks even routinely change their negotiators, so that the other party is in the dark as to how to handle the negotiators.

Get ex-generals and hardly smiling, stern people, the likes of Senator Panfil
o Lacson, to create an atmosphere of seriousness in the talks. Get ex-general Jovito Palparan, the communists’ nemesis, to join our panel, to unsettle them. It’s sickening the way Bello and Dureza keep smiling when talking to Sison, who is responsible one way or another for the deaths of thousands of Filipinos and for our country’s political instability that has been one major factor for our nation’s poverty.

It is also scandalous why this former congressman was included in the panel, allegedly upon the request of Sison. Why the hell would the other party be given a say on who our negotiators should be? Or is he there just so he can regularly visit Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes?



CPP leaders can’t control their people, says military

From Malaya (Aug 3): CPP leaders can’t control their people, says military

THE Armed Forces yesterday told communist leaders to stop blaming the military for the government’s short-lived ceasefire.

President Duterte announced the unilateral ceasefire on July 25 and recalled it on July 30, two days after the New People’s Army ambushed government troops in Davao del Norte.

The military has said the ambush soldiers were returning to base after they were pulled out of combat operations in compliance with the ceasefire declaration.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs office, said government troops complied with the ceasefire, contrary to the allegation of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines that the truce was not implemented by frontline military units.

“That is utterly false and misleading. We are issuing this statement because doubt is cast on the credibility of the AFP to implement lawful orders. And we have on record pull-out of AFP units from combat operations,” said Arevalo.

Among those who have claimed the military did not comply with the government ceasefire were NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison.

 “The AFP, as a highly hierarchical and cohesive organization under the command of the chief of staff, has full control over all its subordinate unit commanders who follow instructions and directives to the letter. Hence, it is pure conjecture to allege otherwise,” said Arevalo.

Arevalo said Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya issued a ceasefire directive to troops on the evening of July 25, shortly after Duterte announced the truce during his State of the Nation Address.

Arevalo said Visaya’s directive was thereafter “communicated to all units in the field forthwith through all available means of communications including radio.”

Arevalo said the directive of the AFP chief led to the pullout of some units from combat zones.

“The CNN (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front) should not pin the blame on the AFP for the resumption of combat operations against them or resort to squid tactics to cover their inability to manifest good faith or perform unequivocal acts for the ceasefire to prosper,” said Arevalo.

“We believe that if such failure is not an issue of sincerity, then it is an issue of their inability or loss of control of the NPA units in the frontline that attacks and ambuscades were perpetrated against AFP personnel complying with the SOMO (suspension of offensive military operations),” said Arevalo.

Arevalo said the communists “had to twist the story because they cannot afford the embarrassment of not being able to control their people on the ground unlike the control that the AFP has over its troops in the farthest deployment.”

“These notwithstanding, the AFP firmly believes in the primacy of peace, unequivocally supports the commander-in-chief in his peace and development initiatives; and will abide by his instructions.”

In Davao del Sur Monday, a civilian foiled a planned bombing by the NPA in Sta. Cruz town.

The civilian reported to the Army’s 39th Infantry Battalion the location of the improvised explosive device (IED) planted by the NPA near a river where soldiers pass in Barangay Sinoron, said Maj. Rhyan Batchar, 10th ID public affairs officer.

“The eight-kilogram IED was reportedly planted by NPAs under Guerilla Front 51 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee,” said Batchar.

Batchar said the bomb was pre-positioned by the rebels for potential attack against government troops.

“The style of the NPA is there is they will plant the bomb prior (to movement of troops). They are going to detonate that once they sense presence of troops,” he said.


Troops resume massive search and rescue operations for 4 abducted cops

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 3): Troops resume massive search and rescue operations for 4 abducted cops

Butuan City – Battle-ready security forces from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday resumed their massive search and rescue operations in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur for four police officers and a non-uniformed personnel (NUP) abducted recently by the New People’s Army (NPA).

Troops from the police regional and provincial mobile forces of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) and Army’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) were deployed to beef up pursuing government forces in Malimono town, Surigao del Norte, and Carmen town, Surigao del Sur, to rescue the abducted policemen and NUP there.
The resumption of the search and rescue operations took place after President Duterte lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) last Saturday.
President Duterte ordered government forces to resume their offensive operations against the communist rebels after the CPP-NPA failed to declare its own ceasefire.
The subject of the massive search and rescue operations are Senior Police Officer 3 Santiago B. Lamanilao, assigned at the Surigao City Police Station; Police Officer 3 Jayroll H. Bagayas, and PO2 Caleb C. Sinaca, both assigned to the Malimono Municipal Police Station (MPS); NUP Rodrigo T. Angob, who works in the same police station; and PO1 Richard V. Yu, 32, assigned to the Carmen MPS, in Carmen, Surigao del Sur. Bagayas, Sinaca, and Angob were abducted on July 24, 2016, while Yu was seized last July 5.
The NPA, the armed wing of the CPP-NDF, claimed responsibility for the abductions.
Meanwhile, soldiers from the 39th Infantry Battalion discovered last Monday an improvised explosive device (IED) weighting about eight kilograms planted along the riverbank in Barangay Sinoron, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
In a press statement, Capt. Rhyan B. Batchar, public affairs chief of the 10th Infantry Division, said the IED was believed to have been planted by NPA’s Guerrilla Front 51 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).
A civilian, whose identity was withheld, led the military to the IED.
“He saved not only the lives of our soldiers but the unwary civilians that might be victimized by the wanton laying of IED by the NPAs,” Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, 10ID commander, said in a statement.
The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) ordered all its units within its area of responsibility to be on high alert after President Duterte lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire.
Eastmincom spokesperson Maj. Ezra Balagtey said all units have been placed on high alert against the NPA rebels.
Balagtey also denied allegations of the CPP that the military did not follow the unilateral ceasefire issued by Duterte.

