Friday, August 5, 2016

President Duterte urges soldiers to finish Abu Sayyaf ‘to the last man’

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 6): President Duterte urges soldiers to finish Abu Sayyaf ‘to the last man’

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday night urged soldiers to increase their campaign against terrorism, including the immediate elimination of the Abu Sayyaf.

“There will be no peace agreement (for the Abu Sayyaf). Tapusin niyo na (Finish them) to the last man,” he said.

President Duterte issued the marching order during a talk with some 200 soldiers at the Bondad Hall of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (AFP-CentCom) headquarters in Barangay Lahug here shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.

In the talk, which lasted 45 minutes, the President also reiterated his stand that there will be no coalition government with communist rebels.

”I will never agree to a coalition government (with communist rebels),” he said.

President Duterte also vowed to increase the strength of the AFP by 10,000 soldiers next year and give the military and the police the best equipment.

He said he prefers a negotiated contract in the purchase of military equipment to choosing the “lowest bidder which results in the lowest quality”.

The President also said the “lowest bidder process turned out to be the biggest source of corruption”.

He further warned that the greatest threat to the country in the next five to ten years is terrorism.

”I want to prepare the country for this,” he said.

President Duterte wants drug rehab center in Cebu military camp

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 6): President Duterte wants drug rehab center in Cebu military camp

President Rodrigo R. Duterte is asking for one hectare from the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (AFP-CentCom) in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City where a rehabilitation center could be built for thousands of drug users who have surrendered since his term began.

“Let go of a small space in your camp,” he told CentCom officials when he visited them Friday night.

“Bigyan niyo ako kahit isang ektarya lang, total lagyan ko yan ng barbed wire (Give me even just a hectare. Anyway, I’ll make sure it is fenced with barbed wires),” he said.

The President said it is a crucial part of his plan to establish a rehabilitation center in each region, to help at least 500,000 recorded drug addicts nationwide who have given themselves up to the authorities.

President Duterte did not name the mayors and other officials believed to be involved in the illegal drug trade, but told the public to just wait.

He said in his speech that began at 9:50 p.m. that he would reveal the names of judges, police and congressmen “in a few hours”.

“It behooves upon me to tell the Filipino people what is happening in this country. You are entitled to know what is happening,” he said.

The Chief Executive said his decision to disclose the names of those believed to be involved in illegal drug activities does not come from any desire to destroy them.

“I will name them not because gusto ko sila siraan (not because I want to bad-mouth them),” he said.

He however said he was sick and tired of illegal drug traders who do not seem to fear the law.

“Ipapatay ko ‘yan. Wala akong pakialam. Di man ninyo ako mahuli. Bakit niyo ako huhulihin? May immunity ako (I will have them killed. I don’t care. You can’t arrest me. Why would you arrest me? I have immunity),” he said.

President Duterte said his priority is to “destroy the apparatus” that allows illegal drugs to destroy families and communities.

He repeated his promise to defend soldiers and police officers who get sued for killing suspects in the course of their anti-drug operations.

“Kaya ko mag-pardon isang libong pulis araw-araw. Sabi ng Constitution, the President can grant pardon. Yan ang nakita na panglaban ko. Wala pang nakaisip niyan (I can pardon 1,000 police officers every day. The Constitution says the President can grant pardon. That’s my weapon. No one has thought of that before),” he said.

Duterte calls Joma Sison 'arrogant'

From Rappler (Aug 5): Duterte calls Joma Sison 'arrogant'

President Rodrigo Duterte issues provocative statements aimed at his former teacher and the Communist Party of the Philippines

CAPIZ CAMP VISIT. President Rodrigo Duterte obliges a group shot with soldiers at Camp General Macario B. Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, on August 5, 2016. Photo from PTV4

CAPIZ CAMP VISIT. President Rodrigo Duterte obliges a group shot with soldiers at Camp General Macario B. Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz, on August 5, 2016. Photo from PTV4

The word war between President Rodrigo Duterte and exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison, continued on Friday, August 5, as he accused his former teacher of being "arrogant."

Duterte launched the tirade two weeks before the government resumption of formal talks with the the National Democratic Front in Norway, and days after Sison called him out for being too hot-headed and imprudent when he lifted the government's unilateral ceasfire with communist rebels. (READ: Sison calls out Duterte on 'hasty' decision to end truce)

Sinabi ko kay, itong si Sison, nagbubula-bula ang baba, laway niya lumulusot doon sa screen. Akala mo naman kung sino magsalita. Ni hindi nga sila makahawak ng isang barangay,” Duterte said in front of soldiers in Camp General Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz. (I said, this SIson, bubbles keep forming on his chin, his saliva goes through the screen. You would think he's a big shot the way he speaks. They can't even hold on to a barangay.)

