Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rody: Leftist groups aiding armed struggle

From The Standard (Aug 11): Rody: Leftist groups aiding armed struggle

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday claimed that some leftist party-list groups are using government funds to aid the communist insurgency and that is one of the reasons he is insisting the abrogation of the party-list representation in Congress.

 “That is why I disagree with that party-list [system]. If it’s not controlled by one family, children and spouses, there are also communists there,” Duterte told army troopers during a visit to the headquarters of the First “Tabak” Division in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

“The money, where will it go? To their groups so they can buy guns,” he added, reiterating that he will insist the removal of the party-list system in the new Constitution that he hopes the 17th Congress will produce within his term.

“If there will be a change in the [new] Constitution, which is being discussed now, I will no longer allow party-lists,” Duterte said.

Although the party-list system was provided by the 1987 Constitution, its enabling law—Republic Act No. 7941—was not enacted until 1995 and was only implemented in the elections of 1998.

Arguing that the Philippine “national democratic” movement should also engage in parliamentary struggle, some left-leaning groups were able to utilize the system with success even as their comrades pressed with their armed struggled in the countryside.

In a separate speech, Duterte expressed disapproval to the communist movement’s practice of collecting so-called “revolutionary taxes” from communities.

“That is not taxation, it’s extortion,” Duterte said. “They survive because of extortion money.”

“The [New People Army] are crazy. They are boastful, just like [Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma.] Sison. You NPA are s*** of b******,” he added.

Duterte noted that he had wanted a ceasefire enforced but he was piqued when the communists attacked a group of militiament in Davao del Norte.

He said he was irritated because the CPP-NPA keeps on complaining about government violations of international agreements like the Geneva Conventions and yet they employ land mines that are also prohibited by international agreements.

“Women and children who are part of the war are also victims of your landmines,” Duterte said. “Now they want to know when we will have a ceasefire.”

Noting that peace talks are set to resume on August 20, Duterte reiterated that he is no longer inclined to agree to a ceasefire.

“If I again hear a single report that another soldier or policeman is again killed or even wounded, then forget it. We will end the peace talks. It’s up to you,”  he said.

NDF: The armed resistance and unceasing broad and intensified protests of the masses stop the Tampakan copper-gold project

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Aug 10): The armed resistance and unceasing broad and intensified protests of the masses stop the Tampakan copper-gold project

Press statement
02 August 2016

DENR Sec. Gina Lopez is commendable for her remarkably firm stand against open pit mining in the country, as well as her decisive asseveration of the Duterte administration’s disapproval of the controversial and environmentally destructive US$5.9 billion Tampakan copper-gold project in South Cotabato.

The Philippine government was never determined in defending the environment and the people’s welfare. Instead guileful schemes and atrocious policies such as RA 7942 and EO 79 were created to legitimize mining plunder.

In February 2013, the BS Aquino government even issued an environment compliance certificate (ECC) for Xstrata-SMI, the operator of the Tampakan mine, despite the intensifying people’s resentment against the devastative effects of large-scale mining.
The issuance of the ECC blatantly defy and shelve the anti-open pit mining provisions of the Environment Code of South Cotabato which reflects the people’s real sentiment against the Tampakan copper-gold project.

Widespread human rights violations and killings highlighted the “cleansing” of the mining site in preparation for the mining operations. Not only did the foreign mining company effectively rob the indigenous people of their ancestral land, it also bankrolled AFP troops and operatives who do the murdering of anti-mining activists and slaying of Lumad mining dissidents.

In the face of the state-backed aggressive attacks on the indigenous people and civilians, the Lumad people in the mining site have waged armed resistance to defend their ancestral land and right to self-determination. An unceasing fight in the legal front against the Xstrata-SMI mining encroachment was also carried out by the broad masses in FarSouth Mindanao Region. The vicious exploits of the greedy miners and the military were exposed, earning widespread denunciation from anti-mining and human rights advocates in the country and around the globe.

While the government took no serious consideration about the issues pertaining to the environment and the indigenous people’s welfare, the national democratic movement in FarSouth Mindanao has always been a consistent leading force in the people’s struggle against environmentally destructive large-scale mining protected by the reactionary state.

The New People’s Army and the revolutionary forces in the region are the most reliable allies of the weak and disenfranchised victims of the mining company encroachment and state atrocities. Over the past years, the NPA have carried out several punitive actions against the company, its private armed guards and the AFP and PNP troops protecting its operation.

The masses and the revolutionary movement have proven that their revolutionary armed resistance and the unceasing broad and intensified protests are the most powerful weapons in defending themselves and hinder the large-scale mining operation. These are also the primal reasons that pushed the Australian company Western Mining Corporation to withdraw in 2005, and the Anglo-Swiss multinational Glencore-Xstrata International Plc to divest from the Tampakan project putting its operation on hold since 2014. And these are the most compelling factors for the DENR to come up with the crucial decision to stop the Tampakan copper-gold project.

Sec. Lopez’s announcement to cease the mining operation in Tampakan is congruent with the people’s stand in objecting the disastrous and plunderous mining project. Certainly, it is a victory of the democratic mass movement and the unwavering revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside who will never give up the fight in defending the people’s interests and welfare and the protection of the environment.

It is anticipated that in the presence of the open-pit mining ban, superprofit-greedy miners are likely to employ other mining methods so that their operation would be uninterrupted. Still, they will be putting the lives of the people and the environment at risk. But the NPA and revolutionary forces and the broad masses in FarSouth Mindanao are determined to carry on the battle against mining destruction and plunder, and win bigger victories for the people and the environment.

 (Sgd.) Ka Efren Aksasato
Spokesperson, NDF-FSMR

NOT SO FAST | No pay hike yet for soldiers, policemen, Diokno tells Senate

From InterAksyon (Aug 11): NOT SO FAST | No pay hike yet for soldiers, policemen, Diokno tells Senate

Soldiers, policemen and other members of the uniformed services will not be receiving their full salary increases by August because there is no appropriation in the budget for this purpose, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told the Senate.

“We cannot promise this August because, as you know, there is nothing in the budget for that. I don’t want to commit a violation of the DAP rule (the Supreme Court ruling striking down the past administration’s Disbursement Acceleration Program). You cannot spend on something that is not authorized by Congress,” Diokno told a hearing on salary standardization conducted by the committee on civil service, government reorganization and profession regulation chaired by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Trillanes, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to double the salaries of soldiers, policemen and teachers, asked: “Secretary Diokno is that forthcoming? Because I heard, he promised an incremental increase, starting August, to the soldiers and policemen. Is there any incremental increase coming their way, Secretary Diokno?”
Diokno replied he could not “speak in specific terms at this point” because he would need Duterte’s approval to do so.