Exclusive: Rebel Leader Sison Talks War & Peace in the Philippines

From Sputnik International (Aug 3): Exclusive: Rebel Leader Sison Talks War & Peace in the Philippines

Philippine communist leader Jose Maria Sison, right, smiles after being released from Scheveningen prison outside The Hague, the Netherlands, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2007.

The Philippines’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte, has claimed that it’s his dream to end the nearly 50 years of armed conflict in the state. He declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army last week, only to cancel it just days later. Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker talked to opposition leader Jose Maria Sison to discuss the issue.

Sison, 77, is the founder of Communist Party of Philippines (CPP), the opposition movement founded in 1968 with the aim of removing then-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and of removing the influence of "American imperialism" and "Japanese imperialism" from the country. The New People's Army (NPA) is the military arm of the CPP.
According to Sison, the initial ceasefire order by President Duterte did not come as much of a surprise. Sison says Duterte already signaled his intention to announce a truce, but the NPA did not expect anything more than that "expression of intent." Instead, Duterte has made a "fuzzy" statement that he declared to be an immediate unilateral ceasefire.

This has caused a significant amount of confusion, Sison says. Initially, Duterte's office did not present a written document, and, after NPP asked for such a document, the Suspension of Military Operations Order (SOMO) was revealed to contain major "defects".
"There was no reference to stopping of ongoing military and police campaigns against [the NPA]. There was also no reference to withdrawal of troops from communities they were occupying, including schools and meeting places," Sison told Loud & Clear.
The next day, the government issued another order, a Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO), which indicated the police will continue with "legal offensives" against the NPA.
"In parlance of the police the ‘legal offensive' means inventing charges of common crimes against those suspected of having connections to the NPA," Sison said. "And according to the principles of jurisprudence it is unlawful to multiply charges out of a single charge of rebellion."
"We gave President Duterte the benefit of a doubt," he continued, explaining that the NPA announced that it will reciprocate, but that time is needed both to examine the issued orders and formulate their own ceasefire order. Luis Jalondoni, the leader of National Democratic Front (NDF), a coalition of the CPP, the NPA and some other groups, has told his counterpart that the exchange of the ceasefire order should happen on August 20.
Sison says he thinks that it will be relatively easy for the NDF to reciprocate with a unilateral ceasefire order, and when the peace negotiations advance, it will be possible to cement the mutual ceasefire in a single document.
President Duterte enjoys significant electoral support, and as a supreme commander of the armed forces, he can feel confident as he acts, says Sison. Duterte can also reshuffle the officers of the armed forces that were loyal to the previous administration.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces diesel-electric submarine Soryu. (File)
© REUTERS/ Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Handout via Reuters/Files

But "big dangers" to the peace process may come later, says Sison, if the "United States, for instance, finds the Duterte government off the line, so to say."
Duterte poses himself as a patriot, as a socialist, says Sison, and he appears to act true to his words. But this may mean the US will become "angry" at Duterte, as Washington wields "the biggest influence at the puppet armed forces of the Philippines, because the US supplies the indoctrination, the officer training, military supplies and even the intelligence."
"Duterte will have to rely on the people, on the big part of the armed forces, because the armed forces consist of children of the working class and peasantry, and many officers come from the urban petty bourgeoisie.  Only a small number really come from the upper class."
Duterte could deploy rapid political education among the ranks of the armed forces, which may prove effective in driving the Philippines military away from being an army of "mercenaries" for the United States, says Sison.


3 NPA rebels surrender to government

From Update.Ph (Aug 3): 3 NPA rebels surrender to government

Three members of the New People’s Army (NPA) voluntarily surrendered to authorities in Mawab town, Compostela Valley, as they expressed desire to return to normal lives.

Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said Wednesday the rebels, who surrendered last Aug. 1, are all members of the NPA’s Southern Mindanao Regional Committee.

He declined to give their names for security reasons. He said the rebels were convinced by a former cohort to voluntarily surrender.

The surrender was further influenced by the increasing number of NPA fighters leaving the organization and living peaceful lives with help from the government’s Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP), Batchar added.

In the first seven months of 2016, 141 rebels have formally surrendered to 10th Infantry Division units.


NDF Southern Mindanao hails ‘martyred’ UP grad, Collegian editor

From InterAksyon (Aug 3): NDF Southern Mindanao hails ‘martyred’ UP grad, Collegian editor

The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao has confirmed the death of University of the Philippine alumnus and former Philippine Collegian news editor Wendell “Ka Joaquin” Gumban, who was one of two New People’s Army guerrillas slain in a clash with government troops in Compostela Valley on July 23.