At the start of his speech, Duterte mentioned he was saddened by the news that 3 men died in an encounter in Mongkayo, Davao del Norte, but did not specify if it was an encounter with the New People's Army (NPA).

Duterte criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for overestimating its power.

“Itong komunista, akala mo kung magsalita (These communists, when they talk you'd think), they are the force to reckon with when as a matter of fact they cannot even occupy a barangay in a single day,” he said.

As if to provoke them, Duterte even claimed leftists in Davao would not have won in past elections if he had not allowed them into his local political party.

Sa Davao, kung hindi sila magsakay sa aking partido walang manalo doon (In Davao, if they don’t join my party, none of them would have won),” he said.

The CPP's only "advantage," he said, is that "they are the ones in the position in the mountains" which allow them to ambush civilians and the military.

He called the group arrogant and deluded. “Nayayabangan ako sa iyo (I find you arrogant), as if you are really the one in power,” said the President.

Days before, Duterte said he was hopeful that peace negotiations between the government and the CPP's political wing, the National Democratic Front. would push through despite the NPA ambush that killed a government militiaman in Davao del Norte when the government observed a truce with the rebels.

The resumption of the peace talks is scheduled to take place from August 20 to 27 in Oslo, Norway.

The Duterte administration is currently trying to secure the release of political prisoners so they can participate in the talks.

The Supreme Court denied the Duterte administration’s plea to temporarily release detained CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and 10 other rebel leaders who have been tapped to join the NDF n its negotiations with government in Oslo.

In the same order, however, the Court confirmed as valid the bail of 3 other NDF panel consultants – former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, and Randall Echanis.

Indonesia foils plot to mount rocket attack on Singapore's Marina Bay

From InterAksyon (Aug 5): Indonesia foils plot to mount rocket attack on Singapore's Marina Bay

Night shot of Singapore's up-market waterfront district, with the iconic Marina Bay Sands: it was a target of militants plotting rocket attack from Batam island, say Indonesian authorities who foiled the plot. INTERAKSYON FILE, CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Indonesian police Friday arrested six suspected militants over a plot to launch a rocket attack on an up-market Singapore waterfront district from a nearby island, prompting the city-state to tighten security.

The six men, aged between 19 and 46, were detained on the Indonesian island of Batam, which lies just south of the affluent city-state, said national police spokesman Agus Rianto.

The alleged leader of the group, Gigih Rahmat Dewa, is accused of planning the attack with Bahrun Naim, a leading Indonesian militant who is believed to be fighting with the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, Rianto said.

It was the latest terror plot in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, where there has been a surge in attacks and attempted attacks this year due to the growing influence of IS.

The pair "planned a terror attack in Singapore. They wanted to attack Singapore with a rocket from Batam," the spokesman told reporters.

Another police spokesman, Boy Rafli Amar, said the target was Marina Bay. The district is home to Marina Bay Sands, a luxury complex that includes shopping malls, hotels and a casino.

Rianto added police had "preliminary data" and were still investigating the plot.

 'Serious threat'

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement it was "aware that plans were being made by the six terror suspects arrested by the Indonesian authorities" and that its security agencies had been working with Indonesian officials.

"In response to this threat and the prevailing security situation, police and other agencies have been stepping up inland and border security measures," it said.

"This development highlights the seriousness of the terrorism threat to Singapore."

There have been signs of support for IS in the city-state. Singapore last month jailed four Bangladeshi workers accused of planning to join IS for between two and five years for raising money to fund attacks in their homeland.Authorities last week detained a 44-year-old Australia-based Singaporean who allegedly glorified IS and backed the establishment of a caliphate in the city-state.

Police suspect Dewa, 31, received and distributed funds sent by Naim. Naim has been linked tseveral recent terror plots in Indonesia, including a suicide bomb attack on a police station in the city of Solo last month that left one police officer injured.

Dewa is also accused of previously harbouring two members of China's ethnic Uighur minority, some of whom have travelled to Indonesia to join militant groups, and of helping extremists on their journeys to Syria.

Indonesia has long struggled with Islamic militancy and has suffered a string of attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

A crackdown had weakened the most dangerous networks but IS has proved a potent new rallying cry for the country's radicals, and hundreds of Indonesians have headed to the Middle East to join the jihadists.