“But the idea is really to double their take-home pay, not necessarily the basic pay because, as you know, this has an implication (on) the pension(s) of the military,” he said. “That’s a huge cost that we probably have to think very carefully, unless we have a law which will … amend the current pension system.”

He said the huge costs involved is the reason previous administrations left the current pension system untouched.

“Let me just tell you that, at the present, the pension of the military is now much bigger than the salary of the soldiers. That’s how big the problem is. But we are committed to double the take home pay of the soldiers, we call it the MUP, the military and uniformed personnel: AFP, PNP, Coast Guard and Firemen,” he said.

Diokno added that he was “looking at a three-year trajectory” to accomplish this.
Trillanes, a former Navy officer, hinted that uniformed personnel might be disappointed since Duterte made no mention of a three-year timeframe.

“As you know, the soldiers are holding on to the word of their commander-in-chief,” he said.

Diokno said his department is doing what it can to supplement the uniformed personnel’s income.

Maybe (in the) last quarter, we’ll give them rice allowance of 20 kilos per month,” the same amount allotted for beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program, “but we’re very careful not to spend for something Congress never authorized,” he said.

Trillanes urged Diokno to sit down with Duterte and his economic cluster to prevent him from making promises he cannot keep.

“You better advise your president because he’s been making commitments and promises left and right. Ayaw nating masira ‘yung credibility niya (We don’t want to see his credibility destroyed),” he said.

Vietnam moves rocket launchers into South China Sea island - sources

From InterAksyon (Aug 10): Vietnam moves rocket launchers into South China Sea island - sources

Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's runways and military installations across the vital trade route, according to Western officials.

Diplomats and military officers told Reuters that intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months, a move likely to raise tensions with Beijing.

The launchers have been hidden from aerial surveillance and they have yet to be armed, but could be made operational with rocket artillery rounds within two or three days, according to the three sources.

But Vietnam's Foreign Ministry said the information was "inaccurate," without elaborating.

Deputy Defense Minister, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, told Reuters in Singapore in June that Hanoi had no such launchers or weapons ready in the Spratlys but reserved the right to take any such measures.

"It is within our legitimate right to self-defense to move any of our weapons to any area at any time within our sovereign territory," he said.

The move is designed to counter China's build-up on its seven reclaimed islands in the Spratlys archipelago. Vietnam's military strategists fear the building runways, radars and other military installations on those holdings have left Vietnam's southern and island defenses increasingly vulnerable.

Military analysts say it is the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades.

Hanoi wanted to have the launchers in place as it expected tensions to rise in the wake of the landmark international court ruling against China in an arbitration case brought by the Philippines, foreign envoys said.

The ruling last month, stridently rejected by Beijing, found no legal basis to China's sweeping historic claims to much of the South China Sea.

Vietnam, China and Taiwan claim all of the Spratlys while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim some of the area.

"China's military maintains close surveillance of the situation in the sea and air space around the Spratly islands," China's defense ministry said in a faxed statement to Reuters.

"We hope the relevant country can join with China in jointly safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea region."

The United States is also monitoring developments closely.

"We continue to call on all South China Sea claimants to avoid actions that raise tensions, take practical steps to build confidence, and intensify efforts to find peaceful, diplomatic solutions to disputes," a State Department official said.

State-of-the-art system

Foreign officials and military analysts believe the launchers form part of Vietnam's state-of-art EXTRA rocket artillery system recently acquired from Israel.

EXTRA rounds are highly accurate up to a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles), with different 150-kilogram (330 lb) warheads that can carry high explosives or bomblets to attack multiple targets simultaneously. Operated with targeting drones, they could strike both ships and land targets.

That puts China's 3,000-meter runways and installations on Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef within range of many of Vietnam's tightly clustered holdings on 21 islands and reefs.

While Vietnam has larger and longer range Russian coastal defense missiles, the EXTRA is considered highly mobile and effective against amphibious landings. It uses compact radars, so does not require a large operational footprint - also suitable for deployment on islets and reefs.

"When Vietnam acquired the EXTRA system, it was always thought that it would be deployed on the Spratlys ... it is the perfect weapon for that," said Siemon Wezeman, a senior arms researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

There is no sign the launchers have been recently test fired or moved.

China took its first Spratlys possessions after a sea battle against Vietnam's then weak navy in 1988. After the battle, Vietnam said 64 soldiers with little protection were killed as they tried to protect a flag on South Johnson reef -- an incident still acutely felt in Hanoi.

In recent years, Vietnam has significantly improved its naval capabilities as part of a broader military modernization, including buying six advanced Kilo submarines from Russia.

Carl Thayer, an expert on Vietnam's military at the Australian Defense Force Academy, said the deployment showed the seriousness of Vietnam's determination to militarily deter China as far as possible.

"China's runways and military installations in the Spratlys are a direct challenge to Vietnam, particularly in their southern waters and skies, and they are showing they are prepared to respond to that threat," he said. "China is unlikely to see this as purely defensive, and it could mark a new stage of militarization of the Spratlys."

Trevor Hollingsbee, a former naval intelligence analyst with the British defense ministry, said he believed the deployment also had a political factor, partly undermining the fear created by the prospect of large Chinese bases deep in maritime Southeast Asia.

"It introduces a potential vulnerability where there was none before -- it is a sudden new complication in an arena that China was dominating," he said.

Navy plans to acquire 180 units of high-explosive rockets

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): Navy plans to acquire 180 units of high-explosive rockets

The Philippine Navy (PN) plans to acquire 180 units of high-explosive rockets for its two attack helicopters.

The Navy is allocating the sum of PHP25.2 million for the acquisition of 180 rounds of 2.75-inch rockets (MOD 2) with high-explosive warheads.

The munition is intended for the Navy's two attack AW-109 AgustaWestland "Power" helicopters. The 2.75 inch-rockets are primarily used for ground attack missions.

Winning bidders are required to deliver the items within 240 calendar days. Pre-bid conference is scheduled on Aug. 15, 1 p.m. at the Navy's Bids and Awards Committee in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

NDF consultants’ urgent motion for release on bail now submitted for resolution

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 11): NDF consultants’ urgent motion for release on bail now submitted for resolution

The urgent motion for release on bail for the three consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) is now submitted for resolution.

