Monday, August 15, 2016

Malaysian, Philippine police to sign pact on forward base

From the Borneo Post Online (Aug 16): Malaysian, Philippine police to sign pact on forward base

The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and their Philippines counterpart will next month sign an agreement to construct a forward base in southern Philippines.

Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the construction of the forward base was aimed at tackling cross-border crime in the South China Sea, especially kidnapping.

This was decided at a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Philippines Secretary of Interior Ministry and Local Government, Ismael D Sueno, here yesterday. Khalid said that he was informed the agreement would be signed in the second weekend of September in Manila.

“Things such as the location and time of construction will be discussed before the agreement is signed,” he told reporters, here yesterday.

Earlier, Khalid accompanied Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, in a 30-minute meeting with Ismael, who is here for the International Conference on the Blue Ocean Strategy (ICBOS) from Aug 16-18.

Construction of the forward base was decided during a meeting betwen Khalid and his counterpart, General Ronald Marapon Dela Rosa, on the sidelines of the 36th Asean Police (Aseanapol) Conference, here on July 28.

Ismael said the Philippine  government had concluded negotiation on Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which was in the implementation stage.

“We are thankful to the Malaysian government for facilitating the agreement between Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government. We are determined to uphold peace. Everybody is afraid of President Roberto Duterte who is determined to hunt down Abu Sayyaf group.

“Five Malaysians are still with Abu Sayyaf. Our priority is to bring them back safely with help from the Malaysian government,” he said. — Bernama

Malaysia PM Najib wants Abu Sayyaf attacks stopped

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug 16): Malaysia PM Najib wants Abu Sayyaf attacks stopped

Malaysia's leader seeks border security arrangement with Philippines
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has raised his “grave concern” over the security situation in Southeast Asia amid the kidnapping activities of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanao, Malacañang said on Monday.

The Malaysian leader conveyed this as he welcomed representatives of the Duterte administration led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in Putrajaya, said Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

In their 30-minute meeting, Andanar said Dureza told Najib that President Duterte had directed the military to stem the Abu Sayyaf’s reign of terror during his recent visit in Jolo, Sulu.

He flew to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to join Dureza, who led the government panel in discussing the implementation of the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Secretary Dureza assured Prime Minister Najib that the same iron hand will be activated to deal with borders,” Andanar said in a statement.

He said Razak also suggested the “regulation of sea lanes” in the waters between the Philippines and Malaysia “wherein a certain approved sea lane can be used to conduct trade and those that are not approved can be deemed as hostile.”

“Security is a shared concern between the two countries,” he stressed, noting that the meeting between the Philippine delegation and the Prime Minister was “formal yet cordial.”

Andanar said Najib also spoke about the huge potential of Mindanao in terms of economic development as Dureza proposed the improvement of trade relations between the two neighboring countries through the rejuvenation of the BIMP-EAGA, or the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

He said the Prime Minister had noted that the “whole mindset (of the Philippine government) has changed with more than half of the members of the Cabinet coming from Mindanao.”

Meanwhile, Dureza informed Najib that the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro has been successfully launched in Kuala Lumpur.


Duterte meets Satur Ocampo, other NDF leaders in Malacañang

From GMA News (Aug 15): Duterte meets Satur Ocampo, other NDF leaders in Malacañang

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday met with representatives of the National Democratic Front in Malacañang.

The meeting with former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, NDF legal counsel Edre Olalia and other NDF personalities came after Duterte and Communist leaders traded barbs over the media following the lifting of the government's unilateral ceasefire.

"I was talking to the NDF panel and we had the discussion about how to shape up a government without necessarily going into the complicated task of coalition because I don’t think it would work," Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang, also on Monday.

"And I said that maybe, what would come out of these talks in Oslo, where that I would insist that I retain the control of the military and the police, and they can have the mundane matters of government. As a matter of fact, nandiyan na sila," he added.

The government and NDF panels are expected to revive the peace negotiations when they meet in Oslo, Norway on August 20.

Among the officials in the Duterte administration who were nominated by the leftist movement include Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, a former leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; National Anti-Poverty Commission chairperson Liza Maza, a former representative of the Gabriela party-list; and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

Sought for comment, Olalia said the meeting with Duterte was  "cordial" even "humorous."

"It was positive. Very light, cordial, warm, conversational and humorous exchange," Olalia said.

Political settlement

Duterte, who won a landslide election victory in May, is seeking a political settlement to one of Asia's longest insurgencies which has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1969.

Five previous presidents had failed in that objective, and the process appeared to sour on July 30 after Duterte cancelled a days-old unilateral ceasefire when a rebel ambush killed a government militia member and wounded four others.

"In general the relationship between the revolutionary movement and Duterte is excellent... glitches like these can be fixed through peaceful dialogue," chief rebel negotiator Luis Jalandoni told AFP by telephone.

The rebels also want to discuss the crafting of a general amnesty proclamation by Duterte covering all 550 detained members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People's Army.

The rebel army is believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, according to the military.

But it retains support among the deeply poor in rural areas, and its forces regularly kill police or troops while extorting money from local businesses.

As a goodwill gesture, the new government has withdrawn its longstanding opposition to bail petitions filed in court by 18 detained top guerrilla leaders, including the alleged party chiefs Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma Tiamzon.

All 18 are expected to be freed from Manila prisons this week so they can fly to Oslo to help out in the negotiations as "consultants" to the National Democratic Front.

Benigno Aquino, the president before Duterte, shelved peace talks in 2013 after rejecting the front's demand that he free all imprisoned guerrillas.

With ceasefires in place, Jalandoni said the two parties could work on crafting reforms to address the roots of the conflict.

Gov't-MILF anti-crime pact questioned after recent clashes

From the Philippine Star (Aug 15): Gov't-MILF anti-crime pact questioned after recent clashes

In this 2012 file photo, members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front pray together as they gather at their stronghold at Camp Darapanan in Maguindanao province to coincide with the tentative peace-signing agreement between MILF and the government. AP/Karlos Manlupig, File

