Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If Duterte Kicks Out U.S. Special Operators, a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

Posted to War on the Rocks (Oct 12): If Duterte Kicks Out U.S. Special Operators, a Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall (By Ryan Rockwell)


Image: Presidential Communications Operations Office

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is no stranger to controversy.  Some of his greatest hits include a pledge to kill 100,000 criminals while in office, jokes about the rape of an Australian missionary, boasts of Davao City’s “liquidation squads” while he was mayor, and even cursing Pope Francis.
Since taking office in June of 2016, Duterte’s rhetoric translated into action as he launched a “war on drugs.” According to most recent reports, his crackdown has led to the deaths of over 3,600 people.
After U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and President Obama raised concerns over the dramatic rise of extrajudicial killings throughout the country, Duterte signaled that he might overhaul what he previously called an “iron clad” relationship.
The small town mayor turned president is not interested in adhering to international norms and now threatens to break up with his treaty ally over what he views is an infringement on his country’s domestic affairs. The latest demands from Malacanag Palace include the end of the Balikatan exercises and the immediate departure of U.S. special operations forces from Mindanao. Balikatan is annual bilateral exercise between Philippine and U.S. military forces that focuses on partnership, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities. The exercise has gone on for 32 iterations and is the cornerstone of U.S. security cooperation in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, a small contingent of U.S. special operations forces continues to work with Philippine security forces in Mindanao to help advise and assist against terrorist organizations, build capacity, and provide medical expertise.
If the United States does not meet Duterte’s demands, at stake is the potential termination of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) and a potential realignment of relations with Russia and China. If this were to happen, it would rock the security architecture in Asia and U.S. strategy in the region.
Fortunately, cooler heads are likely to prevail. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has already  walked back Duterte’s comments. And while at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay provided a counter-balance to Duterte’s aggression. The main concern is over short-term effects of a rift with America’s most reliable regional partner in targeting transnational terrorism. As highlighted in Linda Robinson’s 2016 RAND report, U.S. special operations forces have worked alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) since 2002, assisting them in improving internal defense and civil-military operations capabilities. These combined efforts helped reduce the threat of transnational terrorism, militant freedom of movement, and the popularity of extremist views.
However, since the 2015 withdrawal of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), terrorism in Mindanao has instead resurged with a vigor that has not been seen in years. Before the withdrawal, Abu Sayyaf Group ’sfor-profit terrorism” was mostly contained to the under-governed spaces of the Sulu Archipelago on the islands Jolo and Basilan. But in the last 18 months, the situation in the Southern Philippines has begun to deteriorate quickly. The kidnapping and subsequent beheading of Canadian citizen Robert Hall, coupled with recent bombing in Duterte’s home city of Davao, should serve as a warning. Abu Sayyaf now exhibits a sophistication and organizational reach across all of Mindanao.
Meanwhile, mainland Mindanao was the home of other separatist movements such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a militant offshoot of the Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters, both of which provided safe haven to transnational terrorists. Some likely recall the group’s involvement in killing of 44 Philippine Special Action Force members during the raid to capture or kill one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists, the Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir (a.k.a Marawan).
With the Moro Islamic Freedom Fighters seeking to enter into the political process through the Bangsomoro Basic Law and the death of Marawan, a power vacuum exists in Mindanao. Now, Abu Sayyaf looks to garner international backing under the “black flag” movement inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As highlighted in Charlie Winter’s  War on the Rocks article, there has been increasing coordination, cooperation, and cohesion between jihadists in South East Asia and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. As early as November of 2014, the Islamic State’s official spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani, made appeals to Filipinos to resist the crusaders.
This reciprocal relationship has been exacerbated with ISIL support to Abu Sayyaf’s leader Isnilon Hapilon’s, (aka Abu Abdullah al Filipini) who, as Winter later showed, has been referred to as “the mujahid authorized to lead the soldiers of the Islamic State in the Philippines” and “the emir.”
Under the leadership of Hapilon, other extremists such as Maute Group  and Ansar Khalifah Philippines will follow Abu Sayyaf’s lead. Abu Sayaf and their cohort will capitalize on the fractured political system in under-governed spaces such as Lanao del Sur and the neglected porous border regions of the Sarangani coast to conduct more audacious attacks. If Duterte chooses to demand the withdraw of all U.S. forces at such pivotal time, we are likely to see a Islamist violence get worse in the Philippines in the coming year.
As pressure increases on ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the estimated 100 to 200 Filipino fighters will attempt to return home to help expand the “caliphate.” Given the influx of overseas foreign workers that have “broken travel” while in the Middle East, Philippine security and intelligence organizations are going to have a very challenging time tracking them. Further pressure from the Indonesian government will likely be a catalyst for increased cooperation with regional jihadist groups such as the East Indonesia Mujahideen. Simultaneously, support for ISIL will continue to grow through recruitment tailored toward jihad in the Philippines. The Philippines will see attacks in Manila’s national capital region and other major western tourist spots, such as Palawan. Failure to counter terrorism there will return the world to the time when extremists were able to use the entirety of the Mindanao to plan attacks on a global scale.
The hair-trigger decisions of Duterte only benefit extremists who hope to leverage a resurgence of violence and gain momentum towards more wicked transnational aspirations. His calls for a pullback make the U.S.-Philippine relationship weakest during a time that begs action, in a period where the long-time partners need to stand together balikatan kasama kapit bisig (shoulder to shoulder with linked arms). Cooler heads must prevail quickly or hundreds of bayani ng bansang Pililipinas (heroes of the Philippines) will have laid down their lives in vain.
[Ryan Rockwell is a captain in the U.S. Army. He is currently a graduate student at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and has served on four deployments to the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia (two to the Philippines). The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views or policies of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

AFP and PNP: Partners for peace and security

From the Business Mirror (Oct 13): AFP and PNP: Partners for peace and security

In Photo: President Duterte (fourth from left) poses with a fist bump with Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana (third from right) and Armed Forces chief Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya (third from left) at his “Talk with the Airmen” on the anniversary of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing on September 13 at the Philippine Air Force headquarters in Pasay City. President Duterte, in his first public statement opposing the presence of American troops, said he wants United States forces out of his country’s south and blamed the US for inflaming Muslim insurgencies in the region.