Gumban, 30, was “martyred” along with Sario “Ka Glen” Mabanding in the firefight with troops of the Army’s 66th Infantry Battalion in Sitio Pong-pong, Barangay Andap, New Bataan town, Rubi del Mundo, NDF-Southern Mindanao spokesperson, said in a statement paying tribute to the UP graduate.

A former information officer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gumban joined the NPA in Mindanao in late 2011, Del Mundo said.

There, she said, “he became a valuable part of the (Communist) Party’s consolidation work in the Red bases and expansion work in the guerilla zone” and eventually became political instructor of an NPA unit.

“As a communist, Ka Joaquin wrestled with his petty bourgeois origin and struggled to live in the spirit of simple living and hard struggle. He overcame the limitations of his frail frame, weak eyesight, even an unfamiliar dialect, to serve the Lumads and peasants of Southern Mindanao,” Del Mundo said.

“Brilliant and daring, Ka Joaquin is an inspiration to the intellectual youth. He chose not the life of comfort that he could have otherwise led, but the life of selfless service and sacrifice at the bosom of people’s war,” she said.


Militiaman killed in NPA attacks in Cotabato

From the Philippine Star (Aug 3): Militiaman killed in NPA attacks in Cotabato

A militiaman was killed in an attack of the New People's Army (NPA) against militia units in Cotabato.

In a statement Wednesday, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, 10th Infantry Division public affairs office chief, said the first incident took place around 7 p.m. last Monday.

Unidentified rebels shot and killed Oscar Emba, 53, in Crossing Birada, Kidapawan City.

The victim, a resident of Barangay Muan, was detailed at the Balabag CAA Detachment.

Emba received six gunshot wounds and died on the spot as the gunmen took away his XRM 125 motorcycle before escaping.

A second attack took place 9:50 p.m. on the same day as the rebels, headed by a certain "Bobby," fired at the Sallab CAA Detachment in Magpet town, North Cotabato.   

No one was reported hurt nor killed in the second attack.


Boy killed by stray bullet amid Army, Abu Sayyaf clashes in Basilan

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 2): Boy killed by stray bullet amid Army, Abu Sayyaf clashes in Basilan

An 8-year-old boy was killed when he was hit by a stray bullet in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan, the site of the ongoing military operations against the Abu Sayyaf group.

Dr. Arlyn Jumaoas, convener of the Save the Children of War in Basilan, said the boy was referred to her for medical treatment on Friday.

Jumaoas said X-ray test showed that a bullet was lodged inside the boy’s head. He died Saturday afternoon.

The physician said the boy was from Barangay Limbo Upas in Tipo-Tipo where Army soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf have been clashing.

“He was hit by a stray bullet,” she said.

“This boy was inside his home with other kids (when he was hit by stray bullet),” Jumaoas added.

Birgen Saharin, a resident of Unkaya Pukan town, said government forces have been pounding some areas in her town, her family and neighbors.

“We are afraid to return home as we might get hit by the ground and aerial attacks,” she said.

Mayor Darussalam Ladjid of Al Barka town said government troops have been conducting air strikes to flush all the Abu Sayyaf from their forest lair.

But Major Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said they have not received any report about a boy hit by stray bullet during air strikes.

“Our airstrikes are guided by forward observers who see the battle area and these areas are isolated from populated areas and communities. Our pilots engage targets based on our rules of engagement,” Tan said.


Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Agree on Maritime ‘Hot Pursuit’

From The Wall Street Journal (Aug 2): Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Agree on Maritime ‘Hot Pursuit’

Southeast Asian nations discuss joint patrols of waters off the southwestern Philippines  

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines agreed to allow each other’s maritime forces to pursue suspected criminals into their waters in a bid to stem a surge of hostage-takings by Islamic militants.

Defense ministers of the three Southeast Asian neighbors, meeting for the third time since May to give shape to plans for joint patrols in the waters off the southwestern Philippines, said Tuesday that they were discussing protocols that would allow security forces to enable so-called hot pursuit across land borders as well.

“We are still discussing that, because there are some constitutional hindrances,” Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters. “We still have to consult…if we will allow hot pursuit on land.”

Mr. Lorenzana and his counterparts, Ryamizard Ryacudu of Indonesia and Hishammuddin Hussein of Malaysia, said joint sea patrols already had begun but declined to say what kind of naval forces had been deployed or to provide other details.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo proposed joint patrols in late April after a surge in piracy and kidnappings of local seafarers and Westerners by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which claims ties to Islamic State and is notorious for taking hostages for ransom and occasionally executing them. The group has defied more than a decade of eradication attempts by the U.S.-backed Philippine military.

In 2014, Abu Sayyaf freed two German hostages who had been taken from their yacht in the Sulu Sea. Neither the German nor Philippine governments confirmed whether a ransom was paid.

Since then, the group has abducted and in some instances released hostages from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway and the Philippines. The militants beheaded one Canadian hostage in April this year and another in June when ransom deadlines expired.

In a press release Tuesday, Mr. Ryacudu suggested the patrols’ mandate ultimately could extend beyond countering militants to crimes such as human trafficking and drug trade.