Two bloody encounters between anti-narcotics operatives and secessionist forces the past six days again raised questions on the propriety of the government’s anti-crime cooperation pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities between the government and the MILF binds both sides to cooperate in maintaining law and order in flashpoint areas to ensure cordiality with each other.
Three members of a composite anti-narcotics unit, PO3 Darwin Espallardo, Army Cpl. Jose Miravalles and Private 1st Class Jaypee Duran, were killed on Sunday in an encounter with Moro rebels, led by Mukz Masgal, also known as "Commander Madrox," in Barangay Nabalawag in Midsayap town in North Cotabato in an operation that went haywire and sent hundreds of villagers running for their lives.
Masgal, who is facing 11 criminal cases in different courts, is a known drug lord operating a group of more than 50 people peddling methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in isolated areas in Midsayap and Aleosan towns, both covered by the government-MILF ceasefire accord.
His group was also tagged as behind the deaths of more than 20 local drug peddlers from competing syndicates in the past three years.
The interim security agreement, crafted by government and MILF negotiators in Cagayan de Oro City in July 1997, obliges the rebel group to help the police and the Armed Forces neutralize criminal gangs and terrorists through a joint ceasefire committee and an ad hoc joint action group.
So intense was Sunday’s encounter between the group of Masgal and combined agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Philippine National Police that a military artillery base nearby has to fire 105 Howitzer cannons at rebel reinforcements closing in from neighboring barangays.
Local officials said Masgal originally was a member of the MILF, but was booted out due to his involvement in criminal activities, including the collection of “protection money” from peasants in areas where his group operates and large-scale distribution of drugs and marijuana.
Sources close to him said he has been introducing himself lately as an ally of radical jihadist Imam Karialan, leader of one of two factions in the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“He (Masgal) is `big fish,’ a large-scale drug dealer,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified for security reasons.
The incident on Sunday in Midsayap, an agricultural town in the first district of North Cotabatao, was preceded by last week’s encounter between an anti-narcotics unit and a group of rogue Moro rebels, led by Manuel Ugalingan, most known as “Commander Boyet,” in Barangay Marguez in Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat.
Soldiers, PDEA agents and policemen were about to peacefully arrest Ugalingan for his drug trafficking activities, but he and his men opened fire, provoking a brief encounter.
Ugalingan was killed in the exchange of gunfire, which waned only when his companions yielded and turned in their assault rifles when they saw him fell after having been shot in the head by an Army sniper.
Ugalingan’s 11 followers who surrendered to the raiding team voluntarily turned in their assault rifles.
Senior Superintendent Raul Supiter, director of the Sultan Kudarat provincial police office, said they have separately charged the arrested suspects with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violation of the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Act.
Local officials in Esperanza said Ugalingan started as a commander in the MILF, but became estranged with his superiors in the group and eventually joined the BIFF.
The BIFF is not covered by the 1997 ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.

Roadmap to expand BTC membership

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 15): Roadmap to expand BTC membership

The MILF and GPH agreed on Sunday (August 14) on a new peace and development roadmap that includes the expansion of the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

Meeting for the first time under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Peace Implementing Panels of MILF and GPH said in a joint statement that a reconstituted BTC would be composed of 21 members – 11 to be nominated by the MILF and 10 by the GPH.

The current BTC is made up of 15 commissioners with eight including the chairman nominated by the MILF and the rest from the GPH.

A “revised executive order” is expected to be issued soon by Pres. Duterte.
The change in the number of BTC commissioners is seen as a move to “ensure inclusivity” of other stakeholders in the implementation of the signed agreements between the GPH and MILF.

The two Parties also committed to “sustain the trust and confidence” by continuing to implement deliverables under the normalization track of the signed agreements.

The Parties also agreed to meet regularly in the Philippines to ensure effective and efficient implementation.

During the opening rites on Aug. 13, dubbed as the Launching of the Implementation Phase of the Mindanao Peace Agreement between the PH and MILF, Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim introduced the members of the MILF Peace Implementing Panel which retained Mohagher Iqbal as its Chairman with Abhoud Syed Lingga, Abdulla Camlian, Said Sheik and Melanio Ulama as members.

On the GPH side, Ms. Irene “Inday” M. Santiago chairs its Peace Implementing Panel. She is joined by Undersecretary Diosita “Jojo” Andot, Undersecretary Nabil Tan, Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso, and Assistant Secretary Rolando Asuncion.

Notably present during the formal launch were Malaysian Deputy Minister of Defense Dato Sri Mohd Johari bin Baharum, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, DILG Sec. Ismael Sueno, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya and ARMM Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman.

Under the Duterte administration, I expect more success stories: Iqbal

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Aug 16): Under the Duterte administration, I expect more success stories: Iqbal

In his opening statement during the Official Launching Ceremony of the GPH, MILF Implementing Peace Panels at the Palace of Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on August 13-14, 2016, Mohagher Iqbal, Chair of the MILF Implementing Team, acknowledged the success in the peace process under former President Benigno C. Aquino III, but he “expect more success stories under the Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s Administration”.

Expressing his optimism on the success of the peace process under President Duterte, Iqbal said he has the gut feeling that the final closure of the Bangsamoro Problem or Question is in the offing. He enumerated them as follows:

First, as stated, the members of the GPH Implementing Peace Panel are mostly if not all are from Mindanao, and we are confident that they are personally committed and interested to settle this conflict without delay.

Second, Secretary Jesus Dureza, aside from being a veteran negotiator, is also from Mindanao. He has been a personal friend of long standing; in fact, during the early part of the negotiation in 1997-1998, he voluntarily offered to help the MILF on legal matters.

Third, President Duterte also hails from the same region, in fact, he has a Moro blood running in his veins. More importantly, he is not anti-Moro, and according to one of his closest friends, whom we talked to, when he commits something he fulfils it.

And fourth, his policy towards the problem and the BBL is unequivocally clear and straight from the heart, and I quote: “I would like to tell you and I’m telling now to the Republic of the Philippines, nothing will appease the Muslim, the Moro people if you do not give them the BBL".
Iqbal also mentioned the importance of trust and confidence in peace making for the fast pace and success of such an endeavor.

In his opening statement, Iqbal also said, “This launching today will formally kick-off the next phase of the peace journey from where the two Parties had left off. This specifically refers to the two-track implementation of the agreement of the Parties contained in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

The first track is the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is a unilateral responsibility of the GPH. The participation of the MILF in this internal legal process of the government is indirectly through the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) and the occasional informal meeting between the Parties’ Principals.

The second track is a bilateral implementation of all the aspects of the normalization process by both the GPH and MILF and with the participation of the international community, which journeyed with us through thick and thin over a period of many years. The stint of Malaysia, as third party facilitator, started in 2001 upon the official invitation of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who travelled to this bustling City of Kuala Lumpur on the same year to convey the message of invitation. Secretary Dureza played a prominent role in this endeavour. By any yardstick, Malaysia has delivered and surely its facilitation is considered exceedingly above par. Other international players, who brought with them their expertises, experiences, and resources, joined the process also upon the official invitation of the Parties”.

“As a process, negotiation still continues to be pursued by the Parties. Negotiation is an indispensable part of man's everyday life, because it is a method to settle differences. Without this process, man's life including those of families would be in shamble”, said Iqbal.