With similar or even interrelated missions, cooperation and partnership between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are a must.
President Duterte smiles with new National Police chief Director General Ronald M. de la Rosa (right) during the “Assumption of Command” ceremonies at Camp Crame, Philippine National Police headquarters, in Quezon City, on July 1. Mr. Duterte, who was sworn in as the Philippines’s 16th president, has given himself a colossal campaign promise to fulfill—eradicating crime, especially drug trafficking, smuggling, rape and murder—in three to six months.
President Duterte smiles with new National Police chief Director General Ronald M. de la Rosa (right) during the “Assumption of Command” ceremonies at Camp Crame, Philippine National Police headquarters, in Quezon City, on July 1. Mr. Duterte, who was sworn in as the Philippines’s 16th president, has given himself a colossal campaign promise to fulfill—eradicating crime, especially drug trafficking, smuggling, rape and murder—in three to six months.
In fact, among the agencies of the government, these two organization are inseparable, one always needing the support of the other. After all, both share the same objectives, which are to promote and secure peace and order and security in the country, and safeguard national interest.

The developments over the past months in the areas of law and order and security, notable of which are the campaigns against terrorism and illegal drugs, as well as the need to place the country under a state of emergency on account of lawless violence highlighted—if not strengthened—the level of partnership and cooperation between the policemen and soldiers.

PNP chief Director General Ronald M. de la Rosa said that, given the huge tasks and enormous challenges that the country currently faces, the PNP needs the support and full backing of the military, citing the Davao City bombing, which killed at least 14 people and wounded more than 70 others, and police operations in areas where threat groups with sizable number of members exist, as examples.
The Davao blast, characterized as plain terrorism or even narcoterrorism, created a ripple in police and military operations, with policemen and soldiers responding by working in tandem to put and man security checkpoints across the country, secure vital installations and guard areas of public convergence.

“We have a good relationship with the PNP, we support them in the anti-criminality operations, anti-illegal drugs campaign and anticorruption efforts,” said AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo, as he put into context the relationship between the two organizations under the existing state of emergency.

“Within the Armed Forces, we actively support the PNP by conducting our own internal cleansing against members who use illegal drugs by initiating random testing and dismissing those who are found using it,” Arevalo added.

Whenever there is a need, the soldiers also support the policemen even in plain anticriminality operations, with one of these necessities exemplified in Northern Mindanao, where various threat groups exist and offer stiff resistance to operating troops of the PNP.

In Sulu and Basilan, where there is currently a government campaign to end the reign of notoriety and terrorism by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other local terrorist groups, and even in other parts of Mindanao, where lawless groups also exist, the PNP and the military work in tandem to confront them.

In Sulu and Basilan, where the police need mobility and other logistical support, the AFP even backs the PNP in carrying out raids and in serving warrants of arrest against notorious criminals, members of criminal syndicates and even ASG members.

“We back and jointly work and operate with them against kidnapping and other criminal activities there,” Arevalo said.

Even before he placed the country under a state of emergency, Duterte already defined the priority mission of the AFP under his administration, and this is peace and security, necessitating the need to work in partnership with the PNP.

The President ordered the military to focus on the anticriminality campaign in support of the PNP, with emphasis on his government’s anti-illegal drugs drive and an end to the terrorism that confronts Mindanao.

The mission was made a necessity by Duterte’s goal of exterminating the illegal-drugs problem and its sponsors, peddlers and users.

Arevalo said the state of emergency further cemented the relationship between the police and the military, and has given the AFP a more active role in the areas of peace and security in coordination with the PNP.

“In the case of the Davao City bombing, we worked with the PNP to suppress lawless violence and prevented its spread in urban centers by putting up checkpoints in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of the country,” Arevalo said.

“It strengthened our partnership, as it defined our partnership,” he added, referring to the roles of the PNP and the AFP in supporting each other under the prevailing law and order and security condition.

It also applied to the conduct of mobile patrols, curfew, law-enforcement checkpoints and foot patrols.

“We have a very strong partnership with the police, and we can say we help in suppressing lawlessness and its spread,” Arevalo said, noting there has been no “untoward” incident after the Davao City bombing, which maximized the coordination and cooperation between the policemen and soldiers.

The existing level of joint operations by the PNP and the Armed Forces also lessened the existence of criminal syndicates and other crime groups, and negated their activities.

Still, Arevalo described the level of partnership between the policemen and soldiers as “basically doing each other’s job.” “And we hope to keep it intact. It is within the partnership that will spell peace and security for the country,” Arevalo said. “We are hopeful it will continue.”

Still no charges filed vs suspects in deadly Davao bombing, says DOJ

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 13): Still no charges filed vs suspects in deadly Davao bombing, says DOJ

afp arrest davao suspects bombing

Suspected terrorists involved in the Davao night market bombing last month. FRANCES MANGOSING/
The three men arrested in the bombing of the Davao City night market which killed 15 people were picked up by the authorities in connection with a kidnapping case where they were identified only as John Does, a Department of Justice official revealed on Wednesday.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong also said the suspects—TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendell Apostol Factoran and Musali Mustapha— had yet to be charged for their alleged role in the Sept. 2 explosion that wounded about 70 others.

Presiding over the start of the preliminary hearing of the case, Ong said the suspects underwent inquest at the DOJ on Oct. 7 only for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Assisted by public lawyer Ma. Elisa Jonalyn Barquez, the suspects denied involvement in the bomb attack.

The military said the three were members of the local terrorist cell Maute group, said to be a faction of the Abu Sayyaf which had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State.

“When they were brought here for inquest, the Philippine Army showed a warrant of arrest for kidnapping. When I asked where their names were on the warrant, [the Army officers] said they were included as John Does,” Ong told reporters after the hearing.

“That’s a no-no. We don’t file cases against John Does and just pick up anyone because they’re John Does,” he said. “So we disregarded the warrant of arrest.”

She also noted that the three were taken to the DOJ for inquest beyond the mandatory 36-hour period for persons arrested for a criminal offense.

Ryan Bantile, counsel of the Army and the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, admitted the suspects were not yet included in the case the government had filed in Davao City in connection with the explosion.

Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Departs Subic Bay after completing PHIBLEX 33

From the 7th Fleet Website (Oct 12): Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Departs Subic Bay after completing PHIBLEX 33

The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, departed the Philippines following Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 33, Oct. 12.  

Launched from ships of the BHR ESG, U.S. Marines trained shoulder-to-shoulder with their Philippine Marine Corps counterparts, conducting amphibious landings, live-fire exercises and airborne insertions across Luzon, the country’s largest island. For PHIBLEX 33, 1,386 personnel from five military services learned how to work better together through a series of training events.
PHIBLEX is an annual exercise held between the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to increase interoperability in order to jointly respond to natural disasters or regional contingencies.  