Security experts said the patrols give a boost to Southeast Asia’s broader maritime interests, including in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The Philippines and Malaysia both lay claim to areas of the sea, which is also claimed in almost its totality by China. Indonesia is meanwhile building up defense capabilities in waters where it says fisherman of China and other nations illegally fish.


Navy ready to conduct maritime patrols with Malaysia, Philippines

From the Jakarta Post (Aug 2): Navy ready to conduct maritime patrols with Malaysia, Philippines

Navy ready to conduct maritime patrols with Malaysia, Philippines

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu (center) and his counterparts, Malaysian Defense Minister Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (right) and Philippine National Defense Minister Delfin N Lorenzana join hands to pose for photographs at the opening ceremony of the Trilateral Defence Ministers' Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Tuesday. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

The Indonesian Navy has said it is ready to take part in coordinated joint patrols with Malaysia and the Philippines.

Navy spokesman First Admiral Edi Sucipto said on Tuesday the Navy was ready to deploy its personnel to the field at anytime. To arrange the equipment needed for the joint patrols, including Indonesia's primary weapons system, called Alutsista, the Navy should, however, first wait for a briefing from the headquarters of the Indonesian Military (TNI), he said.

"Our main duty and function is to prepare our personnel, Alutsista, and our strategic plans. We are now waiting for the command from [TNI] headquarters," Edi said on Tuesday.

Defense ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines gathered in Bali for the third Trilateral Defense Ministers' Meeting, which ended on Tuesday. In the two-day meeting, they discussed follow-up measures to a joint declaration on maritime security signed by the three countries in Yogyakarta in May.

In Yogyakarta’s meeting, high-ranking officials signed a document on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for trilateral maritime cooperation, which marked the official beginning of coordinated joint sea patrols among the three countries to secure the waters in the region.

The push for the implementation of the joint patrols came on the heels of the abduction of three Indonesian sailors in Sabah waters off Malaysia in early July, less than a month after the kidnapping of seven Indonesian crew members by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines. July’s incident marked the fourth abduction of its kind this year.


Sulu Sea Joint Patrol Agreement Signed

From The Maritime Executive (Aug 2): Sulu Sea Joint Patrol Agreement Signed


The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have reached an agreement to permit joint operations in all three nations’ territorial waters – including the right to chase suspected pirates across boundary lines in "hot pursuit" enforcement actions.

The joint patrol agreement is an attempt to combat an outbreak of maritime piracy and kidnappings perpetrated by terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf, which is associated with ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Defense ministers from the three nations met in Bali on Tuesday to sign an agreement on "standard operational procedures" for naval cooperation.

“The SOP later will provide details on how long Indonesian personnel can stay in Malaysian and Philippine waters. Whether it is only one hour or several, it should be discussed and agreed upon during Wednesday’s forum,” said defense expert Kusnanto Anggoro, speaking to the Jakarta Post. Indonesia has led the call for the right to "hot pursuit" maritime boundary crossings.

“Implementation of the agreement must be conducted as soon as possible due to the high intensity of threats, such as the hostage-taking of several Indonesians by militant groups,” said Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu following the meeting. 

The nations have not yet reached an agreement on whether the right to pursue suspects will extend onto land. Their three navies have already begun combined sea patrolsA designated security corridor for vessel traffic is also under discussion, which would help security forces focus their patrol efforts.

Even if fully and successfully implemented, the agreement may not be enough to combat Abu Sayyaf kidnappings, says Zachary Abuza, PhD, a professor at the National War College.

"Manila is unlikely to allow armed convoys from Malaysia or Indonesia to continue into Philippine waters," he wrote. "The weak link remains the limited capabilities of the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard, and law enforcement authorities. What little the Philippines actually has is primarily focused on their maritime claims in the South China Sea."


Rebel killed in first AFP-NPA clash after lifting of gov't ceasefire

From GMA News (Aug 1): Rebel killed in first AFP-NPA clash after lifting of gov't ceasefire

A New People's Army (NPA) rebel was killed in a clash with government troops in Surigao del Norte on Monday, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels.

The fatality was allegedly part of a group conducting extortion activities in Barangays San Isidro and Binucayan in Malimono town, according to the Army's 30th Infantry Battalion.

The firefight, which lasted for only five minutes, was the first encounter after Duterte lifted the ceasefire on Saturday night, after the deadline for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to explain the ambush carried out by the NPA on government troops in Davao del Norte last week expired.

The military did not identify the victim, but the body will be turned over to a civilian authority before it is returned to its family for a decent burial. The firefight occurred past 8 a.m. as government forces were verifying the complaint of a concerned citizen of extortion activities by the rebels in Barangays San Isidro and Binucayan.

Recovered at the scene were the body of the slain rebel, one AK-47 rifle, gallons of rice, two improvised explosive devices, magazines and ammunition.

"During our dialogue with residents, we have learned that several sari-sari stores have closed due to extortion activity of NPAs," 1st Lt Ken Enciso, commander of the 30IB Bravo Company, said.

Meanwhile, 30IB Commander Lt. Col. Rico Amaro said the military as well as the police will not tolerate any extortion activities and called on members of the NPA to live peaceful lives.