“That is still in every way negotiation. After all, the peace panels, the Malaysian facilitator, as well as most of the mechanisms of the peace process continue to exist until the Parties sign the "Exit Agreement" when all the agreements of Parties are implemented by them”, Iqbal also said.

He pointed out that, “The BBL, therefore, must first be CAB-compliant; meaning, it captures the letter and spirit of this agreement. But this does not mean we cannot improve or enhance the proposed law. We can revisit other agreements especially the GRP-MNLF Final Agreement of 1996 and any provision thereof that can enrich or strengthen the BBL or are not implemented can be adopted”.

“And second, the proposed law should embody the legitimate interests and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and all other residents of the proposed political entity. This inclusivity should gear more on equal opportunity and protection of the law and secondarily on representations of people or groups”.

Iqbal assured all and sundry of the firm commitment of the MILF to pursue peace with the GPH and to overcome with determination all challenges ahead of us, so that  the progress, development, and justice that are long denied to our people shall be realized soon. Certainly, it is only through a regime of peace with justice that we can ensure the peace, stability and progress of this country. It is not progress or development but repression,  oppression, and exploitation that force people, wrongly or otherwise, to resort to unwanted measures.  We see them in today's real world. They are almost everywhere.

Gov't, MILF to resume peace talks August 30 in Davao City

From Rappler (Aug 15): Gov't, MILF to resume peace talks August 30 in Davao City

Future talks between the two panels will be held in the Philippines, says Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza

Following initial formal talks on the Bangsamoro peace process between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippine government in Malaysia, the two panels will again meet on August 30 in Davao City.

Peace Process Adviser Jesus Dureza said on Monday, August 15, that the date and venue were among the details finalized during the two-day talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The joint statement released by both panels that day announced that the "venue of the next meetings will henceforth be in the Philippines with the closure of negotiations phase and the onset of the implementation stage" in the Bangsamoro peace process.

At this stage, reads the joint statement, the priority of the panels will be for the "immediate re-constitution of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission," the body in charge of drafting a law to replace the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The panels decided in Malaysia to expand the BTC to 21 members from the original 15 to allow more Mindanao-based groups to participate.

The two sides also plan to immediately hold a "joint strategic planning session" in order to better craft the new Bangsamoro law draft.

The talks in Malaysia, led by Philippine government peace panel chair Irene Santiago and MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim, ended on a "high and positive note" on August 14, said Dureza.

Army battalion leaves NIR

From the Visayan Daily Star (Aug 15): Army battalion leaves NIR
Another Army infantry battalion, composed of about 500 soldiers, moved out from Negros to Mindanao yesterday.
Col. Francisco Delfin, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday said the redeployment of 11th Infantry Battalion from central Negros to Zamboanga, was in line with the government campaign to address terrorism in Mindanao.
Last year, the 47th Infantry Battalion,  including the 302nd Infantry Brigade, was also redeployed from southern Negros to Bohol.
Aside from 303rd Infantry Brigade,  other Army units were also deployed to Mindanao, Delfin added.
There are now two Army infantry battalions left behind in Negros island, with the 62nd and 79th Infantry Battalions confronting the remnants of the New People’s Army.
Delfin, however, assured that there will be no security vacuum areas in Negros, with the redeployment of the 11th Infantry Battalion to Mindanao, adding that the 3rd Infantry Division reconnaissance companies have also been dispatched to Negros.
He said the 303IB will continue its Bayanihan Team activities as well as peace and development efforts in far-flung communities of Negros island.
The 11IB will be placed under the supervision of the Western Mindanao Command.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the soldiers to “destroy” the Abu Sayyaf, which has time and again been his articulated policy on the terrorists.

Duterte also assured his soldiers: “Leave your worries. All you ever need to face your enemy, to be in a superior position to do your war, you will have it… [even] my presidential jet, it’s yours to use as a flying ambulance. I’m will just take commercial flights.”
The Abu Sayyaf Group reportedly still holds captive about 18 people, including 14 foreigners kidnapped in separate incidents.

Coast Guard to welcome first 44-meter multi-role vessel on Thursday

From Update.Ph (Aug 15): Coast Guard to welcome first 44-meter multi-role vessel on Thursday

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will be welcoming its first 44-meter Multi-role Response Vessel built by Japanese shipbuilder Japan Marine United (JMU) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) for PCG under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

“The Philippine Coast Guard will be holding an Arrival Ceremony for its very first 44-meter multi-role response vessel from Japan on August 18 at Headquarters Coast Guard Ready Force, Pier 13, South Harbor, Manila with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade as the Guest of Honor and Speaker,” the Coast Guard said.

The MSCIP for the PCG, providing 10 44-meter Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs), was awarded to Japan Marine United (JMU) last year. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed Japanese ODA loan agreement with Philippine government to provide funding for the said project in December 2013.

The first of ten 44-meter MRRV was formally named Tubbataha, one of the lighthouses in the Philippines situated in Tubbataha Marine National Park, Palawan.

From first delivery, succeeding deliveries are expected every quarter until completion of 10 units in 2018.

AFP allotted with P130.6 billion for 2017

From Update.Ph (Aug 15): AFP allotted with P130.6 billion for 2017

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Monday submitted to Congress the proposed PHP3.35-trillion national budget for 2017, the first under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno turned over the General Appropriations Act of 2017, dubbed as “A Budget for Real Change”, to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House appropriations committee chairman Davao City First District Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles at the Speaker’s Hall, House of Representatives in Quezon City.

The 2017 budget is higher by 11.6 percent than the current year’s budget of PHP3.002 trillion. Furthermore, the proposed budget represents 20.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, higher than this year’s 20.1 percent GDP share.
In his speech, Diokno said that the 2017 budget will focus on programs and projects that achieve Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic development agenda. Of the PHP3.35 trillion proposed budget, 40 percent will be allotted for social services, 27.6 percent for economic services, and 22 percent for general public services and defense.

He noted that the budgets for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were hiked substantially to boost the administration’s war against crime, illegal drugs and terrorism.

PNP will receive PHP110.4 billion, up by 24.6 percent than in 2016, while AFP will receive PHP130.6 billion, 15 percent higher than this year’s.

Diokno also highlighted that the country’s total infrastructure spending for 2017 will increase to PHP860.7 billion, which is equivalent to 5.4 percent of the GDP, noting that the golden age of public infrastructure in this country will be realized by the end of the Duterte administration.

The Department of Education’s budget topped all the government agencies with PHP570.4 billion, a 31 percent hike compared to this year’s budget. This will help sustain the major education reform K to 12 program, in terms of classroom construction, hiring of additional teachers, and providing student assistance.

The health sector is proposed to have an allocation of PHP151.5 billion mainly for the continuation of the Department of Health’s universal healthcare program, as well as ensuring the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will receive PHP129.9 billion, which includes the PHP78.7 billion allocation for the conditional cash transfers (CCT) for 4.63 million beneficiary-families.