During the hearing on Thursday on the petition filed by spouses Wilma and Benito Tiamzon, and Adel Silva before the sala of Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, the prosecution, through the Department of Justice (DOJ), did not manifest any opposition to the urgent motion.

According to the DOJ, the grant of temporary liberty to the accused should be given under some conditions.

First, for the participation of the three petitioners in the peace talks in Oslo, Norway this month, hence, the court can allow them to do so.

Second, they will only be allowed until the termination of the peace talks.

Third, the three accused should post a bail bond of PHP100,000 each and that the bond will be cancelled upon the termination of the peace talks.

Fourth, they should submit to the court all their contact numbers; and

Fifth, they should report to the Philippine Embassy in Oslo, Norway when necessary.

For his part, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, representative of the Government Peace Panel, told the court that the role of the three is important in the conduct of the peace talks and in the past years, the court has granted such a motion.

Sarmiento also urged the judge to immediately render a decision because the day of the conduct of the peace talks is fast approaching.

The three petitioners are members of the peace panel of the NDF who needed to participate in the conduct of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 20.

They are facing charges of multiple murder before the Manila RTC in connection with the discovery of an alleged “mass grave” in the province of Leyte in 2006.

Gov’t, MILF prepare to implement CAB; talks with communists set Aug. 22

From the Business World (Aug 10): Gov’t, MILF prepare to implement CAB; talks with communists set Aug. 22

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will meet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 13 to plan initial steps towards implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) even without an enabling law,  Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza announced yesterday. 

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), drafted under the previous administration based on the CAB signed in March 2014, was not passed by the 16th Congress that closed in June this year.

“We will be discussing with the MILF panel how to move forward,” Mr. Dureza said in a press conference here.

The two sides will each have a five-member implementing panel, with Irene M. Santiago heading the government side, to discuss which provisions of the CAB can be rolled out without waiting for the passage of a BBL, which will have to be re-filed in the current Congress.

“The implementation phase of the CAB might become the springboard in the drafting of the enabling law that will replace the shelved Bangsamoro Basic Law,” Mr. Dureza said.

He also stressed that the peace roadmap for the Bangsamoro will be inclusive, which means all stakeholders will be given voice, including the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which already signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

Mr. Dureza said the original plan was to immediately include the MNLF in the CAB implementing panels, but “internal conflict” within the group remains unresolved.

“Our government implementing panel will take care of dealing with these individual groups that they will establish so that there will be real convergence,” said Mr. Dureza.

On Tuesday, Mr. Dureza met with a faction of the MNLF headed by former Cotabato City mayor Muslim Sema.

The other faction headed by Nurullaji Misuari, who is currently a fugitive as he is facing charges for the Zamboanga City siege in 2013, has yet to meet with government representatives, although Mr. Dureza said Ms. Misuari has been communicating with President Rodrigo R. Duterte. 
Mr. Dureza said they, along with the Organization of Islamic Conference, have been reviewing the 1996 peace deal with the MNLF and several points in the agreement could be included in the BBL that may eventually get passed in Congress.


Meanwhile, peace talks government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will push through in Oslo, Norway on August 22, Mr. Dureza said.
“The schedule remains the same… All preparations are going on for the peace talks in Oslo. We are ready to take the trip,” Mr. Dureza said, noting that the two-day delay from the original Aug. 20 schedule is simply to give way for the government representatives’ travel time.

Doubts about the resumption of the peace talks surfaced after the President slammed on Sunday the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), which belong to the NDFP), for its continued use of land mines in attacking military forces, which is against the Geneva Convention.

However, Mr. Dureza clarified that there has been no reported land mine explosions lately, thus the peace talks will push through.

“We will stay the course… Traveling the road to peace has its bumps along the way,” he said.

The CPP issued a statement Monday saying that what they have been using are “command-detonated explosives”, which do not fall under the Geneva Convention prohibitions.

On the release of jailed NDFP members who will be taking part in the Oslo negotiations, Mr. Dureza said, “We were able to secure the release of three of them from the Supreme Court but those whose cases do not fall under the SC we will have to thresh out with the local courts.”

In a statement issued yesterday, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process clarified that the SC did not dismiss the government’s request to grant temporary liberties to  key members of the NDF for the formal peace negotiations, rather the high court merely explained that it does not have jurisdiction to decide on cases before the local ones.

DOLE Phils back to normal operation after talks with SurSur guv

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 10): DOLE Phils back to normal operation after talks with SurSur guv

The DOLE Philippines, Incorporated (Stanfilco Division) operating in three towns of this province was reportedly back to its regular operation on Monday, August 8 after DOLE Phils. officials met with Governor VicenteT. Pimentel Jr. over the weekend at his residence here.

The special meeting was also attended by the concerned agencies, local chief executives of Tagbina, Barobo, and Tago, and Philippine Army.

The said meeting was aimed to resolve the issue concerning the company's sudden declaration of indefinite shutdown of its operation.

The company cited security threat made by the New Peoples Army as the main reason of their closure. The Philippine Army assured that they will secure the national highway to prevent the incident from happening again. The local government officials also vowed to support the security forces in solving the insurgency problem in the province.

It can be recalled that the said company declared an indefinite shutdown of its operation on August 3, affecting more than a thousand employees mostly Surigaonons. A protest rally was conducted in Barobo town condemning the New People’s Army for being responsible in the series of burning incident of the company's container vans.

Police pursues rebels in extortion activities in Apayao

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 10): Police pursues rebels in extortion activities in Apayao

The Police Regional Office – Cordillera is conducting follow up operations on  suspected members of the New People’s Army  following their  recent atrocities  in Conner, Apayao.

Suspected NPA members burned three dump trucks and took another vehicle after they failed to extort money from the Omengan Construction and Development Corporation (OCDC) in Barangay Guinaang in Conner on August 3.

According to police reports, more than 40 suspected rebels entered the compound of the OCDC at around 6:00PM. They rounded up the employees encouraging them to join their group. They confiscated the personal belongings of the employees including cell phones and demanded supplies such as rice and cash. However, the employees were not able to give the demands.

The group left a demand letter for the payment of revolutionary tax.

Before leaving the construction site compound, the rebels burned two dump trucks and one forward truck and took another dump truck and a pick-up truck as a get-away vehicle with two employees as their drivers. After an hour, the drivers were sent back to site with using the pick-up truck. The dump truck was dropped into a ravine.