"We will continue to reach out with our NPA brothers and sisters and convince them to live a peaceful life. We, however, will not tolerate criminal acts; together with the PNP and the vigilance of our community, through prompt reporting of concerned citizens, we can prevent future extortion activities of this group," Amaro said.

Duterte declared the unilateral ceasefire last Monday during his first State of the Nation Address. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the fighting was the first clash between military and NPA forces since the ceasefire was lifted by the President.

"Our troops, our units were already informed of the directive [to lift the ceasefire] and were directed to launch normal constitutionally-mandated operations," Padilla said in a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Padilla belied allegations by communists that government troops did not comply with the ceasefire directive, leading to the skirmish in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, last Wednesday. A militiaman was killed in the clash. "We sincerely enforced it... We immediately issued orders so that our troops will be informed of it since the instruction of the President who called for an immediate ceasefire," Padilla said. 


Duterte: road to peace is “always rocky” but talks with NDF will continue

From MindaNews (Aug 2): Duterte: road to peace is “always rocky” but talks with NDF will continue

The road to peace is “always rocky” and even if his declaration of unilateral ceasefire was not reciprocated, peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) will continue, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday at the mass oath-taking of undersecretaries at the Rizal Hall in Malacanang.

“There is no negotiation that comes easy to us especially given the turmoil of our  country. We are hoping that we could just talk, maybe we did not understand each other. And so, the best way is really, is to talk again and find out whether (peace) is reachable or beyond our reach,” he told the appointees.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte answers queries from members of the media after administering the oath of office for the newly-appointed undersecretaries of different government agencies at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on August 1, 2016. ACE MORANDANTE/PPD

President Rodrigo R. Duterte answers queries from members of the media after administering the oath of office for the newly-appointed undersecretaries of different government agencies at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on August 1, 2016. ACE MORANDANTE /PPD
At 7 p.m. on July 30, Duterte lifted his July 25 order for a unilateral ceasefire when the NDF did not reciprocate it by 5 p.m.

Duterte gave the NDF 24 hours or up to 5 p.m. on July 30 to also declare its unilateral ceasefire following the ambush by the New Peoples Army (NPA) on July 27 that killed a Cafgu member and injured four others in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25, Duterte specifically addressed the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front): “ let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere. And it is getting bloodier by the day.”

He declared a unilateral ceasefire “to immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks” and called on the NDF and its forces “to respond accordingly.”

Filipinos killing Filipinos for nearly half a century of conflict is “always a despicable thought to me but I hope that we can proceed with the talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines,” he said.

He also said he would spend “about 10 days after tomorrow” to firm up the framework on convergence of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF).

In a press conference after the mass oath-taking, Duterte said he would not comment on the claims by the NDF that they were going to declare their unilateral ceasefire at 8 p.m. last Saturday, or three hours after Duterte’s deadline.

“Hindi ko papatulan iyan eh. I am not an ideological poltergeist. I am the President talking properly to you to have peace in this land,” Duterte said, adding, “hindi naman ako insecure. Eh syempre, I got 16 million, a margin of (6) million plus. Eh sila hindi nga sila makahawak ng isang barangay” (they can’t even control one barangay), Duterte said.

But Duterte said he “cannot stop talking about peace.”


Philippines gov't, MILF peace talks to restart in KL

From Andalou Agency (Aug 2): Philippines gov't, MILF peace talks to restart in KL

Presidential peace guru says talks with MILF to be held in next 2 weeks, with President Duterte set to visit Muslim south

Philippines gov't, MILF peace talks to restart in KL

Peace talks between the Philippines' one-time largest Muslim rebel group and the government are back on, with a new round set for the Malaysian capital within the next two weeks.
On Tuesday, Jesus Dureza told GMA News that President Rodrigo Duterte had spoken with him Monday on renewing negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The talks were shelved -- along with a law that would have sealed a 2014 agreement between the government and the MILF and given autonomy to the Muslim south -- for election campaigning in February of this year.
"He [Duterte] has already directed our government panel, my office, to already go to Kuala Lumpur within the next two weeks so we can re-launch again already the peace engagement with the MILF and the Bangsamoro," he said.
"We're preparing already for that particular trip. We still have to make a lot of preparations along that line,” he added, stressing the government’s commitment to several peace initiatives, including that with the country’s communist insurgency.
During his inaugural State of the Nation address last week, Duterte urged Congress to pass the autonomy law, outlining the centuries-long injustice suffered by the Muslim community.
He reiterated his call to give the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) a chance.
Duterte -- the country’s first leader from southern Mindanao island -- has vowed to push for the passage of the BBL, with the exception of certain provisions he deems unconstitutional.
On Monday, he revealed plans to spend 10 days in Mindanao to focus on building the framework for the Bangsamoro peace process.
"I have to fix the Mindanao issue. I'll see the framework, etc.,” he was quoted as saying by GMA.
He said he would also consult with Nur Misuari -- the fugitive founder of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari, from which the MILF broke away -- granting a safe conduct pass so he could emerge from hiding in the island province of Sulu.
Misuari is currently a fugitive, eluding charges filed against him and his men for a siege on the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga in September 2013, in which around 300 people were killed and thousands of houses razed.
"When you talk to the rebel, you have to give them a safe conduct pass, or at least a sense of security to face you and talk to you about what's bugging the country," Duterte insisted.
Some MNLF factions have backed the MILF’s peace process with the government, however a faction under Misuari considers it a betrayal of a 1996 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)-brokered agreement between the government and the MNLF.
Duterte’s State of the Nation address July 25 was welcomed by the MILF and the leader of the largest MNLF faction, with both fronts pledging to reciprocate the president’s commitment.