The subsequent budget hearings are set to commence on Aug. 22.

Tagalog News: PMA entrance exam isasagawa sa lungsod ng Dagupan sa Agosto 21

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 15): Tagalog News: PMA entrance exam isasagawa sa lungsod ng Dagupan sa Agosto 21 (PMA entrance exam conducted in Dagupan City on August 21)

Sa Agosto 21, magsasagawa ang  Philippine Military Academy (PMA) sa University of Pangasinan ng entrance examination para sa mga nais maging kadete.

Ayon sa PMA, ang naturang pagsusulit ay ang kauna-unahang hakbang sa proseso ng pagpili para sa cadetship sa premyadong leadership training school sa bansa.

Ang mga nais kumuha ng pagsusulit ay kinakailangang natural-born Filipino citizen; may taas na 5 feet; physically-fit;  may magandang asal; single at hindi pa ni minsan ikinakasal; high school graduate  kung saan ang mga nagtapos ng hayskul noong taong 2015, bago ipatupad ang K-12 program , ay maaaring mag-apply; at walang administrative o criminal case.

Ang mga papasa sa naturang eksaminasyon ay magiging bahagi ng PMA Class 2021 na opisyal na sasalubungin naman sa akademya sa isang Oath-Taking Ceremony and Reception Rites na gaganapin sa Abril 1, 2017.

Para sa mga karagdagang impormasyon, tumawag sa (074) 447-3686, (074) 447-2632 local 6751, 6752, Smart - 0928-559-7651, Sun Cellular - 0943-705-6890, Globe - 0917-896-4299 o sumulat sa Office of Cadet Admission, Philippine Military Academy, Fort Gen. Gregorio H. Del Pilar, 2602, Baguio City.

39th IB officer supports implementation of the ROTC

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 15): 39th IB officer supports implementation of the ROTC

It’s a two thumbs up for an officer of the 39th Infantry Battalion to bring back the implementation of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) to high schools.

Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa said that the ROTC is a good way in instilling t proper discipline, leadership as well as patriotism  among the  youth.

“The training could also help the younger generation get rid of illegal drugs and other vices and mold them into better persons,” Argamosa stated adding that the ROTC is also an avenue to fight recruitment activities of rebel groups.

Meanwhile, Argamosa is encouraging the local government units in the 39th IB’s areas of responsibility to include Antipas, Arakan, Pres. Roxas, Makilala, Magpet, Kidapawan City and Tulunan in North Cotabato and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat to partner with the military in protecting the youth from the influence of rebel groups.

He said that mostly, rebel groups are recruiting the youth to be part of their armed struggle.

As part of the military’s initiative in countering insurgency and recruitment, Argamosa noted that they are strengthening the conduct of the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP).

8th ID starts to accept applicants for Candidate Soldier Course

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 15): 8th ID starts to accept applicants for Candidate Soldier Course

The Philippine Army here at the 8th Infantry Division, Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, Samar  is now accepting applicants for Candidate Soldier Course, Calendar Year 2016 and 2017 starting  today, August 15 to September 26, 2016 .

Interested applicants may proceed to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1 and must bring along with them the original copy of their birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Office (PSA)with official receipt, Form 137 or Transcript of Records.

Also needed are High School or College diploma, one (1) 2x2 picture with name tag and valid identification cards.

This quota is intended only for regular enlistment, no quota for special enlistment and composed of 5% Indigenous People (IP), 10% female applicants and the rest is for male applicants.

The convening date of 1st training cycle will be on November 2016 while the 2nd training cycle is on March 2017.    
“If you are 18-26 years of age, single, never been married, never been borne or sired a child, emotionally, physically and mentally fit, at least 5 feet in height (male & female), with no pending cases in court, have passed the AFP Service Aptitude Test (AFPSAT) examination with a strong desire to serve the country and have all the needed documents for processing, you are all welcome to apply for the Candidate Soldier Course and join the Philippine Army,” said Lt. Col. Leonardo C. Dacumos, Assistant Chief of Staff for Personnel, G1 of 8ID.

For further clarifications and inquiries, contact Major Maximino P Maduli, 8th ID Recruitment Officer at telephone number 256-2199, local-3611 or call the office for personnel, G1, with mobile  Globe-09778033918/Smart-0998882134.

Army's bayanihan teams facilitate livelihood programs in AgNor towns

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 15): Army's bayanihan teams facilitate livelihood programs in AgNor towns

The bayanihan teams of 23rd Infantry (MASIGASIG) Battalion, Philippine Army in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) facilitated the awarding of certificates to barangay associations under the Bayanihan Team Activity in the municipalities of Nasipit, Buenavista and Carmen, all of Agusan del Norte on August 10-12, 2016.

A total of 69 barangay associations were given DOLE certificates recognizing their legitimacy as people’s organization in the community able to help the local government in its thrust to development and progress. They are also entitled for livelihood assistance both from DOLE and from their local government unit.

During the awarding of certificates that was held on their respective municipality, Engr. John Ritche Tangpos, head of DOLE Agusan del Norte expressed his gratitude to the bayanihan teams for facilitating in the delivery of government’s basic services and livelihood programs of DOLE to be benefitted by the less privileged people.

The awarding of certificate was attended by Mayor Norbert Pagaspas of Buenavista, Mayor Ramon Calo of Carmen and a representative from LGU Nasipit.

Joint statement of the GPH and MILF implementing panels

From the Philippine Information Agency (Aug 16): Joint statement of the GPH and MILF implementing panels

The following is the joint statement of the GPH and MILF implementing panels done on August 14 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The respective Implementing Panels for the GPH-MILF Bangsamoro Peace Agreement of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were formally launched on 13 August 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Deputy Minister of Defense Dato' Sri Mohd Johari bin Baharum graced the event in representation of His Excellency Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim were also present. The Philippine Delegation consisted of House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr., Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael D. Sueno, National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya, and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv S. Hataman.

The formal launch was also witnessed by the different stakeholders composing the global partners for peace. The members of the GPH and MILF Implementing Panels were introduced during the formal launch.

The Parties opened the first meeting of the Implementing Panels cordially and with enthusiasm to pursue approaches in forging a just and enduring peace in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

The Parties agreed on the substantive aspects of the peace and development roadmap. To ensure inclusivity in the implementation of the GPH-MILF Peace Agreement, the Parties agreed to increase the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), with 11 members to be nominated by the MILF and 10 by the GPH. For this purpose, the Panels recommended the issuance of a revised Executive Order on the Bangsamoro Transition Commission by the Philippine President.