A concerned citizen reported the incident to the Conner Municipal Police Station.

Coordination with friendly forces was made and a pursuit operation has been conducted by joint Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines troops in the areas.

Based on the initial investigation conducted by the Conner MPS, the rebels are members of the NPA under Leo Cauilan Command-Kalinga.

The OCDC is among the construction firms who have road construction projects in the far-flung areas of the Cordillera region including the road connecting Apayao to the provinces of Kalinga and Cagayan.

Resumption of talks with the communist rebels in Oslo, Norway set on August 22

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11): Resumption of talks with the communist rebels in Oslo, Norway set on August 22

Office on the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza confirmed that peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army will push through as planned on August 22 in Oslo, Norway.

Speaking to reporters, he said all preparations towards the formal resumption of negotiations with the CNN will happen as scheduled.

Dureza explained traveling the peace road is not well paved, that is why there are incidents of skirmishes that would happen in between.

“There will be humps and bumps along the way but we stay the course,” he said.

Dureza said the ultimatum issued by the president on the use of landmines is very clear.

He reiterated the president’s warning that if ever another landmine explodes, the peace talks with the communist rebels will be called off.

“That’s the president’s statement. We do not have to interpret it, assess it or speculate on it,” Dureza said. 

Even then, he said that the government is working on the release of the members of the communist movement which are needed in the negotiations.

“They have to be released on the basis of judicial processes.  Three of them are due to be out from the Supreme Court’s order.  We are now dealing with the release of those with cases in the regional trial courts and hope that they can join in the August 22 formal opening,” Dureza said.

Duterte: No apologies for remarks on Goldberg

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 10): Duterte: No apologies for remarks on Goldberg



LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur – President Duterte refused to apologize for his tirade against US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, saying it was not becoming of the envoy to dip his fingers in internal issues such as the May 2016 elections.

“Just leave me with my broadsides (with him), they were true anyway,” the President said on Wednesday.

Duterte called Goldberg “gay” (bakla) during his visit to a military camp in Cebu last week.

But Mr. Duterte said those remarks should not at all affect the Philippines’ relationship with the United States as he would turn to the US for the country’s defense needs. “I reiterate our strong alliance with America,” he said.

The President said it would be logical to turn to the US for defense commodities because of its long-standing military cooperation with the country.

The two countries inked the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which has been heavily criticized by left-wing groups.

“I will not compromise the weaponry of the Armed Forces,” Duterte said.

The President’s spat with the US Ambassador started during the campaign period when Goldberg commented on the then candidate Duterte’s “joke” about the rape-slay of an Australian missionary in Davao City in 1989.  But beyond the joke, Goldberg suggested that the Filipino public elect for consistency and continuity of policies, which implied he was rooting for the candidates of the then incumbent president Benigno Aquino III.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. AFP FILE PHOTO

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. AFP FILE PHOTO

In response, the then presidential candidate challenged the US to cut its diplomatic ties with the Philippines, its former colony and a strategic ally in the Asia-Pacific region “You’re not a Filipino. Shut up. Do not interfere because it’s election time,” Mr. Duterte had told Goldberg then.

The President said Goldberg should have not dipped his fingers in Philippine politics.
“It’s simply the truth. Why did he give those statements while the election is going on? That’s our business. It doesn’t concern him … It was during the campaign,” Duterte said in a mix of Bisaya and English in his speech before soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division here on Wednesday.

The President’s latest statements prompted the American government to summon Philippine Charge d’Affaires to Washington D.C. Patrick Chuasoto regarding the Chief Executive’s “inappropriate comments” against its ambassador to the Philippines.

“We’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg. He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior diplomats,” US State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said.

MNLF faction commits to convergence process for ‘inclusive’ Bangsamoro gov’t

From the often pro-CPP online publication the Davao Today (Aug 10): MNLF faction commits to convergence process for ‘inclusive’ Bangsamoro gov’t

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza speaks with former Cotabato mayor and a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Muslimin Sema about a possible merger between the MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during their meeting at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PPD

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza speaks with former Cotabato mayor and a Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Muslimin Sema about a possible merger between the MNLF and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a meeting at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PPD
Presidential Peace Adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza met with the Moro National Liberation group headed by Muslimin Sema  on Tuesday, August 9 as part of a series of meetings to consult all sectors of the Bangsamoro.
The move would be part of the preparation to craft an enabling law that will establish the Bangsamoro governance unit to replace the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Dureza said the Duterte administration is eyeing to pursue a convergence, or consensus, among the various Moro groups for the eventual formation of a Bangsamoro government.

“When we say convergence it is the directive of the President that since we have already the 1990 Peace Agreement with the MNLF and we have already the 2014, (Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro) with the MILF, and with the President firmly committing to implement all signed agreements, especially with the Bangsamoro, we have started already to move in that convergence,” Dureza said.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved on July 18 a comprehensive peace road map which will address the Bangsamoro issue and the resumption of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines through its political wing, the National Democratic Front.

The peace strategy eyes the consolidation of the peace agreements already signed by the government including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the Moro National Liberation Front’s 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA), including relevant provisions of the Republic Act No. 9054 (or the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Law) and the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA).

Dureza said Sema’s group committed to converge with any group to “bring about an inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law.”

“There was a very clear commitment of convergence, to converge with any group in order to bring about an inclusive Bangsamoro enabling law. Yun ang pinaka-clear na commitment ng grupo nila (That was the most clear commitment from their group),” he said in a press conference after the meeting.

Dureza said that they will still be talking with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari, whom they cannot directly talk to yet due to the charges he is facing.

“But we are in touch with him, we’re in touch with his group and we’re making discussions but we need to sit down with him, person to person to discuss this in detail. It will happen as soon as this issue of his facing a warrant of arrest is clear or out of the way,” Dureza said.

He said that all sectors in the Bangsamoro must be represented.

“Because that makes a lot of difference—the opportunity to make it inclusive for everyone must be made available,” he said.

Dureza said that the government envisions an “all-Moro assembly”  once they get the commitment of all Bangsamoro groups to come together.

“Because we will leave the matter to the Bangsamoro to determine what they want for themselves in accordance to their very basic aspiration of self determination,” he said.

The government panel and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will be meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 13 to launch the implementation stage of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Dureza said they will discuss on “how to move forward.”