“Our PHIBLEX presented a wonderful opportunity to maximize integration not only among the members of the Philippine and the United States Armed forces,” said Philippine Marine Corps Brigadier General Maximo Ballesteros, exercise director during the closing ceremonies in Manila: “it further provided an opportunity for closer integration among Filipinos American and other partner nationalities of goodwill.”  

U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General John Jansen, co-director of the exercise, stressed how much U.S. and Philippine forces learned from each other.  

“Our training together as Marines makes us all better Marines, and more capable as an interoperable force that provides the capability that we might apply to our treaty obligations in the future, whether it be in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, assistance in internal security, or in other times of crisis as determined by our two great nations,” said Brig Gen. Jansen.  

Not only was the 31st MEU involved in bilateral training, they were also involved in several outreaches to the local community. Building on a longstanding tradition of humanitarian assistance in the Philippines, Navy medical professionals assigned to Marine Logistics Group 3, conducted public health training to more than 1,000 Filipino students and teachers, while practicing mass casualty response with their counterparts in the Philippine Navy.  

Sailors of the BHR ESG and Philippine Navy also exchanged expertise on beach master operations, anti-submarine warfare, beach survey operations, command and control, shipboard operations, and strengthening the two navies’ ability to operate together.  

“Seeing our two forces work side-by-side in so many mission areas exemplified the spirit of this exercise,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to train here and recognize how we grow together by exercising together.”  

ESG units include flagship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS Germantown (LSD 42), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 Reinforced.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on US alliance: Do you really think we need it?

The Economic Times (Oct 12): Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on US alliance: Do you really think we need it?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday he will not abrogate a defense treaty with the United States but questioned its importance and that of joint combat exercises, which he says only benefit America.

Duterte pressed his criticism of the United States and his country's engagement with the American military in a speech as US Marines and their Philippine counterparts ended combat drills a day early in a separate ceremony. A US general, in contrast, underscored the need for the joint drills to brace for potential crises.

Duterte, who labels himself a socialist, has had an uneasy relationship with the US and a falling out with President Barack Obama, whom he has lambasted for criticizing his deadly anti-drug fight.

Despite his constant anti-US pronouncements, Duterte said he would not abrogate the mutual defense treaty with the US but questioned the need for it.  

"I do not mean to cancel or abrogate the military alliances," Duterte said in a speech before new government officials at the presidential palace. "But let me ask you ... do you really think we need it?"

He did not clearly specify his reason for questioning the treaty alliance but said if a conflict pitting the world's most powerful nations breaks out, "there will be no more American aid to talk of." He added that when Russia annexed Crimea, "America wasn't able to do anything."

Duterte has announced he will end the joint combat exercises, which China has opposed. His defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, said he has asked Duterte for a reconsideration, and has explained to the president the importance of the approximately 28 annual joint military exercises, including three major ones that involve thousands of troops, in preparing for natural disasters and other contingencies. US military officials want to continue the joint maneuvers, Lorenzana said Friday.

Duterte, however, has remained criticial, saying Tuesday that US troops take back with them the high-tech and powerful weapons after each drill. "So what's the point?" he asked. "They're the ones who benefited, they're the ones who learned but we got nothing."

The joint drills that ended in an austere ceremony Tuesday were held in an air of uncertainty because of Duterte's warning that they would be the last under his rule.

US Marine Brig. Gen. John Jansen said the drills underscored the depth of the US-Philippine alliance "and the commitment to be there when it counts," adding both countries benefited from the exercises.

"It makes us all better," Jansen said. "It not only makes us better but more capable and effective as an integrated force that provides a capability that we might apply to our treaty obligations in the future, whether it be in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, assistance in internal security, or in other types of crisis."

A Philippine military spokesman for the exercises, Col. Ariel Caculitan, said the maneuvers ended a day early because of adjustments resulting from stormy weather forecasts among other reasons and had no connection with Duterte's criticism of the drills.

Duterte Can Cut U.S. Defense Ties, But It Would Take Awhile: Q&A

From Bloomberg News (Oct 11): Duterte Can Cut U.S. Defense Ties, But It Would Take Awhile: Q&A

** Three defense agreements can be terminated with written notice
** Duterte seen having power to scrap international treaties
Hypersensitive to criticism of his deadly drug war, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made a habit of questioning the future of his country’s longstanding alliance with the U.S.
While Obama administration officials have repeatedly stressed the strength of the relationship, here’s a look at what it would take for Duterte to follow through with his threat to "break up with America."

1. What official defense agreements are in place?

Three of them: the Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1951, the Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1998 and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014.
The Mutual Defense Treaty came into force after the U.S. granted the Philippines independence, and has been at the center of defense relations ever since. The eight-article pact -- one of seven collective U.S. defense treaties -- calls for each side to help build the ability to resist armed strikes, and “meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes" if either side is attacked.

The Visiting Forces Agreement is a longer, more detailed pact that spells out the legal details for U.S. military personnel operating in the Philippines. It covers everything from passport regulations to procedures for importing military equipment to criminal jurisdiction.

The most recent agreement is the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was reached between the Obama administration and President Benigno Aquino, Duterte’s predecessor. The pact allows for a greater U.S. presence at Philippine military bases and the construction of new facilities within those bases.

2. What are Duterte’s issues with the agreements?

Duterte has questioned whether the U.S. would defend the Philippines if China seizes disputed shoals and reefs in the South China Sea -- skepticism that has persisted in the Southeast Asian nation for decades. It’s unclear what would happen if the U.S. Congress fails to approve a military response, and whether contested territory is covered. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 1976, since declassified, states that treaty does not cover disputed areas such as the Spratly Islands.

3. Could Duterte end the agreements, and what’s the procedure?

He could, but it would take awhile. The Mutual Defense Treaty, ratified by the Senate in each nation, may be terminated one year after notice has been given to the other party. What counts as “notice" is unclear.

The Visiting Forces Agreement is seen as an official treaty in the Philippines because it was approved by the Senate, and as an executive agreement in the U.S. Either side can terminate it with 180 days notice given in writing to the other party.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement is considered an executive agreement by both sides. It has an initial term of 10 years, though it will remain in force unless either side terminates it with a year’s notice given in writing to the other party.

4. Do Philippine lawmakers need to sign off?

Not necessarily. While the Philippine Constitution requires at least two-thirds of senators to approve an international treaty, it is silent on ending them. Pacifico Agabin, a constitutional expert and former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, said the decision to end a treaty is "completely within the discretion of the president." And the public for now seems behind Duterte: His approval rating hit 86 percent in a poll released on Wednesday.

5. Has this happened before?

The Philippines has periodically reassessed its defense relationship with the U.S., which ruled the nation as a territory for nearly 50 years until independence.