In keeping with their firm resolve to build on the gains of the peace process so far, the Parties committed to work collaboratively and cooperatively to ensure efficient and inclusive implementation of the GPH-MILF signed agreements. The Parties committed to sustain trust and confidence between the GPH and the MILF through continued implementation of deliverables under the Program for Normalization, including the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund.

In the interest of ensuring efficient and effective implementation of the peace agreement, the parties agreed to meet regularly in the Philippines. The parties further agreed on the general principles of the Term of Reference of the GPH and MILF Peace Implementing Panels, details of which shall be further discussed.

The Parties expressed their appreciation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for his steadfast commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, to His Excellency Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak for his continued support to the GPH-MILF Peace Process, and to the members of the MILF Central COmmittee headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, for their continued commitment in pursuing a just conclusion to the Bangsamoro peace process.

The Parties also thanked the members of the International Contact Group, the Third Party Monitoring Team, the Independent Decommissioning Body, and the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, and other development partners for their solidarity and unwavering commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process. The Parties especially thanked Tengku Dato' Ab Ghafar Tengku Mohamed for his excellent facilitation and guidance in the conduct of the formal launching and first meeting of the Implementing Panels. (OPAPP)

Rebels disown statement clearing northern Samar officials from illegal drugs

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Rebels disown statement clearing northern Samar officials from illegal drugs

The National Democratic Front in Eastern Visayas has denied a news report that their group cleared the Ong political clan in Northern Samar from any involvement in illegal drugs.

In a statement, NDF Eastern Visayas spokesperson Santiago Salas said there is an ongoing investigation on the alleged involvement of key northern Samar officials in the proliferation of illegal drugs.

“Why would the Ongs go to that extent, even using NDF-EV, if they are indeed innocent and if they have nothing to fear from the Duterte government?” Salas asked.

The statement is in response to the news stories published on Aug. 8 that NDF-EV issued an official statement clearing Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong Jr, former Rep. Emil Ong, and incumbent Rep. Edwin Ong as protectors of drug traders.

On Aug. 7, President Rodrigo Duterte named former Laoang town Mayor Madeliene Ong and husband Mayor Hector Ong as among the narco-politicians in the country.

“This appears to be part of the Ongs’ well-funded media campaign since June to cover up their criminal activities, in light of the long-running exposes by NDF-EV and the Duterte regime’s own anti-drugs campaign,” the rebels added.

The Ongs denied their involvement in illegal drugs and express willingness to be investigated to clear their names.

The spokesperson called on the Duterte government to go after protectors of drug lords instead of tolerating a war against the poor by killing street level pushers.

“So long as big drug lords are treated leniently while drug victims who are poor are harshly treated and murdered, Duterte’s so-called war on drugs will never end and the poor will never be uplifted, especially without any peace talks to discuss socio-economic reforms.”

PHL Military Academy to open 39 test centers for Aug. 21 entrance exam

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): PHL Military Academy to open 39 test centers for Aug. 21 entrance exam

FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITYThe Philippine Military Academy (PMA) will open 39 test centers across the country for its entrance exams on August 21.

In Luzon, the PMA entrance exam will be held in Manila; Quezon City; Baguio City; Laoag City; Dagupan City; Bontoc, Mountain Province; Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya; Tuguegarao City; Cabanatuan City; Tarlac City; City of San Fernando, Pampanga; Olongapo City; Calapan City; Lipa City; Puerto Princesa City; Lucena City; Legaspi City; and Naga City.

In the Visayas, the tests will be conducted in Bacolod City; Iloilo City; Kalibo, Aklan; Cebu City; Dumaguete City; Tagbilaran City; Catbalogan City; and Tacloban City.

In Mindanao, the PMA examinations will be held in Davao City; Zamboanga City; Butuan City; Cagayan de Oro City; Ozamis City; General Santos City; Tacurong City; Iligan City; Cotabato City; Tawi-tawi; and Mati City.

The exams will cover Algebra and Geometry, grammar and composition, reading and comprehension, verbal and numerical reasoning and pattern analysis.

The PMA Entrance Exam (PMAEE) is the first stage in the selection process for cadetship in Southeast Asia's premier military school.

Applicants to the PMAEE should be a natural-born Filipino citizen, physically fit and of good moral character, single and has never been married, and at least a high school graduate. Those who graduated on or before 2015, before the implementation of the K-12 program, are eligible to apply.

Applicants should be at least five feet tall for both male and female; should have been born between April 1, 1995 and April 1, 2000; and should have no administrative or criminal case.

PMA cadets enjoy a full government scholarship.

This covers the salary they receive every month, initial clothing allowance, and support for the services in connection with their stay in the academy.

They will be conferred a Bachelor of Science degree and will be commissioned as 2nd lieutenants and ensigns in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Successful applicants will belong to the PMA Class of 2021, who will be officially received in the academy during an oath-taking ceremony and reception rites on April 1, 2017.

AFP to allocate site for rehabilitation center of drug dependents

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): AFP to allocate site for rehabilitation center of drug dependents
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is allocating portions of its military camps as sites of rehabilitation centers for drug dependents.

This was a result of the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's visit in military camps the past weeks. “We are just waiting for the pre-fabricated materials to put up the building,” Duterte said.

With the 600,000 drug users and pushers who surrendered to the government as of last week, Duterte said he would need a big area to put the rehab centers nationwide so that drug dependents would undergo psycho-social interventions and counseling.

Duterte was eyeing the military camps where the government could build rehab centers given the lack of rehab centers in the country that can accommodate the increasing number of drug dependents under his all-out war against illegal drugs.

Earlier Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro Lapeña said there were five regions which do not have rehabilitation centers except for privately-operated facilities.

PDEA is also looking for ways to establish drug rehabilitation centers. Lapeña said they are also considering rehab programs for “outpatient” drug dependents or those whose cases are not serious.

The fight against illegal drugs and criminality is on top of the administration’s priorities as a foundation of bringing down crimes in the country and offer better climate for business.

With barely two months of the drug campaign, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar announced that crime incidents in the country are declining.

He announced that the Philippine National Police (PNP) recorded a decline in crimes to 50,817 in July, this year, compared to the same period last year registering 56,339. Index crimes, which involves crimes against persons and property, had posted a huge 31-percent decrease, from 17,105 incidents in July 2015 down to 11,800 in July this year, according to Andanar.

Andanar said in the July 2016 crimes against property went down to 4,476 incidents, or 40.3 percent, and crimes against persons declined by 13.82 percent, or 829 incidents, as compared to the same period last year.

Duterte earlier noted that criminality is expected to go down because crimes committed are related to illegal drugs.