A​rmy cries foul over mutilation of troops in combat

Posted to the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines online publication the Davao Today (Aug 10): A​rmy cries foul over mutilation of troops in combat  

In a press conference in Davao City on Wednesday, August 10, Army spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, shows a photo of one of the slain soldier in a series of offensives by the New People's Army in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.(Paulo C. Rizal/

In a press conference in Davao City on Wednesday, August 10, Army spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, shows a photo of one of the slain soldier in a series of offensives by the New People’s Army in Monkayo, Compostela Valley.(Paulo C. Rizal/
The Army here criticized the New People’s Army over the mutilation of soldiers who died in gunbattle last week in Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province.
Captain Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said an autopsy on the four fatalities indicated mutiliations on two of the four slain soldiers.

He said alleged mutilations were found on the body of Corporal Jimmy M. Bayta Jr. and on Private First Class Rolen Roy C. Sarmiento.

Four soldiers died in a series of offensives by the NPA in Monkayo, Compostela Valley province.

Batchar said an autopsy by medico-legal officer Police Chief Inspector Raleigh Herbert Gange Ampuan on Bayta’s body indicated “multiple gunshot wound, head, thorax and abdomen, and right thigh incised wound, neck (transecting and fracturing the larynx and the thyroid cartilage).” Meanwhile, Sarmiento’s causes of death were “multiple gunshot wounds-head, thorax, and right arm (thru & thru); hacked wounds to the head and neck.”

Another soldier who died in the said incident, Corporal Gilmar C. Mapa, was said to have suffered mutilation, but could not be autopsied as per request of the family.

“We condemn to the highest degree itong ginawa ng NPA sa ating mga kasundaluhan. We are celebrating this month the International Humanitarian law, pero our troops have to suffer the barbaric and inhumane acts of the NPA,” Batchar said.

While saying that they will press charges, Batchar said the Army supports the peace talks. 

“We hope that this incident will not derail the peace talks between the government and the  CPP-NPA-NDF. We are all Filipinos,” Batchar said.

Use of landmines

In response to the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) statement that the use of command detonated explosives (CDX) are “legitimate weapons of war and are allowed under the Geneva Conventions and the Ottawa Treaty on Landmines,” Batchar said that no such distinction exists.

Citing the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and the Respect for International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), Batchar says that the use of landmines are prohibited, and that there is no distinction because the effects are the same.

Batchar also said that there were civilian casualties in the encounter at Monkayo, Compostela Valley, an elder woman and her grand daughter, who was 12 years old. This is contrast to the CPP’s statement that there is yet to be any civilian casualties in their use of the “CDX”.

“There has yet to be an incident where a CDX landmine laid by the NPA was accidentally exploded by a civilian. The NPA is very careful about using weapons that may accidentally hurt or injure civilians,” the CPP said in a statement on August 8.

Duterte reiterates warning to CPP

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, reiterated his warning to the CPP on using landmines during his visit to the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday afternoon, August 10.

“Ingon nako sila makadungog pa gani ko bisan isa nga naay sundalo sa Armed Forces of the Philippines or police nga mamatay maangol, masamdan, then forget , ingon nako wala na tay peace talks, bahala na mo (I said if I heard another explosion where a soldier of the AFP or police will die or will be injured, then forget about the peace talks),” Duterte said.

This was also his message to the CPP during his visit in Naval Station Felix Apolinario here at the wake of four soldiers on Sunday, August 7.

CPP to NPA, militias: Step-up manufacture of CDX

However, the CPP said that the NPA will not stop using CDX landmines.

“Contrary to Duterte’s demand for the NPA to stop using its CDX landmines, the NPA and the people’s militias must further expand the use of such weapons,” said the CPP.

It added: “CDX landmines are a poor man’s weapon. These are mass-produced by people who have no recourse to the expensive rockets and howitzers of state-funded armies. It is a weapon than can only be effectively used by those who have mastery of terrain. It must continue to be effectively and widely employed in waging mass guerrilla warfare.”

The CPP even ordered the “stepping-up” of the manufacture of CDX landmines.

“Every unit of the NPA, including all units of the people’s militias, must have their own supply of CDX landmines, and must have the skill and plan to employ these as defensive and offensive weapons against the enemy,” it said.

CDX landmines have been proven to be highly effective weapons at thwarting the frenzied military offensives of the AFP,” said the CPP.

“This is the reason why the AFP has been so adamant in its demand for the NPA to stop using CDX landmines to the point of mindlessly citing international prohibitions even without a comprehensive and clear understanding of those,” it said.

Photo: Slain troops

Posted to the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines online publication the Davao Today (Aug 11): Photo: Slain troops

EXPLICIT. Army spokesperson Capt. Rhyan Batchar shows the photos of the alleged mutilated corpses of Corporal Jimmy M. Bayta, Corporal Gilmar C. Mapa, and Private First Class Rolen Roy C. Sarmiento, three of the four soldiers who died in a series of offensives conducted by the New People's Army in Monkayo, Compostela Valley last week. (Paulo C. Rizal/

In a press conference on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Army spokesperson Capt. Rhyan Batchar shows the photos of the alleged mutilated corpses of Corporal Jimmy M. Bayta, Corporal Gilmar C. Mapa, and Private First Class Rolen Roy C. Sarmiento, three of the four soldiers who died in a series of offensives conducted by the New People’s Army in Monkayo, Compostela Valley last week. (Paulo C. Rizal/

Anti-insurgency drive traps thousands in Mindanao

From the Manila Times (Aug 10): Anti-insurgency drive traps thousands in Mindanao

Thousands of villagers were trapped in at least three towns in the province of Compostela Valley where security forces launched a massive assault on communist rebels, human rights group Karapatan said on Wednesday.

Karapatan added that at least 1,000 families were affected by military operations that began last week and three farmers had been killed by soldiers in Monkayo town on suspicion they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Troops from the Army’s 69th and 71st Infantry Battalions imposed food blockade on the towns of Maragusan and New Bataan, including Monkayo, and reportedly harassed villagers.

Karapatan said Philippine Air Force planes also bombed several times the village of Parasanon in Maragusan but it was unknown if there were civilian casualties as soldiers prevented human rights workers to inspect the area.

Jay Apiag, a spokesman for Karapatan, said farmers and civilians have been accused by the military as supporters of the NPA or members of the communist group and targeted by soldiers in their desperate hunt for insurgents.

He added that they will conduct fact-finding missions in Compostela Valley and also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to order an investigation of the military campaign that has affected civilians in the province.