In January IS-linked militants launched a deadly gun and bomb attack in Jakarta which left four attackers and four civilians dead.

Support for peace talks between gov’t and communists rebels continues to snowball

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): Support for peace talks between gov’t and communists rebels continues to snowball

Support for the continuation of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) continues to snowball.

Domingo B. Alidon, president of the Department of Education National Employees’ Union (DepEd NEU) and member of the Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan Technical Working Group, declared support to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s challenge for marathon peace talks with the NDF to start on August 20 despite his lifting of the unilateral ceasefire he declared during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Aside from the conduct of marathon peace talks, Johnny Balawag, chairman of the National Board of Directors of the 20,000-strong DepEd NEU, suggested that the peace talks, wherever it may be held, be live streamed over social media.

"This will enable all stakeholders to keep abreast of developments as well as review what has transpired whenever they want or need to through social media,” Balawag said.

The DepEd NEU National Executive Committee and National Board of Directors unanimously reiterated its support to Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan.

"We will simply go for it without reservations,” Fidel Salosagcol, DepEd NEU public relations officer, said.

Mama S. Lalanto, al Haj, adviser of Yes for Peace and a a member of the board of directors of the Philippine Postal Corporation, said that Yes for Peace has, through the years been anchored on the three principles of the peace process laid down by former President Fidel V. Ramos.

Particularly, “a comprehensive peace process should be community-based, reflecting the sentiments, values and principles important to all Filipinos. Thus, it shall be defined not by the government alone, nor by the different contending groups only, but by all Filipinos as one community,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Gen. Rhoderick M. Parayno, commanding general of the Community Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said: “Peace should be everybody's aspiration and not just by the government because peace benefits everyone except those who work against it. Many of the NPA combatants, we know, are longing to rejoin society to be reunited with their families.”

Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan is the offshoot of a comprehensive review of the Yes for Peace – Bayanihan para sa KKK (Kapayapaan, Kaunlaran at Kasaganahan).

This, after the 10 million target set in an inter-agency memorandum of undertaking entered into by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Department of Education, the Philippine Postal Corporation, the Philippine Information Agency, the National Printing Office, the Alpha Phi Omega, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and the Girl Scouts of the Philippines was exceeded early this year.

According to its website -- – 12,290,656 Filipinos, 10 years and older, or 122.90 percent of the 10-million target have thus far participated in the education and advocacy campaign.The cumulative results of Yes for Peace since it was initiated in the University of the Philippines System in 1988 was symbolically turned over to the previous administration during the programme of the EDSA 30 celebration.

The campaign was described as the new face of people power by the EDSA People Power Commission that organized the annual event to commemorate the day when the collective action of the Filipino people led to a non-electoral change of government.     

However, the need for all Filipinos to take part in the comprehensive peace process remains and thus, Yes for Peace was reviewed by members of the campaign’s technical working group from different partner agencies to realign and reformulate the questions to the policy statements of President Rodrigo Duterte.

President Duterte announces more aid to soldiers, boosting morale of troops in Capiz

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): President Duterte announces more aid to soldiers, boosting morale of troops in Capiz

The visit of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to Camp Macario Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz Friday has boosted the morale of the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) spearhead troops of the Philippine Army.

In his message, President Duterte reiterated the plan of his government to sustain the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by providing them with equipment that will put them in the advantage position when they fight the enemies of the state.

“I want you to be well-protected, well taken-cared of, well-motivated and (have) the will to fight,” he stressed.

The President also disclosed his plan to acquire high-tech equipment for the hospital needs of wounded soldiers.

Likewise, the soldiers applauded the declaration of President Duterte to extend support not only to the wounded soldiers but to their families as well. Free education from kindergarten to high school will be provided to members of their families in schools that are nearest to their residence.

Those who are in wheelchair will be trained and endorsed to work in call centers, according to the President.

Meanwhile, Captain Gizelle Lim, acting chief of the public affairs office of the 3ID, said that they were in “high morale” upon hearing the President deliver his message.

She said that although they have been hearing about his commitment already when he spoke in his visit to other camps, it was different hearing it right from him in person.

Lim added that what was very much appreciated by the troops was the President's plan to help the soldiers who are no longer capable of going back to combat operations.

President Duterte made history as the first President of the country to visit the third largest military camp in the country.

Army chief: ROTC fosters patriotism, preparation for disaster response

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): Army chief: ROTC fosters patriotism, preparation for disaster response

Philippine Army Commander Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año said a revitalized Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program will make the country prepared for any eventuality.