NDFP peace consultant for Visayas posts bail to join talks in Oslo, Norway

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): NDFP peace consultant for Visayas posts bail to join talks in Oslo, Norway

Maria Concepcion “Concha” Araneta-Bocala, peace consultant for Visayas of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), on Monday posted bail for temporary liberty in a hope to join the resumption of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP-NDF) in Oslo, Norway.

Bocala, who is also the spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) regional committee in Panay Island, posted a Php100,000 bail for illegal possession of explosives and ammunition charges at the sala of Branch 23 Regional Trial Court judge Guilljie Delfin-Lim at the Iloilo Hall of Justice.

The financial guarantee for her murder and rebellion charges is being prepared after the local courts in Aklan and Antique already granted their urgent motions to release on bail, according to Reylan Vergara, deputy secretary general of Bayan Panay in Western Visayas.

Meanwhile, Bocala said that she will bring before the attention of the peace panel issue such as high unemployment and push for subsidy for farmers, free education for students, minimum wage increase, improved social services, free hospitalization and medicines, among others.

Bocala is expected to be released on August 16. She will immediately proceed to Manila to process other legal documents and visa for her Norway trip.

Bocala is expected to return to the country and to report directly to the court after the August 20-27 peace talks.

Bocala was arrested in August 2015 in Molo, Iloilo City by joint forces of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-6).

Currently, she is detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Jaro, Iloilo City.

3,000 police, military men secure city during Kadayawan festival

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): 3,000 police, military men secure city during Kadayawan festival
Around 3,000 security forces are deployed on the streets to ensure a peaceful and orderly celebration of the 31st Kadayawan sa Dabaw festival.

Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, Police Regional Office 11 director, said security measures are now in place as the Kadayawan festivities officially kicked off Monday.

The police personnel serve as force multipliers securing the inner circles of the city during the festivities with the expected influx of visitors.

In a final coordinating conference attended by the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), Task Force Davao (TFD) Friday, Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), Central 911, Gaerlan said TFD committed more than 400 personnel from the Army’s 10th Infantry Division and another 300 soldiers from the Eastmincom headquarters.

TFD Chief Col. Henry Robinson said while their unit is directly involved in inland security through checkpoints, its personnel are also prepared for any eventuality in close coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and Maritime Police.

Robinson said only deployed security forces are allowed to carry long firearms. Politicians and other VIPs bodyguards will have to turn over their long firearms during the duration of the week-long Kadayawan celebration on August 15-21.

Meanwhile, a recently concluded drill was participated by military and police personnel including the Central 911 to intensify their roles in responding to scenarios that warrant the conduct of law enforcement and tactical operations.

Capt. Wilfredo F. Burgonio, Jr., deputy commander of the Naval Seahawk, said the exercise is a timely security preparation for the Kadayawan festivities.

There will be no let up in terms of vigilance in deterring or preempting various threats in the city, Burgonio added.

The public is also reminded not to bring umbrellas, big bags, and bottled beverages.

Dureza hails achievements of fast-paced Bangsamoro peace talks

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Dureza hails achievements of fast-paced Bangsamoro peace talks

Philippine Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza cited on Monday the new and fast-paced peace process framework between the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) aimed at ending the decades-old conflict in Mindanao.
Members of the GPH and the MILF held a two-day talk in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Aug. 13-14, which Dureza, in a statement, said ended “in a high and positive note.”

During the meeting, the MILF agreed to increase the membership of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) from 15 to 21 to include more stakeholders.

“For this we give credit to the MILF under the leadership of Al Haj Murad Ibrahim in bringing this about as their positive acknowledgement of the inclusivity and convergence approach in the roadmap of peace of President Duterte,” Dureza said.

In a joint statement Sunday, both sides said they agreed to hold the next peace process meeting in the Philippines and the focus would be on the closure of the negotiation phase and the start of the implementation stage on the work for peace for the Bangsamoro.

Reconstitution of the BTC was agreed upon also to establish an enabling law to be submitted to Congress in lieu of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which the previous Congress failed to pass.

It was also agreed upon during the meeting over the weekend that the GPH will work for the early passage of the proposed Bangsamoro enabling law with the help of the monitoring assistance of the MILF.

Other agreements made during the meeting are the establishment of both panels’ terms of reference, review of mechanisms on the ground and alignment of these vis-à-vis the evolving implementation of the phase of the peace process.

Both sides also agreed to identify the next moves toward the normalization program and to immediately hold a joint strategic planning session to better understand the legislative track.

Dureza said they have set the next panel meeting on Aug. 30 in Davao City.

”These series of fast-paced steps are in line with President Duterte's avowed commitment to quicken the pace of the peace process to bring about an early and much-needed end to conflict in the region and throughout the land,” he said, adding that these achievements were made within the first six weeks of the Duterte government.

9th ID commander Quidilla appointed SOLCOM head (Limited bio data)

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): 9th ID commander Quidilla appointed SOLCOM head

9th Infantry Division commander, Lt. Gen. Ferdinand F. Quidilla, was appointed head of the Lucena-based Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Monday afternoon.

SOLCOM is considered one of the military's security sensitive part.

Quidilla, a native of South Cotabato, took over the post from Major Gen. Romeo Gan who held the position in an acting capacity after AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya vacated it early this July.

Visaya presided over the turnover ceremony and donned new ranks to then Major Gen. Quidilla, effectively promoting him to the rank of lieutenant general at Camp Guillermo Nakar, Lucena City.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy “Matikas” Class of 1983, Quidilla earned valuable experience as a ground commander when he was designated as the Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Infantry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division.

He began his military career as a Scout Ranger, starting as a platoon leader of the 7th Scout Ranger Company, First Scout Ranger Regiment; until he became the Operations Officer of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion.

His previous command positions were as Battalion Commander of the 74th Infantry Battalion covering Bondoc Peninsula and Marinduque; and as Brigade Commander of the 402nd Infantry Brigade covering Dinagat Islands Province, Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Norte, and Butuan City.

Visaya, also a member of PMA Class of 1983, extended his congratulations to the new SOLCOM commander, referring to him as having high standards of command and leadership skills honed in their years as cadets at PMA and vast knowledge and experience as commanders in the field.

“I am confident that Lt.Gen. Quidilla’s standards and vast experience and familiarity in the SOLCOM area will help him take on greater responsibilities as an area commander and in implementing the AFP’s operational imperatives in this part of the country,” he added.

DOJ approves filing of direct assault, murder raps vs 88 MILF, BIFF, PAGs members in Mamasapano incident

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): DOJ approves filing of direct assault, murder raps vs 88 MILF, BIFF, PAGs members in Mamasapano incident

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday approved the filing of complex crime of direct assault with murder against 88 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and private armed groups (PAGs) in connection to the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident which led to the deaths of 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) along with international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, a.k.a. Marwan.