Duterte shuts door on peace talks with Abu Sayyaf bandits

From GMA News (Aug 1): Duterte shuts door on peace talks with Abu Sayyaf bandits

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said that he saw no reason why the Philippine government should talk peace with the Abu Sayyaf Group.

"I am very sorry to say but there will be no [peace] talks about these things with the Abu Sayyaf," he said in a brief statement before he led the oath-taking of some appointed officials inside the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace.

"I will not deal with persons with extreme brutality. There is no redeeming factor or reason for me to sit down and talk with criminals," Duterte added.

Duterte said this after he announced that he will begin the framework for the peace process with the Bangsamoro, specifically the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). 


MILF ‘leaking’ govt ops to breakaway group

From the Manila Times (Aug 1): MILF ‘leaking’ govt ops to breakaway group

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is suspected of leaking to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters military operations in Maguindanao province in southern Philippines against the BIFF.

A military commander on Monday bared plans to raise the matter to the joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the Government of the Philippines (GPH).

Government, military and MILF officials met after members of the BIFF retreated from pursuing government forces to MILF communities in Maguindanao.

The meetings were held to prevent misencounters between security forces and the MILF and safeguard a ceasefire with the separatist group.
The military, citing intelligence reports, said its operational plans are being passed on to the BIFF, thus compromising government operations, a highly-placed source disclosed.

“The situation is thorny. I will raise this matter to the CCCH because, apparently, the matters discussed during the meetings are being leaked to the BIFF. It’s very sad that this is happening,” said the source, who is involved in the operations and privy to the meetings.

He added that they coordinate the operations with the MILF.

The source said the BIFF has “advanced information” on targets of the military operations.

Many of the BIFF members were former or are still members of the MILF.

A number of them are also have relatives in the Muslim communities, the reason why BIFF members on the run from the military find sanctuary in the communities.


Soldier faces murder raps

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 2): Soldier faces murder raps

Avoid arguments when drunk, especially when also in possession of firearms.

This lesson could be gleaned from the shooting incident Sunday at a resort in Brgy. Magsaysay in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, where an Army soldier shot and killed his colleague, as a result of misunderstanding.

Supt. Edel Jose Manzano, Cadiz City police chief, yesterday said that the suspect identified as Sgt. Aproniano Dominguez and the victim, PFC Rusky Balgona, were apparently under the influence of liquor, when the incident took place.

Dominguez, who is now in jail, faces murder charges for the death of Balgona, who, ironically, turned out to be his squad mate at the Alpha Company of the 62nd Infantry Battalion, Manzano said.

Balgona, 30, was declared dead on arrival at the Cadiz District Hospital. He succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds.

Manzano said the misunderstanding between Dominguez and Balgona had already been patched up, through the intervention of their colleagues.

But Dominguez, who later boarded their service vehicle, managed to got hold of the M-16 assault rifle of one of their security escorts, and shot Balgona in the back, he added.

PFC Arjoe Gabia, who tried to pacify and disarm Dominguez, was also shot in the right palm, Manzano said. Dominguez was later subdued by his colleagues.

Cadiz policemen, who responded to the incident, recovered the M-16 rifle used in the shooting of Balgona, as well as its 15 empty cartridges and five live ammunition.

Lt. Col. Darryl Banez, 62IB commander, said that while he was saddened by the incident, it was an isolated one.

Dominguez was subjected yesterday to drug testing at the PNP Crime Laboratory in Bacolod City.

The filing of murder charges against Dominguez was not pushed through yesterday, as the death certificate, result of post-mortem examinations had not been completed yet.
But Manzano said they are expecting to file it today, as the deadline for the reglamentary period of detention of Dominguez will lapse at 12 noon today.

Members of the 62IB Alpha Company were having a team building activity, at the same time, marking the birthday of one of their military officers at the Little Jungle Resort in Brgy Magsaysay, Cadiz City, when the unfortunate incident took place.


Yasay hits critics: ASEAN statement didn't weaken PH claim

From Rappler (Aug 2): Yasay hits critics: ASEAN statement didn't weaken PH claim

The Philippine foreign secretary says the ASEAN statement that omits any mention of the Hague ruling favoring the Philippines' case against China' remains a 'resounding diplomatic triumph for the Philippines'

 INTERNATIONAL CASE. Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay delivers a brief statement on the award of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the disputed West Philippine Sea during a press conference at the DFA head office in Pasay City on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

INTERNATIONAL CASE. Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay delivers a brief statement on the award of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the disputed West Philippine Sea during a press conference at the DFA head office in Pasay City on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr defended himself from criticism that he failed to assert the Philippines' legal victory in the South China Sea dispute during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.