The Military Bases Agreement reached in 1947, originally a 99-year deal, was revised several times to give the Philippines increased economic compensation or sovereignty, including one amendment that called for it to expire in 1991.

In the early 1990s, leaders from both countries sought to extend the pact to allow the Americans to keep what was their largest military outpost in the Western Pacific. Yet an upswell of anti-colonial sentiment prompted the Philippine Senate to reject a fresh agreement, and the U.S. closed all of its bases by 1992.

Fidel Ramos turns critic to salvage Philippines-US ties

From the Straits Times (Oct 12): Fidel Ramos turns critic to salvage Philippines-US ties

Ex-president's concern comes in wake of Duterte's anti-US barrage

Three in five Filipinos may have given their new President's performance the thumbs up, but the one person whose approval Mr Rodrigo Duterte craves has rated his government a "huge disappointment and letdown".

Former president Fidel Ramos, whom Mr Duterte credits for handing him the presidency, said the government was "losing badly" by prioritising a war on drugs at the expense of issues such as poverty, living costs, foreign investment and jobs.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella played down Mr Ramos' comments, saying the 88-year-old was just "acting like a father" and a "senior statesman".
Mr Ramos (left) called Mr Duterte's government a letdown, questioning the priority it has placed in its war on drugs.
Mr Ramos (left) called Mr Duterte's government a letdown, questioning the priority it has placed in its war on drugs. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Duterte has spoken often of his respect for Mr Ramos, who was president from 1992 to 1998.

It is unclear why Mr Ramos has chosen to criticise Mr Duterte now. But analysts suggest that he may be putting his foot down to salvage ties with Washington frayed by Mr Duterte's almost daily barrage of expletive-laced insults at Manila's longtime ally.
Mr Duterte last week told US President Barack Obama to "go to hell", just a month after calling him a "son of a whore".
Mr Duterte has said he wants US special forces who are helping to fight Islamist militants in the Philippines' troubled south to leave because their presence there is complicating his efforts to forge peace with Muslim secessionists.

Lately, he has declared the Philippines will stop joint war games and patrols with the US in the South China Sea while he is President. He said yesterday in a speech before new government appointees: "I do not mean to cancel or abrogate our military alliances. But let me ask you, do you really think we need it?"

He has chafed at US criticisms of the more than 3,500 extrajudicial killings, both by police and vigilantes, that have blighted his war on drugs. He has threatened to sever ties with the US, as he pitches for an "independent" foreign policy anchored on forging new alliances with China and Russia.

In a Sunday editorial in the Manila Bulletin newspaper, Mr Ramos called this policy disconcerting. "Are we throwing away decades of military partnership, tactical proficiency, compatible weaponry, predictable logistics and soldier-to-soldier camaraderie, just like that? On DU30's say-so???" he said. DU30 is a popular acronym for Mr Duterte.

Mr Ramos, a former police general, was among those who led a US-backed popular revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. He is a graduate of West Point, the US Military Academy.

Calling Mr Ramos the Americans' "top dog" on Monday, the Communist Party of the Philippines said he is "now set to lead the pack to consolidate the pro-US camp of reactionaries to put greater pressure on the Duterte regime to backtrack on its promotion of an independent foreign policy".

Mr Noel Medina, a political analyst with the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, said that Mr Ramos, though pro-US, "is a practical thinker". "He really thinks Duterte is overdoing his attacks on the West and the US, and that it is unnecessary."

Asked if Mr Ramos has the gravitas to sway Mr Duterte, Mr Medina said: "We'll have to wait and see how Duterte responds. If it's just his spokesman talking, that means this is being settled internally, and Duterte is responding favourably. But if Duterte himself reacts publicly and attacks Ramos, then we'll know where he stands."

He added: "But Ramos, this early, is too precious an ally to sacrifice or to attack."

Left will be a reliable Duterte ally, says NDFP’s Jalandoni

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Oct 12): Left will be a reliable Duterte ally, says NDFP’s Jalandoni


The Left will be a reliable ally of President Duterte in protecting Philippine sovereignty and patrimony, a senior communist leader said on Monday.
Luis Jalandoni, a senior adviser to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), said Mr. Duterte’s criticisms of US intervention could lead to threats that might affect the stability of the Philippines.

“The Left will be a reliable ally to the Duterte administration in fighting against US imperialist threats and other antipeople forces,” Jalandoni said.

The Duterte administration and the NDFP concluded a second round of peace talks here on Monday, with high hopes of prisoners of war being released and a bilateral ceasefire being signed this month.

 Mr. Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, rants almost daily against the United States, United Nations and European Union because of their criticism of his brutal war on illegal drugs.

He has said this week’s joint military exercises with the United States would be the last of his presidency. He has also threatened to expel US forces from Mindanao and to sever relations with the United States and seek closer ties with China and Russia.

US defense officials have dismissed Mr. Duterte’s statements as “all bluster.”

The Pentagon chief, Ash Carter, said last week that the US security commitment to the Philippines remained “ironclad.”

Breakthrough with arrest of militants

From the New Straits Times (Oct 13): Breakthrough with arrest of militants (By Noel Tarrazona)

THE recent arrest of one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf group involved in the kidnapping of 21 European tourists in Pulau Sipadan, Sabah, in 2000 will be a key victory for the Philippine government, particularly in deterring future kidnappings.

Abdul Latip Talanghati, who has a US$110,000 (RM440,000) reward on his head, was arrested along with his companion, Albashrie Talanghati, in St Barbara district of Zamboanga City. Police served them warrants of arrest for kidnapping and illegal detention for ransom.

The Abu Sayyaf sub-leader, who has been hiding for 16 years, had evaded military operations in Basilan and Sulu.

Found in their possession were a 450g high-explosive bomb, detonating cord and time fuse.

They are believed to be planning to use those explosives in the city when it is celebrating a month-long festival that normally gathers thousands of visitors.

Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s ultimate order to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf, it received a boost after recently taking a US$1.1 million ransom in exchange for their Norwegian captive, Kjartan Sekkingstad.

A few days earlier, three more suspected Abu Sayyaf members, who were in their 20s, were arrested in Canelar District of Zamboanga City after police learned that they were in possession of explosives intended to attack the night market festival in the downtown area.

Police spokesperson Rogelio Alabata told the local media that the arrest of Talanghati was part of the government counter-terrorism campaign after receiving intelligence reports that Abu Sayyaf bomb experts were in Zamboanga and plotting to attack the month-long festival.

While Duterte’s military offensives have killed 75 Abu Sayyaf members since he assumed the presidency in July, intelligence reports revealed that the Abu Sayyaf has also been expanding massively.