"I believe all Filipinos will volunteer to serve in times of war or need but the question is are they prepared? Willingness to volunteer and preparedness are two different things," he said.

Aside from beefing up the country's reserves of trained-military manpower, he said the program will also help in character development and foster patriotism among its trainees, and bolster the number of responders should calamities strike the Philippines anew.

"It will make the country better and more prepared for any eventuality at the same time help in the government's (program) in fighting corruption and at the same time contribute to peace and order," he said.

However, there is a need for a law to be enacted to make this mandatory to all male college students.

Before the program was abolished in early 2000, all male college students were required to attendance and complete two years of ROTC training before they can graduate.

This became optional when Republic Act 9163 also known as the National Service Training Program (NSTP) went into effect in December 2001.

The NSTP went into law after University of Santo Tomas engineering student Mark Welson Chua was killed in March 2001 for exposing anomalies in UST's ROTC program, creating a massive furor and backlash on the college-based reserve project.

SC junks Solicitor General’s bid to release 10 political prisoners

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): SC junks Solicitor General’s bid to release 10 political prisoners

The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the motion of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for the temporary release of 10 political prisoners.

In an en banc resolution released Friday, the SC said the urgent motion of the OSG is not only an issue on the suspension of “technical rules on procedure”, since it will also cover the “substantive issue and jurisdiction” of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) that is hearing the case.

The SC said the provisional liberty of the 10 political prisoners would have an effect on the duty of the RTCs of their “original jurisdiction” in the case of the 10 political prisoners.

According to the SC, the petitioner should file the appropriate pleadings and motions in the appropriate RTC and that the petition will be given priority by the courts because of the importance of their participation in the peace talks in Oslo, Norway.

The OSG earlier asked the High Court for the temporary release of Tirso Alcantara, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Alex Birondo, Adelberto Silva, Winona Birondo, Benito Tiamzon, Maria Concepcion Bocala, Wilma Tiamzon, Reynante Gamara and Alan Jazmines.

SC upholds Manila RTC ruling granting temporary liberty to Ocampo, 3 others

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): SC upholds Manila RTC ruling granting temporary liberty to Ocampo, 3 others

The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the decision of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina granting provisional liberty to former Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo and three others.

Also granted temporary liberty are consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echanis and Vivente Ladlad

In the en banc resolution dated Aug. 2, 2016, the SC reminded the conditions for the grant of the provisional liberty under the cash bond of PHP100,000 each of Echanis and Ladlad.

”Wherefore, the provisional liberty of Saturnino C. Ocampo, Randall B. Echanis, and Vicente P. Ladlad under their respective cash bonds is hereby confirmed. They are reminded to faithfully comply with the conditions of their cash bonds,” SC Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te said of the SC resolution released on Friday.

However, the SC forfeited the PHP100,000 cash bond posted by Baylosis on Feb. 1, 2012.

The SC noted that his cash bond can be reinstated upon a justifiable cause as may be determined by the Manila RTC Branch 32 after his arrest or surrender.

Any request for his provisional liberty shall only be placed under consideration after this threshold condition has been satisfied.

The SC stressed that the Philippine government panel for negotiations with the NDF may file appropriate motions and pleadings before the RTCs for their consideration.

”Accordingly, the instant cases before this Court are hereby considered CLOSED and TERMINATED,” the SC said.

The High Court said that the additional six months of provisional liberty for Ladlad and Echanis is granted for the purpose of their attendance and participation in the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway commencing in August 2016 up to six months thereafter, or as soon as the peace negotiations are concluded or terminated, whichever is earlier.

Once their participation ceases or the peace negotiations are terminated, their respective bonds shall be deemed automatically canceled.

The SC added that they shall undertake to return to the Philippines after the formal peace negotiations in Oslo.

For the duration of the peace negotiations, they shall report to the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Norway whenever required.

Military commended for initiative of ensuring all personnel are drug-free

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): Military commended for initiative of ensuring all personnel are drug-free

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has lauded ranking military commanders for taking the initiative of ensuring that all personnel under their command are free from the illegal drugs habit.

He made this statement in the wake of the Philippine Army's announcement that it is submitting for dishonorable discharge proceedings four out of its 13 personnel earlier found positive for illegal drug usage during confirmatory tests.

"I will give credit to the commanders because this part of their responsibility to see to it that all personnel are subjected periodically to illegal drugs testing," Lorenzana said in Filipino.