“We urge President Duterte to investigate and hear the sides of the civilian farmers and not the lies and spins of the military,” Apiag said, adding that the “President must rein in his army who are spoilers of peace and violators of human rights.”

There was no immediate statement from the military on the allegations.

Duterte sparks new diplomatic row with 'gay' remark

From the Straits Times (Aug 11): Duterte sparks new diplomatic row with 'gay' remark

US summons Philippine envoy over insulting Tagalog term used for American ambassador

Firebrand Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sparked a fresh diplomatic row with his colourful language, calling the US ambassador "gay" in comments that prompted Washington to summon Manila's envoy.

In the latest of a series of tirades, Mr Duterte had used a local Tagalog homophobic slur to express his displeasure with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in televised comments made last Friday.

"As you know, I'm fighting with (US Secretary of State John Kerry's) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off," Mr Duterte said.

The 71-year-old former mayor surged to power in a landslide election victory in May following an incendiary campaign in which he gleefully used foul language to insult authority figures, from his local political rivals to the Pope.

Responding to the furore yesterday, the President asked that the comments about Mr Goldberg be ignored. Mr Duterte first came into conflict with Mr Goldberg on the campaign trail, after he said he wanted to rape a "beautiful" Australian missionary who had been sexually assaulted and murdered in a 1989 prison riot in Davao, the city he ran for two decades
As you know, I'm fighting with (US Secretary of State John Kerry's) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off.
PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE, expressing his displeasure with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg.
Mr Goldberg and the Australian ambassador both strongly criticised these comments.
"He meddled during the elections, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that," Mr Duterte said last Friday.

The US State Department said the Philippines' charge d'affaires, Mr Patrick Chuasoto, was summoned on Monday to discuss Mr Duterte's comments.

"We had that conversation," said department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau. "I think what we were seeking is perhaps a better understanding of why that statement was made," she added.

Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose confirmed the meeting but said Mr Chuasoto had been "invited to the State Department to discuss the entire breadth of Philippine-US relations".

"Philippine-US relations remain strong," he told AFP yesterday.

Mr Duterte yesterday said his comments about Mr Goldberg should be ignored, as he reaffirmed a "strong alliance with America".

"Just ignore my tirade against their ambassador," he said in a speech at a military camp in Zamboanga city.

But he insisted that Mr Goldberg should not have criticised him as he was running for president, saying: "They were true anyway. (It was) simply the truth at the time of the election. Why would he give a statement when the election is going on?"

He said Mr Goldberg "should not have meddled. That is our business. It was the campaign season".

Mr Duterte added: "I will reiterate our strong alliance with America. There is only one source (for military equipment)... the United States, with whom we have an alliance militarily."

Cops foil nine IS plots on local targets

From the Malay Mail Online (Aug 9): Cops foil nine IS plots on local targets

Police have foiled nine Islamic State (IS) attack plots on local targets, including three close calls, Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said yesterday.

The Special Branch’s Counter Terrorism Division principal assistant director said this came about through Bukit Aman’s stepping up intelligence gathering and enforcement activities.

He said three attempts saw IS operatives gaining access to chemicals, ammunitions and bomb-making materials to carry out their plans.

“They were targeting vice dens, entertainment outlets and public institutions. We will remain vigilant and continue to combat terrorism without fear of threats,’’ he said.

Ayob was debriefing 86 diplomats and representatives of seven international agencies on the security situation in the country at the Home Ministry here.

He said almost all of the 200 suspected local and 30 foreign militants with links to IS detained had undergone a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to ensure they were no longer a threat.

A few refused to take part in the programme.

“We are working with international partners especially those from the Middle East on improving the programme. This is all in the hope that these men and women can be reintegrated into society as the government prefers to rehabilitate them rather then take a shoot-to-kill stance,” he said.

Bukit Aman’s deputy CID director Deputy Commissioner Datuk Law Hong Soon said the government was also tightening security around Sabah’s eastern waters to prevent kidnapping cases and criminal activities.

“We have intensified our efforts along with members of the joint task force under the  Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to conduct crime prevention activities along the Sabah coast line and the smaller islands,” he said.

“By working closer together with our partners in the Philippines and utilising advanced assets such radar and surveillance equipment, we are confident that security conditions will continue to improve.”

Law also addressed gun violence, saying that most cases were planned with a target and a motive.

“Financial and domestic disputes are among the reasons. However, gangland violence is also part of such incidents,” he said.

“Secret societies or gangs are being monitored with follow-up action via arrests and other enforcement actions.”

Also present was at the briefing were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

July ReCAAP Report: Hijackings of Ships for Theft of Oil Cargo has Decreased

From Ship & Bunker (Aug 10): July ReCAAP Report: Hijackings of Ships for Theft of Oil Cargo has Decreased

July ReCAAP Report: Hijackings of Ships for Theft of Oil Cargo has Decreased

The latest ReCAAP report says hijackings of ships for theft of oil cargo has decreased overall

The latest report from the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAPP), which covers incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Asian waters during July 2016, says hijackings of ships for theft of oil cargo has decreased overall.

The report indicates that there was a total of four reported incidents of armed robbery against ships reported in Asia during July, including one robbery of a tanker at a wharf in Lanang Davao City, Philippines, in which the perpetrators, armed with guns and knives, boarded the vessel and stole the ship stores before escaping.

Two of the other incidents included abductions of crew from ships in the waters off eastern Sabah and southern Philippines, while the fourth was a robbery at the Taboneo anchorage in Indonesia.
The report indicates that there was a total of four reported incidents of armed robbery against ships reported in Asia during July
"Between January and July 2016, a total of 47 incidents were reported, and this represents a 63 percent decrease in total number of incidents compared  to January-July 2015 when 126 incidents were reported," explained the report, adding that the January to July statistics for 2016 were the lowest within a five year period.

"The improvement was most apparent in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS)," noted the report.

As Ship & Bunker reported, the latest half year ReCAAP report covering incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Asian waters during January to June, showed that only 2 hijackings of ships for the purpose of oil cargo theft had occurred so far in 2016, compared to 10 in 2015.

Duterte: ISIS followers radicalizing Filipinos in Mindanao

From Rappler (Aug 10): Duterte: ISIS followers radicalizing Filipinos in Mindanao

The President says 'white people' with no weapons are already in some parts of Mindanao indoctrinating Muslims in the region about ISIS principles

'BE PREPARED.' President Duterte inspects firearms at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City on August 9. Photo by Kiwi Bulaclac/PPD

'BE PREPARED.' President Duterte inspects firearms at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City on August 9. Photo by Kiwi Bulaclac/PPD

The threat of terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the Philippines is real, with some followers already in the Philippines radicalizing Filipinos in some parts of Mindanao, claimed President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, August 10.