Since 2012, the group has raked in at least US$10 million in ransom and extortion activities.

Counter-terrorism analyst Rommel Banloi, executive director of the Philippine’s terrorism and violence think tank, was quoted by local media as saying that Abu Sayyaf has used the money to buy arms, pay off members, hire recruits and bribe community elders to turn a blind eye to their crimes.

The amount is also more than enough for the 400-member terrorist group to live a luxurious lifestyle.

“They simply realised that kidnap-for-ransom activities are an enterprise to finance their movement,” said Banloi, who was quoted by a national broadsheet.

Zamboanga and some areas in Mindanao remained on high alert after receiving reports that the Abu Sayyaf will resort to diversionary tactics because of the ongoing military pressure on their lairs in Basilan and Sulu.

Earlier, Duterte announced that he is sending his defence secretary and other military technical personnel to Russia to explore the possibility of buying weapons to crush the Abu Sayyaf.

Duterte made this announcement after the terror group beheaded their Canadian captives, which caught the attention of the international community.

The military also found a new ally in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under the leadership of sub-commander Abraham Joel.

The group is using their familiarity of the Sulu sea and terrain to help the armed forces pursue the Abu Sayyaf. Duterte and MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari are also known to be close friends.

The Abu Sayyaf started as a religious youth group in the early 1990s, but later transformed into a bandit movement involved in pirating, kidnapping and extortion.

It is one of the most notorious terrorist groups in Southeast Asia, victimising citizens from Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Canada, the United States, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

[Noel Tarrazona, a graduate school management lecturer in the Philippines, contributes to the ‘New Straits Times’]

DSWD welcomes Lakbayan 2016

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): DSWD welcomes Lakbayan 2016

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Wednesday that the DSWD Central Office gives its full support to members of Lumad and indigenous people’s communities from all over Mindanao and Luzon as they hold the 2016 Lakbayan.

DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo on WEdnesday said that some 3,000 Lumad and 500 indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, Central Luzon, and Southern Luzon have journeyed by bus and ship to get to the National Capital Region (NCR) where they intend to conduct a series of cultural activities as well as fora and symposia to inform the public regarding their plight.

Taguiwalo added that the Lumads also wanted to seek the Duterte administration’s support for their struggle to recover their ancestral lands taken over by the military and mining operations of foreign and local companies.

Se also said that the University of the Philippines (UP) would again host the Lakbayanis as it did last year. They will all be staying in the UP grounds for the entire length of their stay in the NCR.

The Kampuhan in UP Diliman will be from Oct. 12 to Oct. 28.

The Lakbayan delegates come from Lumad, Moro, Igorot, Aeta, Mangyan and Agta groups. They are on their way to Metro Manila to join this year’s Lakbayan, which will feature cultural events and learning workshops.

“We warmly welcome our brothers and sisters among the Lumad, especially the young folk and the elders. We fully support their struggle to recover their land and to resist the destructive effects of militarization in the countryside and the irresponsible operations of mining companies that encroach upon Lumad ancestral lands,” said Taguiwalo.

The DSWD will hold a dialogue with the Lumad in their campsite in UP from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Oct. 20. Taguiwalo said the intention was to consult with the Lumad on what assistance the DSWD as well as other government agencies could provide them.

“We want to help the Lumad, but they will be the ones to tell us exactly what kind of assistance they want and need. At the onset, we are well aware that they want their children to receive some kind of formal education apart from the traditional education they receive in their own communities. We have already announced earlier that we are coordinating with the Department of Education (DOH) on building 251 schools for Lumad children in Mindanao,” she said.

For instance, earlier in August, DSWD-Caraga reported that it has begun to construct 198 classrooms in sitios (sub-village) and barangays (village) in highland communities in northeastern Mindanao.

The classroom projects are under the DSWD’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Classroom Construction for Lumad.

Taguiwalo expressed hope that the DSWD and other government agencies will be able to give additional assistance to the Lumad after the dialogue. She said that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself has declared his full support for the Lumad and gave instructions to his cabinet secretaries to give what assistance they can to the Lumad so they can resume their normal lives and even improve them as they themselves see fit.

House body commends Goldberg for enriching US-PHL ties

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): House body commends Goldberg for enriching US-PHL ties

The House of Representatives on Wednesday conferred the Golden Mace award on outgoing United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg for enriching the ties between the US and the Philippines.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, together with Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, bestowed the award upon Goldberg during Wednesday’s plenary session.

In a press conference, Goldberg expressed his gratitude for the House commendation and remained optimistic that the great alliance between the two countries will continue.

"It is a great honor for me but mostly a great honor for my country. And mostly, it represents the great friendship, the great partnership, the great alliance between our two countries," Goldberg said.
"It's an alliance that has endured and will endure," he added.

No more military exercises next year – President Duterte

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 12): No more military exercises next year – President Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte insisted on Wednesday that there will be no more military exercises between the Philippines and the United States next year.

President Duterte made this statement during the 115th Anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard in its headquarters in Port Area in Manila.

”There will be no more exercises next year. I told Defense Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana, do not make preparations for next year. I do not want it anymore. I will chart an independent foreign policy,” Duterte said.

President Duterte, however, clarified that the Philippines will not break its alliance with the United States.

”We need not really, you know, break or abrogate existing treaties because they say that it could provide us with the umbrella,” President Duterte said.

,”I ask you frankly, give me your answer from your rank. We will maintain our military alliance because I said, they say, that we need it for our defense,” he added.

President Duterte had previously said the US-PHL military exercise this month will be the last.

MILF: FBCSO conducts another orientation dialogue on Federalism and BBL

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 12): FBCSO conducts another orientation dialogue on Federalism and BBL

Another orientation-dialogue on Federalism and the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) was conducted anew at Pidtaman Social Hall, Barangay Magatos, Kabacan, North Cotabato last October 9, 2016.

The program was attended by more than four hundred individuals who are supportive of the advocacy programs of the North Cotabato Development Services Agency, Inc. (NOCODESA) in partnership with the Federation of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (FBCSO).

Datu Sambuto Pidtamanan, a community leader delivered the opening remarks while the welcome address was delivered by Datu Rex Pidtamanan, Barangay Chairman of Magatos. The Chairman of Halal Foods, Engr. Toto Laguialaot, acknowledged the participants.

Shiekh Abdulhadie Gumander of Homeland Media Agency (HMA) gave the Islamic perspective and expounded his deliberation on the wide understanding and moderation in action as guided by Islamic ways of life. He quoted, “And it would also be the people’s chance in achieving peace and unity in order to stay away from being extremist and fundamentalist”.