In a 55-page resolution, charged for direct assault with murder are five Commanders Abdulrahman Abdulrakman Upan, Rakman (118TH MILF), Refy Guiaman, Anife and Haumves alias Haves, operation commander of the 105th MILF Base Command and 83 others.

The DOJ said the respondents conspired with each other to engage and assault the PNP-SAF members who were trapped in a cornfield in Tukanalipao.

“The respondents acted in conspiracy, waited for each other, encircled the SAF, and shot them from all directions. Testimonial evidence shows the MILF, BIFF and PAGs knew they were engaging the PNP-SAF as early as 8am,” the resolution said.

The resolution was prepared by Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Roseanne Elepaño-Balauag, Rassendell Rex F. Gingoyon, Benito Oliver Sales III, Assistant State Prosecutors Aldrin P. Evangelista and Alexander Suarez. It was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

The DOJ added that the respondents knew that the SAF members were persons in authority who were in actual performance of their duties.

“The SAF men were in actual performance of their duty when assaulted and atrociously killed,” it said.

The respondents were identified by a witness only known by the code name 'Marathon' who was currently under the government’s Witness Protection Program and 11 others who positively identified the accused.

“We find the statements of the witnesses communicated a credible account on the occurrences they perceived on that indelible day of Jan. 25, 2015. Their categorical statements augur well for a finding of probable cause for direct assault with murder,” the DOJ resolution stated.

The witnesses said the 55th Special Action Company (SAC) maintained a defensive perimeter giving the armed men the option to continue the assault or to retreat.

But witnesses said the respondents still continued to fire shots at the SAF troopers despite knowing that they were police officers in a gun battle.

Witnesses said some of the respondents even bragged that the SAF men were no match to their fighting prowess. The troopers, 'Marathon' said already raised their arms in surrender but the armed men still shot them.

Aside from the murder charges, the respondents are also charged with theft for allegedly stealing the firearms, communications equipment, night vision goggles, cellular phones and other personal belonging of the slain SAF commandos.

But the DOJ remanded the theft charges to the National Bureau of Investigation for further investigation.

Palace calls CPP’s extrajudicial killings accusation premature

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Palace calls CPP’s extrajudicial killings accusation premature

Malacanang on Monday described as premature the accusation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that the government is involved in extrajudicial killings, prompting the rebels to withdraw its support to war against illegal drugs.

”Inhumane? E parang they are already concluding that there is being extrajudicial salvaging,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a media interview.

Last Sunday, the CPP released a statement withdrawing its support for the intensified drive against illegal drugs by the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“Police officials have brazenly carried out summary killings against suspected drug peddlers and users. Hundreds have been killed while ‘resisting arrest’ or while under custody and detention, in police cars as well as in jails,” the communist group said in statement.

”That statement would be premature because there is not at this time, any investigation showing that there has been extrajudicial killings,” Panelo replied.

He added: “As far as we are concerned, the killings are being made by drug pushers themselves, killing each other.”

According to the reports, more than 500 drug pushers and users were already killed amid the aggressive anti-illegal drug campaign of the Duterte administration.

Panelo said the government war against drug menace should be part of the discussion in the scheduled peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist group on Aug. 20-27 in Oslo, Norway.

”That is why there will be talks. That should be part of the discussion,” he said.

The Senate Committee on Justice chaired by neophyte Senator Leila de Lima is set to conducted investigation on alleged extrajudicial killings, urging President Duterte to monitor the inquiry.

Panelo said there is no need for De Lima to invite the President do watch the Senate public hearings set to start next week.

”The President watches television. He doesn’t have to be invited to watch,” Panelo reacted to De Lima’s open letter asking the President to watch the Senate probe.

Statement of PHL Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza after the end of two-day talks on the Bangsamoro in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Statement of PHL Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza after the end of two-day talks on the Bangsamoro in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Within a record time of just six weeks soon after the start of the Duterte administration, the new architecture for peace between the government and the Bangsamoro has been drawn and crafted with the initial building blocks immediately set in place by the newly launched peace implementing panels of both the Philippine government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur.

I particularly take special mention of the launching and the initial meetings of the GPH and MILF panels (ably headed by Ms. Irene M. Santiago and Mohaqher Iqbal, respectively) which ended Sunday afternoon, August 14, in Malaysia in a high and positive note.

In stride with President Duterte's call for more "inclusivity" in the Bangsamoro peace process as set forth in the new roadmap, the MILF agreed to increase the membership of the so-called Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) from the original 15 to 21 for wider participation. For this we give credit to the MILF under the leadership of Al Haj Murad Ibrahim in bringing this about as their positive acknowledgement of the inclusivity and convergence approach in the roadmap of peace of President Duterte.

In the joint statement dated 14 August 2016 released by both panels, we take special note of the following:

-- Venue of the next meetings will henceforth be in the Philippines with the closure of the negotiations phase and the onset of the implementation stage on the work for peace for the Bangsamoro;

-- The immediate re-constitution of the BTC, which is the start-up mechanism to re-craft a proposed new enabling law for submission to Congress in replacement of the failed Bangsamoro Basic Law, with an increase of its membership from 15 to 21 to allow more participation from stakeholders;

-- For the GPH to work for the early passage of the proposed Bangsamoro enabling law in tandem with the monitoring assistance of the MILF;

-- For the implementing panels to craft and determine their own Terms of Reference; to review the mechanisms on the ground; and to align them in accordance with the evolving implementation phase of the peace process;

-- For both panels to jointly work on the next steps of the normalization program; and

-- The immediate holding of a joint strategic planning session of both panels for a better understanding of the legislative track.

The next panel meeting is set 30 August 2016 in Davao City.

These series of fast-paced steps are in line with President Duterte's avowed commitment to quicken the pace of the peace process to bring about an early and much-needed end to conflict in the region and throughout the land.

Pres. Duterte warns terrorist: 'If you can do it, I can do it ten times better than you'

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15): Pres. Duterte warns terrorist: 'If you can do it, I can do it ten times better than you'

President Rodrigo R. Duterte vowed on Monday to go tit for tat with terrorists as he assured that he would never allow the Philippines to be destroyed by terrorism.

“Terrorists, like ISIS, have no political ideology, no concept at all. You maim people, you kill them, women who refuse to have sex with them, they simply burn them. We have seen a barbaric practice and even cutting throats of people in front of the world,” he said.

“Hindi ko malaman how to meet this kind, but if you do that, you bring out the worst in me. Bale tabla tayo diyan. If you can do it, I can do it ten times better than you,” the President said.

“I am not insinuating things. I am just warning you, huwag ninyong sobrahan, because I would never never allow my country to be destroyed by terrorism ... and ng droga. Di talaga ako papayag. As I said, I have put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency itself,” he added.