In some parts of the island of Mindanao, there are white people. I suppose they are Arabs. They are here as missionaries. They don’t have arms. But they are into indoctrinization. That’s what we should be scared of,” said Duterte during a visit to a military camp in Zamboanga del Sur.
He did not elaborate on the source of this information.
This process of indoctrination aimed at radicalizing Filipinos in Mindanao may force the country to confront the ISIS problem in a few years, he said.
“As I see it, 3 to 7 years from now, we will have a problem with the ISIS,” said Duterte in a mix of Bisaya, English, and Tagalog.
The same process of “mind-conditioning” swelled the ranks of the armed communist group New People’s Army back in their heyday in the 1970s.
“Just like the communists…that’s alarming because they are conditioning the minds,” said the President.
He hopes Muslims in Mindanao do not get “contaminated” by the “ISIS disease.”
“There is something wrong in their minds killing people unnecessarily without question, no rhyme nor reason…They burn people to death without apparent reason at all,” he said.
In response to this brewing threat, Duterte repeated his promise to give the Armed Forces of the Philippines all the equipment they need. He said he wanted to hire some 20,000 more soldiers, a need communicated to him by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
“It would be desirable to have more troops on the ground, if possible, 20,000. I would rather be prepared. Never mind what the resulting budget will be,” said Duterte.
His priority, faced with the terrorist threat is to “protect the integrity of our republic” and keep the country’s territory within the government’s control.
Last June, men believed to be ISIS called on followers to go to the Philippines. Months before that, in February, ISIS recognized Philippines-based extremist groups including that led by Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf Group leader.
An exclusive Rappler report showed ISIS may have plans to declare a wilayat or province in Mindanao and that the group may have been behind killings in Basilan last April.

Duterte sees ISIS problem in PH in 3-7 years

From Malaysia Business Insight (Aug 11): Duterte sees ISIS problem in PH in 3-7 years

PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday warned of the possible presence of propagandists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country as he directed the military to remain loyal to its mandate and continue protecting the country.
The President, during a meeting with soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division in Zamboanga City, said he sees the IS becoming a problem in three to seven years, so the military has to be strengthened.

He said there are some foreigners in Mindanao who are supposedly missionaries who are trying to help the Bangsamoro.

“In some parts of Mindanao, may mga white-skinned people, tingin ko mga Arabo iyan, they are here as missionaries. Walang armas but they are into indoctrination. Iyan ang katakutan kasi, like communists, pagkatapos makita nilang maganda, papasok na ang kanilang political officers. Iyan ang delikado kasi tina-target nila ang isipan,” he added.
The President said this is one of the reasons his administration is promoting peace and development in Mindanao.

A military intelligence official said there are at least 10 “foreign ISIS personalities” in the country.

He named Moroccan bomber Mohammad Khattab who was killed, along with four Abu Sayyaf men, in a firefight with government forces in Basilan last April.
“There are more than 10 of them here but they are not able to move freely because they know that we are monitoring them... The President is right about the (ISIS) threat,” the source said.

He also said there are ISIS believers in the country, referring to Abu Sayyaf which pledged allegiance to the extremist group last year.

“But what’s important is we’re vigilant. We are on top of the situation to prevent them from getting bigger,” he said.

Military spokesmen have said in the past that ISIS has not gained a foothold in the country but noted they have supporters in the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who have expressed allegiance to the ISIS.

Another intelligence official said, “We anticipate that it’s going to be a problem in the near future because of what’s happening in Iraq and Syria.”
He said the US and its allied countries are slowly gaining ground in the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“We expect that in a matter of two years, the foreign fighters will return to their countries. Many of them are Indonesians and Malaysians, and there are Filipinos,” he said.

The source expressed fears that more ISIS members will go to the Philippines as the US-led campaign against ISIS is winning.

“There are Canadians, Australians and French (ISIS members in Iraq and Syria). If they return to their respective countries, they will be easily caught. They may feel that if they come here in Mindanao, they’ll feel they will have safe havens with the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

Asked how many Filipinos are in Iraq and Syria as part of the ISIS, the source said: “There are but they are not as many as the Indonesians and Malaysians who goes by the hundreds.”
Pressed for the number, the official said: “We have no confirmation how many but we have seen in video one or two... That is what’s actually bothering because we are not aware of their actual number,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is requesting access to a woman, believed to be a Filipina, detained by Kuwaiti security forces after she allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said embassy officials in Kuwait have yet to determine the woman’s identity and nationality as of this time

A report of the Kuwaiti official news agency KUNA said the woman was arrested on August 6 after pledging allegiance to IS and planning to launch attack in the country. She reportedly entered Kuwait in June to work as a maid.

The report also said security forces monitored one of her email accounts and found messages in which she contacted the terrorist group.

Destroy Abu Sayyaf group, Duterte tells army

From the Straits Times (Aug 11): Destroy Abu Sayyaf group, Duterte tells army

 Mr Duterte inspecting confiscated firearms at a military camp in the southern Philippines on Tuesday. The President, who has been touring army camps since taking office five weeks ago, said he planned to recruit 20,000 more soldiers to help protect t

Mr Duterte inspecting confiscated firearms at a military camp in the southern Philippines on Tuesday. The President, who has been touring army camps since taking office five weeks ago, said he planned to recruit 20,000 more soldiers to help protect the country's territorial integrity.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday ordered the army to destroy the small but violent Abu Sayyaf group, saying the country otherwise risked being "contaminated" by ISIS.

The mostly Christian Philippines has for decades battled rebels from the Muslim minority, but while progress towards peace has been made with the main insurgent faction, Abu Sayyaf militants have remained ruthless enemies of the state.

"Destroy them, that's an order," Mr Duterte told soldiers at an army base in the province of Zamboanga del Sur on the violence-plagued southern Mindanao island.

He described the Abu Sayyaf as terrorists and bandits who kill civilians for no apparent reason, and ruled out negotiations.

Abu Sayyaf militants, notorious for extortion, kidnappings and bombings, this year beheaded two Canadians kidnapped from a tourist resort. They recently freed 18 Indonesians and Malaysian tugboat crew members after obtaining ransom.
In June, a video appeared online showing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) accepting the allegiance of Abu Sayyaf fighters, in the first formal recognition of a South- east Asian group by the Middle East-based extremist group, counterterrorism officials said.