A short message was given by Shiekh Mubarak Dumato, a staff member of FBCSO and HMA administrator.

Prof. Abdullah Salik, Jr. who led the group discussed about Federalism and the BBL. Jun Salik emphasized that countries with federal form of governments are way progressive than those that are not.  He stressed that the realization of the Bangsamoro would rely in the full implementation of the peace agreements most notably the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the GPH and the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF).

Jun Salik underscored the enactment of congress of the original version BBL crafted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that will implement the CAB.

Mr. Nas Pulindao, FBCSO Deputy President gave updates on the Bangsamoro and their struggle. He pointed out that for one to become a true Mujahid, one must be a true Muslim, determine, sincere, physically and mentally strong.

Pulindao explained that the peace agreements signed by the GPH and the MILF are the basis in enacting a law on the creation of the Bangsamoro.

 “The situation in the Bangsamoro homeland will not normalized unless an enabling law for the establishment of Bangsamoro Region is enacted”, Pulindao told the participants.

A similar orientation-dialogue on Federalism and BBL was also conducted in Barangay Elian, Datu Saudi, Maguindanao last October 2, 2016 participated by 487 individuals  with the presence of the Barangay Chair who supported the event. She welcomed the guests and participants representing various organizations.

Abdulaziz Kulodan, President of Bangsamoro Farmers and Relief Association (BAFRA) and Association of Qur-anic Teachers and Students gave the opening remarks.

The orientation-dialogue in Magatos, Kabacan and Elian, Datu Saudi encouraged the participants to give their support to the advocacy programs of FBCSO and other organizations and institutions to sustain the gains of the peace process as noted during the sharing of ideas between the participants and the resource speakers.

MILF: CenMin cluster Bangsamoro CSOs, sectoral leaders support peace process under Duterte admin

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 12): CenMin cluster Bangsamoro CSOs, sectoral leaders support peace process under Duterte admin
The Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and sectoral leaders from Central and Southern Mindanao who attended in a consultation-workshop declared their support to the continuation of the peace process in the Bangsamoro between the Bangsamoro Fronts and the new administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The assembly participants who gathered at El Bajada Hotel in Davao City on October 5-7, 2016 were comprise the regional conveners of the Bangsamoro Platform for Unity, Solidarity and Harmony (BM-PUSH).
The delegates who came from the provinces of Maguindanao, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Sarangani, South Cotabato and the cities of Cotabato, General Santos, Mati, Tagum and Davao included the Moro Fronts, sultanates, Ulama, youth, women, academe and community leaders.
In the two-page declaration of support, the assembly participants expressed appreciation to the involvement of local and international NGOs to work towards the realization of peace unity and development in the Bangsamoro and the intervention of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in bringing the MILF and MNLF together towards forging a joint effort in addressing the general welfare of the Bangsamoro.
The Assembly declared support to the continuation of the peace process between the Bangsamoro Front and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) under the Duterte Administation and to the enhancement of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by the reconstituted and expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).
Further, the participants expressed support to the on-going call of the Bangsamoro civil society groups for the unity and solidarity among the Bangsamoro leaders towards working a unified and enhanced political proposal for the Bangsamoro.
Likewise, they declared support to the implementation and recommendation of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission  (TJRC) in addressing legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro, correcting historical injustices committed against the Bangsamoro and other indigenous peoples, and addressing human rights violations and marginalization of Bangsamoro due to land dispossession.
Moreover, the delegates affirmed the importance of the gains of the past peace agreements from the Tripoli Agreement  of 1976, the Final Peace Agreement in 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro of 2015.
For the betterment of the Bangsamoro, they committed to relentlessly pursue the call for unity and solidarity among leaders, raise consciousness of the different sectors and organizations of the Bangsamoro society on the importance of unity and the on-going peace processes and reach out to the different stakeholders and communities of the Bangsamoro to build constituencies for unity and solidarity and support to the peace processes.
Further, the delegates committed to engage in sustained intra-dialogue and consultations with the various stakeholders of the Bangsamomoro on important issues that directly or indirectly affect their lives.
The event was facilitated by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
MILF Implementing Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal, USec. Diosita Andot from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and MNLF Spokesman Randolf Parcasio graced the event.
The CBCS said there will be two more similar regional consultations before the one Mindanao-wide
in November 20-24, 2016.

MILF: MILF Chair receives Independent Decommissioning Body in Camp Darapanan

Posted to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website (Oct 12): MILF Chair receives Independent Decommissioning Body in Camp Darapanan      

MILF Chairman Alhaj Murad Ebrahim met with the officers of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) on October 5 at his office in Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

Currently chaired by retired Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Pulat, the IDB is the mechanism established by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and MILF negotiating panels and tasked to oversee the decommissioning of MILF weaponry and combatants.

Pulat expressed gratitude for the MILF’s warm reception and briefly introduced his team with its Chief of Staff Asbjorn Lode.

The IDB is seven-man team which includes two other foreign experts and four other local experts nominated by the GPH and the MILF panels.

After a brief opening remarks of Central Committee Secretary Mohammad Ameen, Chairman Murad Ebrahim started his updates by  conveying  thanks  to IDB.

He began with mentioning the ceremonial launching of the start of engagement with the new administration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last August 13-14, 2016.

“We hope that the peace process will continue and be concluded in this administration,” Chairman Ebrahim said. He then informed the group of the renaming of the Peace Negotiating Panel to Peace Implementation Panel since the present administration agreed that the negotiation has already been completed, and now the focus will be on  the implementation.

While still counting on the pronouncements of  President Duterte that the peace process will be given a chance, and Bangsamoro question be addressed, the MILF  on the other hand sees  challenges. Said challenges are posed by other agenda of the administration, thus diverting its focus on others issues.

Nevertheless, Chairman Ebrahim said that the MILF remains optimistic that the peace process woud not be sidelined for only in the negotiated political solution do they see  peace with justice.
Matters about the normalization mechanics were also taken up.

Ambasador Pulat said  Bangsamoro should not be disheartened by the progress of events both locally and internationally, citing the case of the referendum in Colombia where a peace agreement was defeated.

Pulat succeeded on October 20, 2015 his fellow Turkish Ambassador Haydar Berk who led the team that was instrumental in guaranteeing a smooth decommissioning of the initial 145 MILF combatants and 75 crew-served and high powered armaments in July 2015.