The President made the warning in an unscheduled speech during the oath-taking ceremony for 42 new government appointees held at Malacañang.

NO VICTORY ON GROUND ZERO | 1 month later, Scarborough fishers still affected by China blockade

From InterAksyon (Aug 15): NO VICTORY ON GROUND ZERO | 1 month later, Scarborough fishers still affected by China blockade

Almost a month after the Philippines won the arbitration case it filed to stop China's "excessive" nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea, fishermen in Zambales say they have  yet to feel the impact of that victory. The Department of Agriculture has come to their rescue, but relief is not about to happen immediately, it seems.

The UN arbitral tribunal, without ruling on who owns Scarborough, tagged it a traditional fishing ground over which Beijing had no basis for blocking fishermen of various Asian nations.

According to data from the Philippine Statistical Authority and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, commercial fish production from years 2011-2015 (in metric tons) had stood at:

2011 - 3,970

2012 - 2,944

2013 - 2,893

2014 - 2,977

2015 - 2,795

Municipal fish production for 2011-2015 (in metric tons) was at:

2011 - 12,308

2012 - 11,354

2013 - 11,354

2014 - 11,037

2015 - 10,174

These days, fish catch in Zambales province still continues to be difficult, as Chinese vessels still occupy Scarborough Shoal, a major fishing ground for Zambales fishermen and part of the West Philippine Sea.

Scarborough is considered part of the municipality of Masinloc in Zambales, and is just 124 nautical miles west of the province.

Based on a study, the area is rich in  marine resources. "The potential yield of fisheries resources in offshore Northern Zambales including Bajo de Masinloc is about 5,021.69 mt annually. [At least] 121 species from 33 fish families may be caught in its waters; among them are yellowfin tuna, skipjack and shortfin scad. Most of the tuna are caught near fish aggregating devices or payaos," said the Asian Center and Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea at the University of the Philippines

Fisherman Julius Porones used to earn up to P2,000 a day from fishing in the disputed waters, but ever since he stopped going there, after being harassed by Chinese authorities, his income is now down to just P300.

"Mahirap talaga kaya lang maghapon na lang sa dagat para kumita nang sapat. Konting tipid talaga masyado. Imbes na maganda ibigay mo sa buhay sa mga  anak mo, wala na. Dito halos sa tabi wala na rin isda. Sana makapunta uli kami sa Scarborough," said Porones.

All he wants is to earn enough for his four children, and the Department of Agriculture is lending a helping hand.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol gave Porones and some 199 fishermen in Zambales 100 motorized boats, lifevests and other fishing equipment worth almost P8-million, free of charge.

Pinol said the program is not intended to ease their pain stemming from the Scarborough issue, but he is hoping that fishermen like Porones can catch more fish  from other areas while they are still barred from Scarborough.

Aiding fishermen boost their fish catch  would also help stabilize supply while the government is rehabilitating laguna de Bay, where 36 percent of the country's fish supply comes from.

"This is part of our national program to really reach out to the poorest of the poor of this country and as you know, the  poorest of poor of this country are actually fisherfolk and the farmers," said Piñol.

He said the DA's expectation is for the beneficiaries "to catch so they'll be able to earn money and contribute to the fish supply of the country ."

For the Philippine Coast Guard, the new boats will enable fisherfolk to help them patrol the area and curb illegal fishing.

Joma ‘optimistic’

From the Mindanao Times (Aug 15): Joma ‘optimistic’

Resumption of peace talks still on the table despite differences: CPP founding chair

UTRECHT, The Netherlands – The founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is optimistic that the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) will be pursued sincerely by both parties.
With a few more days before the formal resumption of the peace talks in Oslo, CPP founding chair Jose Ma. Sison and chief political consultant of the NDFP in the peace talks with the GPH said the humps and bumps that happened in recent days were not substantive enough to affect the meeting starting Aug. 22.
At the modest office of the NDFP here in Utrecht Sison said last August 8 that he is confident Peace Secretary Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III,  the Philippine government’s (GPH) peace panel chair, share the same aspiration of laying down a peace agreement under the Duterte administration.
COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines chair Jose Maria Sison is optimistic on the resumption of the peacetalks under the Duterte administration. (ABC)
He said both expressed the intention of affirming previously signed agreements; the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees which assures the safety of the participants in the peace process.
Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte exchanged heated words, through the press, after the communist rebels attacked and killed one government militia and wounded four others, just a few days after he declared a unilateral truce with the New People’s Army.
Duterte withdrew the ceasefire and ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to resume military offensives against the rebels.
Just recently, the CPP posted a statement on its website condemning the drug war of President Duterte and the daily killings as a wanton disregard of human rights.
Although there were no preconditions to the resumption of the talks, he welcomes the efforts of the government panel to release detained NDFP consultants whose security passes were not honored by the previous governments.
The reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) was one of the points stipulated in the statement signed by both parties on June 15 this year in Oslo, Norway that also nailed the resumption of the peace negotiations. According to Sison,  both Dureza and Bello were members of the government peace panel during the signing of the JASIG in 1994.
JASIG, signed by both panels on June 14, 1994, was adopted “to facilitate the peace negotiations, create favorable atmosphere conducive to free discussions and free movement during negotiations, and avert any incident that may jeopardize the negotiation.”
Sison said one of the prominent cases of JASIG violation was that of Allan Jazmines, NDFP consultant who was with the NDFP-GPH Reciprocal Working Committee on Social Economic Reforms (CASER). He was arrested on February 14, 2011 on the eve of the resumption of the peace talks under the Arroyo administration.
Sison said the “prospects are bright for the release of the detained political prisoners” and that both sides are committed to pursue the peace talks on August 22 to 27.
Accelerated process
Sison said the accelerated process for the negotiations is a good development because all the reciprocal working committees (RWC) will be working at the same time.
“So as not to violate the sequence on the operationalization of the RWC, the working committees will be called one after the other before it is elevated to the committee,” he said, “before moving on to the next substantive agreement.”
This same sequence will be followed “in the approval of the negotiating panels and the principals.”
He said it is like three cooks cooking at the same time but only serving the course one after the other.
Talking points
Sison said that CASER “provides the meat that is materially beneficial in social and economic terms to the people.”
The next agreement on political and constitutional reforms, he said, defines “by what authority to carry out the CASER.”  These two comprehensive agreements will prepare the groundwork for the comprehensive agreement on the end of hostilities and the disposition of forces.
These four comprehensive agreements, following The Hague Declaration, fulfill the substantive requirement for a just and lasting peace, he said.
The Hague Joint Declaration was signed by the Philippine government and the NDFP on Sept. 1, 1992, which formally laid down the peace negotiation between the parties.