Action was necessary now, or the Philippines risked being "contaminated by the ISIS disease", Mr Duterte said. "I see a looming problem; in three to seven years from now, we will have a problem with ISIS," he said, promising the army modern equipment to fight Abu Sayyaf.

Mr Duterte, who has been touring army camps since taking office five weeks ago, said he planned to recruit 20,000 more soldiers to help protect the country's territorial integrity. "We want to control all areas and we don't want to lose any territory," he said, reiterating a close alliance with the United States in fighting Islamist militancy, and in the Philippine maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.

The Abu Sayyaf militants are still holding several foreign hostages.

Army ready to pursue Filipino militants

From the Jakarta Post (Aug 11): Army ready to pursue Filipino militants

Army ready to pursue Filipino militants

The map of Sulu waters, southern Philippines and surrounding areas(Courtesy of

The Indonesian Army has said it is ready to deploy its personnel to secure the release of 10 abducted Indonesian sailors should a deal on joint land-based operations with the Philippines and Malaysia be reached in the future.

Since the first hostage-taking incidents in March, the Army has prepared its troops including its Special Forces (Kopassus) and Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mulyono on Wednesday.

"All Kopassus and Kostrad personnel, as well as Alutisista have been readied to be deployed at any time we are ordered to conduct military operations," Mulyono said.

During a trilateral meeting between the defense ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines in Bali last week, Indonesia proposed coordinated land-based operations to pursue militants who have taken Indonesian and Malaysian hostages onto Philippine land territory.

 Mulyono, however, said the Philippine Constitution could not allow foreign troops to enter its territory and thus he had forbidden the Army from participating in the operation to rescue the 10 Indonesian sailors held hostage by militants in the southern Philippines.

However, Mulyono assured the public that the militaries of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines had drafted a joint strategy on how to anticipate and prevent another hostage-taking incident from occurring in the regional waters.

In early July, three Indonesian sailors were abducted in Malaysia’s Sabah waters, less than a month after the kidnapping of seven Indonesian crew members by Abu Sayyaf militants in the waters off the southern Philippines.

Duterte peace roadmap gets strong support from international community

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11): Duterte peace roadmap gets strong support from international community

International peace and development partners expressed strong support and optimism on the peace and development roadmap of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, even applauding the remarkable performance of his administration to resolve peace and security issues during his first month in office.

“We are very impressed with the work that OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process) has done in just a short time,” said World Bank Country Director Mara Warwick on behalf of the other international organizations and institutions present during OPAPP’s briefing on government’s peace agenda held Thursday, August 4, in Edsa Shangri-la Hotel.

“It is very welcome to the international community the aspirations of the Duterte administration to resolve the issues in Mindanao and the other areas of the country and to the level of priority that he has given on these issues even in the first month of his administration,” Warwick added.

Warwick also backed the government’s call for inclusivity in its pursuit of peace, as they also “look forward to the OPAPP convening us and harmonizing our efforts and strategies to ensure a more effective delivery of service to the communities in conflict affected areas.”

United Nations Resident Coordinator Ola Almgren, meanwhile, noted that the “work that is already on the way since the 30th of June constitutes a very promising reboot and continuation of ongoing efforts to resolve the conflicts”.

“Going here, I have a lot of questions, especially with regard the many mechanisms already in place wherein international agencies play active roles. But those questions have been answered.”

“We appreciate the openness of President Duterte, as said in his SONA (State of the Nation Address), to continue working with international partners,” Almgren said. “I look forward to a continuing engagement with the people of the Philippines.”

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza, for his part, recognized the previous efforts of the international partners in the peace process and asked them to continue supporting the government’s peace efforts.

“That is why I am very grateful to your initial enthusiasm and I hope we can sustain this. We look forward to our continued partnership, especially those who we have not engaged very much in the past. We want you back as strong partners for peace,” he added.

Aside from the United Nations and the World Bank, other international agencies and institutions represented during the meeting include: Agencia Española De Cooperacion Internacional Para El Desarollo (AECID); Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD); Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade-Australia (DFAT-AUS); Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenarbeit Gmbh (GIZ); European Union (EU); French Development Agency (FDA); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); International Alert (IA); International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); The Asia Foundation (TAF); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); International Organization for Migration (IOM); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations; United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR); United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN); World Food Programme (WFP); and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (OPAPP)

Boholano priest leads PMA entrance exams team on Aug 21, HNU

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 11): Boholano priest leads PMA entrance exams team on Aug 21, HNU

A Boholano priest who is currently the chaplain at the Philippine Military Academy to lead the team that would conduct the PMA Entrance Examination on August 21, 2016 at the Holy Name University. 

The examination will also happen simultaneously in 38 other locations across the country.

Fr. Carlito Buslon of Salvador Sierra Bullones along with two other enlisted personnel and Boholano cadets would comprise the team for Bohol, sources said.

Buslon, who has his philosophy at St. Camillus Seminary transferred to the military incardinate and slowly rose to ranks along with several Boholano priests in the military service.

The Entrance Exam is the first stage in the selection process for cadetship in the premier leadership training school in the country.

This is a perfect opportunity for young, poor and yet deserving Boholanos, Fr. Buslon, who also comes from a poor family said in a text message.

Cadets enjoy a full government scholarship. It means that they do not have to pay any single centavo during the entire duration of their training in the Academy where they will earn a Bachelor of Science Degree. 

This covers the salary he receives every month, the initial clothing allowance, and the support for the services in connection with his stay in the Academy.

Upon graduation, the cadets are commissioned as 2LTs and Ensigns in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Being at the forefront of the AFP modernization program because its graduates are the ones to lead the Armed Forces in the years to come, PMA is home to state-of-the-art training facilities and equipment.

For those interested to join the cadetship, requirements for admission are the following: candidate must be a natural-born Filipino citizen; at least 5 feet for both male and female; physically fit and of good moral character; single and has never been married and high school graduate.

With the disruption brought about by the government’s implementation of the K-12, those who graduated on or before 2015, prior to the implementation of K-12, are eligible to apply.

Candidates must not also have administrative and or criminal cases, must pass the PMAEE and should have been born from April 01, 1995 to April 01, 2000.

Successful applicants will compose the PMA Class 2021 who will be officially received in the Academy in an Oath-Taking Ceremony and Reception Rites on April 01, 2017.

Application forms can be downloaded from Applicants can also apply on-line in the said website.