In a post on his Facebook account dated July 30, Yasay said that the joint communiqué crafted after the 49th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Vientiane, Laos, did not weaken the Philippines' claim over the disputed South China Sea – even if it omitted any mention of the Hague ruling favoring the Philippines' case against China.
Yasay added that the ASEAN statement was a "resounding diplomatic triumph for the Philippines."
"The statement and joint communique that was delicately and laboriously crafted and issued – predicated upon ASEAN's centrality and solidarity in dealing with issues affecting common interests, peace and stability in the region – did not in any way, manner or form weaken the legal foundations of our claim and the award to the Philippines of its maritime entitlements as part of our EEZ by the arbitral tribunal," Yasay wrote.
"On the contrary, the statement and joint communique was a resounding diplomatic triumph for the Philippines because of the firmness and flexibility that we displayed at the AMM, which won the respect, acknowledgement, and admiration by all foreign ministers present," he added.
The Philippine foreign secretary was responding to criticism that he did not lobby strongly enough to include the ruling in the joint communiqué. Yasay himself had flip-flopped on the issue, claiming that he "vigorously" lobbied to cite the ruling, although an audio recording in Laos said that he "never did."
In his post, he singled out one of his critics, former Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr, whom he said had been critical of his competence and ability to lead the foreign affairs department even before his designation.
Responding to Cuisia's statements, Yasay pointed out that the united statement that had been "vigorously sought by my predecessors to no avail" was finally obtained "with much difficulty and disappointment after long and numerous diplomatic engagements that were oftentimes acerbic and heated."
He also said that the core message "implicitly but undeniably conveyed" by the ASEAN statement was to urge China to respect and uphold the rule of law.
He added that the statement "called for all parties to respect the ruling of the arbitral tribunal without using the hard line language demanded by my predecessors."

Duterte wants mandatory ROTC for male, female college students

From Rapper (Aug 2): Duterte wants mandatory ROTC for male, female college students

There's a 'consensus' in the Duterte Cabinet that making ROTC voluntary has eroded the 'discipline and love for country' of young Filipinos, says Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

PATRIOTISM.  President Rodrigo Duterte wants  to restore mandatory military training for college students.  Photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA

PATRIOTISM. President Rodrigo Duterte wants to restore mandatory military training for college students. Photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA
President Rodrigo Duterte supports mandatory military training for male and female college students to instill discipline and patriotism among young Filipinos, and keep them away from illegal drugs, a Palace official said on Tuesday, August 2.
Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told reporters in an interview at the Palace press area that Duterte threw his support for the proposed revival of the mandatory Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program when it was presented to him during a Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
Panelo said this was the “consensus” among Cabinet officials, who agreed that the mandatory training should include women as well.
He said Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan made the presentation to the Cabinet on the ROTC on Monday.
Panelo said the main argument for the revival of mandatory military training in colleges is that by making ROTC voluntary, “discipline and love for country is not instilled” among young Filipinos.
He added that another reason cited during the Cabinet meeting was that with the removal of the ROTC as a requirement to graduate from college, the youth have become more vulnerable to illegal drug use as they have less discipline, and no love for country.
Panelo said he will study the proposal and suggest to the President amendments to Republic Act 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001, which made the ROTC optional and voluntary in 2002.
The mandatory ROTC was abolished after an investigation showed that a University of Santo Tomas student was murdered after he exposed alleged corruption in the ROTC.
During the campaign, Duterte broached his plan to revive the mandatory ROTC to augment government forces in the face of Chinese aggression in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
If properly implemented, the ROTC can instill “discipline, nationalism, and the patriotic duty” in young men, Duterte had said in April or two months before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled in favor of the Philippines in its West Philippine Sea dispute with China.


Duterte teary-eyed as he meets blind soldier

From Rappler (Aug 2): Duterte teary-eyed as he meets blind soldier
Jerome Jacuba is hugged by President Duterte who himself becomes emotional. The 28-year-old 2nd lieutenant was blinded when shrapnel exploded near his eyes in early March.

CONCERN. President Duterte salutes then hugs blind soldier Jerome Jacuba at the AFP Medical Center on August 2, 2016. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

CONCERN. President Duterte salutes then hugs blind soldier Jerome Jacuba at the AFP Medical Center on August 2, 2016. Photo by Pia Ranada/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte himself was moved to tears upon meeting a young blind soldier at a military hospital on Tuesday, August 2.

Jerome Jacuba was just one of the 69 patients at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center who came face-to-face with Duterte.

Jacuba could not keep his emotions at bay as the President approached him.

After Duterte saluted him and shook his hand, he pulled Jacuba into a long hug. The soldier was shaking with emotion but the President too was moved. Duterte had tears in his eyes and sniffled after the hug.

Jacuba is a 28-year-old 2nd lieutenant who was blinded when shrapnel exploded near his eyes during a clearing operation in early March in Bgy Datu Salita in Maguindanao, said army doctor William Recuenco.

The blast, which came from an improvised explosive device or IED, caused his right eye to rupture and damaged his left eye.

All Jacuba can see now are light impressions.

Recuenco says Jacuba has no chance of being able to see again. He is now learning how to read Braille.