NDF: Second round ends with some progress but uncertainties remain

Propaganda statement posted to the National Democratic Front Website (Oct 10): Second round ends with some progress but uncertainties remain  

NDFP Media Office
Press Release

The second round of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations ended with some progress but uncertainties remain that serve to dampen the initial optimism on the part of the NDFP negotiators and consultants. There is now growing uneasiness and impatience among the NDFP delegation over the snail’s pace in the steps being taken to effect the release of the remaining political prisoners despite repeated promises and assurances coming from the GRP panel.

There are more than 400 political prisoners still languishing in various jails nationwide. The issue of their continued detention came up early in the talks as the new NDFP Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili cited the pledge made by President Rodrigo Duterte himself last May to issue an amnesty proclamation to speed up their release. So far, the GRP has released only 22 political prisoners, most of them NDFP consultants. There have been no other releases since August.
In response to the appeal from GRP Panel Chairperson Silvestre Bello for patience, Agcaoili said that if the GRP could effect the speedy release of the 22 JASIG-protected NDFP consultants why the seemingly excruciating difficulty in releasing the rest of the political prisoners?
Under pressure from the consistent pressing of the NDFP on this issue, the GRP Panel once again promised “to do their best”. But cynicism is now growing among some of the NDFP negotiators and consultants as well as among the remaining political prisoners on account of so many unfulfilled promises.
Aside from the issue of political prisoners, reports have been coming in from the field about continuous military operations by AFP forces in NPA territory. According to NPA commands from various regions, the reason why there has been no firefights so far is mainly because NPA forces have been maneuvering to avoid armed encounters. But tensions are rising because the AFP military operations appear more and more to be taking the form of base-denial operations targeting the mass base of the NPA.
According to NPA national spokesperson Jorge Madlos, “All NPA units have strictly abided by its own unilateral ceasefire declaration. Aside from maintaining defensive posture, NPA units are conducting counter-maneuvers to avoid armed skirmishes with the AFP.” But not a few NPA units are having difficulty holding back amid threats from the AFP in its counter-insurgency intelligence operations, Madlos said.

From Northern Luzon to Southern Mindanao, Madlos claimed, there were reports of AFP units telling civilians that the ceasefire is no longer in effect to justify their operations and presence in their communities. The NPA’s Agustin Begnalen Command based in Abra said the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion have been telling civilians in Sallapadan town that the ceasefire has ended.

Madlos said the AFP has yet to observe the advice of President Duterte to be friendly to the NPA adding that the AFP continues to conduct hostile operations against the NPA, “even using the drug campaign as pretext to conduct anti-NPA operations.”

In one instance, when confronted by peasants on why the soldiers were continuing with military operations despite the GRP ceasefire, the AFP officer leading the operation reportedly answered that they would then have nothing else to do adding that the NPA would not attack them anyway because the NPA has declared its own ceasefire. To have a stable ceasefire AFP forces must “return to barracks” at the level of the battalion headquarters.

In addition, reports have come in regarding political assassinations and attempted assassinations of leaders of people’s organizations such as the case of the secretary general of the Compostela Valley Farmers Association (CFA), Jimmy Saipan, who was killed in cold blood by two motorcycle riding gunmen yesterday, October 10. Saipan was a Lumad anti-mining activist opposing the exploration by the Agusan Petroleum Mineral Corp. in 12,000 hectares of Lumad lands. The CFA has also been conducting dialogue with the 66th IB for the latter to stop occupying their community. The AFP has falsely accused the CFA as a communist front organization.

Showing some impatience, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison and the NDFP Panel Chair Fidel Agcaoili have served notice to the other side that continued non-compliance on the issue of the remaining political prisoners can have serious consequences in the continuation of the current ceasefire and forward movement in the peace negotiations as a whole. On the other hand, compliance will boost the prospects for forging a bilateral ceasefire agreement and acceleration of the peace process.

There has been some progress in the work of the RWCs-SER, RWGs-PCR and RWGs-EHDF with agreements reached on their respective common framework and outline for the tentative draft agreements that are to be fleshed out in later rounds.

The Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms RWC-SER took the longest to come up with a common framework and outline. NDFP negotiators sensed an apparent attempt on the side of the GRP to confine the discussion to existing programs of government agencies as the “solutions” without first arriving at a well thought-out understanding of the problems. This prompted NDFP RWC-SER head Juliet de Lima to remark that this was “putting the cart before the horse.”

A great chasm between the two sides exists in the appreciation of what the NDFP considers the age-old problems of rural landlessness and poverty due to the persistence of feudalism, and the absence of real industrialization that has failed to create jobs resulting in massive unemployment which forces 2,000 Filipino workers to go abroad every day to seek for work. Previous government programs have consistently failed to address the problems of rural poverty and urban mass unemployment precisely because these have been based on a superficial and faulty analysis of the deeply-seated problems.
The panels agreed to meet again in the third week of January 2017 in a foreign neutral venue with many uncertainties remaining to haunt the peace process.


NDFP Media Group

Dan Borjal

CPP/Ang Bayan: Socio-economic reforms at the core of the talks

Ang Bayan propaganda article/video posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 7): Socio-economic reforms at the core of the talks

The negotiations on socio-economic reforms is the meat of the peace talks. Thus said Alan Jazmines, vice chairperson of the Reciprocal Working Committee for Socio-economic Reforms (RWC-SER), last October 5, on the eve of the resumption of the second round of peace talks which will end on October 10 in Oslo, Norway.

Last October 6, Jose Maria Si- son, senior consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), expressed that it is premature to talk about laying down of arms on the second round of negotiations. Moreover, both panels have to discuss the outline of the negotiations first, especially CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms), to see its benefits for the Filipino people.

After almost two decades and two major world economic crises, the two panels need to discuss a key crisis-protection agreement, said Jazmines.

The NDFP draft for this agenda has already been prepared since 1998. In light of the worsening crisis brought by neoliberal policies, the revolutionary movement updated the CASER draft. “However, land reform and national industrialization is still the main content of our proposal because of these twin economic development strategies’ proven resilience to the crisis of globalization,” Jazmines added.

“While we expect lively and contentious discussions on CASER, we also hope that both parties are strong-willed enough to overcome differences in order to solve the armed conflict at its roots,” said Randall Echanis, member of RWC-SER.

In line with this, the NDFP clarified that laying down of arms will not be discussed in the second round of peace negotiations.

Based on the agenda outline in the ongoing talks, democratic rights and welfare of the people come first while discussion on the disposition of armed forces will be on the final leg.

“If oppression and exploitation persist, why should the revolutionary government surrender?” asked Sison.

The NDFP also reminded GRP of its obligation to release political prisoners. This is the response to GRP panel chairperson Silvestre Bello’s statement that amnesty will only be given after negotiations.