The four PA soldiers were among the 13 initially found positive for illegal drug use last July 5. They have not been identified by PA spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao but their ranks are a staff sergeant and three corporals.

They were among the 2,500 Army officers, enlisted personnel and civilian employees subjected to surprise random drug tests last month.

They were among the 13 officers and enlisted personnel initially taken to a Quezon City medical facility for confirmation tests after illegal drug residues were detected in their urine samples.

Hao said the four are now under custodial isolation while being subjected to intelligence debriefing aimed at establishing the extent of their drug involvement within the service.

The PA spokesperson said the four will get nothing from the government as involvement in illegal drugs means the forfeiture of all their benefits.

Meanwhile, two lieutenant colonels, a major, two staff sergeants, a sergeant, a corporal, a private first class and a private whose urine samples yielded traces of drugs have been cleared of being users of illegal drugs.

This after confirmatory tests established that they were undergoing medications.

Bello confident NDF consultants will be released despite SC ruling

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): Bello confident NDF consultants will be released despite SC ruling

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the department will ask government prosecutors to file and respond to necessary motions and manifestations for the speedy release of detained communist leaders after the Supreme Court said the proper procedures for their releases are within the ambit of the Regional Trial Courts handling their cases.

Bello said he was confident that detained consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) would be released in time for the formal resumption of the peace negotiations on Aug. 20 in Oslo, Norway.

The Labor secretary also welcomed the Supreme Court decision as it sets into motion the urgency of the granting of the provisional release of the NDF consultants.

Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling on the motion for intervention filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, Bello said, “the Supreme Court did not dismiss the petition to grant bail or release the NDF consultants. It merely denied the motion for intervention of the Solicitor General on the grounds of jurisdiction and technicality.”

Bello added that the Supreme Court “underscored the immediacy of the issue at hand and urged the Regional Trial Courts, which have jurisdictions over their cases, to act with dispatch petitions that would come their way with regards to the detained NDF consultants so as the peace process could be expedited.”

The Office of the Solicitor General on July 22 filed before the Supreme Court a petition for intervention to grant bail for the temporary liberty of communist rebels who were named consultants by the NDF.

The Philippine government and the NDF have agreed to reopen peace negotiations following the election victory of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The GPH-NDF peace talks have been suspended since 2012 after both panels cannot agree on several issues among them the release of detained communist leaders and interpretation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and The Hague Joint Declaration.

Bello, who heads the recently reconstituted government panel (GPH) for the peace talks with the communists, said the decision to agree on the release of the NDF consultants is “an express manifestation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier promises to free all political prisoners in the country.”

“This has nothing to do with any precondition to the resumption for the peace negotiations. The commitment of the President was made during the campaign period when he promised to re-open talks with the NDF and release detained communists,” Bello said.

“We will cooperate and collaborate with the defense counsels of the detained NDF consultants and will not oppose petitions for bail or their temporary release for them to join the peace negotiations,” Bello said.

“We should understand that these detained leaders have been charged with common crimes and we have legal proceedings to observe before they can be released,” Bello explained.

President Duterte earlier instructed the government panel to expedite the release of NDF consultants who are likely to join their exiled colleagues in the peace talks either as panel members or members of the reciprocal working committees that are to be constituted during the formal resumption in Oslo.

The Royal Government of Norway is brokering the peace talks as a third party facilitator.

DND Chief assures AFGO: Modernization will continue

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 5): DND Chief assures AFGO: Modernization will continue

Acquisition of up-to-date defense equipment in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program will go on according to schedule.

This was the assurance given by Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) board of directors during their Thursday meeting held at the EDSA Lounge of the DND Building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

"Procurement for the Defense upgrade continues pursuant to the AFP Modernization Program," he said.

Lorenzana stressed that President Rodrigo R. Duterte is committed to heighten the efforts for the welfare of the men and women in uniform.

He also informed AGFO that the DND fully supports the campaign against lawlessness, rallying behind the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Furthermore, Lorenzana conveyed to the group that the government is continuously studying and exploring means to address the different internal and external issues affecting the country, some of which involve defense and security, and foreign policies.

The DND Chief also expressed gratitude for the support given by AGFO, especially on issues that are relevant to the defense institution.

Meanwhile, the AGFO board of directors, for their part, also conveyed appreciation for the DND’s commitment to public service.

They also reiterated their support for the policies of the Department that are for the interest of the country.

Other matters discussed include the indexation of military retirees to the Salary Standardization Law and the possibility of reviving the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) in state universities and colleges.