Jacuba, an exemplary officer, is awaiting promotion to the rank of first lieutenant.
His experience highlights the extraordinary risks taken by the country's soldiers, risks Duterte never forgets to mention when he speaks in front of troops.

The AFP Medical Center is the second military health care facility Duterte has visited in two weeks.

He has also closely interacted with soldiers wounded in action in the Western Mindanao Command's hospital in Zamboanga City.

Duterte has dropped by 6 military camps in 9 days, giving pep talk-style speeches in front of troops and meeting with military officials.

During these visits, he consistently declared his devotion to the armed forces and vowed to give them all the support they need.


Army officer sacked over Al Barka clash now a general

From Rappler (Aug 2): Army officer sacked over Al Barka clash now a general

'We all make mistakes but General Macario performed well. The unfortunate incident did not stop him from performing his duties.'

Brigadier General Alexander Macario was among 7 newly promoted one-star Army generals on Monday, August 1.

Macario was the commander of the Philippine Army elite unit in Basilan that lost 19 soldiers in 2011 in one of the bloodiest clashes between security troops and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the past decade, second only to the Mamasapano bloodbath that killed 44 cops in 2015.
He was relieved over the clash and faced court martial over alleged violation of Articles of War. But he was acquitted in November 2012 and regained full-duty status.
Macario claimed he was bypassed in the planning and was only informed of the operation when the troops had already been prepositioned.
Two other Army officers in the operation, then Colonel Aminkadra Undug and Lieutenant Colonel Leo Peña, were convicted for violating military articles of war. (Read: Fiasco in Basilan by Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa)
In his speech at the Army headquarters on Monday, Macario said he had feared that the Al Barka fiasco would be the end of his military career. Army spokesman Benjamin Hao told reporters: "During his speech, he said he really thought he will not get a promotion anymore. But he did not let those thoughts stop him from doing a good job,"
The Philippine Army and the Department of National Defense recommended his promotion to President Rodrigo Duterte, who approved it.

"We all make mistakes but General Macario performed well. The unfortunate incident did not stop him from performing his duties. That's why he was given the promotion," Hao added.
Macario was appointed 3 months ago to command the elite Light Reaction Regiment (LRR), a unit of the Special Command (SOCOM) trained for urban warfare such as the Zamboanga siege.
Macario is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985.

China court warns of jail time for illegal fishing in answer to South China Sea ruling

From InterAksyon (Aug 2): China court warns of jail time for illegal fishing in answer to South China Sea ruling

China's Supreme Court said on Tuesday that people caught illegally fishing in Chinese waters could be jailed for up to a year, issuing a judicial interpretation defining those waters as including China's exclusive economic zones.

This developed as Japan's annual defense review expressed "deep concern" over what it sees as China's coercion as a more assertive Beijing flouts international rules when dealing with other nations.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled last month that China has no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and that it has breached the Philippines' sovereign rights with its actions, infuriating Beijing which dismissed the case.

None of China's reefs and holdings in the Spratly Islands entitled it to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone, the court decided.

Although the Chinese Supreme Court made no direct mention of the South China Sea or The Hague ruling, said its judicial interpretation was made in accordance with both Chinese law and the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which the Philippines had also bought its case.

"Judicial power is an important component of national sovereignty," the Supreme Court said.

"People's courts will actively exercise jurisdiction over China's territorial waters, support administrative departments to legally perform maritime management duties ... and safeguard Chinese territorial sovereignty and maritime interests."

Jurisdictional seas covered by the interpretation include contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones and continental shelves, it added.

People who illegally enter Chinese territorial waters and refuse to leave after being driven out, or who re-enter after being driven away or being fined in the past year, will be considered to have committed "serious" criminal acts and could get up to a year in jail, the Supreme Court said.

"The explanation offers legal guarantees for marine fishing law enforcement," it added.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

China periodically detains fishermen, especially from the Philippines and Vietnam, and Chinese fishermen also occasionally get detained by other claimants in the South China Sea.

On the other hand, the Defense White Paper approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, Japan warned that "unintended consequences" could result from Beijing's assertive disregard of international rules.

"China is poised to fulfill its unilateral demands without compromise," the government said in the review.

Japan has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, but it fears that Chinese military bases will bolster Beijing's influence over a region through which $5 trillion in trade passes every year, much of it to and from Japanese ports.

Rather than confront China directly by sailing warships past its man-made island bases in the sea, Japan is providing equipment and training to other claimant nations, including the Philippines and Vietnam, which are most opposed to China's territorial ambitions.

Beijing's most powerful adversary in Asia is the United States, with its Seventh Fleet operating from bases in Japan and South Korea. Japan has Asia's second-biggest indigenous navy. The defense review noted China's growing capability to threaten naval vessels with its growing armory of anti-ship missiles.

At 484 pages, Japan's document is more than a tenth longer than last year's report, and lays out other security concerns, such as the threat from neighboring North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear bomb programs and a revival of Russian military strength in the Far East.

It takes 50 pages to outline Japan's deepening alliance with the United States, as Tokyo takes a step back from its war-renouncing constitution by easing curbs on overseas operations for its Self Defense Forces.