According to Comrade Luis Jalandoni, amnesty for more than 500 political prisoners who are listed by the NDFP had already been agreed upon by both parties in the first series of talks last August. It will also be in compliance with the previously signed agreements— Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Both parties agreed to submit the prepared draft to GRP President Duterte.

Also, last October 6, the NDFP national leadership announced the resignation of Jalandoni as chair of its panel. He will serve as senior adviser to the talks. Fidel V. Agcaoili will replace him as the new Chairperson. Benito Tiamzon was named as a new panel member.

CPP/Ang Bayan: Remembering the Balangiga Uprising

Propaganda article from the October 7 edition of Ang Bayan posted to the Communist Party of the Philippines Website (Oct 7): Remembering the Balangiga Uprising

On September 28, the country commemorated the 115th anniversary of the successful mass uprising against US occupation troops in Balangiga, Eastern Samar. In this occasion, the National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas (NDF-EV) welcomed GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand against US intervention in the Philippines.

According to Fr. Santiago “Ka Sanny” Salas, spokesperson of the NDF-EV, they are ready to enter into a tactical alliance with the Duterte government within the framework of the on-going peace negotiations. They look forward to fruitful peace negotiations with the Duterte government to achieve socio-economic reforms that will include ending US neoliberal control of the Philippines.

Townsfolk commemorate the Balangiga Uprising at the town’s annual fiesta where the youth re-enact the events on the encounter site. This refreshes the people’s consciousness of the victory they achieved through their unity and struggle.

“The Balangiga uprising was a victory for patriotic Filipinos, and the so-called ‘Balangiga massacre’ wasn’t committed by Filipinos but by US troops who in revenge killed up to 50,000 people in the town and the rest of Samar,” said Fr. Salas. “In that light, we cite the Balangiga uprising as additional historical support for GRP President Duterte’s calling attention to US atrocities in Mindanao during the Filipino-American War and afterwards,” he added.

Struggle of the Balangiganon

It was on August 11, 1901, when troops of Company C, 9th U.S. Infantry occupied Balangiga. They encamped at the plaza, used public buildings and the church, molested women, forced the people to work for them, and prevented them from performing their own livelihood. They imprisoned 143 Balangiganon men in wooden pens and forced them to sleep standing in the rain, and the women allowed to bring in only drinking water. The few who got sick were replaced with new prisoners.

By early morning on September 28, 1901, two groups of men in women’s clothing had positioned themselves in the church and near the soldiers’ mess hall, with bolos and daggers hidden in the folds of their skirts, inside a coffin, and within bamboo tubes used for carrying water.

They launched the attack when church bells began pealing at five o’clock in the morning, joined by the other residents who used bolos, knives, pickaxes, clubs and other tools against the American soldiers’ Krag rifles. They slashed the ropes of the kitchen tent where the soldiers were eating breakfast and hacked those who were caught inside the collapsed roof. Forty-four to 48 American soldiers were killed and the remaining more or less 20 wounded fled aboard a boat. The Filipinos seized 100 rifles and 28,000 rounds of ammunition from the Americans.

Although some soldiers were able to fight back, killing 28 Filipinos, the Balangiga Uprising is recorded in history as one of the US’ worst defeats in a single battle in the Philippines. Until now, official documents of the US government remain silent on the actual number of casualties in this battle.

The Company G of the 9th Infantry sent reinforcements with machine guns and cannons, but the organized townspeople had already deserted the town. Twenty barrio folk who were caught in the town’s periphery were brought to the plaza, doused with petroleum and set on fire. All houses were also burned.

The American troops took the church bells as war booty. Two of these are presently on display at the Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while one is in South Korea. The US government refuses to let the bells go despite many appeals to return the bells to the people of Balangiga.

US troops’ policy of atrocity

Atrocity is an official US government policy against the Filipino people. US Pres. Theodore Roosevelt himself ordered the “pacification” of the Philippines which was implemented by Gen. Jacob Smith in Samar. In retaliation for their severe defeat, the general ordered his men to kill and burn, to turn Samar into a “howling wilderness” so that “even birds could not live there.” Males above ten years old were ordered massacred and whole towns were burned down.

The escaped priest who rang the bells was hunted down till he was captured in Tanawan, at the adjoining province of Leyte. He was brought to Calbiga, Samar, where he was tortured together with other arrested priests of Catubig and Basey towns, where similar uprisings had been staged.

This policy of atrocity was echoed in other parts of the country. Brig. Gen. James Franklin Bell ordered to turn Luzon into a “desert waste” where tens of thousands of people were massacred, numerous towns were razed and hamletted, especially the whole Batangas and Laguna provinces. This was reflected in turn by Gen. Hughes’ campaign of massacre and burning in Iloilo and Capiz in Panay where women, children, and elderly people were wantonly killed.

Continuing atrocities and resistance

US imperialism’s policy of aggression and atrocity continue today not only in Balangiga or the Philippines but all over the world, including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and others.

The NDF-EV called upon the people, especially the youth, to take a patriotic stand against US imperialism and fight for national freedom and democracy. “Let us continue the unfinished revolution of our revolutionary ancestors who rose up against US troops in Balangiga. Join the New People’s Army to defend the motherland against US imperialism, fascism and all reaction.” Salas declared.

PHOTOS | Mindanao caravan for peace reaches Naga City

From the often pro-Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) online publication the Davao Today (Oct 11): PHOTOS | Mindanao caravan for peace reaches Naga City 

NAGA CITY, Philippines – Thousands of indigenous and Moro people from Mindanao crossed San Juanico Bridge on Sunday, October 9 for the national minority caravan to highlight their calls for peace.

At least 2,000 Lumad and Moro from all over Mindanao marched in Naga City and converged at the Plaza Quezon for a solidarity night hosted by local human rights groups.


Vince Casilihan of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Bicol Region lauded the cause of the caravan, saying that the power rests on the people, and not on elected officials.

“All Filipinos, Christians, Lumad or Moro must assert their rights, because we are the government, not the elected officials,” Casilihan said.


Delighted with the show of support Datu Jomorito Guayno, chairperson of Kalumbay, a regional organization of indigenous peoples in Northern Mindanao reiterated their objective in joining the caravan.


“For as long true freedom and democracy is not achieved, as long as the government does not respect the rights of the indigenous peoples to their self determination, we will continue our fight, Guayno said.


The caravan, dubbed as the National Journey of National Minorities for Self Determination and Just Peace will be moving to Santa Elena in Camarines Norte and will stay inside the University of the Philippines Los Baños campus. The journey will end at the University of the Philippines Diliman for various activities scheduled on October 13 to 28. (